Relevant to laser based electron/ion accelerations, a single shot second harmonic generation frequency resolved optical gating (FROG) system has been developed to characterize laser pulses (80 J, ∼600 fs) incident on and transmitted through nanofoil targets, employing relay imaging, spatial filter, and partially coated glass substrates to reduce spatial nonuniformity and B-integral. The device can be completely aligned without using a pulsed laser source. Variations of incident pulse shape were measured from durations of 613 fs (nearly symmetric shape) to 571 fs (asymmetric shape with pre- or postpulse). The FROG measurements are consistent with independent spectral and autocorrelation measurements. © 2010 American Institute of Physics.