Automotive Newsletter

May 2015

New accessory: TA234 Current Clamp


The TA234 probe is a 30 A current clamp. The extended measuring jaws allow measurement in a confined space and are big enough to fit around a battery cable, so it is ideal for studying battery drain issues. When measuring DC, a simple thumbwheel on the probe allows zero adjustment.

This current clamp is ideally suited for use with scopes and features additional screening to reduce noise pickup.

Competition time... Win an NVH or WPS500 kit!

In 2014 we ran several competitions based around the PicoScope Waveform Library. Now in 2015, we have decided to run another competition. This time we are going to give 1 lucky winner the choice of receiving either an NVH Diagnostics Kit, or a WPS500X Pressure Transducer Kit, with 4 runners up winning one of our Coil-on-plug and signal probes.

To enter, simply save your waveforms to the Waveform Library. The more you save, the more chances you get to win! All the waveforms uploaded to the database between June 1st and August 23rd will be entered into the draw. Only one prize per customer. There is no cash alternative. You cannot choose an alternative prize (except where stated). Winner to be announced in August Pico Technology Automotive newsletter.

To access the Waveform Library you must have an automotive scope connected and have a valid user name and password for thePico Automotive forum.

picoscope automotive waveform library

Top Tech Live! 2015: Semi-final & Final

Top Technician is an annual competition that was created in 2002 to recognise and reward the best vehicle technicians in the UK, at a time when the national press were focussing on the minority who lack technical knowledge and the practical skills needed to ensure the motoring public remain safe in their increasingly complex cars.

Top Technician continues to champion the best repairers in the United Kingdom, whether they work in an independent workshop, dealership, fast fit or operate as a mobile mechanic. Prize funds worth well over  10k and real benefits for every entrant are possible each year thanks to the ongoing support of their technical partner, the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), and blue chip sponsors.

Pico Technology were one of the sponsors of Top Technician 2015, and our very own 2013 Top Technician Winner Steve Smith was asked to judge various stages of the competition. Here is Steve's overview of the semi-final and final this year:

Top Tech Pico challenge (semi-final)

Toyota Auris 1.6 Petrol

The Top Technician Pico semi-final challenge surrounded a relative compression test using PicoScope software, whilst incorporating a sync to identify the offending cylinder from the waveform obtained.

Here the technicians had to demonstrate the principle around a relative compression test using a current clamp to measure peak current in relation to peak compression events of our doctored engine ( 1 x spark plug removed!)

It was clear from the outset that all the semi-finalists had used the technique but incorporating a sync presented some pitfalls whilst the technicians were under examination conditions with the clock ticking (nothing is easy). Preventing the engine from starting was paramount to the test and whilst this could be achieved in a number of ways, disconnecting the injectors was the approved method, preventing neat fuel from entering the catalyst or detonation increasing cranking speed due to residual heat.

The ideal location to obtain a sync signal was via number 1 cylinder coil-on-plug unit. This signal is generally present prior to TDC of number 1 cylinder, allowing the technicians to use the firing to identify the offending cylinder.

Those who synchronised on number 1 injector presented themselves with an additional calculation to make in terms of the injection event during the four stroke cycle. Whilst the ignition event takes place at near TDC compression, the injection event takes place 360 degrees later presenting the technicians with additional calculations to take into consideration when identifying the offending cylinder.

image from Top Tech Semi Final

Above we have the waveform obtained from our engine with number 4 spark plug removed and the number 4 ignition coil shorted to ground, whilst syncing to number 1 ignition coil trigger signal.

Top Tech Pico challenge (final)

Steve Smith's Top Tech final challenge surrounding in cylinder pressure analysis using the Pico WPS500X pressure transducer.

The finalists not only required scope and pressure transducer knowledge, but also required a thorough understanding of the 4 stroke cycle and how it is reflected in the waveforms obtained. Thanks again to James Dillon and the KA engine in a basket, each individual cylinder could be manipulated in such a way as to alter the valve timing presenting the technicians with 4 different waveforms for each of the 4 cylinders!

None of the technicians had any access to technical information about this engine as to be honest, there is very little in the way of official technical data with explanations as to why an in cylinder waveform displays various characteristics. The technicians therefore had to think this one through and analyse the waveform thoroughly (they were on their own with this one).

So, 4 cylinders with 3 faults, once cylinder inlet valve fails to open, one cylinder exhaust valve fails to open, one cylinder with no fault and the final cylinder with a subtle fault in the way of a tight exhaust valve tappet.

screenshoot from picoscope software at Top Tech Finals

Technical question: WPS500X


We recently had a customer question come through our Support desk, regarding the WPS500X pressure transducer. Steve Smith, our Automotive Applications Specialist responds:

Q: Hi - Can you tell me if the WPS500X can be used for dynamic diesel compression measurements?

A: Hi and many thanks for your question. The WPS500X pressure transducer has the ability to measure cylinder pressure on both petrol and diesel engines.

The kit supplied with the WPS500X only includes adapters for petrol engines. Should you wish to use the transducer with a diesel engine, at present you would have to source a diesel compression test kit utilising quick couple connectors that you can link to the quick couple Foster connector of the WPS500X pressure transducer.

We are planning to introduce a diesel compression test kit to link the WPS500X pressure transducer to AST or Sykes Pickavant kits, giving access to their wide range of existing diesel fittings.

For measuring dynamic pressures with petrol engines, this is fine so long as the combustion is removed from the cylinder (injectors are cut from the cylinder under test). The WPS500X is capable of momentarily measuring the dramatic increase in cylinder pressure from idle speed to WOT (Wide Open Throttle) but not for prolonged periods of time i.e. monitoring. The same applies to diesel engines once you have overcome the adaptor issue.

For any compression measurement using the WPS500X the combustion process must be removed from the cylinder.

NB. The increase in cylinder pressure in either diesel or petrol engines must not exceed 500 PSI, and the battery compartment of the WPS500X must never exceed 80 degrees celsius.

Latest award news from Pico Technology


At AMR Beijing 2015 Pico received various awards, including a Top 20 Productaward for our PicoDiagnostics NVH Kit, and the 2015 Recommended Product category for our PicoScope 4425 automotive scope.

For further information on these and previous awards, please visit the awards page on

Upcoming events and exhibitions

Stahlgruber show

Trade visitors from the automotive industry will gain a comprehensive overview of innovations, new legal regulations, current products as well as services and support offered. The STAHLGRUBER exhibitions have more to offer than just information about day-to-day business: The growing market for vintage cars and modern classic cars or approaches to saving energy at car repair businesses are just some of the issues that are put in the limelight!

New exhibitors, additional topics and the new STAHLGRUBER Centre of Excellence are other special features of the new 2015 exhibitions. A total of 180 well-known exhibitors from the industry make sure that a wide and interesting spectrum of information will be provided - for workshop owners and employees.

Stahlgruber Show
30th-31st May 2015

Automechanika Dubai

Automechanika Dubai is the largest automotive aftermarket platform for the Middle East and Africa, showcasing the latest global trends. Discover technological innovations, keep up to date with industry knowledge and source new products and solutions from the world over.

The trade fair which covers the full range of automobile, truck and bus parts, equipment, components, accessories, tools, and services continues to bring world renowned manufacturers, suppliers and service providers in touch with one of the most important growing markets in the world. The show in 2015 promises to be even larger and more successful than ever.

Automechanika Dubai
2nd-4th June 2015

Andrew Page - Auto Insider Live! 2015

Designed for garage technicians and apprentices, AutoInsider Live! will help you to stay up to date with the latest developments in everything from tools, components and parts through to diagnostics and training. The events also include fun activities such as a racing simulator and chances to win prizes!

Visitors will get the following:

Andrew Page - Auto Insider Live! 2015
18th June 2015

  • Free Entry into our prize draw to win a Mini!
  • Free Goodie Bag worth £125
  • Huge Discounts on the Day
  • Free Entry and Free Parking
Andrew Page AutoInsider Live exhibition logo


Please visit Pico Exhibitions for the latest list of exhibitions and trade shows that Pico and its representatives will be attending.

We're hiring!

Thanks to our continuing success and growth Pico are always seeking talented people to join our company.

Please visit to see our current vacancies. We look forward to hearing from you!

Software releases

Our latest software releases are available as free downloads. To check which release you are using, start the software and select Help > About.

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Contact details

Pico Technology, James House, Colmworth Business Park, St. Neots, Cambridgeshire, PE19 8YP, England
Tel.: 01480 396395 (+44 1480 396395)
Fax: 01480 396296 (+44 1480 396296)

Pico Technology North America Inc.
320 N Glenwood Blvd.
TX 75702
United States
Tel:+1 800 591 2796 (Toll Free)

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Twitter: picotech
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