PicoScope 4000A Series

High-resolution deep-memory oscilloscopes

Software for the PicoScope 4000A Series

PicoScope 6 split-screen display

Split-screen display

The PicoScope 6 software can display up to 16 scope and spectrum views at once, making comparisons and analysis even clearer. The split-screen display can be customized to show whichever combination of waveforms you need, to display multiple channels or different variants of the same signal. Additionally, each waveform shown works with individual zoom, pan, and filter settings for ultimate flexibility. Alongside the facility to use monitors many times larger than a fixed scope display, these are further reasons to choose a USB oscilloscope over a traditional benchtop model.

PicoScope 6 power waveform with harmonics

Power measurements 

The PicoScope 4000A Series is ideal for making a range of power measurements on high voltages and currents and low-voltage control signals. For the best results, use a Pico differential voltage probe (TA041 or TA057) in combination with a current clamp (TA167) or probes (TA167, TA325 or TA326). To improve the efficiency and reliability of power designs, the scope can display and analyze standby power dissipation, inrush current, and steady-state power consumption. PicoScope’s built-in measurements and statistics of parameters such as true RMS, frequency, peak‑to-peak voltage and THD allow accurate analysis of power quality. 

Nonlinear loads and modern power-conversion equipment produce complex waveforms with significant harmonic content. These harmonics reduce efficiency by causing increased heating in equipment and conductors, misfiring in variable speed drives, and torque pulsations in motors. The 12-bit PicoScope 4000A Series has the precision to measure distortion typically up to the 100th harmonic. On the supply side, power quality issues such as sags and dips, swells and spikes, flicker, interruptions and long-term voltage and frequency variations can also be checked for regulatory compliance.

In a 3-phase distribution system, it is important to characterize and balance loads across phases. With up to 8 channels, the PicoScope 4000A Series can monitor waveforms of current and voltage on all 4 conductors of a 3-phase-plus‑neutral system. This helps to identify mismatches that can cause breaker tripping, or transformer and conductor overheating.

PicoScope 6 math channels

Math channels

With PicoScope 6 you can perform a variety of mathematical calculations on your input signals and reference waveforms.

Use the built-in list for simple functions such as addition and inversion, or open the equation editor and create complex functions involving trigonometry, exponentials, logarithms, statistics, integrals and derivatives, filters, averaging and peak-detection.

PicoScope spectrum measurements

Spectrum analyzer

With the click of a button, you can open a new window to display a spectrum plot of selected channels up to the full bandwidth of the oscilloscope. A comprehensive range of settings gives you control over the number of spectrum bands, window types and display modes.

A comprehensive set of automatic frequency-domain measurements can be added to the display, including THD, THD+N, SINAD, SNR, SFDR and IMD. You can even use the AWG and spectrum mode together to perform swept scalar network analysis, and you can apply mask testing to the spectrum display to speed up fault-finding.

AC power waveforms in scope mode

Scope mode measurements

Automatic measurements

PicoScope allows you to display a table of automated measurements for troubleshooting and analysis: 15 scope and 11 spectrum mode measurements are available.

PicoScope spectrum measurements

Spectrum mode measurements

Using the built-in measurement statistics you can see the average, standard deviation, maximum and minimum of each measurement as well as the live value. You can add as many measurements as you need on each view. Each measurement includes statistical parameters showing its variability. For information on the measurements available in scope and spectrum modes, see Automatic Measurements in the Specifications table.

PicoScope 4000A Series serial decoding

Serial decoding

The PicoScope 4000A Series includes serial decoding capability across all channels as standard. PicoScope software can decode 1-Wire, ARINC 429, CAN, DALI, DCC, DMX512, Ethernet 10Base-T, FlexRay, I²C, I²S, LIN, Manchester, Modbus ASCII, Modbus RTU, PS/2, SENT, SPI, and UART protocol data as standard, with more protocols in development and available in the future with free-of-charge software upgrades.

The decoded data can be displayed in the format of your choice: in graph, in table, or both at once.

  • Graph format shows the decoded data beneath the waveform on a common time axis, with error frames marked in red. These frames can be zoomed to investigate noise or distortion.
  • Table format shows a list of the decoded frames, including the data and all flags and identifiers. You can set up filtering conditions to display only the frames you are interested in, search for frames with specified properties, or define a start pattern to signal when the program should list the data.

PicoScope can also import a spreadsheet to decode the hexadecimal data into user-defined text strings.

PicoScope 4000A Series time-domain mask

Mask limit testing

PicoScope allows you to draw a mask around any signal, in either the scope view or the spectrum view, with user-defined tolerances. This has been designed specifically for production and debugging environments, enabling you to compare signals. Simply capture a known good signal, draw a mask around it, and then attach the system under test. PicoScope will capture any intermittent glitches and can show a failure count and other statistics in the Measurements window.

PicoScope 4000A Series spectrum mask

The numerical and graphical mask editors can be used separately or in combination, allowing you to enter accurate mask specifications, modify existing masks, and import and export masks as files.

PicoScope 4000A Series mask limit test with alarms


PicoScope can be programmed to execute actions when certain events occur. The events that can trigger an alarm include mask limit fails, trigger events and buffers full. The actions that PicoScope can execute include saving a file, playing a sound, executing a program and triggering the signal generator or the AWG. Alarms, coupled with mask limit testing, help create a powerful and time-saving waveform monitoring tool. Capture a known good signal, auto-generate a mask around it and then use the alarms to automatically save any waveform (complete with a time/date stamp) that does not meet specification.

PicoScope 4000A Series digital lowpass filter

Digital low-pass filtering

Each input channel has its own digital low-pass filter with independently adjustable cut-off frequency from 1 Hz to the full bandwidth of the scope. This enables you to reject noise on selected channels while viewing high‑bandwidth signals on the others.

PicoScope 6 custom probes

Custom probe settings

The custom probes menu allows you to correct for gain, attenuation, offsets and nonlinearities of probes and transducers, or convert to different measurement units. Definitions for standard Pico-supplied probes are built in, and you can also create your own using linear scaling or even an interpolated data table, and save them to disk for later use.

Frequency Response Analyzer © Aaron Hexamer 2021

PicoSDK - write your own apps

Our free software development kit, PicoSDK, allows you to write your own software and includes drivers for Windows, macOS and Linux. Example code supplied on our GitHub
organization page
shows how to interface to third-party software packages such as National Instruments LabVIEW and MathWorks MATLAB.

Frequency Response Analyzer © Aaron Hexamer 2021

PicoSDK supports data streaming, a mode that captures gap-free continuous data over USB 3.0 direct to the PC’s RAM or hard disk, at a rate of up to 80 MS/s on one channel (up to 160 MS/s split between multiple channels), so you are not limited by the size of the scope’s buffer memory. Sampling rates in streaming mode are subject to PC specifications and application loading.

There is also an active community of PicoScope users who share both code and whole applications on our Test and Measurement Forum and the PicoApps section of the website. The Frequency Response Analyzer shown here is a popular application on the forum.

Online Programmer's Guide >>

PicoLog 6 device setup page

PicoLog 6 software

The PicoScope 4000A Series oscilloscopes are also supported by the PicoLog 6 data logging software, allowing you to view and record signals on multiple units in one capture.
PicoLog 6 allows sample rates of up to 1 kS/s per channel, and is ideal for long-term observation of general parameters, such as voltage or current levels, on several channels at the same time, whereas the PicoScope 6 software is more suitable for waveshape or harmonic analysis.

PicoLog 6 graph with multiple devices

You can also use PicoLog 6 to view data from your oscilloscope alongside a data logger or other device. For example, you could measure voltage and current with your PicoScope and plot both against temperature using a TC-08 thermocouple data logger, or humidity with a DrDAQ multipurpose data logger.

PicoLog 6 is available for Windows, macOS, Linux and Raspberry Pi OS.

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