Picoscope 2204a

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Picoscope 2204a

Post by Lakis »

Hello everyone,

I have the Picoscope 2204a but it works only with the version which doesn´t have neither a waveform library nor a filter.
I tried the versions and but I can´t connect to the device
Does anyone have such experience and can I have with the 2204a a filter and waveform library? Or the cheap Scope ist not allowed to have These Options? :evil:

Thanks a lot

Steve Smith
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Joined: Sun Aug 25, 2013 7:22 am

Re: Picoscope 2204a

Post by Steve Smith »

Hello and thank you for the post.

Unfortunately the 2204A or any Scope from the Test & Measurement range will not run with PicoScope 7 Automotive software predominately to protect the device from the typically harsh “Auto” environments.

The 2204A is designed and built for industries other than Automotive, Heavy-Duty (HD), Construction and Off-Highway (OH) and this becomes immediately apparent when we look at the absence of “protection”

Starting with the architecture of the 2204A

Common ground input
Here the BNC’ shells and USB ground are linked together, unlike the Automotive 2 & 4 channel scopes that utilise floating grounds. The following link describes the huge benefits of floating grounds https://www.picoauto.com/library/traini ... ing-inputs

No short-circuit protection
The 2204A has no “last chance” hardware to prevent a short circuit between BNC inputs and the USB ground in the event of reverse polarity connection, unlike the entire range of Automotive scopes

Maximum input voltage +- 20 V
I think we can agree that whilst +- 20 V sounds acceptable on the surface, when you dig deeper, we soon realise OH-HD system voltages reside at 24 V with 48 V serving Mild-Hybrid systems. The No.1 killer of a 2204A scope is over-voltage (normally channel A) and this originates from events such as induced or “fly-back” voltages typical of injector or solenoid operation. The Automotive 2 & 4 channel scopes have a maximum input voltage of +- 200 V

A word to the wise about the maximum input voltage with the 2204A (+- 20 V)
Even with a 20:1 attenuator installed to measure primary ignition; we are still pushing the envelope where primary voltages may peak over 400 V!
400 V / 20:1 = 20 V, the maximum input of the 2204A scope

Physical protection
• This is often over-looked when purchasing a 2204A, the Automotive 2 & 4 channel scopes include protection offered by a rubber boot with incorporated hanger via the “S” Hook. The OH-HD scope includes additional protection from a ruggedised boot with an integrated plastic base, so limiting the effects or moisture/dust ingress

Hardware performance

When it comes to comparing the performance of the 2204A against our Automotive scopes it is no surprise it struggles to the point of being an unfair comparison! However, it is worth highlighting the limitations of the 2204A as a summary for those considering such a purchase

10 MHz Bandwidth
The low bandwidth of the 2204A becomes apparent when capturing high frequency signals (i.e. ignition and network traffic) where by the displayed waveform will not represent an accurate reproduction of the original signal in terms of rise/fall times and amplitude. “Bandwidth” is explained beautifully here https://www.picotech.com/library/a-to-z

8-Bit resolution
Once again, this resolution limitation raises its head when analysing waveforms for glitches, noise and transitions that may be hidden from view or displayed as an inaccurate representation of the original signal.
Whilst the 2204A boasts “Resolution enhance” (Max 12-bit) this feature comes at the expense of high frequency content within the captured signal. The following link has this covered in greater detail https://www.picoauto.com/library/picosc ... on-enhance

• No Frequency counting

The 2204A is missing this neat hardware feature that allows sensors returning a digital frequency signal (i.e. flow sensors) to be plotted as a conventional analogue waveform for instant interpretation of performance. Here is a great explanation accompanied with an animated gif https://www.picoauto.com/library/picosc ... y-counting

No Bandwidth limit
The benefits of instantly switching from a 20 MHz to 20 kHz scope on any channel of the 2 & 4 Channel Automotive scopes makes life easy when it comes to evaluating low frequency signals saturated with high frequency noise (i.e. Wide and Narrowband Lambda sensors) Please take a look here https://www.picoauto.com/library/picosc ... idth-limit to learn more about this hardware feature that is missing from the 2204A

• USB 2.0
The 2204A is a USB 2.0 device only, unlike the entire range of Automotive scopes which utilise USB 3.0. Whilst this does not sound like a hindrance, when you look at the “Streaming rate” (i.e. the rate at which PicoScope transfers data to the PC when configured to 200 ms/div and slower) the benefits are huge with the 2204A managing only 1 MS/s whereby the 2 & 4 channel Automotive scopes achieve a flow of data to the PC at a rate of 20 MS/s over USB 3.0. More on Streaming can be viewed here https://www.picotech.com/library/oscill ... aming-mode

• No BNC+
The 2204A utilises the industry standard BNC connector which ensures probe connectivity and signal integrity are never compromised. The Automotive 2 & 4 channels scopes have taken the BNC connector to another level (BNC+) which now incorporates “Plug-n- Play” functionality with probe recognition and power. We can now prevent measurement errors (due to incorrect probe selection), zero probes on connection and power accessories such as current clamps (via USB) indefinitely.
More on BNC+ can be seen here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUX6G-anwzg&t=143s
It is worth mentioning here that BNC+ probes will be incorporated into all “future probe” development going forward. Therefore, to take advantage of several probes soon to be launched (said too much already) a BNC+ scope will be required

• No Connect Detect
The 2204A is missing another hardware feature in the form of “Connect Detect” which enables our standard x1 test leads to inform the user when a successful contact has been made with the probe tip to the component under test. This is a huge help when reaching behind an engine and back pining into a sensor obscured by varies ancillaries. We have more on Connect Detect here https://www.picoauto.com/library/picosc ... nectdetect

Listed above are the primary hardware differences of the 2204A that are going to have an adverse effect on your diagnostic capability in Auto / OH-HD environments. Given the 2204A is a Test & Measurement product, the associated Warranty and Support will not extend to Auto / OH-HD applications. In contrast, when purchasing an Automotive scope, you will have access to Technical and Application team members that have worked and currently working alongside the multiple industries for which the Auto scopes are designed.

Links to the 2204A speciation’s can be found here https://www.picotech.com/oscilloscope/2 ... ifications

Links to the 2 and 4 channel Automotive scope specifications can be found here https://www.picoauto.com/products/autom ... ifications

Let us now look at the software differences

Given the 2204A is a Test & Measurement scope, it will only function with PicoScope 7 Software, unlike the Automotive scopes that will only connect to PicoScope 7 Automotive software.

So, what is the difference?

Below is a list of the features that are not available with the Test & Measurement version of PicoScope 7 software and so inaccessible when using the 2204A


Automated battery, charging and starting system test (Conventional ICE vehicles)
Automated relative compression test (via a x1 test lead)
Automated cylinder balance tests (Conventional 4-cylinder engines)
Noise Vibration and Harshness (NVH) Application
Propshaft balancing Application

PicoScope 7 Automotive software

1. Access to over 150 Guided Tests that automatically configure the scope to capture the selected device under test. Guided Tests also include connection diagrams, waveform descriptions, further guidance, associated fault codes, videos, and additional links where applicable

Guided tests include:
• Charging and Starting
• Sensors
• Actuators
• Ignition
• Communication networks
• Pressure transducers
• Electric vehicles
• Heavy-Duty/Off Highway
Image 1
Image 1
2. Access to the Reference Waveform Library (RWL) allowing users to save & share their own captures in the free Pico cloud storage facility, whilst also being able to search for known good waveforms from other vehicles uploaded by other Pico users. See Ben’s video here

For those who have a huge number of waveforms already saved on their PC’s/Laptops we now have the Waveform Manager feature to help with bulk uploading of waveforms to the RWL. See Barney’s video here

3. Vehicle details dialog box allows users to add multiple vehicle information details from Make, Model, VIN through to Model Code, Engine code etc.

4. Access to automotive specific Math channels such as Crank RPM for misfire detection

5. Pre-loaded and customisable channel labels assist user with identification of signals upon capture and review

6. Pre-loaded automotive demonstration waveforms for use in “Demo-mode” when PicoScope is not connected (Ideal for practice and training/trainers)

7. Access to automotive specific serial decodes such as CAN J1939

8. Low pass filtering is not accessible with the 2204A and therefore impedes analysis

9. Probe mismatch benefits are only displayed when using BNC+ auto scope viewtopic.php?p=100587#p100587

10. Connect Detect benefits are only displayed when using a 2 & 4 channel Automotive scope viewtopic.php?p=100443#p100443

11. Access to the “Toolbox” App via the Guided Tests, RWL or WM where-by access is granted to the PicoScope A-Z, Case studies, Training, Documentation, videos, and “Help” which can all be updated without updates to your PicoScope 7 Automotive software. (i.e. no need to download a new build of PS7 Auto)

Reading back all the above, it feels like we are disrespecting the 2204A scope which to be fair (for the money) is an awesome piece of kit! The 2204A lends its self beautifully to educational environments when used by informed trainees (a pocket-rocket) assuming you remain within the safe working limits of the scope.

Hopefully, the above highlights why over 25 vehicle manufacturers have chosen to take our Automotive Scopes as their measurement solution for R&D, Field Service Engineers and Technicians alike

I hope this helps, take care…….Steve

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