Author Topic: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?  (Read 3754 times)

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Offline free_electron

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #25 on: October 20, 2020, 01:27:53 am »
yup, it's gone to snot ...
Professional Electron Wrangler.
Any comments, or points of view expressed, are my own and not endorsed , induced or compensated by my employer(s).
 

Offline precaud

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #26 on: October 20, 2020, 02:04:42 am »
I think it has more to do with lack of supply than increased demand.  At least here in the US, there were some huge surges in supply over the last 30 years, that depressed prices

THIS.
 

Offline uski

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #27 on: October 20, 2020, 03:32:42 am »
Wow that thread blew up. A lot of good point of views and insight here
Thanks all for your replies. I was afraid of being called cheap, but I am happy to see that I am not the only one seeing that trend.

A few thoughts :
- It is true that connections helps a lot. That's how I got my free stuff before, and now I am deprived of this, having relocated (which resets ALL your social network, pretty brutal). By the way if you have free gear let me know :-DD
- It is also possible that the "trade in" policies of some equipment companies are removing older gear from the market. Before, companies would "throw away" older gear and buy new. Now they send the old gear to a manufacturer for destruction in exchange of a virtual price reduction. But I do not know if that effect is significant.
- I also believe that it seems like more and more people are in the hobby, which is good. When I started almost 2 decades ago, all I could see what hobbyists using their soundcards as oscilloscopes and a LM317 as a power supply. Now everyone has a DSO and expects to have one, which possibly drives up demand
- Information about specialty pieces of equipment is more accessible. Time nuts, volt nuts mailling lists make everyone want to play with a 3458A or a Rubidium atomic clock (a freakin atomic clock !!!! at home !).
- Similarly, there are now many repair videos, from Dave EEVblog, but also Shahriar from The Signal Path and many others, which have driven up interest even for broken gear. Broken gear selling for hundreds is new to me.
- It is possible this is also related to a more global trend in the economy of inflated asset prices and too much money in the market, but that's probably out of topic for EEVblog :)
- There is an emulation with people showing off their labs, and all these vloggers (including Dave, no offense) who have an over abundance of gear (who seriously needs 5 scopes and 10 power supplies and ...). It makes it seem like this is normal.
- There is also that new trend of comparing instruments with each other. I recently saw a video of someone having multiple atomic clocks on a bench. At home. I don't think anything like this would have been possible 20 years ago, but I might be wrong.
- Maker spaces / fablabs are a possible solution but it does not replace a home lab for that late night hacking with all your stuff in the same place. Plus, they are not exactly cheap !

On the upside, we have awesome cheap instruments available now. I am thinking about :
- NanoVNA v2 Plus 4
- Rigol DS-1054Z which is the benchmark for the cheap oscilloscope for hobbyists (sadly I need a bit more now, I've grown up in my game)
- Cheap power supplies from China such as the RD6018 (but in my opinion, they are not great due to the switching noise, people really need a linear lab supply)
- And in general, the software processing power we have in todays instruments which gives a lot of new capabilities and automatic measurements.

Funny someone mentioned the DMM6500, I am seriously thinking of getting one. A multimeter with a 1MS/s sample rate and memory ? It is almost an oscilloscope ! No way I am going to get an overpriced 30 years ago DMM with rotting capacitors...
« Last Edit: October 20, 2020, 03:38:00 am by uski »
 

Offline Brumby

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #28 on: October 20, 2020, 03:47:11 am »
There seems to be a general oversight of two factors which I see as being hugely important here.....

1. Communication.  We are now living in an age where you can find a device anywhere in the world while sipping a cuppa at your computer.  The internet has connected almost everyone on the planet with this sort of gear and/or an interest in it.  It also provides an information resource accessible through incredible ease - especially in speed and scope.  We greybeards were raised in an era of magazines - and if you were really fortunate, a local mentor.

2. Technological awareness.  This is where a greater proportion of people today have a basic appreciation, if not understanding, of technology - because of two reasons.  The first is that technology has become ubiquitous in our daily lives, not just something encountered by those in white coats - and, because of this intimate contact, more minds that may be inclined to get involved have that opportunity.  The second is that the barriers to entry have been lowered.  No longer do you need to understand basic solid or hollow state theory to get rewarded with operational projects.  Just spring for a cheap microcontroller board to get something happening in an hour and you've taken your first step into a larger world.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2020, 04:09:36 am by Brumby »
 
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Offline Brumby

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #29 on: October 20, 2020, 04:06:58 am »
- There is an emulation with people showing off their labs, and all these vloggers (including Dave, no offense) who have an over abundance of gear (who seriously needs 5 scopes and 10 power supplies and ...). It makes it seem like this is normal.
It's not?? 

I have to be honest, though.  I got my first scope around 1980 - it was a prize from a competition run by Dick Smith.  I still have it and it still works well, despite a couple of knocks.  My interest in electronics took a back seat with a growing family and a demanding career, but it gained a new lease on life when they had pretty much grown up and I encountered the EEVBlog.  I now have 9 scopes of various types and condition, plus a few other bits of kit I would likely never have known about, much less acquired if I hadn't.

In all seriousness, this is one of the components of the communication aspect I mentioned.  Blogs and Youtube being big contributors.

Quote
- There is also that new trend of comparing instruments with each other. I recently saw a video of someone having multiple atomic clocks on a bench. At home. I don't think anything like this would have been possible 20 years ago, but I might be wrong.
This is an example of lowering the barrier to entry - older gear that had reached a level of functionality and reliability that made them useful, even if obsolete to industry.

Quote
On the upside, we have awesome cheap instruments available now. I am thinking about :
- NanoVNA v2 Plus 4
- Rigol DS-1054Z which is the benchmark for the cheap oscilloscope for hobbyists (sadly I need a bit more now, I've grown up in my game)
- Cheap power supplies from China such as the RD6018
This is certainly a major factor in getting more people interested - cheap, useful and a high degree of functionality (even if some attributes are not ideal).
 
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Offline eplpwr

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #30 on: October 20, 2020, 05:32:28 am »
People are trying to sell broken equipment which are clearly garbage salvage for hundreds of dollars. Untested crap, clearly physically broken and abused, clearly straight out of a dumpster where it was carelessly thrown out. eBay is full of this, people have no shame !

There are a lot of broken stuff that should either be sold for shipping cost, or recycled. I made a low offer on a seriously beaten up N1912A which resulted in a reply that these units sold for 7.000 GBP. Yes, a new one does. The forever-high-price-no-sales-multiyear-BIN listings may also indicate such a price, problem being it's a false indicator (no sales).

It seems like some "test equipment companies" which I am not going to name are getting all the stuff and selling it at 80% of the new price. Proudly showing pictures of their warehouses full of old test gear.
It seems to me that they cleverly inserted themselves into all the recycling places. What was sold on eBay for cheap before, by the recyclers directly, as it went through the recycling/disposal network is now directly stored into warehouses belonging to some specialized companies that are asking some big bucks for the equipment, greatly limiting supply and propping all the prices very high.

Yes, this is a serious problem. For some reason (well outside of EEVBlog happenings) they seem to have unlimited resources to keep stuff unsold for years on years, trashing the price structure of used equipment across the board. I don't know how large regional price differences may be, but often used equipment from these actors is priced higher than what it costs new in my location!
« Last Edit: October 20, 2020, 05:35:18 am by eplpwr »
 
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Offline BravoV

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #31 on: October 20, 2020, 05:48:45 am »
Hi there

I'm wondering if others are seeing the same trend.
Where the f*** do we get cheap test equipment nowadays ? What happened in the past few years ?

The Gollums in the TEA thread are hoarding it.

LOL, this is the truth, and somehow in the TEA temple thread, if you're patience, some of the disciples members, sometimes share findings on good deal, so better join the TEA brotherhood .  >:D  :-DD

Offline Fungus

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #32 on: October 20, 2020, 10:11:28 am »
The Gollums in the TEA thread are hoarding it.
LOL, this is the truth

 

Offline RoGeorge

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #33 on: October 20, 2020, 11:17:20 am »
Last time I've looked for some RF gear there were some CMU200's from India, and some handheld SA/VNA from Taiwan or Vietnam.

My guess is there is not much equipment left for the second hand market in the US because the manufacturing was moved to other countries, and most of the equipment used to come from the production lines, which are now in other parts of the world.
 
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Offline BravoV

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #34 on: October 20, 2020, 11:41:52 am »
Last time I've looked for some RF gear there were some CMU200's from India, and some handheld SA/VNA from Taiwan or Vietnam.

My guess is there is not much equipment left for the second hand market in the US because the manufacturing was moved to other countries, and most of the equipment used to come from the production lines, which are now in other parts of the world.

The secret is, try to look and search at "developing" countries (not developed nor under developed), especially those that are hit hard say at last 1 or 2 decades, caused by the rise of China global manufacturing.

Yes, I'm living in one above, and also have been scoring "relatively" cheap not only here, but at the surrounding similar countries.

Offline ace1903

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #35 on: October 20, 2020, 12:09:54 pm »
Big part of the problem is that newer instruments came without service manual and schematics.
Everyone wants HP equipment from 80ties with part list, service manual and in the best case schematics available online.
Probably tons of Rigol Owon Siglent ... equipment goes directly in junk because it is impossible to find info about
how to service it or find value of some burnt resistor. Even if replacement part  is 2c risk of getting unusable brick is not worth checking for these on auctions.
 

Offline Stray Electron

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #36 on: October 20, 2020, 01:21:54 pm »
The answer in one word

EBAY and buy it now price inflation.

George

   You're on the right track but you didn't go far enough.  Twenty years ago used equipment on Ebay flooded the market and prices were cheap. But E-bay charged the sellers for every item that they listed and charged them a percentage of both the listing price and the selling price so the sellers had a big incentive to sell their items the first time around. But now Ebay has changed their format and allows sellers to relist items over and over and over at no charge and there is no charge based on the listing price so now the sellers have every incentive to list items for ridiculous prices and to list it over and over again until it sells.  Ebay is no longer an auction site but a big flea market where the sellers can sit and wait to get whatever insane price they demand.  Ebay should go back to charging for every time an item is listed and a percentage of the listing price.

   Other replies regarding increased expectations are also correct. Thanks to Ebay I now own some very sophisticated test equipment that I never expected to own. In many cases TE that most of my employers never owned.

   I do feel sorry for the ones of you in Europe and other countries outside of the US, your government's taxation has severely limited your country's market for TE and consequently the number of local manufacturers and on top of that, their import duties are so high that you can't afford to import used TE from countries like the US where it is relatively cheap and plentiful.
 
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Offline Microdoser

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #37 on: October 20, 2020, 01:58:26 pm »
It was never as accessible as now to setup a home lab with propper soldering/dessoldering station, DSO, signal gen, PSU, spectrum analyser, etc.

Thanks to brands like Rigol, Siglent, etc., you can buy test equipment that would have been unimaginable 10-20 years ago.

I think this plays a large part.

I have wanted an oscilloscope for more than 40 years but it was only in the last 5-10 years that the price came down to a point where I would begin to consider one.

Before then, they were only things you would see in an electronics lab funded by a business in some way.

With the explosion of 'makers' the demand is also much greater than it has ever been.
 

Offline madires

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #38 on: October 20, 2020, 02:06:06 pm »
Big part of the problem is that newer instruments came without service manual and schematics.
Everyone wants HP equipment from 80ties with part list, service manual and in the best case schematics available online.

... until you need an unoptanium part to fix it. That's also something you have to consider when buying vintage T&M stuff.
 

Offline nfmax

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #39 on: October 20, 2020, 02:29:29 pm »
It was never as accessible as now to setup a home lab with propper soldering/dessoldering station, DSO, signal gen, PSU, spectrum analyser, etc.

Thanks to brands like Rigol, Siglent, etc., you can buy test equipment that would have been unimaginable 10-20 years ago.

I think this plays a large part.

I have wanted an oscilloscope for more than 40 years but it was only in the last 5-10 years that the price came down to a point where I would begin to consider one.

Before then, they were only things you would see in an electronics lab funded by a business in some way.

With the explosion of 'makers' the demand is also much greater than it has ever been.

When I was a postgrad student, back in 1981, I met with an electronics 'hobbyist' who personally owned a Tektronix 7104 oscilloscope when they were new, shiny, and very expensive indeed. The (11th) Viscount Downe was involved in a start-up company that was being spun out of my university department. By a strange twist of fate, forty years later I ended up working for, and indeed owning a small part of, a successor part of the very same company.

And now I have my own 1GHz oscilloscope, too!  ;D
 

Offline Kosmic

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #40 on: October 20, 2020, 02:31:37 pm »
Where is the cheap test gear ?

In China, like everything else  :)

https://www.eevblog.com/forum/buysellwanted/surplus-test-gear-from-shenzhen/
 
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Offline Bicurico

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #41 on: October 20, 2020, 03:47:53 pm »
Hi,

I have to add to my initial reply. After reading many contributions, I know that I missed a few points.

1) Is less second hand test equipment moved to eBay and similar? Probably. I whitnessed a situation which really hurt me. 2-3 years ago I went to a huge electronics manufacturer, who is one of our customers (won't name them). While walking to the relevant building, the host and I passed a warehouse that had a cage outdoor (with a roof on top). Inside the cage were tens of R&S Audio Analyzers. I asked what was happening to them and the guy casually told me that there were for scrap. I immediatly asked if I could have them. He asked me how many i wanted and I told him: all that fit inside my car! He laughed and told me that he thought it would not be possible but he was going to ask anyway. After two weeks he called me and told me that I could not have them. They were going to be scraped by a contracted company. So I asked him to tell me the company name. My hope was to buy a few units cheaply from the scrap yard. After one week he called me again, told me the company name, but said they would not be allowed to sell me any unit, because they were obliged to destroy them and give prove of destruction. Plus they would be liable if any serial number would appear in the market.

Of course I accepted this (heavy hearted) and tried to understand the reason why equipment still worth tens of thousands of Euro would be simply destroyed. The reasons listed:

- To make sure no engineer would on purpose break a device (remove a fuse) to cheaply get to buy it and then repair it again for his own profit
- To make sure no competitor would get cheap access to required test equipment
- To conform with EU laws regarding write off of equipment -> this seems to be the single most important reason! Tax reasons!

I imagine that 5-10 years ago, all of this was handled in a more relaxed way. For example, I own three MicroScribe digitizing arms (1 broken, I was able to repair the other two), one SenSable Omni (was broken and replaced with a new one - we had to send proof of destruction by sending in a flat cable which I replaced, so I got to own one after repairing it), etc. My company gave me these broken devices for free. I imagine that the same was valid for test equipment a few years ago.

2) We are in a crisis! Companies are replacing less equipment than 10-20 years ago. Existing test equipment has to last longer. Also, they do last longer, being mostly based on software, where users can upgrade the software and/or license new functionality by inserting a serial key.

3) It is more common now to lease test equipment. The company uses it for so many years and then has to return it. It will then be scrapped, because the owner is not interested in flooding the market with second hand equipment instead of doing new leasing contracts.

So overall, yes, I have to now admit that there is less offer.

And, as already stated by me and others: there is a huge demand!

Giving myself as an example: Yes, I have followed EEVblog (and others) on subjects, that have nothing to do with my job or other hobbies. But I have to admit that I have been looking eBay for Rubidium clocks/counters, too! I have not purchased one, but WTF: how cool would that be, to own an atomic clock, just for the fun of it?

If I get a second hand module for 100 Euro and build the remaining PSU and what not - that is a bargain and money well spend: better to learn something new, have some challenges and the overwhealming joy of owning something this exclusive. Others spend 100 Euro to watch a football match...

But because demand has gone up, so did the prices. So instead of looking at Rubidium clocks, I am now considering other stuff. Part of this strange addiction is to be ahead of the game.

Conclusion: If you want to setup a lab, buy NEW gear. These have never been this affordable and so similar to high end equipment. If you are a hobbyist and if you get your kicks out of hoarding test equipment that 10-20 years ago cost as much as a house, then specialize in some kind of equipment so that you can guess what the fault is and repair it yourself. Having a CMU200 that had a price tag of 100.000 Euro for 200 Euro, after replacing 5 Euro of components is time well spent and will certainly have some use. At least for me it is and it is my way of "learning". When I wanted to really learn how to use an oscilloscope, I just bought one cheap at eBay. I learned much more than what I was taught at university regarding the use of an oscilloscope. The same for all the other test equipment I bought.

Regards,
Vitor

 
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Online bdunham7

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #42 on: October 20, 2020, 04:46:57 pm »
Companies are replacing less equipment than 10-20 years ago. Existing test equipment has to last longer. Also, they do last longer, being mostly based on software, where users can upgrade the software and/or license new functionality by inserting a serial key.

Ongoing companies replacing equipment has probably never been a great source of stuff, at least not in recent history, because of the 3 reasons you mentioned and the fact that once something is set up, they run it until it dies.  CNC machines with 8086 control boards are an example.  I think the upgrades you refer to are the rare exception, not the rule. 

The best stuff comes from liquidation of discontinued operations.  The stuff from going concerns is often destroyed (I have two Tek 2465 scopes that were 'drilled') or pretty obsolete.  I had a batch of Fluke 8050 DMMs that were all calibration rejects, marked 'repair support unavailable'.  Presumably if they had passed calibration, they would have gone back into service.  It seems that there's a lot of really, really old stuff that is still in use in various companies, I just see the stuff that trickles out. There's a fair amount of 30-40 year old stuff with layers of annual calibration stickers, meaning it isn't a case of cleaning out old storage closets--this stuff was in use.  FWIW, both surplus/scrap dealers I know say that things have been very slow recently, nothing much offered.

Quote
Conclusion: If you want to setup a lab, buy NEW gear. These have never been this affordable and so similar to high end equipment.

Maybe.  And in Europe I'm sure it is different.  But more than half of my bench is stuff I bought and fixed for a small fraction of what new would have cost--and it isn't all obsolete boat anchors either.  An old HP 34401A or Fluke 8842A makes an excellent bench meter for someone just starting out and those can be had today for only a few hundred dollars.  The only caution I would give someone is to not buy rubbish!  Paying a bit too much for a nice condition unit is much better than paying for trash.  Of course, I sell nice-condition units on eBay for a little too much money, so I may be biased.  :)
A 3.5 digit 4.5 digit 5 digit 5.5 digit 6.5 digit DMM is good enough for most people.
 
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Offline madires

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #43 on: October 20, 2020, 05:57:25 pm »
- To conform with EU laws regarding write off of equipment -> this seems to be the single most important reason! Tax reasons!

It's not because of writing off assets. If a company gives away stuff for free they have to pay VAT based on the current value of the devices (market value, not book value). Scrapping the stuff is usually less expensive than paying the VAT.
 
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Offline nfmax

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #44 on: October 20, 2020, 06:02:53 pm »
We haven't a proper tech crash in many years. When companies go bankrupt, the administrators are legally bound to realise as much value as possible from the failed company's assets, to distribute to the creditors. Hence test equipment gets sent to auction, not scrapped.
 
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Online SilverSolder

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #45 on: October 20, 2020, 06:15:47 pm »
[...]
- It is also possible that the "trade in" policies of some equipment companies are removing older gear from the market. Before, companies would "throw away" older gear and buy new. Now they send the old gear to a manufacturer for destruction in exchange of a virtual price reduction. But I do not know if that effect is significant.
[...]

This is definitely a factor - I have personally worked for companies that literally destroyed inventories of spare parts etc. in preference to seeing it go out on the open market and help keep older products alive.  Nowadays, every cheesy MBA realizes that every company is in competition with itself - in the form of its previous generation products on the used market!  So, offering discounts in return for the older equipment (which then promptly gets scrapped) is all part of the game and has been going on for a long time.

The latest fad from the cheesy MBAs is of course that they would like everyone to subscribe to their products, rather than buying them outright and possibly save money by keeping them running longer than they should, and then (the horror of it!) selling it on when they don't need it any longer.   So, look out for products that depend on cloud connectivity to work - so the cheesy MBA can flip a switch to make it obsolete in a flash, while telling you that you should have subscribed!


[...]
- It is possible this is also related to a more global trend in the economy of inflated asset prices and too much money in the market, but that's probably out of topic for EEVblog :)
[...]

That is the work of the macro-economic equivalents of the cheesy MBAs, who believe that printing money won't eventually have consequences!



 
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Online SilverSolder

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #46 on: October 20, 2020, 06:22:27 pm »
Big part of the problem is that newer instruments came without service manual and schematics.
Everyone wants HP equipment from 80ties with part list, service manual and in the best case schematics available online.
Probably tons of Rigol Owon Siglent ... equipment goes directly in junk because it is impossible to find info about
how to service it or find value of some burnt resistor. Even if replacement part  is 2c risk of getting unusable brick is not worth checking for these on auctions.

It is like fixing up an old car:  it is really only worth it if the car was somehow interesting/cool even when new...  or, it is in such good condition that little work is required!
 

Online tautech

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #47 on: October 20, 2020, 07:36:31 pm »
Big part of the problem is that newer instruments came without service manual and schematics.
Everyone wants HP equipment from 80ties with part list, service manual and in the best case schematics available online.
Probably tons of Rigol Owon Siglent ... equipment goes directly in junk because it is impossible to find info about
how to service it or find value of some burnt resistor.
Err well maybe you've never gone looking for modern equipment service manuals ?

They are available although not at schematic level as modern equipment seems to be pretty reliable.
Avid Rabid Hobbyist
 

Online bdunham7

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #48 on: October 20, 2020, 07:55:51 pm »
Err well maybe you've never gone looking for modern equipment service manuals ?

They are available although not at schematic level as modern equipment seems to be pretty reliable.

Not always.  I've seen a fair number of things, some from top-tier vendors, that have no real service manual nor a parts list.  They use some statement like "The support strategy for this item is unit replacement".  And I'm not talking about sub-$100 handheld trinkets.

A 3.5 digit 4.5 digit 5 digit 5.5 digit 6.5 digit DMM is good enough for most people.
 

Online tautech

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Re: Where is the cheap test gear ? What happened in the past few years ?
« Reply #49 on: October 20, 2020, 08:06:16 pm »
Err well maybe you've never gone looking for modern equipment service manuals ?

They are available although not at schematic level as modern equipment seems to be pretty reliable.

Not always.  I've seen a fair number of things, some from top-tier vendors, that have no real service manual nor a parts list.  They use some statement like "The support strategy for this item is unit replacement".  And I'm not talking about sub-$100 handheld trinkets.
Quite so although your "unit replacement" can also be interpreted as PCB replacement which ranges from reasonable cost to "whole unit replacement".
Service manuals today....those I'm familiar with, have a flow chart to help identify the faulty board which then can be sourced at a reasonable price.......unless the reseller wants an unhealthy profit margin for it.  :palm:
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