Author Topic: Are old digital scopes worth the money?  (Read 19520 times)

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Offline little_carlos

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Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« on: March 29, 2016, 03:53:53 am »
Are old digital scopes like those lecroy or hp 100 mhz 200msa/s monochrome worth the money? ive seen them on ebay and other places sometimes quite expensive
would you pick one of those or a good analog scope?
 

Online ataradov

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2016, 04:21:55 am »
Why there is no option for a modern DSO?

If you can pick them up at $100 or so, then it may be a good deal. But there is no chance something really good will go for $100, analog or digital.
Alex
 

Offline Wuerstchenhund

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2016, 05:17:40 am »
Are old digital scopes like those lecroy or hp 100 mhz 200msa/s monochrome worth the money? ive seen them on ebay and other places sometimes quite expensive
would you pick one of those or a good analog scope?

Yes, I would, if the price is good. Actually, I just bought a HP 54645D 100MHz 200MSa/s MSO for $300. I needed another scope and at first hovered above the "buy" button for a Rigol DS1054z, but then decided against it after someone mentioned "Yaigol" in another thread. 200Msa/s aren't great but good enough for signals up to say 80Mhz. And I get to play Centipede  ;)

The HP 54600 Series is very reliable, they are simple to operate, and the firmware (latest version for these scopes is 2.0) is pretty much bug free. Attach one of the HPIB or serial storage adapters and you even get decent FFT and maths. 2nd hand prices for the HP labelled 54600 have fallen a lot, the Agilent labelled variants (with faster CPU, FDD and a slightly more modern UI) are still noticeably more expensive.

As to LeCroy, I'm not so sure though. The 9400 and 7200 Series scopes are from the '80s, and although they were really nice scopes back then, just because of their age I wouldn't buy them for anything else than nostalgic reasons, The 9300 Series however is newer (early '90s) and most models come with higher bandwidths and sample rates (200MSa/s up to 4GSa/s). They were the first deep memory scopes and offer advanced maths, FFT and analysis. You can even get all software options enabled for little money ($30 or so) or even free (if you burn the GALs yourself), with approval from the manufacturer. Most of the scopes have screen burn (the amber CRTs in these scopes are more susceptible to burn in than the green CRTs of other scopes) but you can still get new CRTs. And service manuals including schematics are available for them as well.

Sometimes you can find these scopes in working condition for reasonable prices if you're patient.

There's a lot of overpriced crap on ebay but in general yes, I'd buy one of these older scopes if their specs are adequate for what I want to do with it.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2016, 05:28:23 am by Wuerstchenhund »
 

Offline little_carlos

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2016, 05:36:24 am »
Are old digital scopes like those lecroy or hp 100 mhz 200msa/s monochrome worth the money? ive seen them on ebay and other places sometimes quite expensive
would you pick one of those or a good analog scope?

Yes, I would, if the price is good. Actually, I just bought a HP 54645D 100MHz 200MSa/s MSO for $300. I needed another scope and at first hovered above the "buy" button for a Rigol DS1054z, but then decided against it after someone mentioned "Yaigol" in another thread. 200Msa/s aren't great but good enough for signals up to say 80Mhz. And I get to play Centipede  ;)

The HP 54600 Series is very reliable, they are simple to operate, and the firmware (latest version for these scopes is 2.0) is pretty much bug free. Attach one of the HPIB or serial storage adapters and you even get decent FFT and maths. 2nd hand prices for the HP labelled 54600 have fallen a lot, the Agilent labelled variants (with faster CPU, FDD and a slightly more modern UI) are still noticeably more expensive.

As to LeCroy, I'm not so sure though. The 9400 and 7200 Series scopes are from the '80s, and although they were really nice scopes back then, just because of their age I wouldn't buy them for anything else than nostalgic reasons, The 9300 Series however is newer (early '90s) and most models come with higher bandwidths and sample rates (200MSa/s up to 4GSa/s). They were the first deep memory scopes and offer advanced maths, FFT and analysis. You can even get all software options enabled for little money ($30 or so) or even free (if you burn the GALs yourself), with approval from the manufacturer. Most of the scopes have screen burn (the amber CRTs in these scopes are more susceptible to burn in than the green CRTs of other scopes) but you can still get new CRTs. And service manuals including schematics are available for them as well.

Sometimes you can find these scopes in working condition for reasonable prices if you're patient.

There's a lot of overpriced crap on ebay but in general yes, I'd buy one of these older scopes if their specs are adequate for what I want to do with it.
cool, il keep that in mind when i try for a digital scope
btw what do you mean with that "yaigol" thing? are rigol scopes crap or something?
 

Online ataradov

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2016, 05:40:04 am »
btw what do you mean with that "yaigol" thing? are rigol scopes crap or something?
They are what they are. Sure, they do have lots of problems, but if you look closely, most of those problems are in the areas where old scopes don't even go.

As I learned some time ago, 1054z takes 15 minutes to save 12 Mpts trace. Sure, 15 minutes is a lot, but at least it can do that, compared to those old scopes with 24 kpts of memory.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2016, 05:41:37 am by ataradov »
Alex
 

Offline Tim F

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2016, 05:53:22 am »
btw what do you mean with that "yaigol" thing? are rigol scopes crap or something?
They are what they are. Sure, they do have lots of problems, but if you look closely, most of those problems are in the areas where old scopes don't even go.

As I learned some time ago, 1054z takes 15 minutes to save 12 Mpts trace. Sure, 15 minutes is a lot, but at least it can do that, compared to those old scopes with 24 kpts of memory.
Agreed. The 1054Z firmware is incredibly complicated compared to an ancient scope like an HP 54645D so it is inevitable that there will be bugs. At least Rigol do generally fix the bugs.

I wouldn't buy an older DSO. Small memory means you barely get any of the advantages of having a DSO over an analogue scope. The noise floors on older DSOs tend to be pretty bad as well.

As far as serviceability I wouldn't say that older DSOs are any more serviceable than a newer scope. A lot of the service manuals for the early DSOs are a long the lines of "do these steps to find out if the logic board is bad, if it is then replace the entire logic board". People often then charge an arm and a leg for the boards because they know there is some poor sod out there still using one of those scopes for some test fixture and will pay a ridiculous amount to get it working again.

With something like a 1054Z there isn't much that would go wrong. With extended use you might wear out the rotary encoders but they are a generic part. I think a few people have been unfortunate enough for the powersupplies to go bad (bad caps?) and you can get replacement LCD displays for them.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2016, 06:00:28 am by Tim F »
 

Offline mos6502

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2016, 06:49:33 am »
btw what do you mean with that "yaigol" thing? are rigol scopes crap or something?

Not just their scopes. Dave did several videos over a period of several years dealing with multiple failure mechanisms in their DP832 PSU. Like, design choices that betray utter incompetence and total lack of testing and quality control.
for(;;);
 

Offline Wuerstchenhund

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2016, 07:06:31 am »
btw what do you mean with that "yaigol" thing? are rigol scopes crap or something?

Judge for yourself:

https://www.eevblog.com/forum/projects/project-yaigol-fixing-rigol-scope-design-problems/

I knew about the firmware issues but I wasn't aware of that thread until very recently when someone mentioned it in another thread. And at least for me it was reason enough to decide against investing even just the less than £300 + VAT the DS1054z costs.

The 1054Z firmware is incredibly complicated compared to an ancient scope like an HP 54645D so it is inevitable that there will be bugs.

 :-DD No, it isn't. Seriously. The 54600 Series scopes may be old, but the firmware isn't really less complex than that in the Rigol. Also, most of the advances in functionality that the DS1000z offers are simply down to cheaper and faster hardware and more memory. And we should not forget that the DS1000z is essentially a bottom-of-the-barrel scope, with very basic capabilities. There's nothing overly complex in its firmware.

And I'm not even comparing the Rigol firmware against some really complex firmware as the one in the old LeCroy 9300 scopes.

Using compexity as an excuse of why the DS1000z was released with bug-ladden firmware is laughable. And it's funny how the big brand manufacturers managed to provide even early scopes with very mature firmware, even back then when development toolset were much more crude than today.

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At least Rigol do generally fix the bugs.

Yes, eventually. Today there aren't many firmware bugs left on the DS1000z, but if you bought the scope when it came out you had to wait for quite a while before it reached a state it really should have been when it was released.

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I wouldn't buy an older DSO. Small memory means you barely get any of the advantages of having a DSO over an analogue scope. The noise floors on older DSOs tend to be pretty bad as well.

Maybe if you look at a digital scope from the '80s but the '90s had quite a few DSOs that are much more capable than an analog scope (and even back in the '80s there were some good digital scopes with decent memory and functionality like the LeCroy 9400). Which analog scope does offer maths, waveform analysis, jitter analysis, FFT and so on? Yeah, none.

The noise floor of the HP 54600 Series and the LeCroy 9300 Series is actually quite good. And not all older scopes come with tiny memory. The HP 54645D I bought for example has 1M per channel which is quite useable, plus it comes with the MegaZoom ASIC which offers a very high waveform update rate.

As mentioned, the LeCroy 9300 Series scopes come with up to 8M sample memory.

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As far as serviceability I wouldn't say that older DSOs are any more serviceable than a newer scope. A lot of the service manuals for the early DSOs are a long the lines of "do these steps to find out if the logic board is bad, if it is then replace the entire logic board". People often then charge an arm and a leg for the boards because they know there is some poor sod out there still using one of those scopes for some test fixture and will pay a ridiculous amount to get it working again.

Not really. Finding most parts for a 54600 isn't difficult simply because there's still a very large number of these scopes out there, plus many that get canibalized for parts. The same is true for the 9300 Series from LeCroy, and many other scopes from that vintage. You can even get new CRTs for these scopes.

Also, because the boards on these scopes are a lot less tightly integrated they are in general much easier to repair. If one of the proprietary ASICs have died then repair is often not possible but in this case just get a replacement board from another scope. Thankfully the ASICs in these HP and LeCroy scopes are a lot more robust than some of the special purpose ICs in older Tek scopes.

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With something like a 1054Z there isn't much that would go wrong. With extended use you might wear out the rotary encoders but they are a generic part. I think a few people have been unfortunate enough for the powersupplies to go bad (bad caps?) and you can get replacement LCD displays for them.

Well, as the "Yaigol" thread shows this isn't all that can be wrong in these scopes.

Also, the DS1000z is tightly integrated, with little ways of repairing it. Plus Rigol doesn't even have anything that can be called a 'Service Manual'. It's really a throw away item.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2016, 07:27:07 am by Wuerstchenhund »
 

Online Fungus

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2016, 07:31:45 am »
Are old digital scopes like those lecroy or hp 100 mhz 200msa/s monochrome worth the money? ive seen them on ebay and other places sometimes quite expensive

There's nothing wrong with the scopes if you can get them at a bargain price. OTOH they're old.

Yes, eBay is an expensive place to buy test gear.

would you pick one of those or a good analog scope?

I'd pick even a medium/low DSO over an old analog scope. They do stuff the old analog scopes don't do.

The only reason for buying analog is if it has a huge bandwidth which you really need and you got it at an amazing price.

If not? Nope. Why would you want something that takes up your entire bench and does half the things a DSO can do?

 

Online nctnico

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2016, 07:33:03 am »
IMHO an older digital scope is only worth the money if you need a lot of bandwitdh for a small amount of money.
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Online Fungus

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #10 on: March 29, 2016, 07:39:54 am »
Also, the DS1000z is tightly integrated, with little ways of repairing it. Plus Rigol doesn't even have anything that can be called a 'Service Manual'. It's really a throw away item.

a) It does a LOT of things very well (it even exceeds its bandwidth specs by a decent margin).

b) It's solidly built, there's no reason at all to think it won't last a long time.

c) You can buy half a dozen of them for the price of what the Oscilloscope Snobs around here will tell you is the minimum oscilloscope acceptable to them.

 

Online Fungus

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #11 on: March 29, 2016, 07:42:34 am »
IMHO an older digital scope is only worth the money if you need a lot of bandwitdh for a small amount of money.

'Lot of bandwitdh' and 'small amount of money' are mutually exclusive if you're buying online.



 

Offline pxl

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #12 on: March 29, 2016, 07:44:29 am »
btw what do you mean with that "yaigol" thing? are rigol scopes crap or something?
They are what they are. Sure, they do have lots of problems, but if you look closely, most of those problems are in the areas where old scopes don't even go.

As I learned some time ago, 1054z takes 15 minutes to save 12 Mpts trace. Sure, 15 minutes is a lot, but at least it can do that, compared to those old scopes with 24 kpts of memory.

On those time bases, where large mem really kicks in, eg at 500us, which is your preferred memory settings? You may find large mem useful sometimes on every time bases, that is out of question, but what are you using usually?
 

Online ataradov

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #13 on: March 29, 2016, 07:44:39 am »
b) It's solidly built, there's no reason at all to think it won't last a long time.
And the thing is, I don't need the scope to last more than 3-5 years. I'm not marrying it, and there will be something better anyway.

And eBay hunters for all junk can continue to do so, I'll enjoy modern technology and all it has to offer.
Alex
 

Offline tggzzz

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #14 on: March 29, 2016, 07:46:28 am »
Agreed. The 1054Z firmware is incredibly complicated compared to an ancient scope like an HP 54645D so it is inevitable that there will be bugs.

Could you explain in what way it is "incredibly" complex, and why bugs are "inevitable".

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At least Rigol do generally fix the bugs.

HP had a tradition of delaying product shipment until the product performed as specified - hence they didn't have bugs to fix.

When HP did ship a minicomputer too early, Packard sent a two line memo to the manager requesting that HP not ship products until they met their specification. The manager framed the memo, and everybody in HP was told the story for 10-20 years thereafter.

Quote
I wouldn't buy an older DSO. Small memory means you barely get any of the advantages of having a DSO over an analogue scope. The noise floors on older DSOs tend to be pretty bad as well.

As with old cars, you have to choose wisely.
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
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Online ataradov

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #15 on: March 29, 2016, 07:48:04 am »
On those time bases, where large mem really kicks in, eg at 500us, which is your preferred memory settings?
You can configure sampling rate independent of the timebase.

In that instance I needed to capture and decode some proprietary video signal. I was able to capture 3 full frames, which was enough to import it into python and understand the structure of the signal. And as a proof recovering full picture.

Good luck doing that with an old Tek.
Alex
 

Online ataradov

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #16 on: March 29, 2016, 07:50:29 am »
When HP did ship a minicomputer too early, Packard sent a two line memo to the manager requesting that HP not ship products until they met their specification. The manager framed the memo, and everybody in HP was told the story for 10-20 years thereafter.
And now they are out of this business. Cool story, but I'd rather use slightly buggy hardware delivered in timely manner, than perfect thing delivered 2 years tool late and 10x more expensive.

Alex
 

Online nctnico

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #17 on: March 29, 2016, 07:52:20 am »
IMHO an older digital scope is only worth the money if you need a lot of bandwitdh for a small amount of money.
'Lot of bandwitdh' and 'small amount of money' are mutually exclusive if you're buying online.
I paid $225 for a working 4 channel 500MHz Tektronix TDS510A from Ebay 6 or 7 years ago. Even including shipping it was a bargain.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2016, 07:54:08 am by nctnico »
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Online Fungus

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #18 on: March 29, 2016, 07:53:23 am »
On those time bases, where large mem really kicks in, eg at 500us, which is your preferred memory settings? You may find large mem useful sometimes on every time bases, that is out of question, but what are you using usually?

Most (all?) DSOs have an "auto" setting for memory size. In auto mode they choose a memory size that gives a good update rate for the selected time base.

Most of the time you can just leave it in auto mode and it will be good.
 

Offline Wuerstchenhund

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #19 on: March 29, 2016, 07:54:23 am »
Yes, eBay is an expensive place to buy test gear.

Is it? Compared to what exactly?

I got a ton of great deals on ebay that I couldn't have found anywhere else. Yes, there's a lot of overpriced crap, but that's just the noise. It sometimes takes patience, and you need to know what you want and what stuff is worth.

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a) It does a LOT of things very well (it even exceeds its bandwidth specs by a decent margin).

Not saying it doesn't.

Quote
b) It's solidly built, there's no reason at all to think it won't last a long time.

We'll see how long it lasts, but even I wouldn't complain if a bargain basement scope doesn't last as long as a big brand scope. That's one reason the former is so cheap.

Still, it's a complex product, and like any complex product it can fail.

Quote
c) You can buy half a dozen of them for the price of what the Oscilloscope Snobs around here will tell you is the minimum oscilloscope acceptable to them.

Not sure what a "scope snob" is but the minimum scope that is acceptable depends very much on the task you want to do with it. For some a DS1000z is enough, for others it isn't. It's not rocket science.
 

Offline tggzzz

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #20 on: March 29, 2016, 07:58:38 am »
When HP did ship a minicomputer too early, Packard sent a two line memo to the manager requesting that HP not ship products until they met their specification. The manager framed the memo, and everybody in HP was told the story for 10-20 years thereafter.

And now they are out of this business.

Not an astute observation...

HP were in the business for 35 years after that story occurred. In case you hadn't noticed, over 35 years the computer industry changed more than a little, and almost all companies are out of "that business".


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Cool story, but I'd rather use slightly buggy hardware delivered in timely manner, than perfect thing delivered 2 years tool late and 10x more expensive.

Now you are magicking silly numbers out of thin air to attempt to justify a silly contention.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2016, 08:09:58 am by tggzzz »
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
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Online Fungus

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #21 on: March 29, 2016, 08:00:01 am »
IMHO an older digital scope is only worth the money if you need a lot of bandwitdh for a small amount of money.
'Lot of bandwitdh' and 'small amount of money' are mutually exclusive if you're buying online.
I paid $225 for a working 4 channel 500MHz Tektronix TDS510A from Ebay 6 or 7 years ago. Even including shipping it was a bargain.

Could you go out today and get another one like that...?
 

Offline Wuerstchenhund

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #22 on: March 29, 2016, 08:00:27 am »
'Lot of bandwitdh' and 'small amount of money' are mutually exclusive if you're buying online.

Yes, for new kit. For 2nd hand gear it's not. In fact, "lots of bandwidth" can often be had for similar prices as "modest bandwidth".
 

Online tszaboo

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #23 on: March 29, 2016, 08:12:29 am »
I would buy a HP 54600 series MSO for 250-350 bucks. They are selling it kinda for that money. If the screen works well. Just a DSO, I'm not sure. You need to be aware that the digital capabilities are limited compared to a modern scope. It is better than a low end chinese scope. Or a tektronix TDS2000 series. Well anything is better than the TDS.
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Online Fungus

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #24 on: March 29, 2016, 08:12:34 am »
'Lot of bandwitdh' and 'small amount of money' are mutually exclusive if you're buying online.
Yes, for new kit. For 2nd hand gear it's not. In fact, "lots of bandwidth" can often be had for similar prices as "modest bandwidth".
I'm not sure if that equates to "small amount of money" or not. Modest bandwidth can be expensive, too.  :P

I guess it mostly comes down to shipping costs though. If you live somewhere where shipping is cheap, then... lucky you.
 

Offline Wuerstchenhund

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #25 on: March 29, 2016, 08:17:45 am »
When HP did ship a minicomputer too early, Packard sent a two line memo to the manager requesting that HP not ship products until they met their specification. The manager framed the memo, and everybody in HP was told the story for 10-20 years thereafter.
And now they are out of this business.

Yes, like pretty much everyone else because minicomputers are no longer a thing :palm:

HP is still in desktops, workstations and servers from 'pretty small' to 'very large'

Quote
Cool story, but I'd rather use slightly buggy hardware delivered in timely manner, than perfect thing delivered 2 years tool late and 10x more expensive.

HP wasn't (and still isn't) a Chinese B-brand who doesn't get software, so it most certainly did not take them anything close to that. In reality, the time to fix that was probably more like days and weeks.
 

Online coppice

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #26 on: March 29, 2016, 08:27:37 am »
Yes, eBay is an expensive place to buy test gear.
Caveat: I've never bought general purpose test equipment, like a scope, on E-Bay. I have bought specialist test equipment there.

I wouldn't say E-Bay is expensive. I would say erratic. If a flood of similar stuff passes through, prices plummet. If people feel their is more demand than supply they can rise quickly. Unless you are in a hurry, bide your time and follow what's going on.
 

Offline pxl

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #27 on: March 29, 2016, 08:48:55 am »
On those time bases, where large mem really kicks in, eg at 500us, which is your preferred memory settings? You may find large mem useful sometimes on every time bases, that is out of question, but what are you using usually?

Most (all?) DSOs have an "auto" setting for memory size. In auto mode they choose a memory size that gives a good update rate for the selected time base.

Most of the time you can just leave it in auto mode and it will be good.

So most of the time the large memory does not matter at all, because the scope will use small memory. Most of the time.
 

Online Fungus

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #28 on: March 29, 2016, 08:58:20 am »
Most (all?) DSOs have an "auto" setting for memory size. In auto mode they choose a memory size that gives a good update rate for the selected time base.

Most of the time you can just leave it in auto mode and it will be good.

So most of the time the large memory does not matter at all, because the scope will use small memory. Most of the time.

It matters when you're capturing, zooming and scrolling.

(which is an important feature of DSOs)

 

Offline tggzzz

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #29 on: March 29, 2016, 08:59:29 am »
When HP did ship a minicomputer too early, Packard sent a two line memo to the manager requesting that HP not ship products until they met their specification. The manager framed the memo, and everybody in HP was told the story for 10-20 years thereafter.
And now they are out of this business.

Yes, like pretty much everyone else because minicomputers are no longer a thing :palm:

HP is still in desktops, workstations and servers from 'pretty small' to 'very large'

Quote
Cool story, but I'd rather use slightly buggy hardware delivered in timely manner, than perfect thing delivered 2 years tool late and 10x more expensive.

HP wasn't (and still isn't) a Chinese B-brand who doesn't get software, so it most certainly did not take them anything close to that. In reality, the time to fix that was probably more like days and weeks.

I can't instantly find a decent reference, but from (faulty?) memory the delay was 6 months to a year. The primary motivation for accepting the delay was that back then HP thought that a reputation for bulletproof dependability and corporate responsibility were key business assets. A corollary is that other companies' products often had marginally better specifications, but engineers trusted HP to "do the right thing" and "do the thing right".
« Last Edit: March 29, 2016, 09:02:39 am by tggzzz »
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
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Offline Wuerstchenhund

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #30 on: March 29, 2016, 09:03:35 am »
'Lot of bandwitdh' and 'small amount of money' are mutually exclusive if you're buying online.
Yes, for new kit. For 2nd hand gear it's not. In fact, "lots of bandwidth" can often be had for similar prices as "modest bandwidth".
I'm not sure if that equates to "small amount of money" or not. Modest bandwidth can be expensive, too.  :P

True. I guess it depends on how a "small amount of money" is defined. Even on the 2nd hand market there's a certain limit below which you're pretty much just getting crap. I'd put this limit to somewhere between $250 and $300. For scopes, you're unlikely to find anything useful below that.
 

Online nctnico

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #31 on: March 29, 2016, 10:30:35 am »
IMHO an older digital scope is only worth the money if you need a lot of bandwitdh for a small amount of money.
'Lot of bandwitdh' and 'small amount of money' are mutually exclusive if you're buying online.
I paid $225 for a working 4 channel 500MHz Tektronix TDS510A from Ebay 6 or 7 years ago. Even including shipping it was a bargain.
Could you go out today and get another one like that...?
Ofcourse! Lots of Tektronix scopes from these series on Ebay and if not today then some patience will get you one quickly.
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Offline pxl

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #32 on: March 29, 2016, 10:41:31 am »
Most (all?) DSOs have an "auto" setting for memory size. In auto mode they choose a memory size that gives a good update rate for the selected time base.

Most of the time you can just leave it in auto mode and it will be good.

So most of the time the large memory does not matter at all, because the scope will use small memory. Most of the time.

It matters when you're capturing, zooming and scrolling.

(which is an important feature of DSOs)

24k memory means approx 5 timebase steps when zooming. 12Mbyte means about 14 steps (1Mbyte means 10 steps). The question is (if I get the point), whether that 5 steps zooms is enough usually or need to go for that 14 steps zoom.
 

Offline pxl

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #33 on: March 29, 2016, 10:44:30 am »
Btw, for rigol dso1000z, what is the default memory setting in auto mode for 500us?
 

Offline Kjelt

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #34 on: March 29, 2016, 10:58:40 am »
Small advice: just do your homework before buying, whats inside the machine what does it run?
For instance I would never touch the old Lecroy scopes before they used standard pc boards with windows OS. Because they had some proprietary Lecroy OS on it.
If the hdd fails where do you get it from? Perhaps you can clone the old one before it breaks, than you need a small hdd (newer ones are not running) to clone it etc. etc.
So you should ask yourself the question can I fix it if something breaks.
I had a colleague that had some very expensive Tektronix scope that had 3 motherboards on it, and it took him 2 years and a lot of help from other owners to clone some content like cal settings etc. to get it going again.
For hobbie it can be a challenge but if you really want/need it as a main measurement instrument I would think twice.
 

Offline pxl

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #35 on: March 29, 2016, 11:11:37 am »
Btw, for rigol dso1000z, what is the default memory setting in auto mode for 500us?

another question, if you stop/zoom the acq. will it use more memory?
 

Online nctnico

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #36 on: March 29, 2016, 11:16:10 am »
Btw, for rigol dso1000z, what is the default memory setting in auto mode for 500us?
another question, if you stop/zoom the acq. will it use more memory?
No because the samples aren't there. The best thing is when an oscilloscope always uses all the memory so you can zoom in after capturing a signal.
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Offline grouchobyte

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #37 on: March 29, 2016, 11:36:49 am »
There is absolutely no reason in the world to obtain an "older digital scope" when you can get a modern up to date Rigol, Sigilent, Owon, Instek, Tek, Keysight, LeCroy, Hameg, etc for pretty cheap with more bells and whistles, faster waveforms per sec, more waveform memory and software functionality. Used or new, its a no brainer

Think of it this way.......it you had a choice, would you buy a Zune MP3 player or have just play your music on an iphone or android device?

The nostalgia you have for the world of old digital scopes is a graveyard of relics you wouldn't want. Sure, some can argue that they used a pretty shmick box back in the day, but that was BACK IN THE DAY.
Move on.

@grouchobyte;
 

Offline Wuerstchenhund

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #38 on: March 29, 2016, 11:37:06 am »
Small advice: just do your homework before buying, whats inside the machine what does it run?
For instance I would never touch the old Lecroy scopes before they used standard pc boards with windows OS. Because they had some proprietary Lecroy OS on it.
If the hdd fails where do you get it from? Perhaps you can clone the old one before it breaks, than you need a small hdd (newer ones are not running) to clone it etc. etc.

 :wtf:

Small advice from someone who actually knows these scopes: do your homework and get a basic clue before sprouting nonsense.  :palm:

Almost all older LeCroy scopes (i.e. non-Windows scopes), which includes all the ones mentioned in this thread, have their OS in flash ROM. And yes, the flash images are still available. An optional hard drive (actually a IBM MicroDrive, a small PCMCIA hard disk that plugs into the external PCMCIA slot in the scope) was available as option to store screenshots and data on it, but this can easily be replaced by a standard CF card.

The only exception was the (somewhat rare) ScopeStation 140 which is based on the old LW410/420 AWG and which uses a hard disk running Microsoft DOS. There are ways to replace that hard disk with a small CF card, and the restore floppies necessary to restore the disk content are generally available through the LeCroy Yahoo group (if you ask there you'll get them). But I wouldn't recommend buying a ScopeStation, simply because unlike for other LeCroy scopes there are no service manuals out there.

Quote
I had a colleague that had some very expensive Tektronix scope that had 3 motherboards on it, and it took him 2 years and a lot of help from other owners to clone some content like cal settings etc. to get it going again.

If he was similarly clueless then this isn't a surprise. And I bet this was a Windows scope.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2016, 12:16:11 pm by Wuerstchenhund »
 

Offline Wuerstchenhund

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #39 on: March 29, 2016, 12:04:17 pm »
There is absolutely no reason in the world to obtain an "older digital scope" when you can get a modern up to date Rigol, Sigilent, Owon, Instek, Tek, Keysight, LeCroy, Hameg, etc for pretty cheap with more bells and whistles, faster waveforms per sec, more waveform memory and software functionality. Used or new, its a no brainer

Really? What new Hameg, Keysight or LeCroy scope do you get for $300? Or as a matter, what used ones that aren't 20 years old, aren't analog scopes and aren't shit (i.e. LeCroy WaveAce)?

I'm not saying that you can't get great scopes for good prices but newer scopes with decent specs from the big brands cost still a bit more than the $300 the scopes that have been discussed here.

As stated before, I decided against a new Rigol when I read about their idiotic hardware design. The 54645D I bought might be old but at least HP knew how to build an oscillator.

Siglent is a no-go as they are utterly incompetent in writing firmware. I had a SDS2000 scope (their most expensive scope) and the firmware was still unusable 2 years after the scope has been released, and it seems this saga is still ongoing. Siglent also recently released a new series of spectrum analyzers (SSA3000X), and again it comes with retarded bugs (like having the window for selecting the place and file name of a screenshot in the actual screenshot :palm: ). If your time is worthless enough to play beta testers for a bunch of clown then more power to you, I won't touch their gear with a bargepole.

OWON, well the scopes look and feel like toys, and while it seems they have less firmware issues than Rigol and Siglent their hardware quality seems to be poor.

Quote
Think of it this way.......it you had a choice, would you buy a Zune MP3 player or have just play your music on an iphone or android device?

What a terrible comparison. Seriously, how is the question if buying an older or newer scope even related to playing music on a separate music player vs a multi-function device like a cell phone? Does your cell phone play the MP3 file somehow better than the Zune? What's the point?

Quote
The nostalgia you have for the world of old digital scopes is a graveyard of relics you wouldn't want. Sure, some can argue that they used a pretty shmick box back in the day, but that was BACK IN THE DAY.
Move on.

It has nothing to do with nostalgia but simply what you can get for little money. Which pretty much buys you new bottom-of-the-barrel B-brand or old big brand kit. It also leaves other things aside, for example the simple fact that some of these 20 year old scopes like the LeCroy 9300 Series in terms of functionality and capability still wipe the floor with everything that has been made by the B-brands, including Rigol's $9k+ DS6000.

Go figure.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2016, 12:07:13 pm by Wuerstchenhund »
 

Offline vk6zgo

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #40 on: March 29, 2016, 12:16:49 pm »
Are old digital scopes like those lecroy or hp 100 mhz 200msa/s monochrome worth the money? ive seen them on ebay and other places sometimes quite expensive

There's nothing wrong with the scopes if you can get them at a bargain price. OTOH they're old.

Yes, eBay is an expensive place to buy test gear.

would you pick one of those or a good analog scope?

I'd pick even a medium/low DSO over an old analog scope. They do stuff the old analog scopes don't do.

The only reason for buying analog is if it has a huge bandwidth which you really need and you got it at an amazing price.

Or,if you want to look at any signal with high frequency components using a fairly long time/div setting.
This is not an unusual requirement --hum on a pulse train is one,looking for hum & clamping errors on an analog TV signal at frame rate is another.
Early DSOs descend into a nightmare of aliasing!
Quote
If not? Nope. Why would you want something that takes up your entire bench and does half the things a DSO can do?
Many early DSOs are larger than the same generation analogs.

If I could pick up,say, a TDS220 for around $A100,I'd buy it,just for fun,but they sell for crazy prices on eBay.
 

Offline pxl

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #41 on: March 29, 2016, 12:17:38 pm »
Btw, for rigol dso1000z, what is the default memory setting in auto mode for 500us?
another question, if you stop/zoom the acq. will it use more memory?
No because the samples aren't there. The best thing is when an oscilloscope always uses all the memory so you can zoom in after capturing a signal.

I started to be confused now. In this case if we would like to use the advantages of large memory, then we
- use the scope in auto mem (because otherwise it would be slow)
- if we would like to zoom then we need to switch to large mem mode
- zoom and analyze
- switch back to auto mode for normal workflow
- if we would like to zoom again then goto 10

Probably I misunderstood something.
 

Online nctnico

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #42 on: March 29, 2016, 12:29:43 pm »
Btw, for rigol dso1000z, what is the default memory setting in auto mode for 500us?
another question, if you stop/zoom the acq. will it use more memory?
No because the samples aren't there. The best thing is when an oscilloscope always uses all the memory so you can zoom in after capturing a signal.

I started to be confused now. In this case if we would like to use the advantages of large memory, then we
- use the scope in auto mem (because otherwise it would be slow)
- if we would like to zoom then we need to switch to large mem mode
- zoom and analyze
- switch back to auto mode for normal workflow
- if we would like to zoom again then goto 10

Probably I misunderstood something.
You didn't misunderstood. It is the price you pay for getting an inexpensive scope which does not have dedicated hardware for dealing with waveform display.
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Online Fungus

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #43 on: March 29, 2016, 01:52:09 pm »
24k memory means approx 5 timebase steps when zooming. 12Mbyte means about 14 steps (1Mbyte means 10 steps).

??

I have no idea what you're calculating there. How can 500 times more memory only give 2 or three more steps?

 

Offline pxl

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #44 on: March 29, 2016, 04:58:53 pm »
24k memory means approx 5 timebase steps when zooming. 12Mbyte means about 14 steps (1Mbyte means 10 steps).

??

I have no idea what you're calculating there. How can 500 times more memory only give 2 or three more steps?

Every zooming steps require 2 times memory. Let's suppose one screen is 600px, then log2(24000/600)=5.32, log2(1*10^6)=10.7,   log2(12*10^6/600) = 14.28
 

Online Fungus

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #45 on: March 29, 2016, 05:49:37 pm »
24k memory means approx 5 timebase steps when zooming. 12Mbyte means about 14 steps (1Mbyte means 10 steps).

??

I have no idea what you're calculating there. How can 500 times more memory only give 2 or three more steps?

Every zooming steps require 2 times memory.

Oh, I see.

Yes, 2^9 = 512

That's a weird way to look at it though. Nine logarithmic steps is a lot more information (remember the story of grains of rice on a chess board).

Plus ... it doesn't have to sample at 1GHz. I can turn the time base/sample rate right down and record a signal for quite a long time (minutes!) That's useful for looking at RS232, etc.

 

Online Howardlong

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #46 on: March 29, 2016, 06:51:27 pm »
FWIW for a while I had a 54622D and an MSO1074Z, and the 54622D was used much more than the Rigol. Why? Mostly it's down to the UI, how immediately responsive it is and how ergonimic it is to use, everything is obvious, in your face, no random button pushing to find things. I liked it so much I upgraded to a 54642D, the 500MHz 2 GSa/s version. 5 second boot time was also a good reason to prefer them, although I know some don't think this facet means much to them, but being a mixed signal firmware type I don't tend to have my TE switched on all the time.

FWIW, the 54622D is 4Mpt and the 54642D 8Mpt, so this matches or exceeds the current x3000 series (4Mpt) from Keysight. These 15 tear olds also have plenty of modern stuff like built in serial decoding and triggering.

Although it's a bit more snazzy, the fundamentals of the UI from those scopes comtinue to this day, even though the underlying OS went from VxWorks to Windows CE. The key principles of a simple, self explanetary and fast UI remain.

 

Offline robert_

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #47 on: March 29, 2016, 07:52:48 pm »
I still work with an old Lecroy 9354L from time to time.
Its certainly no useless or "shit", the more advanced functions are somewhat non-intuitive to use but at least THEY WORK. And there are a LOT of these that will come in handy from time to time.
2M/ch certainly isnt bad, nor is the ability to use math over the full memory, and quite deep FFT (iirc 1M or so, gets fairly slow but it does work properly). Advanced trigger modes work fine too, reducing the need for stupid "manual glitch detection" with ultra-high wfm/sec.
Also i didnt have that thing crash or find a problematic bug yet, as opposed to pretty much any low-end scope (or anything made by Tek no matter how expensive) i ever had the displeasure to work with.
Try to find one with a CPU3 card as these are a lot faster (48Mhz 68030 vs. 16Mhz 68020) and can run newer FW with more features (upgradable via floppy drive on these, older ones are EPROM).

Stuff is quite repairable too, you get a full service manual for it and most of the "common" problems are fixable. No "leaking SMT capacitors killing the entire board" or "unobtainium hybrids failing like flies" type of fail as with some other scopes of that time. Floppy drive breaks often, but its replacable with a common laptop floppy drive for <5bucks.

So yeah, the better models from the 93xx series probably are worth more than a DS1054.

Things to stay away from:
Most TDSxxx (short memory,slow, many are terribly unreliable, close to unrepairable)
TDS1xxx, TDS2xxx (short memory, nothing but extremely basic festures)
All Tek if its broken, no service manuals for almost all of them
large-case HP greenscreens with that single encoder wheel (too old, unuseable UI)
Lecroy 7200 (wayyy to old and HUGE)
Lecroy 9400 (too old, too little features)
Most analog/digital combiscopes (too little memory, too limited features, except for some newer hamgs that are quite decent)
 

Offline firworks

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #48 on: March 29, 2016, 07:56:34 pm »
I spent a long time looking for a deal on the LeCroy 93X4Ls and wasn't able to find anything. I still do look though and might grab one if I find it to complement my new Siglent. You never know what will come in handy some day. One day while working on an issue we had a MSO with 4 channels and 16 channels digital chain triggering another 4 channel scope and a 2 channel analogue scope to solve a particular issue. It was quite the frankenstein setup but it worked.

Also I'm sort of drawn to the LeCroys because I love the orange screen. It looks too cool.
For fun, for information? http://firworks.net
 

Offline Wuerstchenhund

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #49 on: March 29, 2016, 08:18:54 pm »
I spent a long time looking for a deal on the LeCroy 93X4Ls and wasn't able to find anything. I still do look though and might grab one if I find it to complement my new Siglent.

Have a look a the LC Series, it's essentially a 9300 with color screen and much faster processor. With some luck you might find one of the CRT ones (LC 3xx/5xx) for roughly the same or maybe even less than a higher spec 9300.

The LC 500/600 were also the first scopes that were also sold as Disk Drive Analyzer (DDA). It's essentially a LC with the DDM option preinstalled and is regularly overseen by punters who often think that this is only something for doing stuff with hard drives and worthless for anything else.

Also, with some patience you can sometimes even find a WaveRunner LT for a low price.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2016, 08:25:40 pm by Wuerstchenhund »
 

Online nctnico

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #50 on: March 29, 2016, 08:48:23 pm »
Actually the Tektronix TDS500/700 series are not so bad. There is a lot of information about their common problems and hacks to get some to 4Gs/s and 1GHz bandwidth. The early ones (before 1994/1995) have problems with leaky caps. Even if you end up with a bad one the ones with up to 2 errors in the startup screen are easy to fix by replacing the caps and cleaning the boards thouroughly. 3 errors or more means traces have been eaten away and you'll have a restoration project on your hands.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2016, 09:25:41 pm by nctnico »
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Offline G0HZU

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #51 on: March 29, 2016, 10:12:26 pm »
It's also worth considering the human factors of older scopes. eg fan noise and the user interface and size/power/weight. At the end of last year I saved this old HP 54540C from death row at work and I've been using it occasionally here at home.

In its day (1995?) this was a very expensive scope and offered up to 500MHz BW and 2 GSa/s and it boasted very good vertical accuracy.

But I wouldn't recommend this scope today for hobby use unless you really needed the 500MHz BW and the accuracy/measurement capabilities it offers.

The display is gloomy and loses contrast especially if viewed off centre (see below) and the fan noise is quite annoying. The fan noise would be lost in a large, busy 'open plan' lab but here at home it emits a low moaning drone from the big single fan at the back. I don't think the fan is faulty or worn out. Also, the user interface can be annoying because it shares  common vertical controls for all four channels. It's also fairly big and heavy and deep so it might not fit on a typical home/hobby shelf.

However, it would make a great 'second' scope (maybe to a Rigol 1054Z?) if you just wanted to use it occasionally for critical (or high bandwidth) measurements or use it remotely via GPIB or you needed 4 channels.

But I couldn't recommend it as an only scope for everyday use. The fan noise alone is enough to spoil the user experience. Other big old school DSOs from Tek (or LeCroy?) may have similar human factor limitations. It's not all about price and performance :)
« Last Edit: March 29, 2016, 10:39:34 pm by G0HZU »
 

Offline Wuerstchenhund

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #52 on: March 30, 2016, 05:41:10 am »
It's also worth considering the human factors of older scopes. eg fan noise and the user interface and size/power/weight. At the end of last year I saved this old HP 54540C from death row at work and I've been using it occasionally here at home.

In its day (1995?) this was a very expensive scope and offered up to 500MHz BW and 2 GSa/s and it boasted very good vertical accuracy.

I think the 'C' came out in late 1997 or so, the 'A' model with green CRT was the one that came out in 1995. We had these scopes at work back in the day, and I had a 54542A myself. Not sure the vertical accuracy is anything special as it's still a normal 8bit scope, although it could get 10bit resolution through some averaging over GPIB at the cost of sample rate. It also wasn't any more or less precise than the other scopes I had (other scopes can do averaging/oversampling for data on the screen, which the 5454x can't).

The 5454xA/C were pretty much rack scopes. Yes, you could use them as bench scopes, but most of them ended up in ATEs. Which is why airflow was of higher consideration than noise for these scopes. The true bench scope was the 54600 Series.

Quote
But I wouldn't recommend this scope today for hobby use unless you really needed the 500MHz BW and the accuracy/measurement capabilities it offers.

I wouldn't as well, simply because these scopes had some issue where the ADC hybrid carrier (a thin ceramic plate) tends to crack, plus the contact frame with spring contacts the hybrid sits on sometimes loses contact. It's a pretty fragile setup and back then when these scopes were current we had quite a few repairs even for scopes that were just sitting in a rack. Older 54500 Series (the single knob ones) are not affected.

The other thing is that the 2GSa/s isn't of a lot of use in these scopes. The sample memory is 32k only which means the sample rate drops quickly at longer time bases.

Quote
The display is gloomy and loses contrast especially if viewed off centre (see below) and the fan noise is quite annoying. The fan noise would be lost in a large, busy 'open plan' lab but here at home it emits a low moaning drone from the big single fan at the back. I don't think the fan is faulty or worn out. Also, the user interface can be annoying because it shares  common vertical controls for all four channels. It's also fairly big and heavy and deep so it might not fit on a typical home/hobby shelf.

Yes, the fan noise is pretty high on these scopes, but since it was really more targeted at ATEs anyways that wasn't really a problem. Same with the poor LCD.

Quote
However, it would make a great 'second' scope (maybe to a Rigol 1054Z?) if you just wanted to use it occasionally for critical (or high bandwidth) measurements or use it remotely via GPIB or you needed 4 channels.

Well, considering that these still go for some good money (there are still ATEs using these scopes) I'd rather sell it on. As a bench scope it's not bad but nothing to write home about, and a 54600 is smaller, faster, a lot less noisy, and doesn't have the fragile ADC hybrids.

Quote
But I couldn't recommend it as an only scope for everyday use. The fan noise alone is enough to spoil the user experience. Other big old school DSOs from Tek (or LeCroy?) may have similar human factor limitations. It's not all about price and performance :)

Actually, the 5454xA/C is a particularly bad example re. noise. Most other scopes from that vintage are a lot less noisy, i.e. the HP 54600 or the LeCroy 9300. None are silent scopes but the noise level is a lot more modest, probably because these were targeted at bench users.

Some kit is just more noisy than others. And that's not just true for old instruments, even some modern devices are affected. My 4 year old Anritsu SA emits an acoustic noise like a hurricane.  ;)
 

Offline Wuerstchenhund

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #53 on: March 30, 2016, 11:08:11 am »
Actually the Tektronix TDS500/700 series are not so bad. There is a lot of information about their common problems and hacks to get some to 4Gs/s and 1GHz bandwidth. The early ones (before 1994/1995) have problems with leaky caps. Even if you end up with a bad one the ones with up to 2 errors in the startup screen are easy to fix by replacing the caps and cleaning the boards thouroughly. 3 errors or more means traces have been eaten away and you'll have a restoration project on your hands.

I'm still not sure they are worth considering, even without the capacitor issue. These scopes are still comparably expensive simply because they carry the Tektronix name, while functionality-wise most of them are pretty simple, with small memories, and they have a really horrible UI.

The capacitor issue is also not the only weak point of these scopes. The ones with color display have a pretty rearded system that instead of using a color CRT like everyone else uses a monochrome CRT with a color LCD shutter in front. Most of these shutters have detoriorated by now, finding replacements is nearly impossible, and the few conversion kits to LCD are very expensive.

Tek had really great analog scopes but none of their digital scopes are much to write home about.
 

Offline xwarp

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #54 on: March 30, 2016, 12:03:30 pm »
I'm still not sure they are worth considering, even without the capacitor issue. These scopes are still comparably expensive simply because they carry the Tektronix name, while functionality-wise most of them are pretty simple, with small memories, and they have a really horrible UI.

The capacitor issue is also not the only weak point of these scopes. The ones with color display have a pretty rearded system that instead of using a color CRT like everyone else uses a monochrome CRT with a color LCD shutter in front. Most of these shutters have detoriorated by now, finding replacements is nearly impossible, and the few conversion kits to LCD are very expensive.

Tek had really great analog scopes but none of their digital scopes are much to write home about.

Pretty much agree with the above, unless you get lucky.

I got lucky and picked up a TDS460A off ehay for $50. Since it was a local seller, I was able to go check it out before making the buy. Failed acquisition and that was it. I replaced all the caps where typical, but actually had to make some new traces, (jumper wires), on the front button panel for damaged traces because of those crappy caps.

It works for me as most of what I work on at home is slow stuff, i.e. vintage stereo receivers and early GM TBI stuff.
 

Offline free_electron

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #55 on: March 30, 2016, 12:26:32 pm »
Agreed. The 1054Z firmware is incredibly complicated compared to an ancient scope like an HP 54645D so it is inevitable that there will be bugs. At least Rigol do generally fix the bugs.
Of course it is . Because they cram in a bloated operating system, have portable middleware and slap on a fancy GUI all running on an off the shelf cheapo dsp or cpu.

the 54645D runs off a simple motorola 68000 at 16MHz. And it responds much faster to user entry than those bloated farts. Why ? because the scope is made from custom devices that can move and crunch large amounts of data in hardware.

The 645D may be ancient but i still use one almost daily ( now more in favor of a 54622D ) as my quick-debugging-session machine.

Programmers these days can't code shit. all they do is take an OS, slap on some middleware and design a fancy UI. nothing is optimized for throughput.
5 million lines of code to blink an led ...
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Online Howardlong

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #56 on: March 30, 2016, 01:08:38 pm »
Agreed. The 1054Z firmware is incredibly complicated compared to an ancient scope like an HP 54645D so it is inevitable that there will be bugs. At least Rigol do generally fix the bugs.
Of course it is . Because they cram in a bloated operating system, have portable middleware and slap on a fancy GUI all running on an off the shelf cheapo dsp or cpu.

Programmers these days can't code shit. all they do is take an OS, slap on some middleware and design a fancy UI. nothing is optimized for throughput.
5 million lines of code to blink an led ...

cf Red Pitaya's Blinky example... it uses SCPI from the host to flash an LED. And no, it doesn't even work  |O
 

Offline Kjelt

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #57 on: March 30, 2016, 01:26:31 pm »
Programmers these days can't code shit. all they do is take an OS, slap on some middleware and design a fancy UI. nothing is optimized for throughput.
5 million lines of code to blink an led ...
Yes but the alternative of writing your own proprietary OS with UI and custom middleware will make the selling price of the scope around a few hundred thousand $  :)
Let's face it, oscilloscopes are no fast moving huge quantities consumer products, they are dinosaur measuring tools, managers are not willing to spent more than a few thousand $ a piece, and it has to last 5 years or longer or the engineer should use something else, at least that is the trend I am spotting depending on the line of work ofcourse.
 

Offline zal42

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #58 on: March 30, 2016, 01:40:17 pm »
I picked up an HP4200A from eBay for $75, in perfect working condition. This is one of the first digital scopes on the market, with a whopping 1024 samples/channel of memory!

I've been using it as my primary scope since I got it, and I've been very, very happy with it. It has its warts and limitations, of course, but I consider it excellent value for money.
 

Offline Wuerstchenhund

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #59 on: March 30, 2016, 02:02:27 pm »
Let's face it, oscilloscopes are no fast moving huge quantities consumer products, they are dinosaur measuring tools, managers are not willing to spent more than a few thousand $ a piece, and it has to last 5 years or longer or the engineer should use something else, at least that is the trend I am spotting depending on the line of work ofcourse.

I can't agree, especially not with scopes being "dinosaur tools". A lot of modern technology would be unmanageable without the existence of modern, fast high performance scopes. And scopes themselves are continously developed further, i.e. which has brought us for example the 100GHz real-time scope. There's really nothing "dinosaur" about it.

And I can't confirm that managers responsible for procurement only want to spend a few grand on a scope. I am aware that this very much varies across the individual industries, but the majority of scopes ('bread and butter' scopes) I buy for my clients are in the $8k to $20k price bracket. After that comes the $20k to $100k bracket, and the below $8k is pretty much on the third place. But then most projects we work on are high value. I can see of course that say smaller shops with smaller budget are much more likely to skimp when it comes to scopes.

And while scopes are unlikely to become sought-after consumer products that sell in high numbers, thanks to the advent of low cost B-brand scopes they will very likely pretty soon be as omnipresent in stores as say $5 DMMs.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2016, 02:05:25 pm by Wuerstchenhund »
 

Offline Kjelt

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #60 on: March 30, 2016, 02:08:12 pm »
We don't agree often  :)  You like LeCroy, most of the people I know call them LeCrap  :-DD

But my guess is that 90% of the sold scopes are below 8k.
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which has brought us for example the 100GHz real-time scope.
Who on this planet really needs that, I agree that it is a masterpiece of engineering and state of the art.

I guess most of our engineers don't need anything above 500MHz but that is because we don't do RF, as I said and you say it depends on the field of work.
The reason this topic exists is proof that even scopes 15 years old are still enough to be used today.
 

Offline Wuerstchenhund

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #61 on: March 30, 2016, 02:48:59 pm »
We don't agree often  :)

Maybe. Don't know. I generally don't pay much attention to who agrees or disagrees with me ;)

Quote
You like LeCroy, most of the people I know call them LeCrap  :-DD

Let's say I know how what their products can do, I know what products from other big brands can do, and I know how they compare against each other.

What terms like "LeCrap" tell me is that whoever ushers the term is probably around twelve years old and unlikely to know much about any scopes, even less so about LeCroy. It's the same category as "KeyShite", "Micro$oft", "Windoze", "Linsux", "Luser", "libtard" and similar adolescent terminology. And the clearly bogus and obviously made up stories that generally accompany this terminology just confirms that it's best case a way to re-dress the own incompetence or most case pretty much just hot air. In my experience, the truth content is absolutely minuscule.

On the upside, that makes it really easy to separate the noise from the signal ;-)

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But my guess is that 90% of the sold scopes are below 8k.

90% is a bit high but I guess some 65% might be right, especially when including the hobbyist/startup/one man shop market.

Quote
Quote
which has brought us for example the 100GHz real-time scope.
Who on this planet really needs that, I agree that it is a masterpiece of engineering and state of the art.

Actually there are quite a few networking/communications manufacturers that were pretty much waiting for something like that. It's not just a technical demonstrator, there's a market for such scopes.

Quote
I guess most of our engineers don't need anything above 500MHz but that is because we don't do RF, as I said and you say it depends on the field of work.

Indeed.

Quote
The reason this topic exists is proof that even scopes 15 years old are still enough to be used today.

Yes, but this is purely from a hobbyist point of view. I doubt many businesses buy lots of 20+yr old general purpose scopes for their labs.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2016, 02:55:13 pm by Wuerstchenhund »
 

Offline MrSlack

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #62 on: March 30, 2016, 02:58:04 pm »
is purely from a hobbyist point of view. I doubt many businesses buy lots of 20+yr old general purpose scopes for their labs.

When I was working for a defence contractor in circa 2002, they had old Tek 7000s for literally everything and a few mid 90's HP DSO's and logic analysers dotted around. That was for RF and digital stuff.

Surprisingly I was talking to one of the remaining employees via email last year and they still have all the 7000's they could keep alive (they have a department of people up to 80 years old who like to fix Tek scopes all day) and a few MDO4000's dotted around.

I suspect when the older generation dies off or retires then there would be a tech change but if there's one thing that's always true and that's if you give an engineer the tools he/she wants then they will get the job done better, even if they're old.
 

Offline mmagin

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #63 on: March 30, 2016, 03:22:28 pm »
The noise floor of the HP 54600 Series and the LeCroy 9300 Series is actually quite good. And not all older scopes come with tiny memory. The HP 54645D I bought for example has 1M per channel which is quite useable, plus it comes with the MegaZoom ASIC which offers a very high waveform update rate.

Yep, this is why when I was wanting a digital scope (Well, I had a Tek 468, but that's kind of a joke at digital) I got a used HP 54645A -- I was kind of wary of some of the Rigol quality issues, but I knew I wanted one which had a decent-sized sample memory and which otherwise would behave itself for general scope duties.

(I'm still keeping my Tek 7613, it lets me use the 7a22 differential amplifier!)
« Last Edit: March 30, 2016, 03:25:59 pm by mmagin »
 

Online nctnico

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #64 on: March 30, 2016, 03:44:01 pm »
The reason this topic exists is proof that even scopes 15 years old are still enough to be used today.
Yes, but this is purely from a hobbyist point of view. I doubt many businesses buy lots of 20+yr old general purpose scopes for their labs.
Judging from this forum there are plenty small (one person band) companies who use older equipment to get the job done. I also noticed from visiting bigger companies that old equipment tends to stay for a long time.
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Offline Wuerstchenhund

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #65 on: March 30, 2016, 04:11:34 pm »
When I was working for a defence contractor in circa 2002, they had old Tek 7000s for literally everything and a few mid 90's HP DSO's and logic analysers dotted around. That was for RF and digital stuff.

Surprisingly I was talking to one of the remaining employees via email last year and they still have all the 7000's they could keep alive (they have a department of people up to 80 years old who like to fix Tek scopes all day) and a few MDO4000's dotted around.

Yeah, I know these kind of contractors (and I do have some suspicion who this one might be  ;) ), and often where government/public money is involved some silly decisions are made. Of course I don't know what they do with those old Tek 7000 scopes but unless it's something super special that for some weird reason can't be done with modern equipment then that's a good example of pissing money in the wind. The right time to look for a replacement would have been 20 years ago, and even if these retirees work for little it's still a pretty poor use of budgets. One person spending three or four hours on fixing a scope would have probably paid a large percentage of a brand new scope.

Not that this surprises me, having seen how the British Defense Industry works on too many occasions ;)

Quote
if there's one thing that's always true and that's if you give an engineer the tools he/she wants then they will get the job done better, even if they're old.

Yes, in moderation  ;) There's simply a point where the tools this type of older engineer prefers still make the job taking much longer than with a modern tool set operated by an engineer (older, younger, age doesn't really matter) who's learning and self-development hasn't stopped back in the '70s.

Judging from this forum there are plenty small (one person band) companies who use older equipment to get the job done. I also noticed from visiting bigger companies that old equipment tends to stay for a long time.

You're certainly right, and there's nothing wrong with that. Same with that old kit often tends to stay for a long time. But if it dies then it's usually replaced with a more modern piece of kit.

I really can't see that businesses are rushing to buy all these old HP 54500, 54600, LeCroy 9300, Tek TDSxxx or similar scopes on ebay. The reasonable priced ones in adequate condition will very likely end up with some hobbyist, and the overpriced ones are either price-lowered until they sell or probably end in the dumpster.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2016, 04:15:20 pm by Wuerstchenhund »
 

Online Fungus

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #66 on: March 30, 2016, 04:55:58 pm »
Yeah, I know these kind of contractors (and I do have some suspicion who this one might be  ;) ), and often where government/public money is involved some silly decisions are made. Of course I don't know what they do with those old Tek 7000 scopes but unless it's something super special that for some weird reason can't be done with modern equipment then that's a good example of pissing money in the wind. The right time to look for a replacement would have been 20 years ago, and even if these retirees work for little it's still a pretty poor use of budgets. One person spending three or four hours on fixing a scope would have probably paid a large percentage of a brand new scope.

You don't understand at all... those old repair technicians are saving money.

If they switch to a more modern 'scope they'll have to update all their reference manuals and training material and send all their employees on a week-long 'adaptation' course.

All that would cost them MILLIONS. The old fogies are dirt cheap compared to any sort of upgrade.
 

Offline tggzzz

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #67 on: March 30, 2016, 05:14:56 pm »
You don't understand at all... those old repair technicians are saving money.

If they switch to a more modern 'scope they'll have to update all their reference manuals and training material and send all their employees on a week-long 'adaptation' course.

All that would cost them MILLIONS. The old fogies are dirt cheap compared to any sort of upgrade.

Those human resources are, after all, fully depreciated by now. :(

More seriously, the cost and time involved in recruiting any new resource into a defence environment can be surprisingly high and long.
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Offline Wuerstchenhund

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #68 on: March 30, 2016, 05:29:05 pm »
You don't understand at all... those old repair technicians are saving money.

If they switch to a more modern 'scope they'll have to update all their reference manuals and training material and send all their employees on a week-long 'adaptation' course.

All that would cost them MILLIONS. The old fogies are dirt cheap compared to any sort of upgrade.

Yeah, sure  :-DD  "adaption course"? Pretty much everywhere I work and have worked, and in all labs I've been, being able to familarize yourself with something like a new scope is pretty much expected from a competent engineer. Spending an hour or two to go through operation? Sure, no problem. But asking to be sent to a week of "adaption course" just because your workplace moved to a new scope and you can't mentally cope with anything made after 1981 is pretty much a sign that you're in the wrong job, and if being stuck in the past shows in other areas of engineering then I'd probably consider letting you go if you don't manage to catch up.

There's no problem going on a training course for a very complex instrument, like some high end scopes and some of their options, but not for a mundane general purpose bench DSO.

More seriously, the cost and time involved in recruiting any new resource into a defence environment can be surprisingly high and long.

Yes, but mostly because these days, some areas aside, defense pays worse than most other sectors, plus workplaces aren't necessarily located in the most attractive areas. Add to that especially the UK defense industry still offers work environments like in the '70s (open plan offices and working areas, tired buildings, dress codes, micromanaged lunch breaks) and a rigid culture that often makes career progress slow, and it's not too difficult to see why it's not the most attractive industry to work in.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2016, 05:40:29 pm by Wuerstchenhund »
 

Offline MrSlack

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #69 on: March 30, 2016, 05:29:43 pm »
When I was working for a defence contractor in circa 2002, they had old Tek 7000s for literally everything and a few mid 90's HP DSO's and logic analysers dotted around. That was for RF and digital stuff.

Surprisingly I was talking to one of the remaining employees via email last year and they still have all the 7000's they could keep alive (they have a department of people up to 80 years old who like to fix Tek scopes all day) and a few MDO4000's dotted around.

Yeah, I know these kind of contractors (and I do have some suspicion who this one might be  ;) ), and often where government/public money is involved some silly decisions are made. Of course I don't know what they do with those old Tek 7000 scopes but unless it's something super special that for some weird reason can't be done with modern equipment then that's a good example of pissing money in the wind. The right time to look for a replacement would have been 20 years ago, and even if these retirees work for little it's still a pretty poor use of budgets. One person spending three or four hours on fixing a scope would have probably paid a large percentage of a brand new scope.

I thought the same. That was until someone showed me how to coax something out of a 1GHz Tek that refused to appear on the replacement HP digital scope. Nanosecond wide reflection. I suspect the gap in tech is a little smaller now. I haven't been near any new scopes for a while :)

These weren't contractors - they were permanent staff at a contractor. Actual contractors - now that are bastards. I know - I am one (not EE though :)). I got paid a ridiculous sum of four figures last year to spend an hour moving some poorly racked kit up half a U.

As for fogies, they are terrible. The same guys wouldn't use the provided software  asset tracking system and reverted to envelopes stuffed with bits of card...grr!
« Last Edit: March 30, 2016, 05:31:27 pm by MrSlack »
 

Offline Wuerstchenhund

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #70 on: March 30, 2016, 06:08:22 pm »
I thought the same. That was until someone showed me how to coax something out of a 1GHz Tek that refused to appear on the replacement HP digital scope. Nanosecond wide reflection. I suspect the gap in tech is a little smaller now. I haven't been near any new scopes for a while :)

I guess that must have been a while (HP scope  ;)). Well, the higher bandwidth DSOs back in the days (541xx, 547xx) were really slow. But my experience is that whenever someone showed me something on an analog scope that's not visible on a digital scope, this is mostly so because the person may know analog scopes from the back of his hand but doesn't know how to setup the digital scope properly.

Back then certain types of (older) engineers developed some strange rejection of pretty much anything digital, and those new-fangled digital scopes pretty much threatened the epitome of analog electronice engineering - the analog scope. Of course some had valid reasons (many older digital scopes performed poor in lot of areas) but some of them developed the kind of strange, surreal antipathy that you can see in audiophoolery, i.e. the analog scope representing the "high fidelity" instrument. We even have some live examples in this forum (no, I won't give names  ;) )

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These weren't contractors - they were permanent staff at a contractor.

That's what I understood from your initial posting - the company is a contractor and the engineers were employees.

Quote
As for fogies, they are terrible. The same guys wouldn't use the provided software  asset tracking system and reverted to envelopes stuffed with bits of card...grr!

That sounds truly frightingly familiar ;)
 

Offline MrSlack

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #71 on: March 30, 2016, 07:22:14 pm »
That sounds about right. My experience back then was up to a Philips PM3217 which is dump as chips so I'll admit I wasn't sure of what things were and were not capable of.

I write software during the day. My only enthusiasm for analogue electronics is as a puzzle game that's quite a fun distraction from the incredibly high level abstraction of software. I can understand the nostalgia and irrational regard for it. In the commercial world, it's merely what you use to get stuff into your FPGA or uC. Some people don't get that.

Probably the same outfit - big and dangerously incestuous company that consumed half an entire county :)
 

Offline TAMHAN

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #72 on: March 31, 2016, 01:25:08 am »
Well, what can I say. Training staff to adapt is extremely difficult. SWIMBO and I are a two man team, and we each have our own scope.

I grew up on my iwatsu CombiScope, and even though its digital memory is fuckall small (1k or 16k in boost mode), I still use it to death. Why? Because I am familiar with it. I know how to measure what I need with it - and if I need to do more, I bring out the LA.

But...re LeCrap. We recently bought a 9354AM, and love the shit out of it. That scope is super insane...it does all the measurements automagically which we used to do by hand. And TBPH, both SWIMBO and I managed to figure out the GUI pretty quickly.
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Offline vk6zgo

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #73 on: March 31, 2016, 01:58:58 am »
Not that this surprises me, having seen how the British Defense Industry works on too many occasions ;)

Yes, in moderation  ;) There's simply a point where the tools this type of older engineer prefers still make the job taking much longer than with a modern tool set operated by an engineer (older, younger, age doesn't really matter) who's learning and self-development hasn't stopped back in the '70s.

In the early '90s,the Tek or HP guys would come to our TV Studio to try to sell us their "latest & greatest " DSO.
They would uniformly fail at the first serious test,due to insufficient memory,an awkward UI,& a few other problems.

The group of people at these demonstrations ranged from Senior Engineers in their late '50s,down to young Techs who would have been in Kindergarten in the 1970s.

We were all favourably disposed towards Digital solutions to problems,as most Tech people of that time were.
Even the most enthusiastic supporter went away disappointed.

Most analog 'scopes around the Studio were  Tek "400" series or later types,but we kept a couple ot 7603's around,which had a big advantage----you could use them with a 7L12 Spec Analyser plugin.

The last analog Tek 'scope we bought--can't remember the model,was a "lemon".
We kept sending it back,with no fix happening.

Tek would try to fob us off with a DSO instead--none of which could do the job.

Eventually,they found one that "just about" did it.

The only problem it had was aliasing between the sampling rate & the 4.433MHz colour subcarrier,when looking at a video signal at field rate,which looked like a much lower frequency signal superimposed on the display.
We could live with that,to have an instrument which didn't keep "croaking" on us!
Quote

Judging from this forum there are plenty small (one person band) companies who use older equipment to get the job done. I also noticed from visiting bigger companies that old equipment tends to stay for a long time.


Big companies often have big Equipment stores.
Older equipment may well linger for years.

It is also,often more cost effective to drag out an old 'scope to use as the display for another seldom used specialised instrument,rather than hire the modern equivalent.
 

Offline joeqsmith

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #74 on: March 31, 2016, 05:35:39 am »
All of my scopes are old.  Actually, all of my equipment is old.  Even the things I bought brand new are now pretty old.  As a hobbyist, I can't afford new. 

Worth is really hard to say.   If they are selling on eBay, must be worth it to someone but maybe not you or I.
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Online coppice

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #75 on: March 31, 2016, 06:43:17 am »
Quote
But my guess is that 90% of the sold scopes are below 8k.
90% is a bit high but I guess some 65% might be right, especially when including the hobbyist/startup/one man shop market.
The low end of the Rigol range of scopes is getting pretty common in the research labs of large organisations. It wouldn't surprise me to find that 90% of all units shipped are less than $8k. People need lots and lots of simple tools, even when they are doing leading edge work.
 

Online Fungus

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #76 on: March 31, 2016, 07:16:22 am »
All of my scopes are old.  Actually, all of my equipment is old.  Even the things I bought brand new are now pretty old.  As a hobbyist, I can't afford new.

There's nothing wrong with "old" in itself.

The question is: Should a new hobbyist be out there looking for used/old gear?

I say it depends on whether or not you:
a) Live somewhere where there's plenty available and you can get good prices.
b) Know what to look for
c) Don't mind replacing capacitors, knobs, switches, etc.
d) Have plenty of bench space
e) Are prepared for the occasional lemon.
f) Don't mind the smell


 

Offline Kjelt

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #77 on: March 31, 2016, 07:20:28 am »
Let's say I know how what their products can do, I know what products from other big brands can do, and I know how they compare against each other.
What terms like "LeCrap" tell me is that whoever ushers the term is probably around twelve years old and unlikely to know much about any scopes, even less so about LeCroy. It's the same category as "KeyShite", "Micro$oft", "Windoze", "Linsux", "Luser", "libtard" and similar adolescent terminology. And the clearly bogus and obviously made up stories that generally accompany this terminology just confirms that it's best case a way to re-dress the own incompetence or most case pretty much just hot air. In my experience, the truth content is absolutely minuscule.
:-DD I will tell him, he is 55, almost 30 yrs industry experience.
I don't recall all the events with LeCroy he keeps on complaining about but fact is that in 10 yrs and three LeCroys he keeps losing his scope to the repair dept for at least four times, mostly mechanical issues like knobs, probe connector not recognizing the correct probe setting that kind of issues and he just loves Tek (stating that the trigger is better blabla).  Oh yeah and the incredible noise they made (the models 7 years ago), it was if you were walking on an airplane field in rush hour in that department (30+ scopes on whole day).
I have no complaints myself about LeCroy except that I think they are quite high in price for what they offer.

I must say that their service is excellent if you happen to have 40 of their highend scopes in one building, they flew two engineers from Switzerland to do some board upgrades on site.
Still very disappointing to see a $200 pc motherboard with too little RAM inside a $10k scope (talking about 8 years ago now).

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Yes, but this is purely from a hobbyist point of view. I doubt many businesses buy lots of 20+yr old general purpose scopes for their labs.
No ofcourse not but that was not my point. My point is that if 15yr old scopes are up to the majority of tasks that engineers need today that there has been a sort of innovation freeze.
Just like PC's nowadays, if you bought an i7 pc 5 years ago it is still very good to work with, while 20 yrs ago you almost needed a new pc every year or the latest software was awfull to work with.
So the whole point is that there is not much innovation to scopes the last 10 yrs making it not as much neccessary to upgrade (unless as we agree you need the higher bandwidth).
The only "innovation" you saw is that digital scopes have taken absorbed logic analyzer functionality, integrated that into one device. 


« Last Edit: March 31, 2016, 07:25:32 am by Kjelt »
 

Online Fungus

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #78 on: March 31, 2016, 07:37:54 am »
Quote
Yes, but this is purely from a hobbyist point of view. I doubt many businesses buy lots of 20+yr old general purpose scopes for their labs.
No ofcourse not but that was not my point. My point is that if 15yr old scopes are up to the majority of tasks that engineers need today that there has been a sort of innovation freeze.
Either that or there's really not much more you can add to a device that draws wiggly lines on a screen.

...and 15 years ago only large companies could afford what a hobbyist can afford today

...and they were much bigger/hotter than they are now
 

Offline Wuerstchenhund

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #79 on: March 31, 2016, 07:48:14 am »
The low end of the Rigol range of scopes is getting pretty common in the research labs of large organisations.

I very much doubt that. Maybe that's the case in China and Hongkong, but certainly not in the Western world. At least not in labs that want to be taken seriously.

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It wouldn't surprise me to find that 90% of all units shipped are less than $8k. People need lots and lots of simple tools, even when they are doing leading edge work.

That may or may not be true, but what people who do this type of work professionally usually want are reliable and dependable instruments. Rigol fails on that as much as other B-brands like Siglent, maybe they're even worse (just look at the "Yaigol" debacle, a clear statement of utter incompetence in hardware design). You really think stuff like that has a place in a serious research lab?

But the various bugs and design flaws are only part of the problem. There's other stuff like the fact that Rigol doesn't even have proper Service Manuals for their gear (which mean any calibration facility will have difficulties calibrating Rigol kit). Or that they don't really have a decent support infrastructure with life cycle management in place. Or can you tell me how long Rigol will support the DS1000z? The DS2000? The DS4000? Or the ridiculously overpriced DS6000? No, you can't, because even Rigol doesn't know.

Considering that the big brands regularly pretty much fall over themselves to throw equipment at education and research facilities at ridiculously low prices, if your budget really affords you Rigol kit only then I'd question if your budget is really approriate for what you want to do, and chances are you'll run out of money anyways.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2016, 07:50:51 am by Wuerstchenhund »
 

Online coppice

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #80 on: March 31, 2016, 08:24:27 am »
The low end of the Rigol range of scopes is getting pretty common in the research labs of large organisations.
I very much doubt that. Maybe that's the case in China and Hongkong, but certainly not in the Western world. At least not in labs that want to be taken seriously.
I've seen a surprising number of Rigols in US R&D labs, but only the low end models, like the DS1054Z. For more sophisticated needs people choose something like Keysight.
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It wouldn't surprise me to find that 90% of all units shipped are less than $8k. People need lots and lots of simple tools, even when they are doing leading edge work.

That may or may not be true, but what people who do this type of work professionally usually want are reliable and dependable instruments. Rigol fails on that as much as other B-brands like Siglent, maybe they're even worse (just look at the "Yaigol" debacle, a clear statement of utter incompetence in hardware design). You really think stuff like that has a place in a serious research lab?

But the various bugs and design flaws are only part of the problem. There's other stuff like the fact that Rigol doesn't even have proper Service Manuals for their gear (which mean any calibration facility will have difficulties calibrating Rigol kit). Or that they don't really have a decent support infrastructure with life cycle management in place. Or can you tell me how long Rigol will support the DS1000z? The DS2000? The DS4000? Or the ridiculously overpriced DS6000? No, you can't, because even Rigol doesn't know.
Nobody knows how long they will support anything. It all depends how well things sell. People like HP and Tek have canned support very early for things which didn't live up to their expectations in the marketplace. Life cycle management can be a very flexible concept. :) As for bugs, you seem to have had much better experience with big name brands than I have.
Considering that the big brands regularly pretty much fall over themselves to throw equipment at education and research facilities at ridiculously low prices, if your budget really affords you Rigol kit only then I'd question if your budget is really approriate for what you want to do, and chances are you'll run out of money anyways.
They fall over themselves to get kit into university research departments. The Rigols I have seen have been in the US R&D labs of major corporations, where people are expected to pay.
 

Online nctnico

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #81 on: March 31, 2016, 08:57:19 am »
I can imagine that a low end Rigol scope ends up in an R&D lab. It is cheap enough so that nobody in upper management needs to sign off on it and it is good enough to look at some signals.
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Offline Kjelt

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #82 on: March 31, 2016, 09:10:20 am »
Indeed , we had multiple Rigols in our labs but not the HW labs but the SW labs, they often had to measure some loops and than you don't need a ns resolution, 10us is more then enough resolution for a SW engineer. The main sellingpoint was its size, it should be small enough to fit on a sw desk and make no noise  ;)
 

Offline borjam

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #83 on: March 31, 2016, 09:19:06 am »
I can imagine that a low end Rigol scope ends up in an R&D lab. It is cheap enough so that nobody in upper management needs to sign off on it and it is good enough to look at some signals.
It's easy to explain anyway. With the high prices of traditional brands, there are plenty of applications for which an oscilloscope would be nice, even though not mandatory. Of course it might make your life easier, but at what a cost!

Now there are cheap oscilloscopes available. You won't expect the reliability or accuracy of a top end one, but these cheap instruments can still be extremely useful. The price barrier has just gone much lower.  The same has happened in other cathegories. There are really affordable VNAs and spectrum analyzers that can certainly get some jobs done.

Is it often much quicker to use an oscilloscope when, for example, timing code in a microcontroller? Yes. But could you justify a 4 digit figure for such an usage case? Probably not. What if you remove one digit?
 

Offline Wuerstchenhund

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #84 on: March 31, 2016, 10:22:14 am »
:-DD I will tell him, he is 55, almost 30 yrs industry experience.

Being old or having spent 30 yrs somewhere doesn't prevent one from talking nonsense.

"Experience", although valuable to some extend, is something that happens to you, not an achievement on it's own. I've seen enough cases where people with long "experience" are doing pretty much the same job in the same way for the last 20 years.

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I don't recall all the events with LeCroy he keeps on complaining about but fact is that in 10 yrs and three LeCroys he keeps losing his scope to the repair dept for at least four times, mostly mechanical issues like knobs, probe connector not recognizing the correct probe setting that kind of issues and he just loves Tek (stating that the trigger is better blabla).

If he really believes Tek is great or has better Triggers then it's clear that the most modern Tek scope he's ever used must still have been some analog boat anchor.

And if he really had all this complaints, I wonder (OK, not really) why he kept with them for 10 years.

It's of course possible that he got a lemon, a scope that just keeps on failing for some reason. Lemons exist for every big name. If you end up with one then the vendor will usually just replace it with another scope, if you complain to them, that is.

Sounds pretty much a case of someone missing the days of analog scopes.

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Oh yeah and the incredible noise they made (the models 7 years ago), it was if you were walking on an airplane field in rush hour in that department (30+ scopes on whole day).

Yes, the high end scopes (WavePro, WaveMaster, LabMaster, WaveExpert) are noisy. Very noisy. Considering that there's a lot of very fast stuff in them that gets very hot and needs cooling, this shouldn't be surprising. And singling out LeCroy for noise just tells me that this person has never been near a similar high end scope from any other brand, because otherwise he'd known that they pretty much all are noisy as hell. My DSO90k at work is like a jet engine. Bummer.

The smaller scopes (WaveRunner, WaveSurfer) aren't noisy, and while they are certainly no silent scopes, they also produce roughly the same amount of noise like any other comparable scope from any other brand.

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I have no complaints myself about LeCroy except that I think they are quite high in price for what they offer.

Really? Considering that they are regularly the least expensive ones, can you give some example where you believe they are expensive and what a better price/performance alternative would be?

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I must say that their service is excellent if you happen to have 40 of their highend scopes in one building, they flew two engineers from Switzerland to do some board upgrades on site.
Still very disappointing to see a $200 pc motherboard with too little RAM inside a $10k scope (talking about 8 years ago now).

But that cheap $200 intel mainboard will still be supported by LeCroy for at least 7 years after the scope is no longer in production, and very likely for even longer. Plus these intel boards were pretty good and reliable, unlike some other mobo brands back then.

But yes, LeCroy did skimp a bit on RAM and CPU back then (a cheap Celeron in a $10k+ scope? Seriously?). Still, they were the fastest scopes back then, pretty much outperforming anything else that Agilent and Tek threw on the market. And CPU and RAM can easily be upgraded.

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Quote
Yes, but this is purely from a hobbyist point of view. I doubt many businesses buy lots of 20+yr old general purpose scopes for their labs.

No ofcourse not but that was not my point. My point is that if 15yr old scopes are up to the majority of tasks that engineers need today that there has been a sort of innovation freeze.

There hasn't been an innovation freeze. It's just that the progress is made predominantly in the upper mid-range and high-end, not in the low end. Don't forget that the scopes were're talking about here weren't exactly entry-level scopes back then when they were new, they were pretty pricey mid-range (HP 54500, 54600) or even high-end (LeCroy 9300) scopes costing an arm and a leg. It's just because they are so old and have been obsolete for a long time that they are now in the same bottom price bracket as a new bottom-of-the-barrel scope. Which, leaving the bugs aside for now, still does offer more features and performance than at least the old HP 54500/54600 mid-range scopes, and that at a lower price.

That those old scopes are still useable for many tasks is just testament to the simplicity of the tasks at hand than to the lack of development in scope technology. Plus they have the advantage of being mature products made by a reputable company, while most of the B-brands exhibit a number of poor and ridiculous hardware and/or software bugs.

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So the whole point is that there is not much innovation to scopes the last 10 yrs making it not as much neccessary to upgrade (unless as we agree you need the higher bandwidth).
The only "innovation" you saw is that digital scopes have taken absorbed logic analyzer functionality, integrated that into one device.

There's a lot more than glorified MSO capabilities. For a start, in the last 16 years we went from 5Ghz real-time and 20GSa/s to 100GHz real-time and 240GSa/s. That alone is an enormous achievement. We also got fast scopes with true 14bit resolution (without oversampling or other crap), and very high waveform update rates, plus a ton of signal and waveform analysis capabilities which make a modern advanced scope a versatile signal analyzer.

Even the low-end has seen progress, although I admit the differences are much smaller here. But still, aside from vastly lowered price of entry (sub-$400 instead of >$1000 as it was back then), even a bottom-of-the-barrel scope offers deep memory, FFT and maths, plus most of them at least optionally also offer serial decode and logic analysis. That's quite some progress from a >$1500 2ch scope with 100MSa/s, monochrome low res LCD and a handful points of memory, or an analog scope (which was still a common entry level scope back then).
 

Online coppice

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #85 on: March 31, 2016, 10:29:47 am »
:-DD I will tell him, he is 55, almost 30 yrs industry experience.

Being old or having spent 30 yrs somewhere doesn't prevent one from talking nonsense.
If his experience was from the 80s, it wouldn't be nonsense. Its a long time since I made serious use of a LeCroy scope, and I understand they are now pretty good. They used to be high end performance with a very low end build quality.
 

Offline Wuerstchenhund

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #86 on: March 31, 2016, 10:47:27 am »
I've seen a surprising number of Rigols in US R&D labs, but only the low end models, like the DS1054Z. For more sophisticated needs people choose something like Keysight.

As I said, that contradicts my experience. I wouldn't even dare to suggest Rigol or most of my customers would laugh me out of the room.

Having said that, I could well imagine that they find some use in some startups which are often notoriously cash-strapped.

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Nobody knows how long they will support anything. It all depends how well things sell. People like HP and Tek have canned support very early for things which didn't live up to their expectations in the marketplace. Life cycle management can be a very flexible concept. :)

Not really. I know exactly how long I will get support for a Keysight, R&S or LeCroy scope. Last time I had to do with Tek they were the same. That means if I invest in a scope today, I know how long I will get support for it, i.e. software updates, repairs and spares.

With Rigol, you don't even know if there will be a next firmware update. Once a model is no longer sold, you have no idea how long you will be able to get spares or have it repaired.

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As for bugs, you seem to have had much better experience with big name brands than I have.

Maybe, but then I probably see a lot more test equipment than most people here, so there's a pretty large amount of basic data I can rely on.

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Considering that the big brands regularly pretty much fall over themselves to throw equipment at education and research facilities at ridiculously low prices, if your budget really affords you Rigol kit only then I'd question if your budget is really approriate for what you want to do, and chances are you'll run out of money anyways.
They fall over themselves to get kit into university research departments. The Rigols I have seen have been in the US R&D labs of major corporations, where people are expected to pay.

Again, that's the kind of labs I'm usually around (US and Europe), and not a single Rigol in sight. Also, most corporations have certain support requirements before investing in equipment, some even only buy from a small list of preferred vendors.

And cash-strapped businesses can rely on refurbished/remanufactured kit (which is a lot cheaper than new), recertfied 2nd hand (even more cheap), plain 2nd hand (again a lot cheaper) or, especially if equipment is needed for a short time only, rental/leasing companies.

I can see that the DS1054z is cheap enough to be considered as "consumable" (i.e. throw away) and worth it for some really basic tasks, but in research where reliability of your test equipment and documentability of results is pretty much everything, relying on kit (which can't be properly calibrated) from a third-class B-brand that is clearly incapable to build something simple like an oscillator without screwing up would be idiotic. You can't have an erratic instrument like a Rigol in what should be a controlled environment. Plus it's a cost issue, an engineer just wasting one hour because of a buggy scope can easily mean a loss much bigger than the difference between a Rigol and a proper scope.
 

Offline digsys

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #87 on: March 31, 2016, 11:15:30 am »
Quote from: coppice
If his experience was from the 80s, it wouldn't be nonsense. Its a long time since I made serious use of a LeCroy scope, and I understand they are now pretty good. They used to be high end performance with a very low end build quality. 
Yeah well, I'm from the 80s (and earlier) and agree totally with Werthrschtenn.. grrr that W guy !! I also worked in govt and university labs, and it was considered
the ultimate goal to own LeCroys, I had and have a few !! They were built and still are (not commenting on the 3rd party models) absolutely to precision.
I've dismantled and modified them many times. Triggering and ease of use is unsurpassed. And yes, I had a few of the other "name brands" and pretty much
ditched them all, as useless. So, now we have another contradicting opinion, maybe I'm the one who is nonsense?
Hello <tap> <tap> .. is this thing on?
 

Offline marty

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #88 on: March 31, 2016, 11:30:52 am »
The key is to have patience and wait. I bought a Tektronix 2225 for $20 for scope and $30.00 shipping, just needed a little repair cost me $7.00 in parts. Works dandy now I've added a 2mhz sweep function generator for $30.00 total and a 80mhz frequency counter for $40.00. Deals are out there is if you have patience .
 

Offline Wuerstchenhund

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #89 on: March 31, 2016, 11:53:42 am »
:-DD I will tell him, he is 55, almost 30 yrs industry experience.

Being old or having spent 30 yrs somewhere doesn't prevent one from talking nonsense.

If his experience was from the 80s, it wouldn't be nonsense. Its a long time since I made serious use of a LeCroy scope, and I understand they are now pretty good. They used to be high end performance with a very low end build quality.

Which ones should that be?

The 9400 and 7200 (both from the '80s) are built like tanks, literally.

LA Series: analog Iwatsu scopes rebadged by LeCroy. Excellent build quality.

The 9300 wasn't as robust as 9400/7200 but it's problems were limited to falling off plastic knobs (which became somewhat of a trademark of LeCroy) and failures of the autosensing circuit in the PSU, shutting down the scope(there's a service note for that). The outer plastics housing was also susceptible to cracks if the scope was handled harshly. And the internal printer sometimes died. All issues were covered under warranty.

ScopeStation: based on the LW410/420 AWG hardware and like this is built like a tank.

The LiteRunner LP was an Iwatsu rebadge, and as pretty much any Iwatsu scope the build quality was great.

The LC Series, essentially a 9300 Series with color screen and faster CPU, lost the plastics housing (only the front remained plastics) which made it more robust against mishandling. It inherited the falling off knobs, the occasional autosense failures and the occasional dead printer. Otherwise reliable.

The WaveRunner LT, WaveRunner2 LT and WavePro 900 were manufactured by Iwatsu, with a excellent build quality. And since WR2 LT and WP900 knobs finally stayed put.

WavePro 7000/7000A and WaveMaster 8000/800A were pretty much of the same excellent build quality as the WaveRunner LT and WavePro 900 Series. Only weak point was the plastics front bezel which after many years usually develops some small crack in the lower right corner.

WaveRunner 6000/6000A: pretty much the same as the WavePro 7k/WaveMaster 8k: built like a tank, and it even didn't suffer from the front bezel crack issue.

The WaveSurfer 400: first 'suitcase-style' scope, made by Iwatsu. Build quality is as good as it can get.

The WaveJet 300: an Iwatsu rebadge, very good build quality as typical for Iwatsu.

WaveSurfer (M)Xs and WaveRunner (M)Xi: initial batches were built by some Malaysian provider which did a pretty poor job in terms of build quality. From poor paint to breaking off handles, delaminating screen protector to heat-related stress damage on the front end connectors. Production was subsequently moved to the USA which dramatically improved build quality. Older scopes were retrofitted/fixed when they reached LeCroy service (they even got a new, black handle!).

WaveSurfer (M)Xs-B and WaveRunner (M)Xi-A: good build quality, plastics front is a bit sensible to scratching.

WavePro 7zi/WaveMaster 8zi: overall very good build quality. Early models occasionally suffered from contact problems with the detachable front panel. Fixed in later production runs, and for affected scopes through LeCroy service.

WaveRunner 6zi/WaveRunner HDO: very good build quality, however on earlier batches the 'Super knob' tends to fall off. Fixed in production and affected scopes through support.

WaveAce 100/200/1000/2000: Siglent rebadges, some firmware issues but good build quality.

WaveSurfer 3000: hardware produced by Siglent, very good build quality.

WaveSurfer 10: as with it's predecessors the build quality is very good.

LabMaster 9zi/10zi: very good build quality, although the rim of the front bezel of the digitizer modules is a bit scratch prone.

Tl;dr: the only LeCroy scopes with poor build quality have been early production runs of the WR(M)Xi and WS(M)Xs. And even these have been fixed later on (hint for those that are considering one: check the handle - black = fixed, blue = unfixed). And both scopes were made from approx 2005 to 2008 and not 30 years ago.

So which scopes are you talking about?
 
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Offline Kjelt

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #90 on: March 31, 2016, 12:19:27 pm »
Just asked some guys here what their LeCroy problems were:
remind you that scopes here are turned on at 7,30 and turned off (if turned off) at 17.00 so 10 hours a day, year in year out and average temperature in the office is 28o:( .

6000 series: too slow , falling asleep esp. with some math calculations. Some motherboard issues and AD issues (replaced by LeCroy on site). But to be honest relatively not that many issues.

Then came the disaster that made them call it LeCrap:
WR-Xi44 series: all that were once delivered (about 40 or so) are now dead and scrapped, oldest survived 5 years with 1 repair that was the best one.
Each one failed at least once in two years costing between €1000-2500 for repair. No courtesy discount nothing.
Main cause: bad internal connectors/connections, between inputboard and mainboard, low budget china motherboard with bad ram simm connectors. Caused a lot of pc boot issues.

The ones they have now HDO 6000 series are nice, the 4000 not that good.

Personally most of them would prefer Keysight: much faster.

 

Online coppice

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #91 on: March 31, 2016, 04:00:58 pm »
:-DD I will tell him, he is 55, almost 30 yrs industry experience.

Being old or having spent 30 yrs somewhere doesn't prevent one from talking nonsense.

If his experience was from the 80s, it wouldn't be nonsense. Its a long time since I made serious use of a LeCroy scope, and I understand they are now pretty good. They used to be high end performance with a very low end build quality.

Which ones should that be?

The 9400 and 7200 (both from the '80s) are built like tanks, literally.

Have you ever looked at the build quality of a tank? Its quite reminiscent of the LeCroys I remember. Massive heavy construction, let down by a number of dumb weak points.

LA Series: analog Iwatsu scopes rebadged by LeCroy. Excellent build quality.

I've never used an Iwatsu badged as a LeCroy, but I have used a couple sold as Iwatsu machines. They seemed excellent. I don't see the relevance of anything from Iwatsu to what I said about 80s LeCroy scopes, though. As far as I know they didn't work together until the mid 90s. Try to stay on topic.
 

Offline Wuerstchenhund

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #92 on: March 31, 2016, 06:04:40 pm »
Just asked some guys here what their LeCroy problems were:
remind you that scopes here are turned on at 7,30 and turned off (if turned off) at 17.00 so 10 hours a day, year in year out and average temperature in the office is 28o:( .

6000 series: too slow , falling asleep esp. with some math calculations. Some motherboard issues and AD issues (replaced by LeCroy on site). But to be honest relatively not that many issues.

Yes, the WR6k (non-A) was a bit laggy, especially with early software versions. Part of it was due to the slow P4 Celeron LeCroy gave these scopes. Upgrading the scopes to Windows XP and the related X-Stream software made this a lot better, though.

And it's lag is really nothing compared with the slowness of comepting Windows scopes of that time.

I'm not aware of any exceptional failure rate of the mainboards, but like any complex device stuff occasionally fails.

Quote
Then came the disaster that made them call it LeCrap:
WR-Xi44 series: all that were once delivered (about 40 or so) are now dead and scrapped, oldest survived 5 years with 1 repair that was the best one.
Each one failed at least once in two years costing between €1000-2500 for repair. No courtesy discount nothing.
Main cause: bad internal connectors/connections, between inputboard and mainboard, low budget china motherboard with bad ram simm connectors. Caused a lot of pc boot issues.

Yes, the early WR(M)Xs and WS(M)Xi that were made by a contractor in Malaysia were truly very poor in terms of build quality (not performance, though). Aside from various mechanical issues (poor front bezel paint, delaminating screen protector sheet, poor quality press-in nuts in internal chassis, weak carrying handle that breaks off) it suffered from thermal stress induced connector failure of the Hosiden connectors between front end and acquisition board (not the connectors to the mainboard, which were connected to the acquisition board via ribbon cables; also, the mainboard is not some cheap China crap but an industrial mainboard, RAM made by PNY). LeCroy later moved the production to the US which alleviated the problems. The Malaysia made scopes were fixed during repair (which included a fan upgrade and a stronger black handle).

So yes, I can understand the pain. What I can't understand however is how they can supposedly spend a couple of grands on repairs within two years on scopes that are covered by three year manufacturer warranty. And even beyond that, buying additional warranty would have cost a lot less than any repair.

But thanks for asking, it's always interesting to hear the background, and in case of the WRXi I can certainly understand the disappointment (at least to a certain degree).

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The ones they have now HDO 6000 series are nice, the 4000 not that good.

What's the problem with them?

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Personally most of them would prefer Keysight: much faster.

You think so?

Agilent's competitor to the WaveRunner 6000 (which came out in 2001/2002) was the Infiniium 54800, with the 1GHz 54832B the fastest variant that was still somewhat within the WR's price bracket. So let's see:

- the WR6100 (the 1GHz variant) offers 10GSa/s (5Gsa/s in quad channel mode), up to 24Mpts (12Mpts/ch) memory, a max waveform update rate of >100k wfms/s, and a 2GHz P4 Celeron CPU running Windows 2000.
- Agilent's 1Ghz 54832B offers 4GSa/s (2Gsa/s half-channel), up to 16Mpts memory (up to 8M/ch), a max waveform update rate of 7800 waveforms/s, and a slow Pentium3 866MHz processor running Windows98.

There also were a 1.5GHz and a 2.25Ghz variant (54845B, 54846B), which offered 8Gsa/s (4GSa/s quad channel), a whooping 64kpts (32k per channel) of sample memory, and a max waveform update rate of lowly 1700 waveforms/s.

If that sounds slow, I can tell you it is. Pretty much anything that is slow on a WR6k takes literally forever on a 54800 Series scope, and that provided the Agilent does even have that functionality available. The scopes were slow, not because of the weak CPU but because of the poor architecture using Agilent's own ASICs. Besides, these early Infiniiums weren't the most reliable scopes. We send them back via truck load, literally, because the early versions were horribly unstable, and even later ones often died because of the crap mainboard (not even industrial, it's a cheap-ass FIC consumer mainboard) and because of ADC and interface board failures.

Let's see about that that poorly build WaveRunner (M)Xi, which came out in 2005. Agilent's counterpart of that time was the Infiniium 54830D: 600MHz or 1GHz, up to 4GSa/s, 4MB (2MB/ch) standard, up to 128MB (64MB/ch) optional. The CPU was now a 1GHz Pentium3 (in 2005!) running WindowsXP, the max waveform update rate was 8800 wfms/s. The WR(M)Xi offered up to 2Ghz at 10Gsa/s (5Gsa/s quad channel), 25Mpts (12.5Mpts/ch) memory, and a max waveform rate of 1.25M waveforms/s. The pretty much only thing the Agilent had going for it is the large optional sample memory. It didn't help the scope's performance, which was still sluggish.

And that's not even touching all the other differences, i.e. available software options, the screens (8.4" SVGA and 10.2" SVGA touch vs 8.4" VGA), the UI (touch vs mouse operated) and so on.

If you really believe that Agilent scopes were any faster then I'm sorry but you're deluding yourself. They do make the fastest entry-level/lower mid-range scopes, but it took a very long time until Agilent did a Windows scope right (DSO9kA), and even today their Windows scopes are pretty slow compared with other alternatives (a few thousand waveforms/s vs 1M wfms/s with pretty much any LeCroy Windows scope). That doesn't make them bad scopes, but they're really slow.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2016, 06:17:45 pm by Wuerstchenhund »
 

Offline Kjelt

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #93 on: March 31, 2016, 07:11:12 pm »
Quote
The ones they have now HDO 6000 series are nice, the 4000 not that good.
What's the problem with them?
I haven't written it down, but from memory:
- aliasing problems
- scope itself overrides the user setting for memorydepth and samplerate (they called it cheating/lying) don't know the exact details though sorry
- and the display lacks a feature some cheaper scopes from competitors have standard, i can't remember the exact term sorry, was it persistence, nah it was (I think) what the old analog scopes with phosphor screens had that you could have different intensity and becomes more intense as it is overwritten multiple times.
Sorry I have been a SW engineer for the past decade, although graduated EE I haven't been playing with the newer scopes for some time unfortunately. So all is hearsay from the HW eng. dept.
Not that they have all the wisdom.

Concerning the Agilent/Keysight vs leCroy debate, you're right they mean if they had to choose today, now. So indeed says nothing about the past. I think that they did decide back then to buy LeCroys says enough  ;)
 

Offline Wuerstchenhund

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Re: Are old digital scopes worth the money?
« Reply #94 on: March 31, 2016, 09:03:49 pm »
Quote
The ones they have now HDO 6000 series are nice, the 4000 not that good.
What's the problem with them?
I haven't written it down, but from memory:
- aliasing problems
- scope itself overrides the user setting for memorydepth and samplerate (they called it cheating/lying) don't know the exact details though sorry

I see. If they bought the scopes early then they might still be running an old X-Stream version. With LeCroy Windows scopes checking regularly for an update of the X-Stream software is worth it, as it not only contains bug fixes but often many other improvements or new functionality. The software is unified, i.e. there's a single software stack for all X-Stream scopes, and from that they generate the 32bit (older scopes), the 64bit (newer scopes, i.e. the ones in black housings) and the X-Stream lite package (for the WaveSurfer 3000). The latest version is 7.9.0.1 from Nov 2015. There's also a BIOS update for the HDO4000 which corrects a display and boot problem.

Quote
- and the display lacks a feature some cheaper scopes from competitors have standard, i can't remember the exact term sorry, was it persistence, nah it was (I think) what the old analog scopes with phosphor screens had that you could have different intensity and becomes more intense as it is overwritten multiple times.

I guess that's WaveStream, a mode where the scope pretty much behaves like an old analog scope. But yes, the HDO4000 doesn't have that mode unfortunately. It does of course have the normal persistence mode like any other normal scope, including color, 2D and 3D modes.

I have to say it's the first time I heard that anyone ever used that mode aside from a first play  ;)

Quote
Sorry I have been a SW engineer for the past decade, although graduated EE I haven't been playing with the newer scopes for some time unfortunately. So all is hearsay from the HW eng. dept.

Well, I have to say I wish all hearsay was that precise.

Quote
Concerning the Agilent/Keysight vs leCroy debate, you're right they mean if they had to choose today, now. So indeed says nothing about the past. I think that they did decide back then to buy LeCroys says enough  ;)

I guess so. One thing I often notice, especially on this forum, is that many people (not just you) think Keysight scopes are fast because they have some fast entry level and mid-range scopes (i.e. DSOX). And yes, these scopes are fast, there's no doubt about that (even when that comes at a price, not just in financial terms). And I understand that this is pretty much the price range most people here focus on because that's what's still somewhat affordable to an individual. What they miss is that if you go above the DSOX line with MegaZoom then their scopes aren't really as fast comparatively as their lower-end cousins.

Which just shows why it's important to test drive every scope that is a contender before committing a lot of money into one.
 


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