Oscilloscope or PicoScope?

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ethanmiles
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Oscilloscope or PicoScope?

Post by ethanmiles »

Hello!

For Christmas, I have wished for an oscilloscope. My parents work for a Company that, among other Things, sells high end Scopes to customers like the Automotive industry. They've called some People to ask if they have recommendations for me, and one kind person has offered me a PicoScope for around the same price that I would spend on an oscilloscope from someone like KeySight.

I'm really a programmer, and Electronics is just a hobby for me. I enjoy, perhaps unsurprisingly, microcontrollers. But I don't know a thing about Scopes. The particular one I've been offered is a 2-Channel one aimed at the Automotive industry. I think it can handle 50A which is obviously overkill, but one major advantage is that it Interfaces to a computer, allowing you to perform signal analysis using your computers processor rather than what's built into an oscilloscope for FFT and such.

My question to you is, off the top of your head, which would you choose? The PicoScope or an entrylevel oscilloscope? The PicoScope has me curious, because it's far more expensive and I'd be getting a good deal, but perhaps, it is not for my use-case/Application.

G-son
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Re: Oscilloscope or PicoScope?

Post by G-son »

If you will be working with digital signals, perhaps a MSO (mixed signal oscilloscope) is for you? Pico has several versions, and the same goes for other manufacturers.
MSOs have both the analog input channels for measuring changes in voltage, and a number of digital channels that just reads 1:s and 0:s in digital signals.

Martyn
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Re: Oscilloscope or PicoScope?

Post by Martyn »

Which Automotive Scope model have you been offered?

I would then suggest comparing the specifications against our standard devices as you may find a better priced fit for your needs. In general we would only suggest using an automotive scope if you have a need to use it on a vehicle.
Martyn
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Willem43
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Re: Oscilloscope or PicoScope?

Post by Willem43 »

Further to the above I thought I will chip in as well.

My background matches yours. I did however start in electronics (too) many years ago. I then worked for the local distributer of Tektronix equipment (however not in that department) so have used and had access to the latest and greatest they produced. From there I moved to programming and a while back, basically retired and as a hobby, returned to electronics. Things have changed a lot, SMD and MCUs ruling the world, and I love it.

If you are not going to use the scope for automotive work and the offer includes the 50A probe, which is a rather expensive option, you should look at something different. You will not use a 50A probe doing MCU development, you are looking at milliamps.

I went for the 2207B MSO (currently, according to the Pico website, not available due to part shortages). I chose USB instead of a desktop model partly for space reasons. I have limited desk space available and could not see adding another unit to it. I am already using a PC for programming and having the scope display on the same screen made a lot of sense to me. Also reading reviews Pico Technology has an excellent support reputation - which I can confirm. The 2207B has 70MHz bandwidth, 1GHz sample rate and 64MS buffer memory, a great balance of features. (it did however overstretched my hobby budget!!).
I chose the MSO for the additional digital channels since working with MCUs most of my checking are digital signals and 2 inputs were not going to be enough (the four channel scopes were out of reach). PicoScope 7 T&M Early Access is now available and it does a beautiful job of integrating analog and digital into one screen.

You did say you have no scope experience so I attached two typical examples for your "education".

Firstly is an I2C decode. I manufactured a little board with a Atmega328PB acting as controller to multiple ATtiny1614s using I2C. A struct is sent to the 1614 containing a char, byte and 2 integers, a total of six bytes. Entering the send function a "trigger" pin is raised and lowered on exit. This is used to trigger the scope (digital D3). Two digital channels are connected to SDA and SCL (D0 and D1 respectively) and an I2C serial decoder attached to them. The examples shows the struct (a DCC controlling instruction) being sent. Firstly the slave address = 0x50, then the char 't' (= 0x74, throttle), followed by the byte (= 1, register to use), the first integer, low byte first, (speed = 8, a negative value signals reverse) and the last integer (= 4, decoder address). The analog channel A shows the Wire.onReceive routine being entered and exited on the 1614. This, obviously, happens at the end of the send sequence.

The second example shows the result of the above instruction. Digital channel D2 is connected to the 1614 DCC output with a DCC serial decoder attached. I do a similar trigger output to trigger on the start of the DCC packet. The sequence shows 22 pre-amble one (short) bits (the first bit serves as the end bit for the previous packet). A zero (long) bit signals start of instruction, then the decoder address (4) followed by a zero, next the instruction (enhanced throttle (0x3F) again followed by a zero and the speed (forward turns bit 7 on and a 1 is added to the speed = 0x89) ending with a checksum (error) byte.
Attachments
I2C-PicoScope 7 T&M Early Access.png
DCC-PicoScope 7 T&M Early Access.png

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