Automotive PicoScope Hardware
Automotive Oscilloscope Kits containing a PicoScope
Pico have been designing, manufacturing and improving our oscilloscopes for over 20 years. Our objective is simple: to make the best automotive oscilloscope in the world.
6th Generation PicoScopes
The latest 6th generation, 4225A and 4425A PicoScopes replace the 4225 and 4425. These scopes are very rugged and are designed for general workshop use. The Specifications are almost identical to the previous 4x25 Scopes except that the latest 'A-series' PicoScopes have PicoBNC+ inputs. PicoBNC+ inputs still have a BNC connector and are therefore backward compatible. This means that all legacy BNC accessories such as current clamps, pressure sensors, etc. can be used with PicoBNC+ inputs.
The PicoBNC+ channel status lights help you to quickly and confidently set up your PicoScope by showing you which probes and channels to connect and their status.
A new range of PicoBNC+ accessories are available. The PicoBNC+ interface allows the scope to identify the accessory as soon as it is plugged in. The software automatically re-configures itself and sets up the channel to suit the accessory. For instance, the display will change to amps for a current probe or ohms for a resistance probe. Another advantage is that the scope can provide power to the accessories so PicoBNC+ current clamps don't need batteries.
8-Channel 4823 PicoScope
An 4823 8-Channel Automotive PicoScope has also been introduced for demanding applications that require more than four channels. This scope has standard BNC inputs and is intended for complex diagnostic tasks where extra channels are necessary as well as for automotive development. All of the latest scopes are powerful enough for the next generation of vehicles with new technologies such as CAN-FD.
Other PicoScope hardware innovations include:
- Floating inputs for non-grounded measurements and voltage drop tests (2 and 4-channel instruments only)
- Higher voltage ranges (up to 200 V - 2 and 4-channel instruments only)
- ConnectDetect® to ensure you have a good connection
- Advanced triggers to capture intermittent faults
- Hardware filters and frequency measurement
- USB 3.0 connected and powered.
When you purchase any diagnostic tool you not only spend money but you also spend time learning how best to use it. We protect that investment in two ways. First we develop hardware and software that is easy to use for those starting out with oscilloscopes yet has the power and features demanded by experienced users. Second, we do not compromise on quality or specifications, so expect the PicoScope hardware you buy today to still be an essential part of your diagnostic toolbox 10 years from now.
Floating Inputs - 4x25A PicoScopes Only
Floating input channels are a unique new technology that allows safe, low-noise measurements even in situations where none of the inputs are grounded. Floating inputs allow a single input to perform voltage drop tests (for example, along the battery to starter motor cable) and measurements on non-grounded signals like hybrid electric motor drives. With floating inputs the maximum allowable voltage difference between any two channel grounds is 30 V. The inputs can now measure up to 200 V an improvement of 100 V compared to the 4823 8-channel and the old 4x23 PicoScopes).
Remember: on a floating input scope, grounding one input does not ground all the others. You must provide signal and return (ground) connections for each input that you are using. You can think of them as 2 or 4 independent multimeters.
Oscilloscope Connect Detect Feature
Making sure that you have a good connection to the signal you want to test is not always easy. With ConnectDetect® enabled, indicators on screen, and lights on the scope itself, turn from red to green as soon as a good connection is detected.
Once a good connection is established, the on-screen icons fade so as not to obscure the waveform. If, however, the status changes (for example vibration causes a probe to become loose), the icons will highlight the change.
Deep Memory Oscilloscope
The best way to diagnose an intermittent fault is often to set up the scope to measure from several components and wait for the fault to occur. For an intermittent misfire, you might want to capture several minutes of cam, crank, ignition and injector waveforms. These types of tests require an oscilloscope with a "deep" memory buffer, so that you can capture for long periods of time and then zoom in without any gaps or loss of detail.
With PicoScope you can collect 250 MILLION samples, more than any other automotive oscilloscope. Our advanced "always on" memory technology uses hardware acceleration to make sure that the processing of large amounts of data does not slow the oscilloscope down even when you are using a slower or older PC.
Deep memory allows long recordings at high speed – you capture a complete test drive whilst looking for intermittent faults. When not using the full memory for a single waveform, PicoScope automatically stores up to the last 10,000 waveforms in the buffer, so you can stop the scope and “wind back time” to see every capture.
Crisp, clear high-resolution Display
A deep waveform memory gives you a high time resolution, but a high vertical resolution is equally important. It allows you to see small changes in signal such as ignition coil oscillations and the small dip in current when an injector opens.
Many oscilloscopes only offer 8-bit resolution which allows 256 vertical steps. As most PC monitors have vertical resolutions of over 1000 pixels, this results in a low-resolution "blocky" display. The PicoScope 4225A, 4425A and 4823 have 12-bit resolution (4096 steps), and when not using the full sampling rate of the scope this can be enhanced to 16 bits (65 536 steps). See our article on Oscilloscope Specifications.
The image shows the same ignition signal captured at both 8 bits and 12 bits. With the 8-bit oscilloscope the coil oscillations are distorted while at 12 bits they are in clear high definition.
The latest PicoScopes can capture signals faster than ever. With sampling rates of up to 400 million samples per second, there is nothing that can escape the scrutiny of PicoScope.
CAN and FlexRay are now common on vehicles, and new protocols such as SENT for digital sensors and CAN FD (up to 5x faster than the current CAN standard) will appear in new vehicles from 2017. The fast sampling rate ensures that the PicoScope Hardware in the 4225A, 4425A and 4823 oscilloscopes have the speed to handle future needs as vehicle technology changes.
USB 3.0 for Power, Speed and Simplicity
As with our previous generations of PicoScope oscilloscopes, no external power supply is required and there are no batteries to go flat, just a simple reliable connection to the USB port.
The PicoScope 4225A, 4425A and 4823 have the latest SuperSpeed USB 3.0 port to interface to your PC. Don't worry if your PC only has USB 2.0 ports – the PicoScopes are fully compatible with these too. If you have USB 3.0 on your PC you will notice slightly faster screen update rates, faster file saving and USB streaming. As more of our customers move to PCs with USB 3.0, free software updates will ensure that you get the full benefits available from the new standard.
Our unique fast USB streaming allows continuous gap-free data to be collected straight to PC memory. This makes features like our cylinder balance, battery test and (optional) NVH tests possible. It also allows the oscilloscope to display live, real-time data without waiting for the screen to refresh.
Most new users start by using the guided tests to configure all the settings automatically. As your experience grows there are many advanced features to explore. These include:
- Advanced digital triggers. Unique among automotive oscilloscopes, these trigger modes allow you to trigger when there is too long a time gap (such as when an injector fails to fire). They can also be set to trigger and sound an alarm when a sensor signal goes out of range.
- Filters. Some signals are noisy as wires in the loom pick up noise from other wires. The ECU filters this noise out. The PicoScope 4225A and 4425A have selectable hardware filters to remove this noise, so you see what the ECU sees.
- Hardware frequency measurement. Flow sensors and some airflow sensors output a digital frequency signal. Most oscilloscopes can't extract usable diagnostic information from this, but your PicoScope can convert it to a conventional analog waveform (as shown in this MAF sensor example).
Every aspect of your PicoScope hardware has been designed for a long working life, and it has the performance to ensure it will not be obsoleted by the changing technology in new vehicles. The hardware is robust and reliable with no moving parts or batteries to fail. Combine this with free support and free software updates for the life of the product and its easy to see why a PicoScope is the choice for professional diagnostics.