Test and Measurement News

October 2013

New 20 GHz TDR/TDT and Optical Sampling scopes

The PicoScope 9300 Series of 20 GHz Sampling Scopes offers high performance for demanding applications such as serial communications debugging and production testing. Like all PicoScopes, these are USB devices that contain just the specialized hardware you need and use your PC or laptop for display, storage and networking. This makes them more economical and portable than traditional bench-top instruments.

Now there are three new PicoScope Sampling Scopes. The two TDR/TDT (time-domain reflectometry and transmissometry) models allow you to characterize cables, PCBs and systems in both single-ended and differential modes with a typical distance resolution down to 15 mm. The optical model contains an O/E (optical-electrical) converter allowing you to test optical systems with accurate measurements up to 4.5 Gb/s and viewing up to 11.3 Gb/s.

All this is achieved without comprising on signal quality, as you can see from these specifications:

  • 2 x 20 GHz input channels
  • 1 MS/s input sampler (among the industry's fastest)
  • 16 bit input resolution
  • 2.5 GHz trigger with 14 GHz trigger prescaler
  • 11.3 Gb/s clock recovery (selected models)
  • 64 fs effective sampling resolution
  • 1.5 mV typical RMS noise
  • 1.8 ps + 20 ppm typical RMS trigger jitter

A wide range of analysis and display functions, as well as hardware features, are built in and not offered as expensive optional extras as with some of our competitors' products:

  • NRZ and RZ eye plots
  • Library of 168 serial data masks, with custom mask editing
  • 53 measurements with histogramming and statistics
  • Mathematics, FFT and custom formulas
  • Built-in pulse and clock generator
  • Ethernet and USB ports

The full range of PicoScope 20 GHz Sampling Oscilloscopes is now as follows:

Model Differential TDR/TDT O/E Converter Clock Recovery £ $
PicoScope 9301 - - - 9 088 14 995 10 996
PicoScope 9302 - - 11.3 Gb/s 11 512 18 995 13 930
PicoScope 9311 60 ps 6 V step - - 11 512 18 995 13 930
PicoScope 9312 40 ps 200 mV step - - 13 573 22 395 16 423
PicoScope 9321 - 9.5 GHz 11.3 Gb/s 17 876 29 495 21 630

Find out more about the PicoScope 9300 Series and download the data sheet.

Video of the month

Our selected video this month is Introduction to the PicoScope 9300 Sampling Oscilloscope. As we've already mentioned above, these scopes give outstanding performance with 20 GHz bandwidth in the compact form of a USB device. Let our oscilloscope expert Pete Darby show you what these scopes can do.

See the picotech YouTube channel for the latest videos on all our products.

PicoScope 5000 Series is NASA Tech Briefs Product of the Month

The recently introduced PicoScope 5000 Series Flexible Resolution Oscilloscopes were selected as Product of the Month August 2013 by the NASA Tech Briefs editors. This honour comes only weeks after the selection of these scopes as finalists for Test Product of the Year in electronicsweekly.com's Elektra2013 awards.

Main specifications:

  • Bandwidths from 60 to 200 MHz
  • 2 or 4 channels
  • 1 GS/s maximum real-time sampling rate
  • 16 to 512 Msample buffer memory
  • Advanced digital triggers
  • Built-in function generator or arbitrary waveform generator

These scopes use state-of-the-art configurable sampling hardware to deliver resolutions from 8 to 16 bits in a single product. With multiple high-resolution ADCs, these scopes maintain excellent dynamic performance even at high sampling rates:

  • 60 to 70 dB SFDR
  • Better than 400:1 crosstalk rejection
  • 70 to 120 μV RMS noise

You can dial up the resolution you require using the PicoScope software, or just let the program choose the optimal resolution for you.

Read more about the PicoScope 5000 Series and download a data sheet.

Did You Know?

The arbitrary waveform generator (AWG) built into most PicoScopes has many time-saving features. For example, did you know that you can easily copy a waveform captured by the scope into the AWG so that you can replay it as a test signal? Just follow these steps:

  1. Capture a waveform using PicoScope
  2. Open the AWG editor (Signal Generator > Signal On, Arbitrary)
  3. Click Import from a channel (the left-most button on the AWG editor toolbar)
  4. Change the import options or leave them at their default values
  5. Click OK

The AWG output is now a copy of the scope channel. Connect a BNC cable from the AWG output to the scope input to see the waveform in PicoScope.

Tech tips

Here are some of the latest tips delivered by our technical support experts. Keep watching our forum for more great ideas.

Scope sampling rates

Q. Can the sampling rate of a PicoScope be reduced?

A. Yes, all PicoScopes have variable sampling rates. We advertise the maximum sampling rate, for obvious reasons, but you can sample very slowly if you need to. If you are using the PicoScope software, the sampling rate is automatically adjusted to suit the timebase and sample count that you have chosen. You can find out what the sampling rate is by viewing the Properties window (Views > View Properties). If you are programming the scope using the SDK, you can directly control the sampling rate using a function call.

Triggering and frequency response testing

Q. I'm using a PicoScope 4262 Very High Resolution Oscilloscope in frequency sweep mode for frequency response testing. Why is there an unexpected peak at DC?

A. The most likely cause is that the scope is not correctly triggered. Without stable triggering, the FFT algorithm starts at a random DC level every time the frequency sweep restarts, causing a peak at DC. Trigger the waveform in Auto mode before selecting the spectrum analyzer and the peak should go away. You can see an illustration of the DC peak problem in this forum post.


Please visit Pico Exhibitions for the latest list of exhibitions and trade shows that Pico and its representatives will be attending.

We're hiring!

Thanks to our continuing success and growth Pico are always seeking talented people to join our company.

Please visit https://jobs.picotech.com/ to see our current vacancies. We look forward to hearing from you!

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

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Pico Technology, James House, Colmworth Business Park, St. Neots,
Cambridgeshire, PE19 8YP, United Kingdom
Tel.: 01480 396395 (+44 1480 396395)
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Tel:+1 800 591 2796 (Toll Free)
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Tel: +86 21 2226-5152

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