My PicoScope notes

Started 29Sept2017. Updated 13Apr2018. See Mar2018 – PicoScope on Windows-10/BootCamp/Parallels

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. (Update: But in real use, ran like a nightmare. See Mar2018 chapter below.)

Here was my first About box (I already have a newer update, see further down):

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

Newest on the top:

Apr2018 – PicoScope on macOS High Sierra

masOS 10.13.4. PicoScope 6.12.9.64.

I have downloaded several versions of mono. They seem to replace the older, up or down versions. Here are two installs, done between the two version commands:

mymachine:~ myuser$ mono --version
Mono JIT compiler version 5.10.0.160 (2017-12/f3ac8fdeb37 Tue Mar  6 14:07:30 EST 2018)
Copyright (C) 2002-2014 Novell, Inc, Xamarin Inc and Contributors. www.mono-project.com
	TLS:           normal
	SIGSEGV:       altstack
	Notification:  kqueue
	Architecture:  amd64
	Disabled:      none
	Misc:          softdebug 
	Interpreter:   yes
	LLVM:          yes(3.6.0svn-mono-master/8b1520c8aae)
	GC:            sgen (concurrent by default)
mymachine:~ myuser$ mono --version
Mono JIT compiler version 5.8.0.129 (2017-10/835a98d8559 Fri Feb 23 21:09:37 EST 2018)
Copyright (C) 2002-2014 Novell, Inc, Xamarin Inc and Contributors. www.mono-project.com
	TLS:           normal
	SIGSEGV:       altstack
	Notification:  kqueue
	Architecture:  amd64
	Disabled:      none
	Misc:          softdebug 
	LLVM:          yes(3.6.0svn-mono-master/8b1520c8aae)
	GC:            sgen (concurrent by default)
mymachine:~ myuser$
Problem log 2 (Mac)
  1. Before I had remembered to install mono (since this was on a different machine)
    1. PicoScope click to start on the Dock just makes the Dock shiver a little. That’s all. And I could not find anything in the logs; all trace I found in any of those was from the PicoScope install. Why can’t PicoScope run a pre-script checking whether mono is running and informed a poor user it it weren’t?
  2. mono 5.0.1.1
    1. PicoScope 6 is not optimized for your Mac. This program must be updated by the developer to increase the compatability.” This is about it not being a 64 bits app, see https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208436
    2. Problem log (Mac) point 4, button press unresponsible, again. I went to eat and when I came back it did respond on button presses. But a pssettings file from my other machine gave me a rotating wheel. Force quit and restart PicoScope..
    3. ..but then the pssettings file opened and gave me the settings ok. Curves are collected fine. I wanted to try the newest stable mono:
  3. mono 5.10.0.160
    1. PicoScope would not start. Same after restart of machine. So I downgraded mono:
  4. mono 5.8.0.129 (that the support guy at PicoScope had been running in High Sierra)
    1. PicoScope started, pssettings opened fine
    2. I was not able to reproduce Problem log (Mac) point 10.

Mar2018 – PicoScope on Windows-10/BootCamp/Parallels

12Mar2018: I gave up on the Mac client. It crashed all the time on me. I mean all the time. The 2208B MSO cost a lot from my private money, but for Mac users that want to run native my experience is: forget it, at least for now. This is not good at all. Find another scope, since in that case you really don’t have a client. But since I have Parallels also running Windows 10 (about it here), I installed the last “stable” PicoScope client. (I certainly hope that’s true). PicoScope is now the first applicatiion I would seriously run in that world. When I first started it it couldn’t find my USB. So I found a page (here) that showed how to add a USB connection to the Parallels Virtual Machine (VM).

The PicoScope client that runs on Windows now looks just like any other application, there is only that window for it. “Microsoft Windows with windows” is not the concept, but individual windows. I like it.

This seems like an entirely different application than the client for macOS (even if the crisp 4K 4096×2304 screen on my iMac isn’t respected; the PicoScope looks rather old fashioned in that respect (which is OK, I have it for the signals)). Windows is set up with the correct 4K screen size, so it must be PicoScope. (Update: 17Mar2018. There was an update of Windows and now the the PicoScope window is really crisp! It looks like the rest of the applications running on thie “retina” 4K screen! It runs inside “Boot Camp macOS-Windows” as also seen in “Parallels Desktop Control center”. But pressing the blue topmost left button took me to the alone window again, seen just like any other macOS window.) I can even make labels on the curves! And it displays the window while I run my coding IDE (XMOS xTIMEcomposer). So now I am 30 minutes into it and it wonderously hasn’t crashed once on me! (And over the night it was only Windows upgrade assistant that halted it, since it wanted a restart for some applications that had been upgraded. Why they need a restart for that, don’t ask me. But the good thing is, macOS runs while Microsoft reboots.) PicoScope is doing 100 megasamples at 50 μs/div and the client runs! (So the Windows-10, BootCamp and Parallels layers also run! Nice)

The About PicoScope top Mac menu line displays “Boot Camp macOS-Windows (11.32663.0)”. The PicoScope, Help, About.. menu entry shows:

PicoScope® 6 – PC Oscilloscope software version: 6.12.9.2917
Copyright © 1995-2017, 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: 1.3.0.14
Firmware Version: 1.3.3.0 / 1.0.53.0

After working with it for some days, I have had problems, but not near the number of problems of the macOS client. See Problem log (Windows). But I must also admit that when it works (which it does most of the time), I just love it. It certainly is very helpful. Any thought of trying to get the money back and buy a desktop scope instead only now and then has arosen. But I’m not there now.

Feb2018

My present About box (below). However, it seems to hang every now and then so I have to restart it; but that was a problem for the previous version as well. However, see Problem log (below)

PicoScope® 6 – PC Oscilloscope software version: 6.12.9.64
Copyright © 1995-2018, 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, 1.4.0.10
Firmware Version: 1.3.3.0 / 1.0.53.0

Sept2017

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:

Problem log (Windows)

  1. PicoScope 6.12.9.2917 crash. I think the crash log was sent to Pico Tech. I was doing some scaling/zoom of the curve, while data collection was stopped. This happens again and again. Make sure to save your settings to a file, because the crash dialogue box that comes up has a button to clear data thay may hinder PicoScope from restarting (that I push) – when my settings are all deleted
  2. When I come back with the PicoScope client running, some times it’s not able to collect data. I have to restart PicoScope
  3. When I get back after a while it said “Check USB cable…”. No reason to, it’s (physically) there! I had to restart it: “No suitable device found”. Looking into the Parallels setup it looks like the “Share Bluetooth devices with Windows” checkbox was off. I ticket it the day before. I ticked it again and restarted the VM, as I was told. The 2208B MSO appeared as it should
  4. 16Mar2018: Some times when I start PicoScope I get error messages about overrange. The values seem to be some 7.x and 11.y Volt. But it’s not (I have max 3.3V), all connection and scaling as well as probes are ok set and configured. But the curves look like a Norwegian wood. I have found that if I open the Probe dialogue box and press the Zero button the relays click in the scope box, the client comes with another message that this was no success. But it fixes my problem. The box and the client must have been out of synch. I also used this method to solve a problem with the macOS PicoScope client. See point 1 below
  5. Apr2018: With the Windows PicoScope client stopped and I tried to start the OS X PicoScope clent the icon went in and out of the dock until I stopped the Parallels desktop. I guess that it gave the USB connection back to OS X? Strange, because in theory PicoScope starts without the USB connected.. When I tried to start Parallels again then the Mac PicoScope client went “waiting for data” so I had to restart it after stopping Parallels before it got the data back again
  6. Apr2018: I will do everything I could not to run Windows because the Windows Upgrade Assistant keeps nagging all the time; and every time it tells me that it failed with error message 0xc190020e with a URL. I think it’s because it’s not able to upgrade because my Windows partition (that runs Windows 10 Home (1511), but not upgrading it) used by Parallels (BOOTCAMP) is 32 GB – and not that I would want to give it more if I didn’t really have to. To avoid having to reinstall the whole machine including OS X. So if the PicoScope Mac client becomes as good as the Windows client I’d be very happy!

Problem log (Mac)

By the way. I have moved to Windows. See Mar2018 (above)

  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 Preferences to do so
    • When I was going to reproduce this for the Pico Technical Support Team (they are treating this list seriously, of course I informed them about it. I want to help) and send them the trace.xml file, then I was using the Windows PicoScope client (see above). When I started the macOS client it could not find the device. Obviously because it was connected to Parallels’ VM. But when I tried to tell Parallels, in the USB & Bluetooth hardware config box, not to Share Bluetooth devices with Windows that didn’t help either. I also, in the USB Connection Preferences told it that all USB devices should go to Mac. I tried to restart Parallels. No help. I of course unplugged and plugged the 2208B MSO while testing this. It was only when stopped Parallels that the macOS PicoScope 6 Beta saw the device. (I am not certain what I really stopped, but I did press the on/off button in the Parallels Descktop Control center. It then showed a crescent moon). If I started Parallels again, the macOS PicoScope showed no curves, no warning. When I restarted it it did say that it could not find the device again. I did have to stop Parallels again.
      • By the way, in both cases when teh macOS PicoScope started with the device it was out of synch. I solved it as with the Problems log (Windows) point 4 above. But in one case I had to press the Clear button again, to remove the zeroed state
  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. Explained better: This goes for any other application, like PicoScope and TextEdit etc. PicoScope is minimalised when I activate any application, and I have to make PicoScope active again to see both PicoScope and xTIMEcomposer and TextEdit on the same screen
  8. The Notes window cannot be rescaled
  9. It crashed when I was going to export PDF
  10. (6.12.9.64) with OS X El Capitan 10.11.6 (that the download page says it hasn’t been tested on (only on Sierra and High Sierra)). It crashes when I try to re-edit Settings from the Serial decoding window. 100 MSamples per frame and 100ms/div. (Update Apr2018: I was not able to reproduce this on a macOS High Sierra install, see point 4.2 in Problem log 2 (Mac). But when I installed mono 5.8.0.129 (that the support guy at PicoScope had been running in High Sierra) and ran PicoScope 6.12.9.64 on OS X El Capitan 10.11.6 I could not reproduce this crash either)
  11. If I try to run the older (6.11.13.2) I now get this message: The file ‘/Users/teig/.local/share/Pico Technology/260a68f1-c314-451b-830f-0a5e01d65514/lastsessions.PSSETTINGS’ was created with a newer version of the application. To use this file, you must first install the latest version of this software. There must be some twist to the logic of that error message. Anyhow I don’t understand what to do
  12. Changing speed like ms/div and all the rest of them have fields that reshape by the contents of the scaling window. So pressing repeated in one direction soon fails or hits another in another field! The Windows client doesn’t do this (13Mar2018)
  13. Update Apr2018: There is a small Problem log 2 (Mac)

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