The Equipment Which I Use

Listed here are the various bits and pieces that I use to do what I do.  Some things are absolutely essential, where as others can be pretty generic if you're not restricted by a budget.  This is simply the equipment that I have acquired over the years.  There are things in my storage crates which have completely disappeared, and others that I didn't even know that I had.  So this is as much an adventure for me as it is for you.

Rigol DS1022CD - Mixed Signal Oscilloscope

One of my most recent purchases was a new logic analyser.  If the truth be known I just wanted a colour screen and the ability to save lots of samples in it's deep memory.  I already have two other LAs which each fulfil their purpose.  This MSO isn't perfect, but it's as close as you're going to get for the price.  It cost about £500 in 2008 from MCS in the UK.  Overall it was a good buy for the money as the competition is very poor at that price.  Rigol also manufacture the entry-level scopes for Agilent/HP.  Key features of this model are : 25Mhz, 2 analogue channels, 16 digital channels, 4Mbytes of memory, USB stick interface for .BMP grabs, and colour TFT screen.

Rohde & Schwarz LAS5 - 25 Mhz Logic Analyser - 20Mhz Digital Storage Scope - 20Mhz Function Generator

This is a very significant piece of kit.  Aside from being a 48 channel 25 Mhz logic analyser, it is also a 20 Mhz digital storage scope.  The device has a 3.5" floppy disk drive and runs CP/M.  This is a very powerful piece of equipment which can be summarised as a dual processor CP/M computer with a logic analyser, a digital scope, and a function generator bolted on.  It's only downfall is that it is 20-years old and it weighs about 30-kilograms, I actually cannot lift it myself, so it is by no means portable.

3 Mhz Sweep Function Generator

Nothing too spectacular about this.  It is a 3 Mhz function generator.  This is very rarely used and sits in it's shipping carton.  It's one of things that you have to have when you need one.

TTI Thurlby LA4800 25Mhz Logic Analyser

A true and dedicated LA.  25 Mhz, 48 channels, 8 KB depth, large LCD screen, and lightweight.  Also included is the LATALK transfer software which allows the device to communicate with a PC via serial cable (shown far right).  In some respects the 4800 is more practical for one-shots than the R&S LAS5 shown above although not as powerful in terms of triggering.  It also captures fast jitter more successfully than the Rigol.

IBM Thinkpad 760ED - P120 - 8MB RAM - 128MB CF HDD - Colour VGA

An absolute essential when working with older equipment.  The issue with today's computers is that they are too fast to communicate precisely with older equipment, and that their floppy drive controllers are often cut down implementations of what is the Shugart industry standard.  This machine is entirely standard in keeping with True Blue's unadventuous adherance to protocol, which makes it ideal.  I have a total of 3 of these machines bought as a job lot for £30, with only one in regular use.  A modern laptop costing even £1,000 simply cannot do what this can do, they're is from a different era.

Bench Power Supply - Farnell Tops 3D

This is a triple output bench top power supply.  Single output can be set from 4-6 volts at 4-amps.  The dual output supply can be set from 5-17 volts at 1-amp.  The dual output supply is bipolar, in that if you set it to 10 voltsthen it will output +10V and -10V.  Furthermore, the meter can be used to measure external voltages.  This again is an essential piece of equipment which is only matched today by the expensive models costing maybe £300.  I paid £20 for this from a clearance company as it had a broken control knob which was replaced for 50pence.

Dataman S4 EPROM Programmer - Emulator

These are simply brilliant.  Now and then something is manafactured that is simply perfect, and these are that.  Aside from programming 8Mbit EPROMs in the field, these can also emulate the chips by plugging a ribbon header cable into the IC-socket on your computer or whatever.  These are still selling for about £250, and Dataman stopped manufacturing them 5-years ago.  One was purchased directly from Dataman as a refurbished item in 2007, and the other was bought privately.

Dell Inspiron 3800 - P3 700Mhz - 256MB RAM - 2GB CF HDD - Colour VGA

Another essential piece of equipment.  These have excellent serial ports on them that don't drift.  A major issue in recent years is that if you feed say a 38,400 serial data stream into a modern serial port, then without handshaking you'll often end up with garbled data.  One side will be working at something like 37,000bps and the other will be 40,000bps which is as clear as I can put it.  There is simply no way around it other than to match the hardware with other hardware of a particular era.  Well, there is another way around it involving buying a dedicated clock sync'd serial card for a great amount of money and which requires a computer, and isn't portable.  I think I'll stick with this, there are two of these.