This is a blog post in support of the RoadTest PicoScope 6424E Oscilloscope + Accessories . It is the forth blog post in a series exploring the equipment in order to generate the content for the final RoadTest review.
This blog post will provide:
- the classic unboxing descriptions with images
- a look at quick start guide
- a setup tour
- initial impressions.
- what next
After some shipping delays the equipment arrived. It sat on the shelf for a few days until I freed up some time in my schedule to focus on the project. Let's start the project.
The equipment arrived in two separate boxes. The PicoScope 6424E was in one box and the two TA369 MSO Pods and PQ215 Probe holder kit in a second box. The PicoScope is housed in a very rugged foam lined plastic case 14" x 17" in dimension. On opening the case there is a plastic locking divider that keeps the contents to either side of the case. On the left there are two cutouts in the foam to hold two probe kits for a total of four probes. It is a four channel scope. Really nice to have one probe for each input. On the right hand side of the case, rests the scope, a DC power supply and four power cords to accommodate different wall power outlets. Attached to the divider is a clear folder that holds the 8 language, 60 page quick start guide. The document is also available online. Missing from the kit was the USB 3.0 cable.
The two MSO kits were housed in there own blue rugged holding cases. The MSO kit comes with a over 200 page user guide.
A blog post for the probe holder kit has already been made PicoScope 6424E Oscilloscope + Accessories: Unboxing (Probe Positioning System) .
I'm hoping that there will be sufficient room on the left side of the scope case to consolidate both the scope kit and two MSO kits all in the one case. Only one MSO was unboxed for this post. I know the probe holder kit won't fit in the scope equipment case, so it will have to stay back at the shop.
Quick Start Guide
In past RoadTest reviews, I have been disappointed with quick start documentation. Weller Soldering Station WT Series - Review Raspberry Pi4B (4GB) plus POE Hat - Review , it doesn't provide the details needed or it was a host of dead links. Tthat was not the case for the documentation provided. Nine pages in the English language section provides an Introduction, Installing the PicoScope software, Safety and conformance information, Connect your oscilloscope and useful information.
The Introduction provides an inventory of what is in the kit. That was to key to discovering the USB cable was missing. The Install Section, provides the details on the system requirements
and the four steps to installing the software. For the installation I followed the link picotech.com/downloads to a more comprehensive set of instructions contained in the user guide. The Quick Start Guide was correct but I was looking to gain some confidence by getting more details. What I found interesting was the commentary "The performance of the oscilloscope will improve with a more powerful PC, and will benefit from a multi‐core processor." No details of what constitutes a powerful PC are provided. I'm hoping the 32G of memory, the Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-8700K CPU @ 3.70GHz and a NVIDIA Corporation GeForce GT 1030 are sufficient.
labels piqued my interest. Over voltage protection, signal voltage limits and grounding are well documented. I recall from days of using an oscilloscope to troubleshoot televisions, that were you get a ground can impact whether you let the smoke out of the scope or not.
The last section contains the pictorials for connecting the equipment to a computer and a front a back description of all the connections and indicator lights on the scope.
The downloads link worked! No additional probing or site scraping to find the information specific to this product.
I grabbed four documents to further my research.
- PicoScope 6000E Series Data Sheet
- TA369 8-channel MSO Pod User’s Guide
- PicoScope 6 User’s Guide
- PicoScope 6000E Series Quick Start Guide (the hardcopy is found in the Oscilloscope case)
Before starting the scope software install, I let Windows 10 spend an hour gatherings and applying it's updates. The operating system I primarily use is Linux. I keep a legal copy of Windows 10 pro on a separate hard drive in the event I need a blue screen of death fix. I am hoping after my initial foray through the scope to investigate what is available in Linux. The requirements do suggest Linux is supported and Ubuntu is currently my flavour of choice.
I followed the instructions in the User Guide to install the software. The scope software installation took three minutes. I did a peruse of the pico website looking for possible equipment software updates. I found no hardware updates so the adage RTFM came back to bite me.
It seems the current 188.8.131.5207 dated May 22,2020 that I downloaded provides all the components to get the scope up and running.
The revelation on software updates found in the User Guide motivated me to continue the guide read and I wasn't disappointed. It would be nice to have a hard copy of the guide sitting on the desk. I didn't feel like killing a few trees to produce the paper in order to print the 269 page document. I soon discovered using the document electronically has it advantage. The pdf user interface is very well put together. If you need a break from reading, select the audio option and have a female voice recite the information to you.
I spent about three hours all told in the user guide following along. After the first hour an half, I actually connected the scope. The PC software comes with a demo mode that simulates the oscilloscope. You can make selections, examine menus and look at simulated signal without having the scope. If you are thinking of this scope as a purchase, I strongly recommend you install the software and work the demo, I think it will provide some insight.
The User Guide gave me some insight into tests that are possible, that I never even considered when I applied for this RoadTest. I will concentrate on completing what I submitted in my application for the RoadTest PicoScope 6424E Oscilloscope + Accessories: The Application but hope to explore and document some other possibilities.
The User Guide also provided me some ideas on how I might use some of the scope options to investigate the servo signal. At the moment, I'm still in learning mode regarding the basics of using the scope. It has been close to 20 years since I last used one. Hey, no problem, the User Guide got me over that hurdle with the section Using PicoScope for the very first time.
I feel I am off to off to a great start. From what I have been exposed to so far, PicoScope has impressed me. A stumble on the shipping and a missing cable were soon overshadowed by excellent supporting documentation that is actually designed to help and not just gap filler for marketing. No fumbling to find things at this point. Online links that work without having to do extensive probing. Online resources that provide the information needed. Instructions that work and reflect what is actually happening as you are doing them. No guessing at what is required. What I have seen and used from the software so far is clear and intuitive.
It has been a long time since I had to find the trigger control on a scope. Let alone remember how to use it to lock onto a signal. The documentation indicated were to find the control on the screen and the menu systems guided me to re-discovering what I needed to know. Hey you can teach an old dog new tricks. My confidence is building that I might be able to do justice to this RoadTest Review.
After completing a examination of the User Guide, I started scoping the output from a Arduino Nano and Uno that are driving a servo's. So that is why it is not working! Sorry, I'm sharing details I rather save for another blog post. After a bit more probing, with the scope that is, I will provide some additional blog commentary.