PicoDiagnostics is a complete engine health check. With just a simple connection to the battery you can perform a cylinder balance test, detect misfires, carry out a compression test and test batteries, starter motors and alternators. The results are displayed in a bargraph that can easily be understood by both you and your customer.
PicoDiagnostics is a standalone software package that is included with PicoScope Automotive. With PicoDiagnostics you can quickly check the health of most petrol and diesel engines. There’s no complicated procedures — simply connect one channel of your oscilloscope to the battery of the vehicle to be tested, run PicoDiagnostics, select your test and click a button.
Once PicoDiagnostics has completed the test, the results are displayed in a bar graph that makes it easy for anybody to understand. Using this report printing feature you can then produce a professional quality report suitable for presenting to customers.
Cylinder Balance Test
The cylinder balance measures how much each cylinder is contributing to the engine’s total power output. Performing a cylinder test using PicoDiagnostics is as simple as 1,2,3:
- Connect channel ‘A’ of your oscilloscope to the battery of the vehicle being tested.
- Start the engine.
- Load PicoDiagnostics, select the cylinder balance test and click start.
Once the test is finished, the software will analyse the data and the results will be displayed in a bar graph as shown in Figure 1. In normal use, to save time, the software does not identify which cylinder is which as you only need this information if a problem is detected.
Figure 2 shows a vehicle that has a drop in power. From the graph it is clear to see that one cylinder is continually giving less power. By clicking the right mouse button we can also display the variation, misfire and signal. The misfire option shows that no misfires have been detected, this suggests either a fueling problem such as a blocked injector or a mechanical problem such as poor compression.
Figure 3 shows a vehicle that has one cylinder that is giving less power than the others. Here the fault is caused by a misfire problem which is shown as a red bar on the graph.
The compression test will quickly tell you what condition the engine is in. Like the cylinder balance test, the compression test can be completed in just a few simple steps:
- Connect one channel of your oscilloscope to the battery of the vehicle being tested.
- Disable the engine.
- Load PicoDiagnostics, select the compression test and click start.
- Crank the engine when directed by the software.
Once the test is finished, the software will analyse the data and the results will be displayed in a bar graph. Figure 4 shows a vehicle with good compression on all cylinders.
Figure 5 shows a vehicle with a compression problem on one of the cylinders. Once PicoDiagnostics has detected a low cylinder a manual compression test should be run to verify the results and to find the specific cylinder which is low.
The battery test measures the battery voltage and current during cranking and startup of an engine. From these signals the test calculates some key parameters which can be used to detect faults.
To use the battery test, start PicoDiagnostics and load the test using the Tests menu. Follow the instructions below to connect your Automotive Oscilloscope to the vehicle and run the test.
- Connect Channel ‘A’ of your oscilloscope to the battery of the vehicle being tested.
- Connect the 600 A current clamp to Channel ‘B’ and clamp it around the battery lead.
- Load PicoDiagnostics, select the battery test and click start.
- Start the engine and let it run for 10 seconds.
Once the test is finished, the software will analyse the data and calculate some key parameters of your electrical system. The results will be displayed in the list under the signal.
Quick and Easy to Use, With Many Applications
PicoDiagnostics is so quick and easy to use that it can be used for many applications. Just some of the applications for PicoDiagnostics include:
- Fault diagnosis in the workshop and for breakdown recovery services. If a vehicle has an obvious engine fault, this software can help to quickly narrow down the cause. It makes an ideal companion to PicoScope Automotive software which can then be used to test the individual components to complete the diagnosis.
- Engine health check. As PicoDiagnostics is so quick and easy to use, it’s worth running on every vehicle that comes through the workshop even if they have no obvious faults, or have just come in for a service or new tyres. The software prints out a report on the condition of the engine which can be given to the customer either confirming the good running of the engine or showing that further investigation/work is required.
- Preventative maintainance for fleets of vehicles. Whether you run a fleet of commercial vehicles or rent out vehicles, performing a quick health check on the engine on a regular basis can help spot the early signs of developing problems. This can help avoid costly breakdowns in the field.
- Pre-purchase inspection. If you regularly purchase vehicles or perform checks on vehicles for customers prior to purchase then PicoDiagnostics is ideal. Within a few minutes you can perform an engine health check and print off a report for the customer.