My PicoScope notes

Started 29Sept2017. Updated 3Oct2017

Intro

The precursor to this note was that my test bench and temper outgrew my 20 MS/S BitScope. The full story of my experience with this still quite nice Australian scope is described in My BitScope notes.

Disclaimers: Even if I have a standard disclaimerDisclaimer 1: I have no association with Pico Technology or any other company I might mention here. There is no money involved neither with this nor any other blog notes of mine. (Well, that’s not completely true: I have happily bought the English PicoScope 2208B MSO). Here I will blog about my experience with this, and see what is and what might be in it for me. Disclaimer 2: I am no oscilloscope specialist!

Desk real estate is still limited

Fig.1 PicoScope 2208B MSO on my desk (press for for larger picture)

Just like I made a safe haven for the tiny BitScope box, the also tiny (but surely larger) PicoScope 2000 Series box I also gave a steady home. The problem is the rather large probes, connected to BNC contacts, that 1) take desk top real estate and 2) would be moored to the box that fast would change roles and float around on my desk’s limited space. So I found an aluminum box that I had picked up from some recycled HW at work, cut it and made fastening brackets for the PicoScope. See picture above, press for full resolution. (By the way, on the picture I am measuring on my My xCORE-200 eXplorerKIT notes (WiFi) board, the project that caused me to enter this PicoScope era.)

Now I push the cables down under, so that using the scope isn’t invasive at all. 

PicoScope 2208B MSO

PicoScope 2208B MSO samples at max 1 GS/S and has two analogue inputs of 100 MHz bandwidth. It stores 128 MSamples and has 16 digital inputs. It’s powered over the USB cable that also carries the data (like the BitScope USB scope).

Aside: I bought it from a Norwegian distributor (Elfa Distrelec) at NOK 9796 all included. It’s USD 999 (excluding tax and shipping) at the English PicoScope pages (here) – to which customs (if any) and VAT (25%) would be added at the Norwegian border. So I guess i it’s break even for me (since 1$ = 7.96NOK now). Again, the disclaimers.

Installing the client on a Mac

The newest client for Mac is a PicoScope Beta 6.11.13.2 for Mac OS X including Drivers from May 10 2016, almost 1.5 years old. The stable for Windows is 6.12.9 from Jun 22 2017 only three months old. Newest beta for Windows is PicoScope 6.13.1 and it’s dated at Aug 17 2017, only a month old.

As a Mac user I of course feel less privileged.

I hope the Mac client is good enough. I do run Windows 10 through Parallels on my machine as well (here) so I could of course use it later on. If I must.

28Sept2017. I downloaded the PicoScope client for my Mac (I run OS X / MacOs El Capital 10.11.6) from here and started it. It just crashed. I watched the logs and couldn’t find anything related to a crash. So I discovered a support thread (here) where the Pico team states that for the first startup “Our Development Team are aware of an issue relating to the use of Mono Runtime 5.2 or later which has been fixed. This should be available via the next release. In the meantime, please use the Mono Runtime 5.0.1.1.” Great, it was dated Sep 26, 2017 (some days ago!), then there is hope of a new version for Mac! Ok, I must have had an earlier version of the Mono Runtime installed, because I hadn’t especially installed anything now. So I downloaded 5.0.1.1 (from here). (Mono Runtime is Microsoft’s .NET Framework based on the ECMA standards for C# and the Common Language Runtime and makes Windows SW run on Macs.)

After that PicoScope6 started like a dream.

Here’s my About box:

PicoScope® 6 – PC Oscilloscope software version: 6.11.13.2
Copyright © 1995-2016, Pico Technology Ltd.Model: PicoScope 2208B MSO
Serial Number: ET321/0012
USB Version: 2,0
Calibration Date: mandag 6. februar 2017
Hardware Version: 1
Driver Version: PS2000A MacOSX Driver, 1.1.6.18
Firmware Version: 1.3.3.0 / 1.0.50.0

My first real measurement

It’s used in note 143 Loading SPI_CLK is no good and in the xCORE Exchange Loading SPI_CLK is no good comment of 1Oct2017. I just love what I see. I have no intention to write a User Manual here, so it’s without comments:

Fig.13 of note 143 – SPI_CLK as seen with a PicoScope 2208B MSO (press for more pixels)

Logs

PicoScope 6.11.13.2 for Mac. Mono 5.0.1.1. Since I am an engineer I may be best at pinpointing problems. However, to be fair I’ll try tp add som aha points as well. Newest at the bottom:

Aha log

  1. I certainly enjoy what I see!

Problem log

  1. Will not pick up data from the box “the day after”. Has happened several times. Must stop and restart PicoScope client. The client seems to work, but to me it looks like it’s not in synch with the box. When I do restart the client it clicks in the relays in the box and it takes up curves. However, the setup is not restored, even if I have set Prefernces to do so
  2. One such restart after a stop like the above caused a crash and log that I sent to Apple
  3. Rescaling the larger window is not very responsive. Drag and push/pull, the windows follows after a while
  4. Some times it reads curves but does not handle user clicks. The macOS is able to open and close any window (like Preferences), but buttons are non-responsive while the client shows curves continuously. However, all of a sudden some key is taken and then it seems responsive again
  5. Not easy to find or make appear the boxes with which to move the vertical rulers
  6. Undo when it comes to doing things in PicoScope doesn’t seem to exist
  7. I have not figured out how to have PicoScope and XMOS xTIMEcomposer be visible on the same screen

 

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