Pico Technology

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Pico Technology
IndustryElectronic Test Equipment
Founded1991 (1991) in Cambridgeshire, UK[2]
Cambridgeshire, UK
Area served

Pico Technology is a UK-based manufacturer of high-precision PC-based oscilloscopes and automotive diagnostics equipment, founded in 1991.[3][4][5][6][7] Their product range includes the PicoScope line of PC-based oscilloscopes, data loggers, automotive equipment, and most recently, handheld USB-based oscilloscopes.[3][4][8][9][10][11] Since their inception in 1991, Pico Tech has been researching and developing PC-based oscilloscopes, when the market standard was analogue storage oscilloscopes.[11] Pico Technology is one of two European scope manufacturers, and competes in the low to middle end of the instrumentation market.[12]

Pico Technology won The Queen's Award for Enterprise in 2014 (International Trade), and was named a "Key player" in the Global Electronic Test & Measurement Instruments Market by Global Industry Analysts.[13][14][15] Their equipment is considered "a modern alternative to traditional and costly bench-top test and measurement equipment", and that they "cost a fraction of traditional automotive oscilloscopes and engine analyzers".[16][17]

The PicoScope 5000 variable resolution USB-based oscilloscope was voted as the Test & Measurement Product of the Year at Elektra Awards 2013, presented by Electronics Weekly at Lancaster, London.[18][19][20] The series also won the DesignVision 2014 award for Test and Measurement Equipment, presented by UBM Tech Electronics at the DesignCon 2014 trade show.[21]

The Pico Automotive Diagnostic Kit was chosen as the Top 20 Tools of 2003 by Motor magazine,[17] the Top Product of 2005 by Commercial Vehicles Workshop magazine, the Top Product of 2002 and Top Product of 2003 by Professional Motor Mechanic magazine, and their FirstLook Sensor won an Innovation Award by Professional Tool & Equipment News in 2004.[22][23][24]


All PicoScope models include an integrated function generator or arbitrary waveform generator, triggering, automatic measurements with statistics, a Fast Fourier transform spectrum analysis mode, waveform maths, mask limit testing, and serial decoding for I2C, SPI, UART, CAN, LIN and FlexRay.[3]

USB 2.0 oscilloscopes from Pico Tech are available with bandwidths up to 1 GHz, up to 4 input channels, hardware vertical resolutions up to 16 bits, sampling rates up to 5 GS/s, buffer sizes up to 2 GS, and built-in signal generators.[25]

USB 3.0 SuperSpeed oscilloscopes from Pico Tech offers up to 500 MHz bandwidth (1.25Gsample/s) on four channels, and 2 GS of buffer memory shared between the channels.[3][26] Pico Tech has been variously credited for developing the world's first USB 3.0 PC-based oscilloscope.[26]

The PicoScope 6000 series is considered a "Deep-memory oscilloscope", and uses hardware acceleration to provide fast display update rates on the PC.[1][10] The 6000 Series hardware acceleration engine can process up to 5 billion samples per second, approximately two-orders-of-magnitude faster than what could be processed on a typical PC CPU.[10]

The PicoScope 9000 series of "sampling scopes" are noted to reach a 12 GHz and even 20 GHz sampling rate, and are often used for analysing electrical communications standards and mainstream signal integrity (SI).[10][27][28] Such oscilloscopes work in conjunction with the PicoScope PC software that supports 70+ serial standards including RapidIO, PCI Express and Serial ATA.[28][29]

The PicoScope Advanced Automotive Diagnostics Kit enables testing of ignition, injectors and fuel pumps, starter and charging circuits, batteries, alternators, starter motors, and timer relays.[30] The Kit is compatible with any vehicle make or model, and can measure and test virtually all electrical and electronic components and circuits.[30] Power comes from USB port of PC so no batteries or power leads are required.[30]

The PicoLog range of data loggers includes various devices to periodically measure and record voltage, temperature, and power consumption data.[31][32] The range includes the DrDAQ educational multi-function data logger, that has been described as "a greatly simplified version of the PicoScopes", and "can certainly be recommended to those involved in teaching computer interfacing, or wishing to use computer based equipment when demonstrating appropriate scientific experiments".[33][34]

Pico Technology offers passive and active oscilloscope probes up to 1.5 GHz, high-voltage and high-bandwidth differential voltage probes, current probes, thermocouples, accelerometers and pressure transducers.[10]

PC Software[edit]

The PicoScope PC software is provided free with every oscilloscope, and enables real-time signal acquisition and capture of waveforms on Microsoft Windows, Debian and Ubuntu platforms.[3][8][25] PicoScope software enables analysis using FFT, a spectrum analyser, voltage-based triggers, and the ability to save/load waveforms to disk.[3][25] PicoScope is compatible with Parallel port oscilloscopes and the newer USB oscilloscopes.

The software has been described as "very good for laptops" and can be used with desktop or laptop PCs.[4] The Linux version has been described as "lightyears ahead [of] Qpicoscope and other attempts at Linux scope software" and "well capable of replacing a professional benchtop scope".[35] Beta versions of the software also work on the ARM-based BeagleBone Black and Raspberry Pi development hardware.[36]

PicoScope software enables real-time scope display with zooming and panning, and buffers captured waveforms on the PC to enable engineers to view previous measurements.[37] PicoScope uses configurable triggers, which are available for digital and analogue waveforms.[37] Triggers include pulse width, interval, window, window pulse width, level drop-out, window drop-out, runt pulse, variable hysteresis, and logic.[9][37] Mixed signal variants combine digitised analogue triggers with edge and pattern triggering on the digital inputs.[9]

Screen size and resolution are unrestricted, and depend on the PC connected.[9] For developers that require integration, PicoScope includes a free software development kit (SDK) with that can be programmed from C#, VB.NET, C++, Microsoft Excel, LabVIEW or MATLAB.[9][38][39]


  1. ^ a b PicoScope 6000 Series, Deep-memory high-performance USB scopes, Pico Tech Website
  2. ^ Pico Technology, Companies House service, UK Government
  3. ^ a b c d e f "5Gsample/s PC scope offers 500MHz bandwidth on four channels". Electronics Weekly.
  4. ^ a b c "Scopes for a grand". Electronics Weekly.
  5. ^ Pico Oscilloscopes, Pico Technology
  6. ^ About Pico, Pico Technology
  7. ^ Pico Auto, Pico Technology
  8. ^ a b "Embedded World: PicoScope gets Linux software". Electronics Weekly.
  9. ^ a b c d e "Pico Technology aims PC scope at bench engineers". Electronics Weekly.
  10. ^ a b c d e The Preferred Method for Electronic Test, R&D Magazine, 8 June 2014, Lindsay Hock, Managing Editor
  11. ^ a b History, Pico Technology
  12. ^ Would you be better off using a modular oscilloscope? Some companies think so, 13 March 2012, NewElectronics
  13. ^ Pico wins Queen's Award for Enterprise!, Test and Measurement News, May 2014, Pico Tech
  14. ^ Anglia signs Queen’s Award winner, Pico Technology, Disti World, Electronics Weekly, 28 April 2014
  15. ^ Technology Developments To Drive The Global General Purpose Electronic Test & Measurement Instruments Market, According To New Report By Global Industry Analysts, Inc., Test and Measurement, 9 June 2014
  16. ^ 18/04/15 Cambridge Companies Take The Lead at UK Hi Tech Developers’ Conference, Energi Technical Marketing, CambridgeWireless
  17. ^ a b Top Shelf Tools 2003, MOTOR Magazine
  18. ^ Congratulations to the 2013 Winners!, Elektra Awards
  19. ^ "Elektra Awards 2013 – The Winners". Electronics Weekly.
  20. ^ UBM Tech's DesignCon announces 2014 DesignVision Award Winners, PRNewswire, 29 January 2014
  21. ^ Flexible Resolution Oscilloscopes win DesignVision award!, Pico Technology Newsletter, January 2014
  22. ^ Awards and Reviews, Automotive Diagnostics Kit, Pico Automotive
  23. ^ FirstLook Engine Diagnostic Sensor, Pico Automotive
  24. ^ Automotive Diagnostics Kit, Interworld Electronics
  25. ^ a b c A USB scope for Linux fans, EDN Magazine, Christoph Hammerschmidt −19 February 2014
  26. ^ a b Cypress’s EZ-USB® FX3™ Controller Powers Industry’s First USB 3.0 Oscilloscopes from Pico Technology, BusinessWire, 17 April 2013
  27. ^ PicoScope 9000 Series sampling oscilloscopes, Pico Tech Website
  28. ^ a b "Pico improves 12GHz PC sampling scope". Electronics Weekly.
  29. ^ "USB sampling scope hits 12GHz". Electronics Weekly.
  30. ^ a b c Automotive Oscilloscope Kit turns PC into diagnostic tool, ThomasNet, 18 September 2014
  31. ^ Pico has beta drivers for Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone Black, NewElectronics, 19 November 2014, "The data logger range includes multichannel voltage loggers, 8channel thermocouple loggers and the educational DrDAQ multifunction logger"
  32. ^ PicoLog Data Loggers, Pico Tech
  33. ^ DrDAQ Data Logger Reviewed, Everyday Practical Electronics, July 2000
  34. ^ DrDAQ: It turns your PC into a science lab, Silicon Chip (UK), Review by Peter Smith, 2000
  35. ^ Picoscope Beta for Linux, Code and Life, Joonas Pihlajamaa, 19 January 2014
  36. ^ "USB scopes work with BeagleBone Black and Raspberry Pi". Electronics Weekly.
  37. ^ a b c "200MHz PC PicoScope gets four channels and 1Gsample/s". Electronics Weekly.
  38. ^ .Net Languages (C#, VB.Net), Pico Tech Forum
  39. ^ "Embedded World: PC scope has eight 20MHz 12bit channels". Electronics Weekly.

See also[edit]