Hobby Bench Equipment

Discussion in 'Radio Circuits, Repair & Performance' started by VA7WPN, Jul 24, 2020.

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  1. VA7WPN

    VA7WPN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Good day!

    Im looking to better outfit my workbench.

    I have been getting more and more into radio repair, and have had the need for a service monitor. Here in Canada, I can't afford the cost of a FULL BLOWN service monitor, nor can I afford the cost of shipping one from the US or Overseas.

    Does anyone have any suggestions for sourcing one, or putting together the equipment needed to "pretend/act" like a service monitor. IE, an oscilloscope, spectrum scope, signal/tracking generator?

    Any help or suggestions is GREATLY appreciated.

    John Brent
  2. KA5IPF

    KA5IPF Ham Member QRZ Page

    It will cost you more to duplicate a good service monitor(HP, IFR, Racal)than you can piece together the components, probably about 3-4 times as much and you still won't have all the capabilities. In '95 I bought a used HP8920A with most options. Up until last year when I retired in was in daily use and has never needed repair except when I messed up. I'd call that fairly reliable.

    Go to https://shoalhaven.net.au/~whimp1/8921A.pdf and you can see the capabilities.
    KK4NSF likes this.
  3. W9GB

    W9GB Ham Member QRZ Page

    Start Dumpster Diving ... and Repair Broken Test Equipment.
    Know what you want, and be patient —
    deals appear BUT only have “Short Buying Windows” IF highly sought after.

    As an entry level, Cushman CE-4 or CE-5 were plentiful on used market ... and repairable.

    However, CE-5 was designed for Land Mobile Market (FM) ...
    and may not fit your bench needs. CE-4, as I remember, good for HF.
    AMTRONIX INSTRUMENTS, Lakewood, NY (East of Erie, PA)
    Prices were as low as $1200 ... when cellular companies dumped units on market.
    That is not the case today.

    Rick Bowman, owner — Great source for HP 8920A service, repair, and parts.
    Good Source for variety of used, surplus test equipment from Cellular/Mobile industry.

    KG Electronics, Kurt Gruber owner
    Wichita, KS : ONLY Service / Repairs for IFR-500 and IFR-1200
    Replacement CRTs for IFR-1200 are becoming rare to find.

    IFR-1200S Repair
    YouTube channel: The Radio Mechanic
    Has a YouTube video series: The 10 Buck Test Bench
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2020
    KB0MNM likes this.
  4. VA7WPN

    VA7WPN Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have access to a Marconi 2955B at work to do some testing of my TS-480HX. Im going to give that a try.
  5. KA0HCP

    KA0HCP XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I believe that service monitors are overpriced for the features they have and the minor convenience of having it all in once box.

    You can build an equivalent or better lab by obtaining individual components either used or new. Budget priced equipment from China offers excellent features at low cost for things like Oscopes, function generators, spectrum analyzers with tracking generators. Many ham vendors now offer handheld devices with previously expensive functions like impedance analyzers, Smith Chart, TLDR, VNA etc.

    Finally, with individual components, you can build your lab as money allows, and upgrade when needed and again as money allows. Buying a service monitor locks you into one feature set appropriate for commercial radio or aircraft maintenance, but not necessarily what an amateur needs for a wide variety of equipment types, modes and frequency bands. b.
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2020
    N2NJO, G0HZU and AI3V like this.
  6. KA5IPF

    KA5IPF Ham Member QRZ Page

    Might I ask what brand you used? Not all are created equally. China junk need not apply, he did say quality. I recently sold an 8920A from an estate for $1k.
  7. KA0HCP

    KA0HCP XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Service Monitor? I've had a Motorola R2xxx series for about 18 years.

    When did I mention "Chinese junk"? Are you recommending American Junk?

    p.s. A quick check of eBay finds 16 HP 8920a's listed, outlier low price is $1,600. The rest are about evenly spaced at $2k, $3k, and $4k+. The best solution is to go out to the dumpster and find one in unopened original box for free! :)
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2020
  8. KB0MNM

    KB0MNM Ham Member QRZ Page

    As others have pointed out, there are a few brands & models of service monitors worth looking for: IFR 1200A/S, IFR COM120B, HP 892x series, Motorola R26xx series, Freedom 8000 (maybe too expensive), General Dynamics 3920 ( also probably beyond your budget ). If you can only afford to spend a few bucks at a time, look for used oscilloscopes in the 20 Mhz. to 200 Mhz. range by Tektronics, Hewlett-Packard (Agilent), Leader, and others. Then add a tracking generator- If money is really hard to find, build your own tracking generator and signal generators based on the 'Poor Man's Spectrum Analyzer' project detailed in a book by Joseph Carr- 'Secrets of RF Design', last chapter. As others have stated, you may find it cheaper to find the selected equipment used & repair it if needed. Watch the "Swap meet" ( For Sale ) portion of this website and be ready for deals- yet do not forget the cost of transportation. Sometimes that cost can be decreased through non-traditional means- railway, etcetera.
    K0UO likes this.
  9. K6CLS

    K6CLS Ham Member QRZ Page

    not sure about service monitors vs. separates... I could go either way, prolly lean toward serparates...

    but get a good dummy load!
  10. K1LKP

    K1LKP Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    [QUOTE="VA7WPN, post: 5544774, member: 489768"]Good day!
    Any help or suggestions is GREATLY appreciated.

    John Brent

    JOHN...... GO FOR THE GUSTO..............

    ARRL TEST LAB assorted_pics_017.jpg
    ARRL TEST LAB assorted_pics_017 2.jpg
    ARRL TEST LAB assorted_pics_017 3.jpg




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