Most digital oscilloscopes gain their high sampling rates by interleaving multiple 8-bit ADCs. Despite careful design, the interleaving process introduces errors that always make the dynamic performance worse than the performance of the individual ADC cores.
The PicoScope 5000 Series scopes have a significantly different architecture in which multiple high-resolution ADCs can be applied to the input channels in different time-interleaved and parallel combinations to boost either the sampling rate to 1 GS/s at 8 bits or the resolution to 16 bits at 62.5 MS/s.
In time-interleaved mode, the ADCs are interleaved to provide 1 GS/s at 8 bits (see diagram). Interleaving reduces the performance of the ADCs, but the result (60 dB SFDR) is still much better than oscilloscopes that interleave 8-bit ADCs. This mode can also provide 500 MS/s at 12 bits resolution.
In parallel mode, multiple ADCs are sampled in phase on each channel to increase the resolution, revealing every detail of the signal in a crystal-clear display. Sampling in parallel with multiple ADCs and combining the output reduces noise and also both the integral and differential nonlinearity, providing outstanding single shot dynamic performance without loss of bandwidth or need of a repetitive signal
Using parallel mode, resolution is increased to 14 bits at 125 MS/s per channel (> 70 dB SFDR – see diagram). If only two channels are required then resolution can be increased to 15 bits, and in single-channel mode all the ADCs are combined to give a 16-bit mode at 62.5 MS/s.
The software gives the choice of selecting the resolution or leaving the scope in “auto resolution” mode where the optimal resolution is used for the chosen settings.
Most oscilloscopes are built down to a price. Ours are built up to a specification.
Careful front-end design and shielding reduces noise, crosstalk and harmonic distortion. Over 20 years of high resolution oscilloscope design experience leads to improved pulse response and bandwidth flatness.
Maximum sensitivity is an impressive 2 mV/div at the full resolution of the oscilloscope. If you need more sensitivity then simply enable the high resolution modes. Combining 14 bit mode and zoom can provide 100 uV/div sensitivity while still providing more than 8 bits resolution.
We are proud of the dynamic performance of our products and publish these specifications in detail. The result is simple: when you probe a circuit, you can trust in the waveform you see on the screen.
130 000 waveforms per second
An important specification to understand when evaluating oscilloscope performance is the waveform update rate, which is expressed as waveforms per second. While the sample rate indicates how frequently the oscilloscope samples the input signal within one waveform, or cycle, the waveform capture rate refers to how quickly an oscilloscope acquires waveforms.
Oscilloscopes with high waveform capture rates provide better visual insight into signal behavior and dramatically increase the probability that the oscilloscope will quickly capture transient anomalies such as jitter, runt pulses and glitches – that you may not even know exist.
PicoScope oscilloscopes use hardware acceleration to achieve over 130 000 waveforms per second.
The spectrum view plots amplitude against frequency and is ideal for finding noise, crosstalk or distortion in signals. The spectrum analyzer in PicoScope is of the Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) type which, unlike a traditional swept spectrum analyzer, can display the spectrum of a single, non-repeating waveform.
A full range of settings gives you control over the number of spectrum bands (FFT bins), window types, scaling (including log/log) and display modes (instantaneous, average, or peak-hold).
You can display multiple spectrum views alongside oscilloscope views of the same data. A comprehensive set of automatic frequency-domain measurements can be added to the display, including THD, THD+N, SNR, SINAD and IMD. A mask limit test can be applied to a spectrum and you can even use the AWG and spectrum mode together to perform swept scalar network analysis.
All PicoScope 5000 units have a built-in 20 MHz low-distortion function generator (sine, square, triangle, DC level). As well as basic controls to set level, offset and frequency, more advanced controls allow you to sweep over a range of frequencies. Combined with the spectrum peak hold option this makes a powerful tool for testing amplifier and filter responses.
Trigger tools allow one or more cycles of a waveform to be output when various conditions are met such as the scope triggering or a mask limit test failing.
PicoScope 5000B models gain additional waveforms (white noise, PRBS and others) and also include a 14-bit 200 MS/s arbitrary waveform generator (AWG) . AWG waveforms can be created or edited using the built-in AWG editor, imported from oscilloscope traces, or loaded from a spreadsheet.
Pico Technology oscilloscopes are small, light and portable. In two-channel mode the 5000 Series scopes can be powered from USB only, making them ideal for the engineer on the move. The external power supply is only needed when operating more than two channels. The 5000 Series oscilloscopes are suitable for field use in many applications, such as design, research, test, education, service and repair.
Software Development Kit - write your own apps
The software development kit (SDK) allows you to write your own software and includes drivers for Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac (OS X) and Linux (including Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone).
Example code shows how to interface to third-party software packages such as Microsoft Excel, National Instruments LabVIEW and MathWorks MATLAB.
There is also an active community of PicoScope users who share code and applications on the Pico forum and PicoApps section of the picotech.com web site. The Frequency Response Analyzer shown opposite is one of the most popular 3rd party applications.