[time-nuts] Frequency counter recommendation

Don Latham djl at montana.com
Thu Dec 16 01:28:15 EST 2010

Dave: the Prologix interface can be used as an rs232 device. In that way,
a robot basic program can be written to control GPIB devices. I like Robot
Basic because it is has no connections to .net or any of the other
microsoft stuff, AFIK uses no Registry either.. I put the whole package in
a folder on my desktop and run it from there. Neat and tidy and completely
portable. In fact, the whole thing can run from a USB card. Also makes
I finally got motivated to buy a Prologix interface, got tired of fighting
with the very old Measurement and Computing card, it's just too old and
weird to use. I bought the network adapter instead of the USB, so any
computer on my little local network can be used. This is a new
Good luck with your project.

Dave M
>  I've seen several posts that mention the 5370 counter.  Certainly looks
> like a capable instrument.  I'll be on the lookout for one that is in
> reasonably good condition and WORKS.  I downloaded the NIST pub that you
> mentioned, and with the cold days and colder nights, I'll have lots of
> time
> to ponder it.
> Re: Don Latham's response - I've never seen Robot BASIC, but I'll look it
> up.  I assume that it's a GPIB controller application??
> Re Stan, W1LE's response - Thanks for the Prologix recommendation.  I'll
> look into it.
> And thanks to all the other responders... I really appreciate your taking
> time to offer your advice.
> Dave M
>> 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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"Neither the voice of authority nor the weight of reason and argument are
as significant as experiment, for thence comes quiet to the mind."
R. Bacon
"If you don't know what it is, don't poke it."
Ghost in the Shell

Dr. Don Latham AJ7LL
Six Mile Systems LLP
17850 Six Mile Road
POB 134
Huson, MT, 59846
VOX 406-626-4304

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