Test and Measurement News

September 2009

New Software

CAN Bus decoding in PicoScope

The latest beta version of PicoScope is now available for download. This version includes a totally new CAN Bus decoding function, which can read CAN bus packets at a variety of data rates.

The CAN (Controller Area Network) Bus is widely used in automotive, industrial and medical control systems for reliable signalling between control units in electrically noisy environments. It is a serial protocol, usually with differential signalling although a single-wire version also exists. The PicoScope CAN Bus decoding feature is aimed at vehicle designers, aftermarket equipment designers and advanced troubleshooters, who need to look at more than just fault codes.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Graphical in-view display - the decoded data is displayed directly below the raw waveform, making it possible to see error packets in a long stream of data at the same time as checking for noise and glitches
  • Tabular display - lists all the CAN packets in the current view, or the entire waveform buffer, with data columns that can be hidden if not needed
  • Filtering - to reduce clutter, PicoScope can list only those packets that match your criteria
  • “Start from” - monitors the data stream until a specified packet type occurs, then starts capturing
  • Works with standard PicoScopes - there’s no need to upgrade your hardware: just download our free software update. Performance and memory capacity will of course depend on the specifications of your scope. We recommend using scopes with deep memory, such as the 4000 and 5000 Series.
  • Single-ended and differential modes - choose whether to decode CAN High or CAN Low, useful for single-wire CAN systems, or use two scope channels to decode the full differential CAN signal
  • Adjustable data rate - decode any speed of CAN Bus from kilobits to megabits
  • Save to file - save a table of CAN data in comma-separated text format

As an added bonus, this release also includes another new feature:

Zoom overview - when you are zoomed in, a small overview window shows the current display area marked on a picture of the whole waveform. You can drag and resize this area instead of using the zoom tools.

Download PicoScope 6.3.4 beta, free of charge, No registration required.

Please let us know what you think of the new software. You can contact us on the forum.

PicoLog updated

PicoLog is our data logging software for Windows. It works with all our data loggers, and can save data to a file or display it in spreadsheet and graphical formats.

R5.20.8 is the latest maintenance release of PicoLog. Bugs fixed include: “Corruption of .plw files”, “repeat immediate mode” and “PicoLog pause button causes program to crash and close”.

Pico Open Day in November

Come and see Pico products in action, try them out for yourself, and question our experts. On one day in November we shall be holding an Open Day at our headquarters in St Neots, Cambridgeshire (map). Here is a selection of the products that will be on show:

  • PicoScope 9000 Series - 12 GHz sampling oscilloscopes
  • PicoScope 6 - oscilloscope software, including the new serial decoding feature
  • EnviroMon - environmental monitoring system
  • Data Acquisition - our range of data loggers

Pico Open Day: 24th November 2009

10 am - 12 noon Morning session
12 noon - 1 pm Free buffet lunch
1 pm - 3 pm Afternoon session

Please email kelly@picotech.com to let us know if you would like to attend the morning or the afternoon session, and we will reserve a place for you.

New Pico App Store

Have you written your own software for use with Pico products?

At Pico we take pride in the number of companies and individuals who write their own software to interface with our products. To show our support for those of you have written your own applications, we will shortly be launching the Pico App Store. Whether your application is freeware, shareware or commercial, our App Store will give you the opportunity to showcase your software to the world. Unlike other application stores, the Pico App Store will be completely free to use.

If you would like us to consider adding your application to the Pico App Store, simply complete the form on our website.

Tech Tip: Using Reference Waveforms and Math Channels Together in PicoScope

Back in December and January, we released PicoScope with math channels and reference waveforms. You have probably experimented with these features, but you may not have realised that you can use them together. For example, you can save a reference waveform and then use math to subtract it from a live channel. Here’s how you do it.

  1. In PicoScope, display the waveform that you wish to use as the reference.
  2. Click the Reference Waveform button.
  3. Look in the Available list and select the channel that contains your waveform.
  4. Click Duplicate. A new reference waveform will appear in the Library list. Note the default name that PicoScope gives it, such as “A (2)”, or give it a new name.
  5. Tick the check box next to the new reference waveform. Your reference waveform is now on the screen.
  6. Click the Math Channels button.
  7. Click Create to open the Math Channels wizard.
  8. In the Equation box, type A-{A (2)}. (A is the live channel, and the curly brackets indicate a reference channel which, in this example, is called A (2).)
  9. Continue through the Math Channels wizard until you return to the Math Channels dialog.
  10. Tick the check box next to the new math channel in the Library list. By default, the name of a math channel is the same as its equation.
  11. Click OK. Your new math channel is now on the screen.

Read more about PicoScope

Questions and Answers

Here is a selection of the questions that have cropped up recently on our support forum and elsewhere:

Q. What is the maximum slew rate of the PicoScope 9211’s inputs?
A. The maximum bandwidth is 12 GHz and the maximum slew rate is 28 V/ns. This is calculated from the 10%-90% rise time of 29 ps and the maximum peak-to-peak input of 1 V: 80% x 1 V / 29 ps.
Q. I recently bought a PicoScope 2203. While playing with it for the first time, I noticed some switching sound coming from inside. Is there a relay internally that produces this noise?
A. Yes, this noise is caused by the relays that select the input range. The amount of switching depends on the software in use and the input range that is selected. This is part of the normal operation of the scope.


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

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