Looking for the Tek 465 of Logic Analysers

tony duell ard at p850ug1.demon.co.uk
Fri May 29 00:33:15 CDT 2015

> Maybe only semi-OT.  I'm working on a couple of classiccmp-ish projects
> (6303, 6309 and 68030) and I find the trusty old Tek 465 o-scope is no
> longer compensating for my lack of design skill (or I'm getting better at
> hiding bugs in my designs, depending how you look at it).  I'm looking for
> a recommendation for a logic analyzer.  Considering my very modest design
> constraints, I'm thinking:

Firstly a word of caution. When I was younger, and LA's were very expensive (none
had become surplus), I dreamed of owning one and thought it would solve all my
debugging problems. Many years later I did get one and while useful (I use it a lot
more than a 'scope) I have realised it is not a magic box that provides all the answers.
Useful, sure, but not a substitute for thinking ;-)

> - Suitable for 50MHz designs (really more like <16MHz, but you never know)
> - 32 channels would be nice, ~128 probably perfect, less...you know...do
> what you gotta do...
> - No weird technologies in the design (all TTL/CMOS logic)

That is going to be a problem. AFAIK no 'serious' logic analyser was all
TTL or (high speed) CMOS. If you are looking for one that is mostly/all
standard logic, I think you have to consider ECL here.

> - I'm willing to spend a few $$ to get decent kit, but need to spend closer
> to 465 money than TLA7012 money
> - Decent analytics, hopefully more than "here's your traces...good luck"
> - Ease of finding complete kit; nothing worse than dropping a dime on what
> looks like a good deal only to find you're missing the unobtanium cable, or
> the software disk that the vendor will be more than happy to provide you
> only under a cripplingly expensive support contract.

The 2 I have : 

Gould Biomation K100D (manual on bitsavers). All standard 10K ECL in the input
side, controlled by a 6800 with ROM firmware. HPIB host interface

HP1630 (manual from whatever Agilent became, includes schemaitcs, unlike later HP
LA manuals). This has custom ECL ICs in the input stage, but a lot of standard logic
too. Controlled by a 6809, and this is the only time I have seen the 6829 used. HPIB
and HPIL interfaces. 

Neither of these need softwre disks to work. Both have documented command sets, 
so you can control them from a machine with an HPIB interface (I use an HP9000/200
machine for this). 

Make sure you get the pods/leads when buying a second-hand LA. They often go 
missing, and are unobtainium. Making your own is not a real option, although
both the LA's I have mentioned have differential ECL inputs, so a TTL-only pod
is a possible project (look at the 10124 chip). 


A brief cruse of ePay didn't turn up much Tek/HP/Agilent older-generation
kit that looked like it fit the budget, but I'm not entirely sure I know
what I'm looking at.  I know there's a general allergy to anything USB
around here, and worse Windows-based USB software, but there is tons of
USB-based stuff that looked like a possibility for those who are willing to
hold their nose.

So have the USB logic analyzers achieved Willem levels of usefulness (which
one?), or is there a must-have Tek 465 moral equivalent I need to be
looking for?


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