Author Topic: PicoScope PC based oscilloscopes..  (Read 5161 times)

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Offline mightymaxUK

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PicoScope PC based oscilloscopes..
« on: April 24, 2013, 09:44:46 pm »
Hi all,

How do the PC based oscilloscopes like the PicScope range compare to the general range of digital portable scopes?

Any input much appreciated :)

Matt.
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Offline madshaman

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Re: PicoScope PC based oscilloscopes..
« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2013, 10:22:55 pm »
I don't have a picoscope, but I do have an MSO-9212 from Link Instruments, not cheap, and a fairly decent PC-based scope.

imho, many USB scopes are very good and equally as powerful as any all-in-one portable scope.

That being said, if it's going to be your only scope, again, imho, I say forget about it.

Some of my reasons for saying this:

1) Mine's my only DSO, but even still, I usually only end up using it when I need the logic analyser (and obviously when I need to capture a trace like a startup or some other event).
2) They are a pain in the ass to use, nothing beats being able to turn on your scope and twist a few dials as opposed to launching the software, using some terrible UI and fiddling with a mouse.
3) You *really* should have a box which provides galvanic isolation for the USB connection, to protect your computer and also to avoid noise from the computer getting on your traces; these are not cheap
4) With scopes like the Rigol DS1052E being so affordable, I don't see the financial need to try and save money with a USB scope, if you need more bandwidth than 50/100Mhz, you're going to pay through the teeth for it whether you go portable /all-in-one or USB.
5) If you don't have some other scopes that are "ready to go", I suspect the irritation of having to possibly turn on the computer, move the computer or UUT close to each other, launch the software, fiddle with bad UI every time you want to see a trace will drive you mad

Just my two cents.  Forget everything I've said if this won't be your only scope.  I love my MSO-9212 but in retrospect, I think I should have spent a little more and purchased a stand-alone MSO
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Offline Gunb

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Re: PicoScope PC based oscilloscopes..
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2013, 08:17:30 am »
Hi all,

How do the PC based oscilloscopes like the PicScope range compare to the general range of digital portable scopes?

Any input much appreciated :)

Matt.

Hi,

I've bought the Picoscope 3205 with 100MHz bandwidth and 2 channels a few years ago.

Generally it is a very useful tool for most general purposes.

+ Easy handling
+ Very comfortable cursor measurements
+ Expandable with PC software
+ Scope, FFT, mask test, recorder functionality
+ Meanwhile bus decoding options for UART, SPI, I2C... for free
+ Small dimensions
+ Good quality (housing, probes, case)
+ integrated small function generator, some types do have AWGN, too.
+ Labview drivers

- waveform capture rate is not very high (~400wfm/s) - question if important for your purposes, then it's not really a disadvantage
- Price might be an issue, beacuse there are a few desktop devices for same budget
- ? don't know

I've used the Picoscope for a few micro project with bus decoding options, which appeared much later after a bought it. Just had to
update to latest Picoscope software and ready - super!

Very helpful for documentation purposes - traces per screenshot.

Picoscope works stable.

There's a special logging application for longtime signals.

I would recommend to choose a USB 3 device today, since USB 2.0 can be a bottle neck for special purposes.

Kind regards
Gunb
 

Offline jpb

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Re: PicoScope PC based oscilloscopes..
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2013, 08:49:03 am »
I don't have direct experience, but when buying my 'scope I thought of going for a picoscope.

The higher end models have some pretty impressive specs but where out of my budget range.

I was attracted by the small size (assuming that you already have a lap top or computer around anyway), the fact that the display can be a large computer display at high resolution rather than a small, low resolution scope display and the comparatively large memory. Also the software is quite sophisticated, the decoding etc is all free which is a bargain compared to what Agilent and even Rigol charge.

I was put off by the fact that the voltage limit is quite low - I worried about accidentally damaging the device though I think they will take 100V (but then stand alone scopes on 50ohm input can only take 5Vrms so perhaps this is a mute point). I also thought that actually using it would be more of a pain than a stand-alone scope. Additionally the earthing arrangements depend on what it is connected to - the USB earth depends on your lap top or desk top for grounding so it may be grounded or floating.

What finally decided me against was the prices, though cheaper than the equivalent Agilent or Tek, are generally still quite expensive and the sampling rates on most models are quite low and I managed to get a heavily discounted (though old stock) LeCroy WaveJet for much less money.

They didn't have the USB 3 versions yet when I was looking last year, now I think they do and this might make a difference.

I should also say that they have a capture mode whereby they can capture 10,000 waveforms in under 10msecs which can then be scanned by masking software and any nonconforming ones displayed. So though their average capture rate may be low this is equivalent to more than a million waveforms per second.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2013, 08:56:49 am by jpb »
 

Offline theoldwizard1

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Re: PicoScope PC based oscilloscopes..
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2013, 01:22:23 am »
Picoscopes are somewhat popular in automotive electronic diagnostics because Pico has a large number of probes for picking up signals from vehicles with electronic fuel injection.

They are also great for classrooms because the output can be run to a projector.

I was put off by the fact that the voltage limit is quite low - I worried about accidentally damaging the device ...
Pico sells a 20:1 attenuator and it is highly recommended for the reason you stated.  This is especially true in automotive applications because the back EMF on an inductive load (ignition coil, injector coil) can be quite large although they are usually clamped via a zener at less than 100V (that is, if the zener is working)

Quote
Additionally the earthing arrangements depend on what it is connected to - the USB earth depends on your lap top or desk top for grounding so it may be grounded or floating.
I wonder about that also.

Quote
What finally decided me against was the prices, though cheaper than the equivalent Agilent or Tek, are generally still quite expensive and the sampling rates on most models are quite low ...
I have to agree.  Their "middle of the road" 2 channel scope has a top sampling rate of 250MS/s and a 32MS buffer for a list price of close to $1,500.  Definitely NOT a bargain.

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They didn't have the USB 3 versions yet when I was looking last year, now I think they do and this might make a difference.
Valid point

Again in the automotive field, their support forum is very valuable.  User are encouraged to post waveforms of good and bad vehicles.  Picoscopes are highly recommend on ScannerDanner's YouTube channel, although he does use other equipment
 

Offline Bob S

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Re: PicoScope PC based oscilloscopes..
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2013, 01:52:50 am »
I have one but it almost never gets used as I don't like using the mouse driven interface. It works "okay"within its specifications, but no knobs or buttons. It also can take more time to set it up if your PC is not ready to go, some USB connections issues and often the PC in my lab must be used for other tasks at the same time. Although these limitation is obvious the PC interface limitations are something to keep in mind. If you are like me, you might never warm up to it. Perhaps I am just old fashioned. Also I don't think that the price / performance is holding up as well as it once did against some of the newer low end scopes.
 

Offline poorchava

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Re: PicoScope PC based oscilloscopes..
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2013, 06:10:58 am »
They are very good. I mean they are as close to bench scopes' specs as a portable scope can be. They are real scopes (as opposed to shit like dso-nano and all the other clones).

As a matter of fact, they have perfectly good bandwidth for the intended type of use - which is automotive diagnostics - at least that's where Pico's products see most use.
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