Spectrum Analyzer Question


David Berlind
 

Hi all. As my foray into electronics continues (and I haven't killed myself yet), I am diversifying from amps into radio (currently studying for my ham license too) and I'd like to add a spectrum analyzer to my bench. Everywhere I look, this seems to be a pretty expensive investment given my history of bartering, trading or finding exceptional deals. One approach I have looked into is acquiring a 7L plug in for one of my 7000 series mainframes vs. a stand alone spectrum analyzer. I was curious as to any expert's thoughts on this or if anyone out there knows a good source. Thank you in advance for your thoughts.


Bob Albert
 

What's your budget?  I may have one available.
Bob

On Thursday, June 18, 2020, 11:29:56 AM PDT, David Berlind <david@berlind.org> wrote:

Hi all. As my foray into electronics continues (and I haven't killed myself yet), I am diversifying from amps into radio (currently studying for my ham license too) and I'd like to add a spectrum analyzer to my bench. Everywhere I look, this seems to be a pretty expensive investment given my history of bartering, trading or finding exceptional deals. One approach I have looked into is acquiring a 7L plug in for one of my 7000 series mainframes vs. a stand alone spectrum analyzer. I was curious as to any expert's thoughts on this or if anyone out there knows a good source.  Thank you in advance for your thoughts.


David Berlind
 

Bob, I'll direct message you as I know that our forum's preferred etiquette
is to negotiate off-forum. But would still appreciate expertise on this
topic from anyone who is willing to offer it. One thing I think I
discovered is that the 7L5's frequency range may not go high enough and I
should be thinking 7L12 or better (that is if I go the plug-in route).

On Thu, Jun 18, 2020 at 2:36 PM Bob Albert via groups.io <bob91343=
yahoo.com@groups.io> wrote:

What's your budget? I may have one available.
Bob
On Thursday, June 18, 2020, 11:29:56 AM PDT, David Berlind <
david@berlind.org> wrote:

Hi all. As my foray into electronics continues (and I haven't killed
myself yet), I am diversifying from amps into radio (currently studying for
my ham license too) and I'd like to add a spectrum analyzer to my bench.
Everywhere I look, this seems to be a pretty expensive investment given my
history of bartering, trading or finding exceptional deals. One approach I
have looked into is acquiring a 7L plug in for one of my 7000 series
mainframes vs. a stand alone spectrum analyzer. I was curious as to any
expert's thoughts on this or if anyone out there knows a good source.
Thank you in advance for your thoughts.






stevenhorii
 

A Tek 7L series spectrum analyzer for RF work (7L12 and higher) is going to
be expensive if it is working and even more expensive if working and
calibrated (just search eBay for Tektronix spectrum analyzer). Sometimes
the Tek 492 turns up for even less than the 7L plug ins, though I'd be
suspicious of a really low-priced 492. My understanding (other group
members can probably tell you from experience) that both the 7L series and
the 491 and 492 can be difficult to repair and align/calibrate). You might
also look at the USB ones - you plug one end into your computer, load the
software, and the connector on them is the RF input. The more expensive
ones tend to come with better software and better specs. The prices range
all over the place from less than $100 to several thousand $. Tektronix
actually made (makes?) a USB spectrum analyzer, the RSA306 but they tend to
be quite expensive, even on eBay. I'd see what others have to say as well.

Steve H.

On Thu, Jun 18, 2020 at 2:29 PM David Berlind <david@berlind.org> wrote:

Hi all. As my foray into electronics continues (and I haven't killed
myself yet), I am diversifying from amps into radio (currently studying for
my ham license too) and I'd like to add a spectrum analyzer to my bench.
Everywhere I look, this seems to be a pretty expensive investment given my
history of bartering, trading or finding exceptional deals. One approach I
have looked into is acquiring a 7L plug in for one of my 7000 series
mainframes vs. a stand alone spectrum analyzer. I was curious as to any
expert's thoughts on this or if anyone out there knows a good source.
Thank you in advance for your thoughts.




amirb
 

forget scope plug-ins, get a decent standalone spectrum analyzer.
A nice "working" 1.8GHz HP 8590L can be had for about $400-700 (I have seen them going even less if you are patient)
there is tons of info on their repair and their calibration is not that hard at all if you really need one


Dave Daniel
 

While I am an absolute fan of Tektronix instruments, it is my opinion that the best spec ans were built by HP (back in the day, at least). The best HP spec an (IMHO) that a hobbyist can buy is an HP 8556B. It has two units: an RF section and a display section. Both weigh in the neighborhood of 60 - 70 lbs.

For many years, I looked for one that was (a) working and (2) could be had for around $1000. I finally found one after many years of searching. I paid $1100 for it. It worked for the first ten minutes after power-on, then a RIFA cap blew up. After replacing the cap, it has worked well for many years.

If you buy one, the usual caveats about packing and shipping apply.

DaveD

On Jun 18, 2020, at 14:58, amirb <amir.borji@gmail.com> wrote:

forget scope plug-ins, get a decent standalone spectrum analyzer.
A nice "working" 1.8GHz HP 8590L can be had for about $400-700 (I have seen them going even less if you are patient)
there is tons of info on their repair and their calibration is not that hard at all if you really need one



Dave Daniel
 

PS - make sure it has the two interconnect cables.

On Jun 18, 2020, at 15:46, Dave Daniel <kc0wjn@gmail.com> wrote:

While I am an absolute fan of Tektronix instruments, it is my opinion that the best spec ans were built by HP (back in the day, at least). The best HP spec an (IMHO) that a hobbyist can buy is an HP 8556B. It has two units: an RF section and a display section. Both weigh in the neighborhood of 60 - 70 lbs.

For many years, I looked for one that was (a) working and (2) could be had for around $1000. I finally found one after many years of searching. I paid $1100 for it. It worked for the first ten minutes after power-on, then a RIFA cap blew up. After replacing the cap, it has worked well for many years.

If you buy one, the usual caveats about packing and shipping apply.

DaveD

On Jun 18, 2020, at 14:58, amirb <amir.borji@gmail.com> wrote:

forget scope plug-ins, get a decent standalone spectrum analyzer.
A nice "working" 1.8GHz HP 8590L can be had for about $400-700 (I have seen them going even less if you are patient)
there is tons of info on their repair and their calibration is not that hard at all if you really need one



Jim Ford
 

Dave means HP 8566B.   112 lbs Yes, it is a monster, and yes, it is a gift from God that we can obtain them for ~$1000 today when they were ~$60k when new!  Love mine to death!Jim Ford Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone

-------- Original message --------From: Dave Daniel <kc0wjn@gmail.com> Date: 6/18/20 12:46 PM (GMT-08:00) To: TekScopes@groups.io Subject: Re: [TekScopes] Spectrum Analyzer Question While I am an absolute fan of Tektronix instruments, it is my opinion that the best spec ans were built by HP (back in the day, at least). The best HP spec an (IMHO) that a hobbyist can buy is an HP 8556B. It has two units: an RF section and a display section. Both weigh in the neighborhood of 60 - 70 lbs. For many years, I looked for one that was (a) working and (2) could be had for around $1000. I finally found one after many years of searching. I paid $1100 for it. It worked for the first ten minutes after power-on, then a RIFA cap blew up. After replacing the cap, it has worked well for many years.If you buy one, the usual caveats about packing and shipping apply.DaveD> On Jun 18, 2020, at 14:58, amirb <amir.borji@gmail.com> wrote:> > forget scope plug-ins, get a decent standalone spectrum analyzer.> A nice "working" 1.8GHz HP 8590L can be had for about $400-700 (I have seen them going even less if you are patient)> there is tons of info on their repair and their calibration is not that hard at all if you really need one> > >


Dave Daniel
 

Yep, I fat fingered the model number. Thanks, Jim.

SaveD

On Jun 18, 2020, at 16:02, Jim Ford <james.ford@cox.net> wrote:

Dave means HP 8566B. 112 lbs Yes, it is a monster, and yes, it is a gift from God that we can obtain them for ~$1000 today when they were ~$60k when new! Love mine to death!Jim Ford Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone
-------- Original message --------From: Dave Daniel <kc0wjn@gmail.com> Date: 6/18/20 12:46 PM (GMT-08:00) To: TekScopes@groups.io Subject: Re: [TekScopes] Spectrum Analyzer Question While I am an absolute fan of Tektronix instruments, it is my opinion that the best spec ans were built by HP (back in the day, at least). The best HP spec an (IMHO) that a hobbyist can buy is an HP 8556B. It has two units: an RF section and a display section. Both weigh in the neighborhood of 60 - 70 lbs. For many years, I looked for one that was (a) working and (2) could be had for around $1000. I finally found one after many years of searching. I paid $1100 for it. It worked for the first ten minutes after power-on, then a RIFA cap blew up. After replacing the cap, it has worked well for many years.If you buy one, the usual caveats about packing and shipping apply.DaveD> On Jun 18, 2020, at 14:58, amirb <amir.borji@gmail.com> wrote:> > forget scope plug-ins, get a decent standalone spectrum analyzer.> A nice "working" 1.8GHz HP 8590L can be had for about $400-700 (I have seen them going even less if you are patient)> there is tons of info on their repair and their calibration is not that hard at all if you really need one> > >


 

There is no reason to buy any Tek 7K plugin analyzer except for nostalgic reasons.
I recommend having a serious look at the HP 8568A/B or even an HP 8566A. Resolution, accuracy, user experience are incomparably better than with many other, even later SA's. The 8566A is more expensive than the 8568 because of its larger frequency range but for the sub-2GHz range, the 8568 is perfect. The 8568B is a newer, faster version of the 8568A and has a few more features. It uses an 68000 microprocessor whereas the 8568A uses an HP proprietary CPU.
Most of the 8568's specs are much better (RBW!) than the portable (859X) series and the 856X-series are mostly much more expensive. Weight and size are the only disadvantages. Technical documentation and Youtube videos are all over the Internet. The HP 8444A (Opt. 059 only!) may be used as a tracking generator for the 8568.

Raymond


Paul Amaranth
 

Wouldn't that be the 8566b (22 GHz)? The 8568b goes to 1.5GHz and can
be had somewhat cheaper. I ended up buying my 8568b as parts units for
$300 and made up the bus cable. Specs on those are still good and they
are a joy to use, but shipping is a killer and they have a label on
them to lift each piece separately. The CRTs in the display unit are a
problem when they die but you can get a nice LCD retrofit that adds
color. As long as you're not moving it around that's a nice addition.

Digital functionality just makes these things way nicer to use than the older
analog units.

There are other, more portable, SAs that are in the same price range.
Also, various communications analyzers had SAs along with other useful
instrumentation. They can be had for reasonable prices.

And, of course, a tracking generator makes them even more useful.

Then, as you continue to descend into the blackhole of RF, you can
find a nice VNA. You know you really need one, so might as well
get it over with :-)

Paul

On Thu, Jun 18, 2020 at 03:48:04PM -0400, Dave Daniel wrote:
PS - make sure it has the two interconnect cables.

On Jun 18, 2020, at 15:46, Dave Daniel <kc0wjn@gmail.com> wrote:

While I am an absolute fan of Tektronix instruments, it is my opinion that the best spec ans were built by HP (back in the day, at least). The best HP spec an (IMHO) that a hobbyist can buy is an HP 8556B. It has two units: an RF section and a display section. Both weigh in the neighborhood of 60 - 70 lbs.

For many years, I looked for one that was (a) working and (2) could be had for around $1000. I finally found one after many years of searching. I paid $1100 for it. It worked for the first ten minutes after power-on, then a RIFA cap blew up. After replacing the cap, it has worked well for many years.

If you buy one, the usual caveats about packing and shipping apply.

DaveD

On Jun 18, 2020, at 14:58, amirb <amir.borji@gmail.com> wrote:

forget scope plug-ins, get a decent standalone spectrum analyzer.
A nice "working" 1.8GHz HP 8590L can be had for about $400-700 (I have seen them going even less if you are patient)
there is tons of info on their repair and their calibration is not that hard at all if you really need one






!DSPAM:5eebc500198843753917119!
--
Paul Amaranth, GCIH | Manchester MI, USA
Aurora Group of Michigan, LLC | Security, Systems & Software
paul@AuroraGrp.Com | Unix/Linux - We don't do windows


redarlington
 

I <3 My 8566B. It was $3k about 10 years ago on eBay. Worked for a week
and then stopped passing self tests. So I did a live stream for the repair
where I got really drunk and fixed the stepped attenuator. Surgery was a
success and it keeps on giving. Used it yesterday. If you can find one
for one kilobuck, buy it. It goes out to 22GHz or some such. One of my
heaviest and best toys.

-Bob

On Thu, Jun 18, 2020 at 2:02 PM Jim Ford <james.ford@cox.net> wrote:

Dave means HP 8566B. 112 lbs Yes, it is a monster, and yes, it is a gift
from God that we can obtain them for ~$1000 today when they were ~$60k when
new! <snip>


Dave Daniel
 

On Jun 18, 2020, at 16:10, Raymond Domp Frank <hewpatek@gmail.com> wrote:

[snip] The HP 8444A (Opt. 059 only!) may be used as a tracking generator for the 8568.
But not for the 8566x spec ans.

PS - I suggest that any further discussion of HP spec ans be moved to the HP-Agilent forum.

DaveD

Raymond



 

On Thu, Jun 18, 2020 at 10:27 PM, Dave Daniel wrote:


PS - I suggest that any further discussion of HP spec ans be moved to the
HP-Agilent forum.

DaveD


I second that. It's worth it.

Raymond


Roy Thistle
 

On Thu, Jun 18, 2020 at 11:48 AM, stevenhorii wrote:


A Tek 7L series spectrum analyzer for RF work (7L12 and higher) is going to
be expensive if it is working and even more expensive if working and
calibrated
I had a 7L12... and to me it really wasn't worth it.
With the prices they go for, and for what they are, one begins to wonder if there is some kind of fetish involved in having these.
Anyway David, if you have lots of money, go ahead, knock yourself out... they are darn cute too look at!


Roy Thistle
 

On Thu, Jun 18, 2020 at 11:29 AM, David Berlind wrote:


I am diversifying from amps into radio (currently studying for my ham license
too) and I'd like to add a spectrum analyzer to my bench.
You didn't tell us what you want it for... or who told you that you need one. If you don't know the answer to either question..do yourself a favour, and drop 100.00USD or less... and get yourself a NanoVNA, or a miniVNA.


Roy Thistle
 

On Thu, Jun 18, 2020 at 01:10 PM, Raymond Domp Frank wrote:


I recommend having a serious look at the HP 8568A/B or even an HP 8566A
Why?
If I told you I just took the training wheels off my bike; and, I'm looking to gear up... would you then tell me to get a 350-GT?


John Miles
 

The RSA306 is pretty cool, especially if you're interested in doing any applications programming with it. I'm not a huge fan of the software, which is hard (for me) to get used to, takes 20 GB+, drops a quad-core i7 to its knees, occasionally locks up, and is weighted heavily towards added-cost software options. But it indisputably gives you a lot of power and performance for the money, much more than you can get from any affordable benchtop spectrum analyzer with similar specs.

I've mentioned before that the RSA analyzers have a nice API, which wasn't the case when they first came out. Custom applications don't require the main SignalVu application to be installed. Although my RSA306 sat on the shelf for years due to the quality of the initial API implementation, it has seen a ton of use lately on a relatively demanding contract R&D job.

If you are OK with a USB 3 spectrum analyzer, I'd be more inclined to look at Signal Hound's product line just because of the software alone. Those guys are doing genuinely awesome work lately on both the hardware and software side of things (check out The Signal Path's new video on their 20 GHz model at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxDpIDaryFM .) The BB60C uses the same software but it only costs $3K.

As for 8566Bs, I will be buried with my 8566B, but they aren't for everybody, especially people who are asking about 7L5s and 7L12s. :) It's probably best to stay away from 7L plugins unless your other hobby is watchmaking, so it may be a good idea to look for something in between. A general rule of thumb is you *will* have to perform repair work on a Tektronix spectrum analyzer from that era, while you will only *probably* have to work on an HP spectrum analyzer. If you can live with that proposition, a 494P is a very worthy competitor to the 8566B. It's old enough not to be susceptible to capacitor plague, and the signal counter feature is a significant win.

If shopping for one of the big HP benchtops today, don't buy an 8566A; it's older and slower and not really any cheaper than a -B model. At this point it's possible to buy any of them for little more than the cost of shipping, if you're patient.

-- john, KE5FX

-----Original Message-----
From: TekScopes@groups.io [mailto:TekScopes@groups.io] On Behalf Of
stevenhorii
Sent: Thursday, June 18, 2020 11:49 AM
To: TekScopes@groups.io
Subject: Re: [TekScopes] Spectrum Analyzer Question

A Tek 7L series spectrum analyzer for RF work (7L12 and higher) is going to
be expensive if it is working and even more expensive if working and
calibrated (just search eBay for Tektronix spectrum analyzer). Sometimes
the Tek 492 turns up for even less than the 7L plug ins, though I'd be
suspicious of a really low-priced 492. My understanding (other group
members can probably tell you from experience) that both the 7L series and
the 491 and 492 can be difficult to repair and align/calibrate). You might
also look at the USB ones - you plug one end into your computer, load the
software, and the connector on them is the RF input. The more expensive
ones tend to come with better software and better specs. The prices range
all over the place from less than $100 to several thousand $. Tektronix
actually made (makes?) a USB spectrum analyzer, the RSA306 but they tend to
be quite expensive, even on eBay. I'd see what others have to say as well.

Steve H.


 

On Fri, Jun 19, 2020 at 12:40 AM, Roy Thistle wrote:




I recommend having a serious look at the HP 8568A/B or even an HP 8566A
Why?
If I told you I just took the training wheels off my bike; and, I'm looking to
gear up... would you then tell me to get a 350-GT?
No, I'd recommend you purchase and use a bike instead of walking 20 miles to the office - and another 20 miles back home every day and while at the office use an electronic calculator instead of using pen and paper.

I agree that some of the more modern Tek "portable" SA's are worthwhile but in use, the 7K plugin SA's really are archaic tools, though fun to play with at times, as I do with my 7L5 and 7L13, both with tracking generator.

Once you've done some serious playing with both a 7K SA (7L5/12/13/14/18) and a more modern SA like the breakthrough-at-the-time HP8658A, I'm sure you'll appreciate.
This is *not* Tek-banging: I love my Tek equipment but at essentially the same current prices, it only makes sense to use the better and more convenient tool.

Raymond


David Berlind
 

Thank you to everyone so far. First, in response to the "fetish" comment, I
do not have a Tektronix fetish. My requirements are minimal. I mostly do
things for the joy of learning and getting closer to the physics of it all.
I'm 58 and just getting started and regret not having delved into
electronics sooner. I love it. With a spectrum analyzer, I'd like to be
able conduct experiments where I get to see 2nd and 3rd order harmonics,
corroborate VTVM readings when aligning radios, etc. This is not a
commercial or ambitious application by any means. It's to have fun and
learn which is what I've been doing to date. My questions about a 7Lxx
actually originated out of an HP85xx that was for sale locally for best
offer. The photos showed it working. But I noticed that it was a behemoth
that I don't have room for and after searching a bit came to the conclusion
that seller would never consider anything less than several hundred (or
thousand) dollars anyway. Then, I happened across some content somewhere
that mentioned a 7L12 plug in. I had no idea SA plug-ins even existed. I
already own four 7000 series mainframes (I will thin this heard down to one
at some point) and thought that something like a 7L12 would be ideal in
terms of the space it takes up, frequency (no pun intended) of usage, and
my very amateur requirements. A plug in seems almost ideal. On the other
hand, I have so many vintage items here that need servicing just to get
them operational, I was happy to receive the advance that 7L's will require
serious attention. That's a factor because I'd like to shorten my repair
queue. Not lengthen it.

Thanks so far for everyone's input. Still watching for your thoughts.

On Thu, Jun 18, 2020 at 7:31 PM John Miles <john@miles.io> wrote:

The RSA306 is pretty cool, especially if you're interested in doing any
applications programming with it. I'm not a huge fan of the software,
which is hard (for me) to get used to, takes 20 GB+, drops a quad-core i7
to its knees, occasionally locks up, and is weighted heavily towards
added-cost software options. But it indisputably gives you a lot of power
and performance for the money, much more than you can get from any
affordable benchtop spectrum analyzer with similar specs.

I've mentioned before that the RSA analyzers have a nice API, which wasn't
the case when they first came out. Custom applications don't require the
main SignalVu application to be installed. Although my RSA306 sat on the
shelf for years due to the quality of the initial API implementation, it
has seen a ton of use lately on a relatively demanding contract R&D job.

If you are OK with a USB 3 spectrum analyzer, I'd be more inclined to look
at Signal Hound's product line just because of the software alone. Those
guys are doing genuinely awesome work lately on both the hardware and
software side of things (check out The Signal Path's new video on their 20
GHz model at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxDpIDaryFM .) The BB60C
uses the same software but it only costs $3K.

As for 8566Bs, I will be buried with my 8566B, but they aren't for
everybody, especially people who are asking about 7L5s and 7L12s. :) It's
probably best to stay away from 7L plugins unless your other hobby is
watchmaking, so it may be a good idea to look for something in between. A
general rule of thumb is you *will* have to perform repair work on a
Tektronix spectrum analyzer from that era, while you will only *probably*
have to work on an HP spectrum analyzer. If you can live with that
proposition, a 494P is a very worthy competitor to the 8566B. It's old
enough not to be susceptible to capacitor plague, and the signal counter
feature is a significant win.

If shopping for one of the big HP benchtops today, don't buy an 8566A;
it's older and slower and not really any cheaper than a -B model. At this
point it's possible to buy any of them for little more than the cost of
shipping, if you're patient.

-- john, KE5FX


-----Original Message-----
From: TekScopes@groups.io [mailto:TekScopes@groups.io] On Behalf Of
stevenhorii
Sent: Thursday, June 18, 2020 11:49 AM
To: TekScopes@groups.io
Subject: Re: [TekScopes] Spectrum Analyzer Question

A Tek 7L series spectrum analyzer for RF work (7L12 and higher) is going
to
be expensive if it is working and even more expensive if working and
calibrated (just search eBay for Tektronix spectrum analyzer). Sometimes
the Tek 492 turns up for even less than the 7L plug ins, though I'd be
suspicious of a really low-priced 492. My understanding (other group
members can probably tell you from experience) that both the 7L series
and
the 491 and 492 can be difficult to repair and align/calibrate). You
might
also look at the USB ones - you plug one end into your computer, load the
software, and the connector on them is the RF input. The more expensive
ones tend to come with better software and better specs. The prices range
all over the place from less than $100 to several thousand $. Tektronix
actually made (makes?) a USB spectrum analyzer, the RSA306 but they tend
to
be quite expensive, even on eBay. I'd see what others have to say as
well.

Steve H.