Test and Measurement News

September 2011

New PicoScope 4262 16–Bit Oscilloscope!

The new very–high–resolution PicoScope 4262 can easily analyze audio, ultrasonic and vibration signals, characterize noise in switched mode power supplies, measure distortion, and perform a wide range of precision measurement tasks. Its performance rivals many dedicated audio analyzers and dynamic signal analyzers costing several times the price.

Main specifications

  • 2 channels
  • 16–bit resolution
  • 5 MHz bandwidth
  • 102 dB typical SFDR
  • -95 dB (0.0018%) typical THD
  • 16 MS buffer memory
  • Built–in low–distortion (102 dB typical SFDR) signal generator
  • Built–in arbitrary waveform generator (AWG)

A Digital Scope for the Analog World. Most digital oscilloscopes have been designed for viewing fast digital signals. The trend has been to use new technology solely to increase sampling rate and bandwidth. With the PicoScope 4262 we have focused on what’s important for measuring analog signals: increasing the resolution, improving dynamic range, and reducing noise and distortion.

AWG. The built–in signal generator and arbitrary waveform generator includes a sweep function to enable frequency response analysis.

Upgrade. This is an ideal replacement for the ADC-216, our discontinued 16–bit parallel–port oscilloscope. As well as the added convenience of its USB connection, the PicoScope 4262 has considerably better performance.

Value. The PicoScope 4262 includes two probes and is covered by a 5–year parts–and–labor warranty.

Programmable. If you want to write your own application to control the scope, Pico provides a software development kit, including example code, available to download free of charge.

Technical and ordering information on the PicoScope 4262

New PicoLog CM3 Current Data Logger!

The new PicoLog CM3 Current Data Logger is a compact, easy–to–use instrument for measuring the current usage of buildings and machinery. With three channels, it can monitor up to three single–phase supplies or one 3–phase installation. Applications include monitoring three–phase motors and generators, measuring the current in heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, and balancing phases in multiphase supplies. The logger is supplied complete with three 200 A  AC current clamps and a powerful data acquisition software package.

Specifications (excluding current clamps):

  • Measuring range: 0 to 1 V AC RMS
  • Accuracy: ±1% up to 200 mV; ±2.5% up to 1 V
  • RMS noise: 60 µV
  • Resolution: 24 bits

Advanced software. PicoLog runs on any PC with Windows XP (SP2) or later. Collects data from up to 20 PicoLog CM3s at programmable intervals from 720 milliseconds per channel up to minutes, hours or even days. Displays readings in a monitor window with optional limit alarms, alongside optional live graph and table views of the same data. Can export readings in a standard text format compatible with other spreadsheet and analysis programs.

USB and Ethernet. The CM3 can operate as a USB–only device, as a USB–powered device with Ethernet interface, or as a Power–over–Ethernet (PoE) device.

SDK. Software Development Kit included. Contains Windows DLLs, drivers and example code that allow you to integrate the device into your own software.

Current clamps included. The full kit includes 3 x TA138 200 ampere current clamps rated at IEC1010-1 (1995), EN61010-1 (2001) CAT II 600 V, CAT III 300 V. Different clamps can be used to obtain different measuring ranges, up to the 1 V RMS limit of the logger.

Quality and service. Free 5–year parts–and–labor warranty against manufacturing faults. Free technical support.

Technical and ordering information on the PicoLog CM3

PicoScope Feature of the Month: Mask Limit Testing

Mask Limit Testing tells you when a waveform or spectrum goes outside a specified area called a mask. It is just one of the many valuable features included in PicoScope at no extra cost, and works with all our scopes from the simplest single–channel handheld up to the multi–gigasample–per–second 6000 Series.

Debug and production. Use Mask Limit Testing during the design stage to find glitches and other intermittent faults in your prototype. You can walk away from the scope knowing that all deviations from the mask will be highlighted on the screen and the most recent waveforms saved in the buffer for later analysis. Use it in a production environment to catch faulty units during testing. Standard masks can be created, allowing technicians to choose the right test just by loading a file.

First capture your signal. Capture a signal from a known working system, and tell PicoScope to draw a mask around it with a specified tolerance. You can enter accurate mask specifications, and modify existing masks, using either the numerical data table or the graphical editor. You can also import and export masks as files.

Easy review and analysis. Connect the system under test, and PicoScope will highlight any parts of the waveform that fall outside the mask area. The highlighted details persist on the display, allowing the scope to catch intermittent glitches while you work on something else. The measurements window counts the number of failures and can display other measurements and statistics at the same time. The Buffer Navigator lets you scroll through thumbnail pictures of the saved waveforms.

Mask Limit Testing was introduced in PicoScope R6.3.43, released in December 2009. If your PicoScope software is older than this, download a free update now.

More PicoScope Training Videos

PicoScope training videos: Part 2

On our YouTube channel, you will find a wealth of video material designed to help you use your scope more effectively. The latest titles include:

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.

PicoScope 9000 Series training videos: Part 8

The PicoScope 9000 Series 12 GHz PC Sampling Oscilloscopes are specialized instruments designed for analyzing serial data signal quality, for characterizing cables, connectors and circuit boards, and for TDR/TDT testing. 8 GHz optical–input models are also available.

These scopes require careful setting up to obtain accurate results, so we have produced a series of instructional videos to help you use their capabilities to the full. Here are the most recent video releases:

  • Advanced Menus: Optical Signal Test. Basics of high–speed optical signal characterisation using a PicoScope 9221A or 9231A, includes configuration and dark level calibration. Also illustrates the need to use the Bessel–Thomson filter for compliance testing.
  • Advanced Menus: Optical Pattern Sync Trigger. The pattern sync trigger explained in the Advanced Menus: Pattern Sync Trigger video can also be used for optical signals. As Pete scans through the bits one at a time, the anomalies present in unfiltered optical signals can be isolated with ease.
  • Application: Making Optical Measurements. Shows how to increase the accuracy of your measurements using the PicoScope 9000 when making rise–time measurements in optical signals that have a high level of uncertainty and jitter.

Explore the ever–growing library of videos on our YouTube channel

Questions and Answers

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

Q. Extending thermocouples. Is there any way to use an extension cable for the K type thermocouples? Cable length of the sensor should be at least 30 metres.

A. Yes thermocouples can be extended, but you have to use a ‘compensating’ cable, i.e. typically multicore cable made from the same metal alloy as the thermocouple itself, but normally not as pure and therefore cheaper. You also have to connect via ‘compensation’ plugs and sockets, again made from the same material. If you need 30 meters extension, you will probably have to check that the resistance of the extension cable does not exceed the maximum resistance that the converter can operate with. Also, a shielded cable may be needed to reduce noise from other electronics and the mains.

Q. Repairing thermocouples. Is it possible to repair a broken K type thermocouple?

A. If the thermocouple sensor is made of ‘simple’ K wire, it can just be cut and shorted anywhere to form a new thermocouple junction at the short. It’s a good idea to isolate the junction with epoxy if the temperature to be measured does not exceed 100 °C. Normally a thermocouple junction is spot welded, but it often works with just tightening the wires hard together or soldering them together. If the broken thermocouple is inside a thin metal tube, it cannot usually be repaired.


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