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Cheap or free test equipment

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After listening to David's stream of consciousness about getting an analogue oscilloscope, I thought "Yes, analogue will be fine" and started hunting eBay etc., for a used one. Then it occured to me to email the EE department at my university and ask them for any clues. By surprise they wrote back saying come over to the stores office with a couple of bags.
The lab tech had stacked up a nice benchtop DMM, 1Mhz function generator and a dual-channel 20MHz oscilloscope, calibrated last year. All for free!
The gear certainly isn't new, but worked perfectly, we play.. checked them for a while before sending me on my way. No probes, but a quick trip to DSE sorted that.

The unversity had gone digital, and had a room full of CROs and so on. So if you're looking for a CRO that has been looked after and maintained, and you're enrolled at uni/college, hit up the electrical engineering department politely. You never know your luck!

I don't know where you are, but here in the States, public universities and 2-year (community) colleges are required to put surplus and outdated items up for auction, and it can be difficult to find out when and where these auctions are. Private colleges probably don't have to follow this regulation. Trust me, I've tried.

Brisbane, Australia. Public universities can generally write things off once their 'useful life' has ended if the value is under a set amount (this varies). At that point it is the general 'unwritten' rule that the written-off items can be given away to students, donated to student clubs, etc. For example, my uni turns over computers every 3 years, at which point they are refurbished and handed out to lower-income students.

The college I used to go to had really old test equipment, some over 20 years old.

I have two analogue 'scopes, an old Cossor 75MHz which I bought cheaply off a colleague and a 10MHz Tectronix which someone gave me for free. I had an old 16MHx Gould 'scope but it was temperamental so, rather than spending the time to fix it, I gave it away.

20 years old isn't that old for test equipment, unless you're comparing to the current high-end stuff. In 1990, there were decent digital oscilloscopes, analog scopes to 1GHz, multimeters to 8.5 digit (the current HP 3458A was introduced in 1988 or so) and good signal generators (though not that much DDS stuff). The majority of my test equipment is over twenty years old (all bought used). Most of the test equipment hasn't improved that much compared to 1990, except for fancy displays and more digital control. It's more a matter of the market segment (cheap junk from 1990 is now even cheaper junk) than age.


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