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Author Topic: Picoscope from Pico Technology  (Read 743 times)
DL8OV
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Posts: 1051




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« on: April 25, 2019, 10:48:12 AM »

This is a UK company who manufacture and sell a range of oscilloscopes that plug into a USB port on your PC or laptop. There is no display, everything is done via their software running on the computer. It's a neat system and handy for those with a smaller shack.

I've run one of their units for about ten years and it's always been a reasonable performer. However, over the last month or so, things have started to turn sour. Initially I had a simple problem, after so long I wanted to re-calibrate the inputs of the scope and trim out a small DC error. However, there are no adjustable controls inside the box apart from one trimmer on each channel for frequency compensation. I contacted Pico Technology and was told that they did not supply any service information to users and the scope should be returned to them for calibration.

Then last weekend it died. The LED is still on and I can see the thing in MS Windows device manager, but every time I start up the software it insists that there is no device present.

So, with no service information and a service department that considers a 14-day gap between sending them an email and getting a reply as acceptable behavior I now have a decision to make. Do I spend over three hundred Euro including insured shipping to get this thing fixed, or do I spend five hundred Euro on a new scope that has double the number of channels and comes with a 5-year warranty from a Chinese manufacturer?

Buyer beware.

Peter DL8OV
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WI8P
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Posts: 717




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« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2019, 12:35:23 PM »

What you are reporting is more often a software driver issue than a hardware problem.  If you are using Windows, it's very possible one of Windows updates loaded and assigned a driver for it that Windows thinks is proper.  Try reloading the old driver.
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W4JCK
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« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2019, 08:12:43 AM »

I'm familiar with Pico.  I have considered their products a few times, but ultimately chose a full bench instrument.  As WI8P mentioned, you're often at the mercy of the capricious nature of an operating system with USB gear.  You said you've been using the Pico for 10 years - not too bad - speaks to the quality of the unit.
The myriad of Chinese scope models available now and the advances in the last 10 years do make for a tough choice in your circumstance.  Sample rates are better and record lengths are huge now.  You may not need it for the work you're doing, but it is tempting.

Do know that there is usually very little in the way of real service info on these scopes too.  Unlike older analog scopes, there is very little to "tweak".  Calibration is all in-box.

Siglent has a big promotion, at least here in the US, doubling bandwidth for the same price.  Rigol, Gowon, Instek, et al may have similar offerings.

Do check the drivers as WI8P suggested - it may be a simple fix or there's nothing like getting a new scope!

Good luck

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DL8OV
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Posts: 1051




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« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2019, 03:04:58 AM »

No, it's not a driver problem. The scope was working when I closed the workshop down for the night and when I powered things up the next morning the problems started. Knowing how easy it is for Microsoft to screw up a working Windows 10 installation I leave my workshop PC isolated from the internet with no network drivers loaded, windows update therefore can't touch it.

Pico Technology finally replied and after doing some research on the cost of replacements I've decided to have it repaired rather than replaced. The total lack of service information bugs me though because I like to do my own repairs. Not being able to calibrate something I own also kinda sucks.

Peter DL8OV
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DL8OV
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Posts: 1051




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« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2019, 09:26:00 AM »

An update. The scope is damaged beyond economical repair and has been scrapped. Quite how applying power via the USB socket has damaged the USB interface AND the FPGA is left as an exercise for the reader.

I was offered a replacement Picoscope device at a discount and I declined, my next scope will NOT be a Picoscope.

Peter DL8OV
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