Intake manifold pulsation (ignition triggered) - cranking

The purpose of this test is to assess the intake air and valve system for cylinder-specific defects using the First-Look sensor.



Uninsulated HT pickups are designed to clip around double-insulated HT leads only – they are not designed for direct connection to a hazardous live voltage.

To prevent injury or death, when connecting or disconnecting an HT pickup:

  1. switch off the ignition
  2. clean the HT leads
  3. inspect them for damage
  4. clip the HT pickup over the desired undamaged HT lead
  5. ensure all test leads are kept clear of hot or rotating parts before starting the engine


How to perform the test

View connection guidance notes.


Disable the vehicle fuel system before testing.

  1. Connect the First Look sensor to a vacuum source at the intake manifold and to channel A of your PicoScope.
  2. With the ignition off, connect a secondary ignition pick up around the HT lead for cylinder number 1 and to PicoScope channel B. Ensure the secondary pick up has a good earth.
  3. Minimize the help page. You will see that PicoScope has displayed an example waveform and is preset to capture your waveform.
  4. Start the scope to see live data.
  5. With the fuel system disabled to prevent starting crank the engine to generate your waveforms.
  6. With your waveforms on screen stop the scope.
  7. Use the Waveform Buffer, Zoom and Measurements tools to examine your waveform.


Some Engine Control Modules (ECM’s) will operate the throttle independent to pedal operation whilst attempting to start. This will alter your waveform. If this is the case you will need to disconnect the throttle body connector and re-test.

Example waveform

Waveform notes

This waveform shows a consistent signal pattern on Channel A as triggered against Channel B on the same time line. Cursor lines are added to show trigger reference (sparkplug 1) and show the time between trigger events. We can use this information to determine the approximate cranking speed of this engine.

Waveforms will vary from vehicle to vehicle, but should be consistent from cylinder to cylinder. Any variation suggests that one cylinder is drawing in a different amount of air/fuel mixture than the others.

Waveform Library

Go to the drop-down menu bar at the lower left corner of the Waveform Library window and select, Intake manifold pressure waveform.


This help topic is subject to changes without notification. The information within is carefully checked and considered to be correct. This information is an example of our investigations and findings and is not a definitive procedure. Pico Technology accepts no responsibility for inaccuracies. Each vehicle may be different and require unique test settings.

Suitable accessories

  • FirstLook Engine Diagnostic Sensor


  • Secondary ignition pickup (capacitive with BNC)


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2 comments | Add comment

November 20 2018

Hi Anthony, thank you for your observation. Test amended.

May 01 2017

Disconnect electronic throttle body, newer vehicles will play with the throttle during cranking to try and start the vehicle. This will mess up a pattern as the throttle is opening and closing during test drastically changing manifold vacuum.

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Guided test: Intake manifold pulsation (ignition triggered) - cranking