USB Streaming Data Acquisition

19 July 2006
Category: General


Pico Technology, pioneers in PC Oscilloscope (PCO) technology, have opened up a new class of applications for their PicoScope 3000 Series USB instruments by hugely increasing their data transfer speed.

The new, fast streaming mode can transfer over six million samples per second, bypassing the oscilloscope hardware’s memory buffer and transferring data direct to the PC. This allows programs to capture waveforms at high sampling rates over long periods of time, resulting in very large data sets limited only by the size of the PC’s physical memory. Previously, the only way to sample at high speed was to use “block mode”, which resulted in lost data due to the dead time between blocks. The new streaming mode uses high-efficiency USB 2.0 data transfers to capture data continuously without dead time.

Now it’s possible to capture high-resolution data in situations such as vehicle road tests and lengthy laboratory experiments. For example, when used with a PC with 1 GB of available physical RAM, a PicoScope oscilloscope can capture over 8 minutes of data sampled at 1 million samples per second. Using functions built in to the driver, the developer can easily display this data as a single waveform representing the entire 8 minutes, or zoom in one million times to show half a millisecond of data in great detail.

Pico has released the new driver with a fully documented API and an example C++ program aimed at experienced programmers, so that developers can start to use it immediately. Like most Pico software, it is free of charge, and is available to download from the web without registration.

David Frew, Marketing Manager at Pico Technology, said, “The new software release allows developers to capture data in much greater detail, a thousand times faster than before. This will make the PicoScope 3000 Series of PC Oscilloscopes ideal for a new range of applications that need fast sample rates and large data sets at the same time.”