[time-nuts] Frequency counter recommendation

Mark Spencer mspencer12345 at yahoo.ca
Wed Dec 15 20:20:36 EST 2010


I just went thru a similar process and recently acquired a HP 5370B (my best 
prior counter was also a HP 5328.)  I pondered some of the other choices such as 
the HP 5334 but decided to jump ahead to the HP 5370B.   Also thanks again for 
the advice from members of the list and I found lost of usefull insight by 
searching the list archives.

So far I've been pleased with my choice.

I still like the HP 5328 as a general purpose bench counter.

Regards
Mark S



----- Original Message ----
From: Magnus Danielson <magnus at rubidium.dyndns.org>
To: time-nuts at febo.com
Sent: Wed, December 15, 2010 1:14:45 PM
Subject: Re: [time-nuts] Frequency counter recommendation

Hi Dave,

On 12/15/2010 08:55 PM, Dave M wrote:
> I'm a retired electronics tech and computer programmer.  I have a pretty
> decently equipped shop for almost all of my projects and experiments.
> However, my time and frequency equipment is a bit long in the tooth.  I have
> a couple old HP 5328A counters (commercial version; not the military
> version), one with a 10544, the other with a 10811 oscillator.
> I have an HP Z3801A that has been operating well for several years, and
> recently acquired a TBolt to keep the counters in tune.  I also have a good
> distribution amp and  couple of old Montronics (Fluke) frequency
> comparators.
> What I'm looking for now, is a recommendation for a good low-cost (<$400)
> counter that will get me on the way to performing some of the "down in the
> grass" noise, jitter and deviation tests that the more learned members of
> the group discuss.  I know that new equipment is far out of my budget, but
> I'm also aware that some of the older, now obsolete (also cheaper) equipment
> is quite capable of doing what I want to do. I prefer HP equipment since
> manuals are much easier to find than most other brands.
> I'd also like recommendation for a good low-cost GPIB controller that allows
> me to write software to control some of my instruments.  I have experience
> writing software in BASIC on a Fluke 1722A controller.  I've seen these
> controllers on the Bay and other online vendors, but I've not located the
> BASIC discs for them.  Any advice?
> I realize that a counter is not the only piece that I need, but it's first
> on my list.  Other, more applicable equipment is on my want list, but will
> have to wait for a bit.

A HP5370A/B and a Prologix USB-GPIB interface seems like a popular solution, and 
it should fit inside your budget more or less. There is already software 
available (from John Miles for instance) that works with that solution, but it 
should also allow yourself some programming exercises.

This will certainly get you started. There are several decades to go down into 
the noise for the really good sources and reducing measurement noise. It will be 
a fairly good solution for many decent sources.

Grab a copy of the NIST SP 1065 and ponder over it.

Cheers,
Magnus

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