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Author Topic: Frequency counter needed  (Read 11829 times)
AE5EK
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Posts: 53




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« on: September 25, 2013, 05:16:46 PM »

What is a good reliable frequency counter to buy?  I would only need up to ~500 MHz.

tks

Dennis
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K8AXW
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Posts: 3910




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« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2013, 08:55:17 PM »

Dennis;  As always, the first question that needs to be answered is, "How much do you want to spend?"

The second question is, "Are you going to use it enough to justify the cost?"

The third question might be, "What features do you need?"

I'd venture to guess at this point, this thread will start a very long thread!
« Last Edit: September 25, 2013, 08:57:18 PM by K8AXW » Logged
G3RZP
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Posts: 4742




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« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2013, 05:38:56 AM »

'AXW

>I'd venture to guess at this point, this thread will start a very long thread!<

Not without those three questions being answered - otherwise there's no data to work on!
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K8AXW
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« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2013, 09:23:19 AM »

RZP:  At this point I'm inclined to agree.
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AE5EK
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Posts: 53




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« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2013, 10:56:42 PM »

Cost should be <$100 if possible.
ability to adjust gate time would be essential I think.
I would think 8 digits at a minimum.
auto ranging of course.
Ability to lock to an external 10 Mhz reference clock would be nice but not essential at this price.
+-1-2 ppm with internal reference.
Ability to calibrate. Say I put in a super accurate 10 Mhz signal (stratum 1) and then tweak it until the display reads exactly 10 MHz.

tks

Dennis
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WB6DGN
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Posts: 619




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« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2013, 11:18:12 PM »

Don't know what they cost these days, when I bought mine, they were much more than you are willing to spend.  For that reason, I won't elaborate on the specs. other than to say that it will meet or exceed everything you listed.  I'm talking about an HP 5328A.  Its available in three flavors; around 100 Mc.; up to about 512 Mc; and, rarely, a 1024 Mc. version.  Has a built-in double oven hi-stab. time base available and lots of other options that you may be able to pick and choose. 
Also lots of military versions available (externally identical to civilian one except ALL the options) on eBay not too long ago.  Things may have changed by now but worth a look.
Tom
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G3RZP
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« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2013, 01:05:32 AM »

With those parameters, I think you are stuck with 'pre-owned'.
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M6GOM
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Posts: 955




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« Reply #7 on: September 27, 2013, 09:41:08 AM »

Definitely pre-owned.

HP/Agilent, Tektronix, Advantest, Anritsu are all good names.

As for the 10MHz reference...plenty of ex-mobile phone repeater 10MHz Rubidium Frequency Standards on Ebay for under $100, typically FEI FE-5680 units (made in USA if it matters), that can be repurposed into a good enough standard for the average amateur. They only need +15-18v @ 2A, 5V @700mA and 0V as well as connecting up a pin to a LED for LOCK indication as well as using another pin for 10MHz.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2013, 09:45:34 AM by M6GOM » Logged
AE5EK
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Posts: 53




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« Reply #8 on: September 27, 2013, 10:17:28 AM »

thanks for the input.
If ai want a new unit, say under $150, does anyone have recommendations?

TKS
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N4UE
Member

Posts: 297




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« Reply #9 on: September 27, 2013, 01:59:26 PM »

Hi, one of the things I collect are freq counters. (don't ask me why...dunno)

One brand I am quite fond of, is the Leader LDC series. These are on ePay all the time. There are different suffex models that go from 80 mhZ to 1 ghZ. I love the vacuum florescent display. Just stay away from the reaaal oldies. While I have some counters with Nixie tubes, they are a curio, and as such, not on one of my test benches.

You can buy NEW, Chinese counters that go to 2 ghZ, for aprox $100, but the quality (physical) of construction varies. I have several of these and while they are 100% accurate, I'll take my Leaders any day.

BTW, one of my favorite 'scopes is a Chinese made ATTEN. 7" color display and runs circles (functionally) around my collection of TEK 'scopes. Alas, I don't care for digital scopes, but that's another subject. ha ha
Look at the latest issue of QST for a comparison of a Chinese 'scope with a TEK...a real eye opener. 'They' are getting better every day......

ron
N4UE
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K2OWK
Member

Posts: 1066




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« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2013, 11:15:36 PM »

I have a Chinese made VC3165 counter. It was about $100.00US. I purchased it new on EBay and have had it about two years now with no problems. It measures frequencies from .01 HZ to 2.4 GHZ. Measures period, and has an adjustable time base. It is very well made and I believe it exceeds all your requirements.

Check it out in the eHam reviews.

73s

K2OWK
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AE5EK
Member

Posts: 53




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« Reply #11 on: September 28, 2013, 09:55:24 AM »

I would really like a counter with a 10 MHz reference clock input.
Any ideas?

tks

Dennis
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KA5IPF
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Posts: 1014


WWW

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« Reply #12 on: September 29, 2013, 03:57:11 PM »

I will have an HP5328A at Belton Hamfest. It has the high stability 10mHz time base and operates up to 512 mHz. Has all original accys including PCB extenders and includes a service manual (paper original). E-mail for more info or you can look it up. Does period measurement also. I calibrated it to my HP 3801 GPS unit yesterday.

Clif
www.avvid.com

PS You don't seem to have an e-mail address.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2013, 04:00:12 PM by KA5IPF » Logged
K8AXW
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Posts: 3910




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« Reply #13 on: September 30, 2013, 08:45:56 AM »

I also have the VC-3165 counter.  Cheap for sure but serves my purpose(s), especially since I can't justify big bucks for a counter that is used occasionally.

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KC9V0
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Posts: 7




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« Reply #14 on: October 02, 2013, 02:23:43 PM »

You leave out all the important information. Define 'GOOD', then define' RELIABLE' as you understand it.
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