Vintage Oscilloscopes

New oscilloscopes can cost a small fortune.  And if you want a plain old analog cathode ray tube (CRT) model, do not bother checking with Tektronix; they no longer make them.  Analog scopes now largely come from the Pacific Rim.  These offshore scopes vary greatly in quality; the better ones can be quite expensive.  The re-branded units tend to be on the lower end of the quality spectrum.  Even Tektronix learned a lesson a few years ago when they marketed low end imported analog oscilloscopes (TAS220 and TAS250), something for which many customers have yet to forgive them.

But an older oscilloscope may serve you well.  First and foremost, stick with Tektronix.  It is probably wise to avoid Hewlett Packard (HP) oscilloscopes.  Portable scopes are generally easier to deal with in the shop than the larger mainframe models.  While the well logging industry still uses the 15 MHz Tektronix T922R (the portable version is the plastic case T922), it is not a particularly good shop scope.  We have a couple of Tek 465B 100 MHz scopes that we like, considered by many to be one of the best oscilloscopes ever made.  A newer option would be the Tektronix 2200 Series, scopes that are highly recommended by some.  Two older scope models to consider would be the 453 and 454, scopes with very sharp traces (the CRTs in these old workhorses predate a redesign that made the traces less sharp).  The 453A and 454A are entirely solid state (the 453 and 454 still had a couple of nuvistors in the front end).  It has been suggested that the 453 and 454 scopes will still be working after all the other analog scope models have died and gone to oscilloscope heaven.  If you want a mainframe scope, consider the Tek 7000 Series scopes and plugins (see Mark Kahrs 7000 page).  Unfortunately, Tektronix no longer manufactures replacement CRTs for any of these wonderful machines (something for which management ought to be lined up and shot).  See Stan's Scope Site and Bill's Tektronix 453 and 454 Info Pages for information on old Tek scopes.

The world wide web now dominates the used test equipment market.  Thousands of instruments change hands in online auctions.  There are still scores of used equipment dealers.  The Big-List.com has a comprehensive list of used test equipment dealers.  Our favorite used test equipment dealer is Test Equipment Plus (TEP), owned by Bruce C. Devine in Tucson, Arizona; contact him at (520) 575-6967, fax (520) 575-6936.  Avoid dealing with AST Global Electronics; they are not nice people.

See the Tektronix Resource Site for tons of additional information.  Also see our Test Equipment Manuals page if you are on a quest for test equipment manuals.

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Last 10-20-10