Buying electronic test equipment

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by hondabones, Feb 5, 2010.

  1. hondabones

    Thread Starter Senior Member

    Sep 29, 2009
    I couldn't find a suitable forum for this thread, so I hope this is a good place for it.

    I have been all over the internet looking for function generators, oscilloscopes and things like that. As you probably already know these things are quite pricey. My question is, does anyone know where I can find good deals on these kinds of things or do I have to wait for some kind of electronics convention to hit my neighborhood? (I already purchased an ancient oscilloscope off ebay that will more than likely suit my needs.)
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2010
  2. bertus


    Apr 5, 2008

    The needed equipment depends on your needs.
    What kind of electronics do you want to use / build?
    If you want to digg into RF circuits you will need a higher frequence scope than if you only keep busy with audio stuff.

  3. hondabones

    Thread Starter Senior Member

    Sep 29, 2009
    The scope I got (or am getting) is a Hitachi V-212 Dual Trace 20 Mhz Oscilloscope. It will do just fine for me. I just want to tinker with it and do some of the lab work for school at home. I have Multisim software that I tried to simulate the circuits in but that software is whacked out. It's only good for drawing schematics and that is basically it. Right now we are measuring series RL and series RC circuits.

    Thanks for the reply Bertus

  4. bluebrakes

    Senior Member

    Oct 17, 2009
    i just kept looking on ebay....

    Unfortunately it does take time to get all the gear you want.

    One of my scopes was being scrapped from a local university, not because anything was wrong with it, but because they wanted to upgrade the equipment. It's a dual trace 20mhz.

    My function generator (fully programmable - thurlby thandar) came from ebay. Would have cost thousands to buy, I paid just over a hundred for it.

    Finally, my power supply (TTi 330QMD) was being scrapped by a mobile phone company, motorola, I grabbed two while i was at it.

    Depends what your budget is... :-D
  5. Wendy


    Mar 24, 2008
    Some gear you can make. Power supplies are fair to middlin to cobble together.
  6. hondabones

    Thread Starter Senior Member

    Sep 29, 2009
    Very true. As I assumed I would just have to keep my eyes open. When Spring comes I will go to the area flee markets and start looking around.

    I agree 100%. I thought the function generator would be the easiest to get... I was wrong. I almost can't find one with a digital read for under $100.

    We were discussing this in class. Fellow students and I thought the same thing. Actually doing it is beyond us. A few things involved include areas of electronics we haven't learned.

    Is there instructions on here or do you know of a circuit schematic that could get us started? I am definitely interested in learning this project.
  7. Wendy


    Mar 24, 2008
    Check out my blog, I'm full of ideas, though some people might say I'm full of something else.

    Bill's Index

    Basic Bench Top Power Supplies

    I've been working on a simple function generator for a while, audio only, very basic functions. I'm thinking this is another project that you can build for yourself if you don't need too precision specs.

    Another device that may be possible is a freq counter, basically a simple digital counter with a simple gate in front of it. Check the complete projects forum out, someone designed a PIC circuit that is a really basic counter that should be easy to modify.

    Some of this can be bought as part of a DVM, many include freq counters and capacitance meters.

    Power supplies are the first thing though, in my book, and the easiest.
  8. jans123

    New Member

    Jan 30, 2010
    If you are running on a Linux system, then you can use your audio interface in some cases. Try Baudline, it can not only be a spectrum analyser, it can also be a quite competent genarator, even for noise...
    A windows user can try Spectrum lab. I guess it works like Baudline.
    You can find them here:
    Spectrum Lab:

    But, If you fry your computer, don't blame me...
  9. Wendy


    Mar 24, 2008
    The experiments section has several idea on that vein, including a winscope (a really bad imitation of an oscope).
  10. someonesdad

    Senior Member

    Jul 7, 2009
    You can acquire a reasonable collection of stuff on the cheap if you're willing to work at it for a number of years (i.e., take the long view). I've used all of these techniques:

    1. Find folks who sell government surplus stuff. You can sometimes get functional or nearly functional stuff for a song. Even if some of the older stuff doesn't work, take it apart for the components, hardware, and wire.
    2. Spend lots of time looking for stuff on ebay. You'll eventually learn what stuff is worth over time. Don't be disappointed when you miss something you really want -- it will eventually appear again. I waited 5 or 6 years for an HP 428B (an instrument I came to love in the 1970's) and was astounded to find one in nearly new condition for under $50 delivered -- and I was the only person who bid on it.
    3. Let your friends know what you're looking for. I had a friend that bought 10 or 15 government surplus HP 3326 two channel synthesizers and he sent me one in perfect operating condition for free. It's a boat anchor, but a gorgeous piece of test equipment at the same time.
    4. Check other places like Craigslist, want ads, etc. You'll occasionally come across something that interests you.
    5. If you have a university nearby, call various departments and tell them you're looking for used equipment. They might need to free up some space and you might be in the right place at the right time.
    6. If you know of a company that has some piece of equipment you might want, see if you can barter some skill you have for that instrument. This may sound a bit strange, but I've used it for a number of the instruments I have.
    7. Check local thrift stores -- sometimes something interesting appears on the shelves. My wife loves to shop at these stores and once found me a beautiful Starrett measuring tool that costs over $150 new -- and she only paid $2.50 for it because nobody knew what it was.
    I've never been to a ham fest, but friends who are hams have told me sometimes you can get good deals there.
  11. hondabones

    Thread Starter Senior Member

    Sep 29, 2009
    I just want to thank everyone for their replies.

    update: the oscilloscope I said was getting... hasn't shipped. I am a little upset about that. Kind of can't wait to get it.