Automotive Newsletter

September 2014

Product launch: Our new Automotive scopes

Pico Technology has launched the next generation of Automotive PicoScopes with a host of exciting features and has again managed to massively improve the performance but keep the same price. The new scopes are available as 2-channel 4225 and 4-channel 4425 options, and are supported by a complete range of kits to allow a workshop to earn money from their PicoScope right out of the box.

The previous PicoScopes were fast enough to capture CAN and FlexRay signals but the new Automotive PicoScopes are 5 times faster, have 16 times more memory and capture up to 400 million samples per second to protect your investment for many years to come.

Intermittent problems have no place to hide thanks to the combination of a 250 million sample memory and comprehensive triggering functions. The powerful zoom functions allow you to have the best of both worlds: high speed and long capture times. With 2 times the input voltage of our previous scopes, the improved +/- 200 V input is able to handle increasing injector voltages without the need for attenuators.

A major innovation is the independent floating inputs; think of it as separate single-channel oscilloscopes in a box all sharing the same timebase and control. This means that all inputs can be used in differential mode (e.g. CAN-H and CAN-L signals), or across non-grounded components such as 12 V injectors or for voltage drop testing using a single input. The new scopes also introduce a new user convenience function with ConnectDetect (TM). This handy feature detects when you have made a good connection in those difficult-to-reach places, displaying the connection status on your screen and on the front of the unit. The 2-channel 4225 model has the same memory and performance as the 4425, but with 2 channels offers a lower cost to fit any budget. PicoScope can pay back on just one job by helping to verify that you have diagnosed and fixed the root cause problem first time.

To ensure that our latest automotive scopes will make the most of recent PC technology improvements, they support USB3 for the highest-speed screen updates and waveform saving. Users of our older automotive scopes such as the 4423 and the previous 3423 shouldn't worry; as always Pico Technology continues to provide free software upgrades to ensure that every PicoScope becomes more powerful long after it has been purchased.

You can view further information and pricing of the new Automotive PicoScopes on our website.

Case Study: Jeep Compass with VW 2.0 PD

This month we have a case study from a Daniel O'Connell, of Auto & Marine Electrical in Ireland.

"I had a customer's 2007 JEEP Compass , European Spec, fitted with the VW 2.0 TDi PD engine (code BLY). Unfortunately standard VAG software (e.g. VCDS) cannot communicate with this ECU (due to it being a JEEP). Communication via standard EOBD displayed "No Codes" although the check engine light was illuminated, and a misfire fault was present.

At this stage I needed to determine 3 things:

  1. Are all injectors receiving a signal from the engine ECU?
  2. Are all injectors drawing equal current?
  3. What cylinder is misfiring?"

You can read the Jeep Compass with VW 2.0 PD Case Study online.

Waveform Library and Competition news!

Our Waveform Library feature in PicoScope 6 Automotive is growing at a superb rate, with over 700 waveforms now available.

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

Waveform Library Competition

All the waveforms uploaded to the database before midnight on September 30th will be entered into a draw for 10 chances to win a voucher worth GBP100 / USD165 / EUR121. This voucher can only be used when ordering direct from Pico Technology, and there is no cash alternative.

With the focus of these uploads on CAM and CRANK, we are offering 5 of the 10 vouchers to people who have uploaded this type of waveform.

Tech Tip: Active Wheel Speed Sensors


Steve Smith, our Automotive Applications Specialist, gives advice when measuring an active wheel speed sensor. Here is Steve's

Tech Tip:

The test procedure for these style sensors ideally require the use of a milliamps clamp given their output varies only from 6 to 15 mA approximately.

Unfortunately the milliamps clamp is very expensive given the resolution required at such low outputs, however, one possibility would be to use the Pico 60 A clamp in 20 A mode or the 30 A clamp. These are both just about sensitive enough to pick up the changing signal, but to get a clear signal they need some help from one or both of the following methods:

Method 1: Interrupt the circuit with breakout leads and then wind the signal wire 10 times or more times through the jaws of the current clamp, hereby amplifying the signal by 10. The clamp now sees a signal that switches from approx 60 mA to 150 mA.

Method 2: Use the resolution enhance feature to increase the PicoScope resolution from 12 bits to 16 bits, this makes both the inputs more sensitive and filters out some noise through averaging allowing you to detect the switching current. If you have one of the new 4225 or 4425 PicoScopes you can also enable the hardware low pass filter in order to reduce noise and better see the signal.

As an alternative (not using a current clamp) on many systems you can detect a switching voltage. To see this you can utilise the AC coupling feature of the scope to measure activity on the ABS sensor signal wire when the road wheel is rotating. This will expose the fluctuations present on the signal wire that will reveal some valuable signal content allowing you to confirm sensor output.

Pico's range of Current Clamps can be found on

An NVH question from the forum


An interesting NVH question was raised by eric989, relating to vibration levels detected with our NVH kit, and what qualified as acceptable levels.

Steve Smith replies:
Our perception of vibration differs from individual to individual and so "what level of vibration is acceptable?" is an interesting question.

If we take a first order tyre vibration as an example (T1 tyre imbalance), assuming a road-test confirms no vibration in the cabin (experienced by the customer) and a maximum T1 vibration level of 7 mg, then we can assume 7 mg is acceptable for this vehicle set-up.

However a T1 vibration level of 7 mg on a different vehicle set-up may present a detectable level of vibration to the customer. Back to back testing of vehicles is always an invaluable approach allowing you to prove to a customer their vibration level is in fact a characteristic and not a fault when compared to an identical vehicle.

Experience is always key here as we all know that theories don't always translate into the real world and of course the more testing you carry out the more you build that subconscious database of what is and is not normal.

I guess what I am trying to say is, we do not posses a database of acceptable levels of vibration for vehicle components but the more we test with this relatively new tool the more we will all learn and the more data we will acquire.

I know this is not really an answer to the question, more of a question to a question but recent testing I have carried out on a known good vehicle recorded a T1 vibration level of 5 mg at 70 mph.

Please refer to the full thread on the Pico Automotive forum if you wish to join the discussion. Note that the discussion has moved on since the initial question was posted.

Upcoming events and exhibitions

Stahlgruber - Exhibition Sindelfingen 2014

Our German distributor will be attending the Stahlgruber show in late October. The event takes place between 18-19th October, and attracts around 16,000 visitors. At the show will be our latest automotive kits, so if you are attending, why not come and see us.

Stahlgruber Exhibition Sindelfingen 2014
18th - 19th October 2014
Messehalle Sindelfingen
Mahdentalstrasse 116
71065 Sindelfingen

Autonet Mobility Show - Bucharest

The 3rd Autonet show of 2014 takes place in Bucharest and will follow the great success seen at the Cluj Napoca and Budpest shows.

The event takes place between 24th and 25th of October 2014, at the Romaero Baneasa exhibition center. Pico will be at the show with our latest innovative products and accessories so if you are attending, why not come and see us.

Autonet Mobility Show - Bucharest
24th - 25th October 2014
Romaero Baneasa exhibition center
Bucharest, Romania

AAPEX - Sands Expo, Las Vegas

Visit AAPEX at Sands Expo Las Vegas and view thousands of new products in every category. Suppliers from around the world will join over 2,400 other exhibitors. New research, new trends, and new education specifically compiled and developed to help grow your business.

The event takes place between 4th and 6th of November 2014 and Pico will be at the show with our latest innovative products and accessories. If you are attending, why not come and see Pico at stand #964.

AAPEX - Sands Expo
4th - 6th November 2014
Sands Expo,
Las Vegas, USA

Mechanex - Sandown, England

Visit MECHANEX 2014 and you'll have the chance to see demonstrations of the latest workshop innovations. In addition take advantage of many exclusive show offers and a free bacon roll and t-shirt courtesy of the MECHANEX team.

The Sandown event takes place between 11th and 12th of November 2014. The aftermarket service diagnostics and repair sector has never been more competitive, Pico will be at the show with our latest innovative products and accessories so if you are attending, why not come and see Pico at stand B5.

Mechanex Sandown
11th - 12th November 2014
Sandown Park
Surrey, England


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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