Looking for the Tek 465 of Logic Analysers

Sean Caron scaron at umich.edu
Wed Jun 10 17:18:36 CDT 2015

Hi Ken,

I think that's a pretty good overview but just wanted to add a few notes:

* The HP16500A (obsolete) ran completely from (DS/DD) floppies. There were
two drives; one in front and one in back. The 16500A is capable of running
only a limited subset of cards that were ultimately produced for the 16500
and runs a lot slower in general ... the system is built on a straight
68000 CPU.

* The HP 16500B and 16500C use a different '030 based logic board and also
were modified to boot from an internal IDE hard drive which is fairly easy
to replace with a CF card and CF-to-IDE converter. The Startech one worked
for me in my 16500B. I think the CF conversion on the 16500 makes for a
great "no worry" situation for long instrument life.

* The software to reinstall a HP16500B/C is readily available on the Web
along with a bunch of other neat stuff for the platform ... inverse
assemblers; the symbol table utility; etc.

* Generally anything the "C" can do, the "B" can do and vice versa. The big
difference between the two is that they switched from HP-HIL peripherals on
the "B" to standard PS/2 peripherals on the "C", if you want to connect an
external keyboard and mouse to use in lieu of or in conjunction with the
touch screen; depending on what you have in your stash ... I happened to
have a bunch of HIL mice and a HIL keyboard so HP-HIL on the "B" doesn't
bug me.

The "B" and "C" also support an option card that has a standard 10BT
Ethernet interface on it, so you can control it remotely via X11, and SVGA
out, so you can run an external display. Not necessary but something nice
to look out for.

* The 166x and 167x generally boot from Flash or something ... no hard
drive... except the 1664 which was sort of a low cost "value model" for the
line ... I think that boots from standard 3.5" HD floppies ... avoid that
little guy. It's not bad, but limited ... you can usually find a 1660, 1661
or 1662 for about the same price with a bit of patience.

* Pretty sure the 165x also boot from DS/DD floppies completely; no hard
drive there either, AFAIK. The 165x is the first incarnation of the
mostly-GUI interface that's later seen on the 16500, 166x, 167x and so on.

* Once they went to the 16700 ... the switched the logic board again ...
the 16700 is a little PA-RISC machine ... probably bears some relation to
the 9000/712 if I had to guess ... IIRC the interface is a little
different; more like just plain X11 running fvwm95 or something... the
interface starts to feel more like you see on a contemporary LA if you were
to go out and buy one brand new. IMO if you can find a good deal on a
16700, go for it, but it can be a little bit overkill for retrocomputing /
hobby / light embedded work.

The 16700 won't run some of the older 16500 cards, in particular, the
two-card 400 MSa DSO option, which means if you want a DSO in there, say,
you'd need to move up to the rather more expensive, 1 or 2 GSa single-card
scope options.

* IMO, the HP 1630 series and the Biomation K100 are pretty obsolescent and
... unless you already have one, or someone local to you is giving you
one... I don't think they're really worth the cost of shipping unless you
have some nostalgic attachment to a particular instrument.

I like my 1662 and 16500B quite a bit and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend
them to anyone!

HP T&M catalog and the corresponding Tek catalog ca. 1992-1998 should cover
most of these instruments in detail.

I see a few promising 16500 candidates on eBay at or around the $250 level.
They tend to come and go with a fair bit of regularity ... it pays to just
keep an eye on things for a few weeks until you see one you just can't
resist :O



On Wed, Jun 10, 2015 at 5:01 PM, Ken Seefried <seefriek at gmail.com> wrote:

> Thanks for the input everyone.  In summary, I got recommendations for:
> - HP 16500C (lesser a 16500B, but not a 16500A) (mainframe)
> - HP 16700/16900/17500 (mainframe, bigger-faster-stronger, still pretty
> expensive, can use 16500 cards)
> - HP 166x or 167x (portable, modern, look for hard drive)
> - HP 165x (portable, older, only buy cheap, look for hard drive)
> - HP 1630D, 1630G or 1631 (old, HPIB and HPIL interfaces, no special
> software needed, but you apparently need be able to control it with an
> external HPIB controller to get the most out of it)
> - Tek 1240
> - Gould Biomation K100D (software in rom, HPIB interface, assuming you need
> HPIB literacy to use effectively)
> - Tek DAS9200 (be careful to get the right pods (several variations), etc)
> - Tek TLA710/TLA720 (PC attached, Linux capable)
> General advice offered:
> - Look for hard drives or no special software required for longest life.
> Floppies required == bad.
> - Make really sure you get probes, and the right probes, for your kit.
> They're often not available separately for non-st00pid money.
> - There's a crazy array of ancillary features to consider: o-scope
> functions, processor assemblers/disassemblers, pattern generators,
> specialized inputs/outputs, timebases, embedded Unix machines, etc.  Know
> what you might need.
> So I've got a lot of manuals to read, but the 16500C sure looks like a ton
> of bang per US$.  You can even get an expansion chassis (10 additional
> slots) if you need to go to ludicrous speed on the number of
> probes/features.
> KJ

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