PicoScope Flexible Resolution Oscilloscope

PicoScope has developed its PicoScope 5000 series to provide flexible resolution to enable the right balance between speed and resolution for each measurement.


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What is a Flexible Resolution oscilloscope one may ask. Well it is one that enables the optimum performance to be achieved when using higher resolution levels.

To achieve the maximum resolution, i.e. the highest number of bits, it is often necessary to interleave multiple 8 bit ADCs. Whilst this provides the higher resolution is slows the data rate achievable and it can also introduce errors.

By adopting a flexible resolution architecture for the test instrument, it is possible to gain the best performance for any given situation.

PicoScope 5244B 2 channel flexible resolution USB oscilloscope front panel
PicoScope 5244B flexible resolution USB oscilloscope

Flexible resolution oscilloscope technology

The PicoScope 5000 Series USB scopes have a significantly different architecture in which multiple high-resolution ADCs can be applied to the input channels in different time-interleaved and parallel combinations to boost either the sampling rate to 1 GS/s at 8 bits or the resolution to 16 bits at 62.5 MS/s.

In time-interleaved mode, the ADCs are interleaved to provide 1 GS/s at 8 bits. Interleaving reduces the performance of the ADCs, but the result (60 dB SFDR) is still much better than oscilloscopes that interleave 8-bit ADCs. This mode can also provide 500 MS/s at 12 bits resolution.

In parallel mode, multiple ADCs are sampled in phase on each channel to increase the resolution, revealing every detail of the signal in a crystal-clear display. Sampling in parallel with multiple ADCs and combining the output reduces noise and also both the integral and differential nonlinearity, providing outstanding single shot dynamic performance without loss of bandwidth or need of a repetitive signal

Using parallel mode, resolution is increased to 14 bits at 125 MS/s per channel (> 70 dB SFDR). If only two channels are required then resolution can be increased to 15 bits, and in single-channel mode all the ADCs are combined to give a 16-bit mode at 62.5 MS/s.

The software gives the choice of selecting the resolution or leaving the scope in “auto resolution” mode where the optimal resolution is used for the chosen settings.

PicoScope 5000 series oscilloscope

The PicoScope 5000S USB scopes come complete with the scope box, USB lead, and two scope probes. There is also the usual documentation to get started, but most of the instructions are on the Internet.

The USB scope itself is contained within a neat but robust case making it ideal for many applications. Although quite compact, it looks as if it will be able to withstand everyday wear and tear, whilst it is small enough to carry with a laptop computer, or place neatly on a laboratory bench.

PicoScope 5244B flexible resolution USB oscilloscope rear panel
PicoScope 5244B flexible resolution USB oscilloscope rear panel showing connections

The case has rubberised plastic around the panels at front and back. These give a good degree of shock absorbency - a distinct advantage in many situations, especially when the test instrument is used for field or portable applications.