Richard L. Hess
Test Equipment

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A large quantity of useful test equipment is currently available on eBay. I've been buying. I've been a little disappointed in some of the items, but in general, I've been very excited.

Test Equipment


Overall in any analog electronics facility, the single most useful piece of test equipment is an Oscilloscope. I purchased a Philips PM3214B 25MHz Dual Time Base scope in 1977. Recently, the attenuators had become intermittent and the case finish was getting soft and mushy, so I thought it time for a new 'scope. I had always dreamed of owning a Tektronix, but the Philips in 1977 offered more features for less money. What is interesting is that at least the 453 is several years (perhaps ten) older than the Philips and has held up much better. The 485 appears to be from about 1982 and looks almost brand new!

I now have purchased several Tektronix scopes:
  • 453 This 50MHz scope was the first lab-quality portable scope made by Tektronix and I came across one in my summer job in 1968 when the IBM repair person where I was working showed it to me. I now own one in quite good condition and even today it's rock solid.

  • 465M There are differing opinions as to what the 465M is. It is similar to the 465 and 465B, but not identical. It has the plastic case of the 455. Some say it was ruggedized for the military, others say it was the minimum scope that could be made to meet the military specs. In any event, I have two of them. They have a large screen (actual centimeters while the 453 and the 485 have divisions of less than a centimeter). Perhaps the most useful feature to me in audio applications is that they have no fan. There is a large heatsink that cools the unit. I use one of these for looking at audio X-Y displays and other audio-related work. The other is currently a spare, but could be used in a second audio work area. This is a 100MHz scope with delayed timebase.

  • 466 This is a 465 with a CRT-based storage option. It is also a 100Mhz delayed timebase unit. I have just purchased this and haven't taken delivery yet.

  • 485 This is a 350MHz delayed timebase scope. It is small. It's screen is small, but like the 453, incredibly sharp. This is an 8x10 division screen where the 453 is a 6x10 division screen. The divisions are 8mm instead of 10mm on the 465M/466. This is my lab bench scope and is very sweet.

Audio Test Set

I found an Amber 3501 audio test set on eBay. It is one of the classic analog audio test sets and doesn't use many specialized parts so it should be maintainable in the long term. Mine does not have the IMD option, so I'm looking for one if you know of one floating around.

Signal Generators

My eBay prize is a very clean Hewlett Packard 3312A function generator that has sweep and modulation capabilities, and a main output that goes up to 13MHz.

I also purchased a reasonable 3300A function generator, but it's been put aside in favor of the 3312A.

Sound Level Meter

I also managed to snag a General Radio (GENRAD) 1988 integrating sound level meter with built-in octave band filter. It's in very good condition. I also purchased a calibrator (from a different source) and since they both agree within about 1dB, I think things are pretty close to being calibrated!

Other Miscellaneous items

One of the challenges in repairing precision Swiss machines like the Studer tape machines is that you need precision Swiss metric hex drivers. I have found perhaps the world's finest hand tools, from PB Baumann in Switzerland. It's what Studer used to supply with their maintenance kits for large customers. Fortunately, Tool Lady has a wide selection of drivers for hex, Torx, Phillips, Pozidrive, and slotted screws. In fact, their #0 slotted is an excellent fit for Switchcraft 3-pin (XLR-type) microphone connectors.

I have had (for several years) a Wavetek 27XT DMM with L and C measuring capabilities as well as a simple frequency counter. I also have an HP 5381A frequency counter and an HP 5314A Universal Counter.

I was impressed by the Wavetek and decided to try Meterman (the successor) and found their LM631 Illuminance (light) meter and IR610 non-contact IR thermometer to be useful. I also bought an RS-232 interfaced DMM for recording plots like the run-time plot for the Streamlight 4AA LED flashlight. This was done for my flashlights page.

So, that's it for now! Good luck getting your lab set up!

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