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Frequency Counter Suggestions

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Hi All,

I'm looking for a frequency counter < $200.  At least up to 100MHz and as accurate as possible given the budget.  There's a number of cheap chinese models and also a number of used discontinued agilent/fluke/etc... devices for that price range.

Can someone with experience in these provide some good models to look at or even bad models to avoid?

I got myself one of these.
It seems good enough for what i need. For the price you cant really go wrong.

My 2.2cents.

A basic FC is one that provides highly accurate counting with error all under 5 ppm, but has few control over sensitivity or can make other measurements beyond period, which is simply 1/f.  The top $1000+ models from Agilent do pulse width, duty cycle etc., but you should do those better with a scope rather than pay extra for those functions on an FC.

The Rigol 1052E comes with a decent FC built in, capable of measuring to the scope's bandwidth.

Handheld models have most basic functions but are easier to transport like a DMM, and if you stick an antenna on them, can test radio output.  The LT Lutron, or RSR are current models sold that were once a rebadged  B&K ~4ppm accuracy, from 1Hz to 2.5GHz.  They sell between $150-250.  I have one of these.  A good one out of production was a Global Specialties model 3005, that is still sold as a Tenma brand.  There is one at eBay new for just $100, normally $270 new.

A popular one on eBay is the Victor :

If you can find someone who will offer replacement warranty for damage, this Victor works very well and often are sold by US eBay sellers, so it helps if you get a dud!  Its a 2.5GHz counter that typically sells for under $90.  It has decent rating among Ham radio guys, major complaint is quality control.

Other than these, the usual brand names like B&K, Protek, Heathkit, Elenco etc., have old second hand benchtop models on eBay that will read to 100 MHz or nearby, for under $100.  100 MHz was typical for older circa FC, but the same amount of money or just slightly more will get you  a new and more accurate one for >= 1 GHz, so I don't think old frequency counters are competitive today, considering many function generators throw in a multi-MHz frequency counter in for free. 

THe $100 Hantek DDS FG 3x25 I reviewed elsewhere on eevblog includes a 5 digit FC good to 100MHz.

This is what I have , and I do not do RF stuff any more .

It works with four batteries , and has an input for 6V DC.
Five digits display.
I used to adjust FM  PLL synthesizers with it.  

If you have paypal , and you like it , send me PM ..

I have the Racal Dana 1998 counter I got off of Ebay for about $80.
Nicely accurate 1.3Ghz counter.  The service manual is available,
and it provides for an external 10Mhz reference input, so if you have
a GPS locked frequency reference like a Trimble Thunderbolt, you'll have
an extremely accurate counter.



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