Test and Measurement News

October 2011

Product Focus: PicoScope 4424 Precision Oscilloscope

PicoScope 4424 (and 4423): now the world’s most popular high–resolution oscilloscopes!

The PicoScope 4424 4–channel high–resolution oscilloscope is suitable for field servicing, research and development, and scientific use. Its accuracy and resolution make it ideal for vibration and noise analysis as well as general–purpose measurement applications.

Just plug the PicoScope 4424 into the USB port of any modern Windows PC, run the PicoScope software supplied, and you are ready to work. You can install PicoScope on as many computers as you like at no extra cost. Our software gives you all the features of a traditional bench–top oscilloscope, plus advanced features such as serial decoding, mask limit testing and automatic measurements with statistics — features that often cost extra on competing scopes in this price range.

Here are the main specifications:

  • Bandwidth: 20 MHz
  • Maximum sampling rate: 80 MS/s
  • Buffer memory: 32 MS
  • Resolution: 12 bits (16 bit software–enhanced)
  • Accuracy: 1%

The PicoScope 4424 comes with a 5–year parts and labor warranty.

Full specifications and ordering information

PicoScope Feature of the Month: Deep Memory

Digital oscilloscopes are usually sold on their bandwidth and sampling rate specifications. While these are important, there is a third specification that you should always consider: buffer size. This specification allows you to work out the combinations of sampling rate and timebase length at which the scope can operate. The table below shows the buffer sizes on offer in our mainstream scopes.

Scope model Buffer sizes Sampling rates
PicoScope 2000 Series 8 kS to 24 kS 40 MS/s  to 200 MS/s
PicoScope 3000 Series 512 kS  to 128 MS 20 MS/s  to 500 MS/s
PicoScope 4000 Series 16 MS  to 32 MS 10 MS/s  to 250 MS/s
PicoScope 5000 Series 32 MS  to 128 MS 1 GS/s
PicoScope 6000 Series 32 MS  to 1 GS 5 GS/s

Let’s consider an example using the 350 MHz  PicoScope 6403. This has a sampling rate of 5 GS/s and a 1 GS ‘Deep Memory’ buffer. Our signal under test is a 200 Mbps  serial bitstream. How many bits can we capture at the maximum sampling rate?

capture time = buffer size ÷ sampling rate = 1 x 109 S ÷ 5 x 109 S/s = 0.2 s

Thus we can capture 200 ms  of data, which is equivalent to 40 million bit periods of our 200 Mbps  signal. We can set the timebase as low as 20 ms/div to see a long–term view of the signal, and then zoom in to see a single bit with enough timing resolution (25 samples/bit) to show glitches, slow edges and ringing.

Now compare this with a scope in the same price range but with a smaller memory, the 350 MHz  DPO4034B from Tektronix. This has a record length of only 20 MS. Repeating the above calculation shows that we could capture only 4 ms  of data at 5 GS/s, limiting us to timebases of 200 µs/div or shorter. If we chose the same 20 ms/div timebase that we used with the PicoScope, we would be forced to reduce the sampling rate to 20 MS ÷200 ms = 100 MS/s. This would give us only 0.5 samples per bit period, which would not be enough to give a meaningful display of the signal.

Read more about PicoScope Deep Memory

More PicoScope Training Videos

PicoScope training videos: Part 3

On our YouTube channel, you will find a wealth of video material designed to help you use your scope more effectively. This month we delve into some of the more advanced features of PicoScope 6 with the following video titles:

There are many more videos than we can list here, so please explore our YouTube channel and find the one that will answer your questions. You can also help us improve our content by leaving your comments below the videos.

Questions and Answers

Here are two questions and answers that appeared recently on our discussion forum:

Q. Phase angle. I’m using the PicoScope 4424 and I wonder if there is a hidden possibility to measure the phase angle between two signals. I’ve tried to build my own phase angle software with the development kit but unfortunately I do not have such great experience in programming.

A. Using the beta version of PicoScope, you can set up a Math Channel with this equation: acos(integral(A*B)/(sqrt(integral(A*A))*sqrt(integral(B*B))))/Pi*180. To minimize issues at the start of the trace due to the unknown start conditions, apply a DC Average measurement to the phase Math Channel, select the range to ‘between rulers’ and then adjust them to achieve a reasonable result.

Q. Code examples. We are using a TC-08 and are trying to import the measuring data as an Excel file. In the manual we read about the example usbTC0832.xls but we cannot find this file.

A. You can find it in the Software Development Kit (SDK) for the TC-08, which you can download from the Software tab at the top of any page on our website.


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Software releases

Our latest software releases are available as free downloads. To check which release you are using, start the software and select Help > About.

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Contact details

UK Headquarters:
Pico Technology, James House, Colmworth Business Park, St. Neots,
Cambridgeshire, PE19 8YP, United Kingdom
Tel.: 01480 396395 (+44 1480 396395)
Fax: 01480 396296 (+44 1480 396296)

North America Office:
Pico Technology, 320 N Glenwood Blvd, Tyler TX 75702, United States
Tel:+1 800 591 2796 (Toll Free)
Fax:+1 620 272 0981

Asia-Pacific Office:
Pico Technology, Room 2252, 22/F, Centro, 568 Hengfeng Road, Zhabei District,
Shanghai 200070, PR China
Tel: +86 21 2226-5152

Email: sales@picotech.com