Low-cost PC oscilloscopes offer the most advanced features yet

08 February 2011
Category: Oscilloscopes

The latest dual-channel PC Oscilloscopes in the PicoScope 3000 Series offer bandwidths from 60 MHz to 200 MHz. These compact and economical devices include valuable features such as serial decoding, mask limit testing, segmented memory and advanced triggers as standard.

The result is a range of new scopes that are perfect for engineers and technicians needing a complete test bench in a single unit.

“These are the highest-performance USB-powered oscilloscopes available,” explained Alan Tong, Managing Director of Pico Technology, “yet they are still extremely portable and will fit easily in a laptop bag.”

All the scopes have a built-in function generator, a feature that was previously available only on Pico’s highest-bandwidth models. There is also a dedicated external trigger input, and the higher models also feature a built-in arbitrary waveform generator.

The scopes have ultra-deep memory of up to 128 megasamples, over a thousand times more than other benchtop scopes in this price range, which allows the capture of long waveforms without slowing down the display or reducing the sampling rate. This enables them to operate at timebases down to 20 ms/div while maintaining the top sampling rate, and makes them suitable for a wide range of design, troubleshooting and production test applications where accurate representation of fast, complex signals is essential.

The advanced digital trigger types include pulse width, interval, window, window pulse width, level dropout, window dropout, runt pulse, variable hysteresis, and logic. Digital triggering, which has been always a feature of Pico oscilloscopes, ensures lower jitter, greater accuracy and higher voltage resolution than analog techniques.

Every scope is supplied with a full version of the PicoScope software. As this is common to the entire Pico Technology oscilloscope range, owners of other PicoScope models can upgrade easily without needing to learn a new user interface. PicoScope provides a large, clear display that shows all the details in a waveform and allows easy zooming and panning of long captures. Other advanced features include intensity- and color-coded persistence displays, spectrum analysis, math channels, automatic measurements with statistics, and live decoding of I²C, UART, SPI and CAN bus data. Free updates to the software are released regularly.

The Software Development Kit (SDK), supplied free, allows you to control the new scopes using your own software. The SDK includes example programs in C, C++, Microsoft Excel and National Instruments LabVIEW. The SDK and PicoScope are compatible with Microsoft Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7.

The new PicoScope 3000 Series oscilloscopes are available now from Pico distributors and from www.picotech.com. Prices range from £399, for the 60 MHz PicoScope 3204A, to £899 for the 200 MHz PicoScope 3206B with built-in AWG and two high-bandwidth probes. A 5-year warranty is included with all models.