Hi everyone. I am the member who originally kicked this topic off and wanted to say thank you for all the information that you've provided to me. You've once again demonstrated to me how incredibly valuable this forum is and how wonderfully generous many of you are with your time and expertise and even your gear. Even if you didn't provide me with all the details for me to fully comprehend your answers, you provided me with enough so that Google could help me do the rest (in most cases). I've received several messages off-forum offering to donate their gear to me if I can pick up (unfortunately all out of reasonable driving reach for me). But thank you so much for your offers. Here are some things I learned:
1. The expense associated with spectrum analyzers is not an anomaly associated with some of the for sale listings that I originally spotted. As Dennis T pointed out, this may turn out to be the most expensive acquisition in my lab. This is OK with me. It may just mean I wait longer than I originally hoped to save up for one.
2. Resolution bandwith (RBW, an acronym I did not know prior to this conversation) will matter to my application (for example to observe sidebands and the various mixer by products).
3. As a greenhorn looking to get his feet wet with spectrum analysis, I might be better off with the economically attractive software defined radio (SDR) option or the nanoVNA approach. I've been using Google with various degrees of success to understand exactly how both work as potential substitutes. I would not have known to look for these before.
4. That I should experiment with the FFT option of my TDS 680B oscilloscope as a part of my exploration (something that I would never have thought to do)
5. That I have to take extra special care when using a spectrum analyzer -- that it's super easy to make a mistake and blow up the sensitive inputs.
6. That some spectrum analyzers have so much packed into a small space that fixing a used one can be very challenging. It's something to think about before acquiring a used device that may be in need of immediate service because of its age
7. There are important differences between the various Tek 7000 plug-in SAs that should be appreciated before just buying any one of them and there are other manufacturers of SAs worth considering. I'll stop there since this is the Tek forum (and am glad someone moved a fork of the conversation over to the HP/Agilent forum for an equally educational conversation of alternative options).
I could go on, but hopefully you get the point. Ever since joining this forum, its members have been so helpful in helping me to advance my understanding of electronics even when I don't know what it is I don't know. Not just in answer my posts, but other posts too. Yes, through a Tektronix lens which is fine since I now have six Tek scopes and a 577 curve tracer. It's also fine because I realize that some of the most knowledgeable electronics experts in the world are right here on this forum. The Tektronix pedigree is amazing. In addition to being thankful, I've done some to pay it forward, given away some plug-ins and parts to other members, and helped in other ways. I only hope it's enough given what I've gotten out of it.
Thanks again to all you. I will continue my SA studies because of your help and maybe a few years from now, I'll be able to help some other new member find their way with a new endeavor.