Author Topic: Rohde & Schwarz FSL3 vs. HP 8594E  (Read 405 times)

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Offline stefandz

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Rohde & Schwarz FSL3 vs. HP 8594E
« on: March 04, 2018, 09:21:37 am »
I am looking to purchase a 9kHz to 3GHz spectrum analyser with tracking generator. I intend to use it for tuning antenna designs, generally learning more about RF design and for EMC pre-qualification testing before handing designs over into the expensive hands of EMC engineers!

With that in mind I have about £1500 to spend and have an option to purchase either a HP 8594E or Rohde & Schwarz FSL3. Does anyone have any input on which of these two would be preferable? I am leaning towards the R&S due to its USB sockets, good range of measurements and LCD (as opposed to aging CRT) screen. Downsides to this unit seem to include the CF card that stores the FSL3's OS flaking out (Windows XP will outlive styrofoam it seems - will make a backup before anything else) and possibly the RAM chips being flakey.

Other than that, I really don't know too much what I am looking for other than a unit to make a few (hopefully non-destructive) mistakes with and learn enough to be able to do basic RF stuff without seeking external expertise at every turn. Any advice that anyone can offer would be gratefully received!

Offline EE-digger

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Re: Rohde & Schwarz FSL3 vs. HP 8594E
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2018, 09:49:04 am »
I'm partial to HP and had an 8596E.  The 94E, I believe is a two band unit (transparent to the user).  Be sure to check it over its full frequency range.  This series also has many options and you can pick up some of them on ebay if you wait (and you need them).  I had very low RBW, fast acquisition, fast horizontal sweep and am/fm decode.  Most of the time, I dumped plots in a few seconds each over GPIB and the excellent (and free) GPIB toolbox from  The kit has a 7470 plotter emulator which is fast and flexible, lets you do overlays, change scaling and colors.

We have an R&S FS300 at work and the UI is terrible.  The model you're looking at has a very different layout and may be ok.

If you need work done on either older unit, check for 3rd party service accessible to you.  For me in the US, I look at our little R&S as an orphan.

For pre-compliance, a quasi-peak detector is handy but not essential.  You'll  need a decent preamp (unless the R&S has one).  The HP also has very quick storage of setups in 10 locations.  Very handy for popping back and forth between different EMC setups (i.e. antenna, near field probes, different bands of interest, etc.).  Programming of limit lines (FCC, ETSI, etc.) is easy.

The HP is a nice size but you can count it as part of your weekly exersize if going mobile.  The green CRT is nice if in good shape.  New CRTs pop up on ebay and there are now also LCD replacement kits (good but not cheap).

added - if the R&S USB and file system is anything like the FS300, you will want to tear your eyes out after using it for a short time (IMHO)  :phew:
« Last Edit: March 04, 2018, 09:54:46 am by EE-digger »
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Offline stefandz

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Re: Rohde & Schwarz FSL3 vs. HP 8594E
« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2018, 10:05:53 am »
Wow - thanks for the great reply @EE-digger! I'll definitely take this as a strong vote for the HP. Dumping plots over GPIB sounds like a decent plan (and you get actual data points that way) and a good idea to think about long-term serviceability too.

Offline valgamaa

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Re: Rohde & Schwarz FSL3 vs. HP 8594E
« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2018, 12:33:22 am »
I have an FSL3 with some options added. The user interface isn't as smooth as I would like, but it is still very useable. I use ethernet and a remote drive to extract data from it when I need to, so no GPIB hassle at all.
If you can get one with tracking generator for £1500 then you will be doing pretty well - it is a current instrument and R+S guarantee to support their products for 7 years after they are discontinued, so you should be able to get factory support for some time to come. From memory the LNA option isn't enabled with a licence key and can't be retrofitted, but just about everything else can.
25 years ago I liked the 8590-series a lot, but put the two instruments you are considering side by side and you will see that test equipment has progressed a long way in that time.

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