Entry-Level USB Scopes: BitScope vs. PicoScope 2204A


Introduction

A few weeks ago I have found a link the BitScope website. BitScope is a manufacturer of handy low cost USB scopes. At their website everything looked nice and easy to use, so I ordered one of their tiny USB scopes. After the first test things looked a little different. In fact, I was quite disappointed, so disappointed I ordered another USB scope – this time from Pico, a PicoScope.

So let’s examine, what scope might be a good choice for you.

Comparison Table

At first we have a look at the numbers and features of the scopes. But be aware, there are other features you should also take into account before deciding which scope is best, like software and software usability. We will discuss this in the section below.

Scope Price Enclosure Probes Bandwidth Resolution Samples AWG Power Supply
Bitscope 150€ (with BNC Adapter) no no 20Mhz 12Bits 40 MS/s yes via USB
PicoScope 2204A 155€ yes yes (2) 10Mhz 8Bits 50 MSa/s yes via USB

So from the numbers we see the Bitscope has a higher Bandwidth and a higher Resolution. But it lacks an enclosure and probes.

Software

-Bitscope: The guys from Bitscope follow the slogan, we fill your desktop till it’s full (every tool also puts its readme file on your more or less tidy desktop).

fill your desktop with icons

fill your desktop with icons


So they give you a little tool for every functionality.

-PicoScope: here you have only one installation and one icon

single icon

single icon

Software

Connection

-Bitscope: no auto connection, user has to find the right USB serial com port and assign it every time. If the port is not between 1-10, the software can not reach the device at all.
-PicoScope: auto connection via USB

Signal Generator

The nice way to test the scopes capabilities is to turn its signal generator on and to read the signal back to an input.

-Bitscope:
As you can see here the wave form generator function is a little limited, I was unable to change the pulse duty cycle and the voltage levels. There is also no sweep functionality.

BitScope - wave form generator

BitScope – wave form generator

-PicoScope:
PicoScopes wave form generator function is quite nice. There are the normal sinus, ramp and square waveforms. You can also change the frequencies, voltage levels and offsets. In the sweep mode you can state the start, stop and the increment frequencies.

PicoScope - Software

PicoScope – Software


PicoScopes signal generator also has a AWG function (Arbitrary Waveform Generator). Quite a nice tool. Here you can create the wave form you exactly need in your design.
AWG PicoScope

AWG PicoScope

Conclusion

If you would ask me which scope I would recommend I would definitely say, the PicoScope. Both scopes nearly have the same price tag. But they do come in quite a different functionality and maturity of their software. The PicoScope software is so rich in its functionality, so I will post more about it in the near future.

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