Four New Protocol Decoders Added to PicoScope

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Pico Technology today announced the inclusion of four new protocol decoders / analyzers with PicoScope software. MIL-STD-1553, CAN J1939, Quadrature encoded and Parallel bus decoders are included with the latest PicoScope 6 software (6.14.54) for Windows, Linux and macOS operating systems. The same decoders have also been added to PicoScope 7, the next-generation PicoScope user interface. (PicoScope 7 Early Access program gives users access to the software during the ongoing development work.) MIL-STD-1553, Quadrature encoded and Parallel bus decoders are available as a free upgrade for all existing PicoScope users, and CAN J1939 is available as a free upgrade for PicoScope 4000/5000/6000 and automotive users.

MIL-STD-1553 was originally designed as a military avionics data bus, but has since been adopted in ground vehicles and for on-board data handling in spacecraft and other applications, both military and civil. It features dual redundant balanced-line physical layers, a differential network interface, time division multiplexing, half-duplex command/response protocol, and can handle up to 30 Remote Terminals (devices).

CAN J1939 is used in commercial vehicles for communication and diagnostics among vehicle components and has been widely adopted by diesel engine manufacturers. A driving force behind this is the adoption of Electronic Control Units (ECUs) that provide a method to control exhaust gas emissions within international standards. In addition, telematics data can be used by fleet operators to keep track of vehicle and driver performance, such as fuel consumption, safety events, and repair time.

Quadrature encoded signals are used by rotary position sensors to transmit information about the angle and direction of a rotating shaft, for example on a motor or a control dial, as a pair of binary signals.

Parallel bus Parallel bus decoding shows the content of up to 16 data lines with a clock and optional chip select. This is a general-purpose decoder that can be used on a variety of interfaces including dual, quad and octal SPI, FPGA configuration interfaces such as Xilinx SelectMAP, various micro-controller BIOS boot up links, and custom on-board and inter-board parallel buses.

The PicoScope decoders present packet data as colour-coded lozenges in the time-domain graph display that make it easy to understand and interpret the protocol components. Depending on the time base and zoom settings the decoded information can be compressed or expanded to focus on specific areas of interest during short or long acquisitions. Presentation of the decoded packets correlated with bus wave forms and other signals helps to identify signal integrity issues in a system design that are the root cause of data errors during integration and debugging.

Packet data can also be displayed in tabular form, which is ideal for engineers who need to understand and validate long communication sequences and responses of other devices across the system.

Trevor Smith, Business Development Manager for Test & Measurement products at Pico Technology commented: “It’s like London buses, we waited over a year for a new decoder, then four of them turned up at the same time!” On a more serious note, he added: “Each one of these decoders is designed to help users find bugs in their designs and get to the root cause faster. Time-to-market is more critical than ever in today’s market and addition of these decoders to the PicoScope toolset enables rapid validation of a product design before committing to production.”


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