My acquaintance with Pico started a long, long time ago. I remember the first USB oscilloscopes by this company – they were quite cheap, simple. Tools for beginners-amateurs.

A long time has passed. Pico has changed beyond recognition.  

Disclaimer. I do not get any solatium or discounts for promoting products of this or any other manufacturer. This is my personal opinion, based on the information available to me.

At this moment. Pico Scope USB oscilloscopes are developed and manufactured by Pico Technology. These tools are intended for professionals and, excluding only the cheapest versions, constitute serious competition to the “regular” oscilloscopes. 

Pico has moved even further. Indicating their ambitions on the automotive segment, Pico has created the Pico Auto division, which has a separate web resource:

The first positive impression you will have, already opening the web resource. As you see, there are sections of the support, internet forum, downloads, and library. 

Support – information for communication, possibilities of the training courses, also the information, how to use the oscilloscope;

Internet forum – discussions regarding nuances of the Pico products, diagnose cases of the cars;

Downloads – not only newer but also older, stable versions of the software are available for download, they changelog;

Library – case studies, signal libraries, training courses, and much other useful information;

In my opinion, it is clear: this time, we don’t talk only about the oscilloscope. We talk about service, where the tool’s manufacturer does everything for the diagnostics specialist to get a positive result. 

Let’s move to the automotive oscilloscope

Again I have to mark – we don’t talk only about the oscilloscope. There are several sets available, which differ by the oscilloscope’s performance (2 or 4 channels) and the set of additional accessories.

Considerable specific nuances:

a. band 10/20MHz (USB 2.0/3.0) [1];

b. 12/16bit vertical resolution [2];

c. memory of 250M samples;

d. possibilities of advanced math, trigger;

e. decoding of CAN; FlexRay e.c., .data communication [3];

f. active probes, etc.

[1] 20MHz bandwidth is limited due to USB data transmission speed. The built-in (hardware-based) analyzer allows seeing FlexRay data buses, so – everything is fine with the oscilloscope’s speed!

[2] high quality of the picture, low signal noise

[3] the most important during decoding of data buses during diagnostics is that there are no error messages regarding damaged data buses.

Here, the list with a full set:

Impressive! How this set looks: 

Yes, such a set is not cheap. But you can start the introductions with this oscilloscope already from EUR 730. If you pay EUR 850, you will get the oscilloscope with the active probes. Yes, this is not the cheapest oscilloscope you have seen (sorry for the irony), but – its options are unlimited!

Note: the active probes allow to compensate the Ground interference. It is essential if several tools are in use, and they are power-supplied from different sources. 

I decided to dedicate several minutes to evaluate how the Pico staff is communicating in their internet forum. Here, the “problem” of the PS7 feature of the newest software: here

I believe no comments necessary – on the same day, Pico’s employee gave a detailed explanation (much more detailed as expected). This is an example, how communication with customers should be maintained!

Yes, a full set of Pico Scope may be overkill for you. If you work only with your own car, most probably, the Starter kit also will be overkill. Even if you choose a cheaper oscilloscope from another manufacturer, I suggest – check the Pico webpage: you will find a lot of worthy information here! Use Pico as the point of reference, what the product and service of this niche should be.