How to Turn My Laptop Into an Oscilloscope

By O PaulI

A laptop ready for interfacing to a Picoscope.
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Oscilloscopes are used to measure real-time response of circuit parameters such as voltage, current, frequency, wavelength and power variations with time. They come in analog and digital formats. Usually not very portable, unlike laptops, the idea of using the laptop as oscilloscope is novel and exciting. A few innovative companies have reduced the essentials of a digital oscilloscope to a very portable format that can be interfaced via USB cable to a laptop. The laptop acts as both a screen and a data storage device of high capacity. The marriage is called a PC oscilloscope.

Purchase a PicoScope 3000 and download the free software from the website. The PicoScope 3000 is a compact, real-time digital storage oscilloscope. It has all the functionality of a traditional desktop scope plus the benefits of a personal computer. It is designed to interface with a PC, which provides the monitor.

Power on a Windows-based laptop and make sure the USB 2.2 cable is correctly connected to the PicoScope. The laptop will detect the PicoScope.

Interface PicoScope 3000 to the laptop. When correctly connected, follow the software installation directions to fully obtain the benefits of the PicoScope.

Connect the probe supplied with the PicoScope to the PicoScope. The other ends of the probe go the circuit whose voltage, current and wave formats are to be measured.

Make measurements as in a normal oscilloscope and save the waveforms to a file on the laptop. The measurements can be viewed and analyzed later.