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Author Topic: Seeking Advice On Hunting Sweep Generator At Hamfest  (Read 5205 times)
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KN4SMF
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« on: March 03, 2024, 11:47:18 PM »

This next weekend of 3-8-24 is the Charlotte NC hamfest. I intend to look for a sweep generator that is most useful on AM HF use, with some slight use for FM 88-108 usage, althought the FM is certainly not particularly important. I do NOT want a TV-FM sweep generator. Just a common, affordable but dependable vintage sweep generator for AM HF alignment. I'm posting to ask for makes of models to look out for. Thank you.
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Pete, WA2CWA
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« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2024, 02:55:17 AM »

Wavetek has made some very nice and accurate sweep generators over the years.
Prices and functions vary but typically more accurate and built well then your Eico, Knight, Heath, or Precision consumer grade stuff.
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KD1SH
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« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2024, 11:33:22 AM »

I use two sweepers: the Hewlett Packard 3314A, https://4gte.com/products/hp-agilent-3314a-20-mhz-function-generator/
and the Hewlett Packard 8601A, https://www.eham.net/reviews/view-product?id=4899
Of the two, the 3314A is more modern, with lots of programmable wiz-bang features, but it only goes to 20mhz, which might be a problem if you want to work with FM broadcast receivers. Otherwise, it's versatile and stable.
The 8601A is older, but will go to 110mhz, and is also quite stable, but without all the digital bling. 
Both are readily available and affordable at hamfests, or eBay, as well as from reconditioned test equipment outlets, but expect to pay to dollar to those operations.
There are also a lot of inexpensive Chicom offerings on Amazon and such, but those are a long way from HP quality, and programming them is often weird—like Baofeng-weird—and they're not as much fun to own as vintage gear. Of course, you take your chances with vintage stuff, too, even with quality names like HP, Fluke, or Wavetek.
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« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2024, 12:06:54 PM »

I just bought an arbitrary waveform generator months ago.

Amazing.  Just amazing.

Highly recommended.  I think I spent less than 250 shipped on it, brand new.

--Shane
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KN4SMF
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« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2024, 11:03:45 PM »

Seems like I was looking at a BK or similar a few months ago. I wonder what Leader has got in good vintage gear. I am looking for HF AM sweep more than anything else. A TV/FM model would be a big disappointment.
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KD1SH
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« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2024, 09:32:35 AM »

  When you say "vintage," how vintage to you want your test gear to be? It's been my experience that once you venture into  pre-1970's gear, you're likely getting into stuff that will probably need some work. Well built 1980's stuff—HP, Fluke, Wavetek, Tektronix—will often soldier on reliably for many decades. My 80's vintage HP 8656B maintains amazing accuracy, as measured on a Fluke counter using a GPSDO reference timebase, and my HP 3314A is nearly flawless. Likewise for my Fluke stuff of similar vintage.
  B&K gear leans more toward the home hobbyist market than the others I mentioned, but it's still very fine gear. Check out models like 3017A, 4017A, 3022, and the like, but keep in mind that many of those earlier B&K models top out at around 10mhz or under.
  Leader makes great stuff, too, but I suspect that their lower priced vintage stuff will suffer from the same maximum frequency limitations that B&K does.
 
Seems like I was looking at a BK or similar a few months ago. I wonder what Leader has got in good vintage gear. I am looking for HF AM sweep more than anything else. A TV/FM model would be a big disappointment.
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KN4SMF
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« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2024, 11:11:56 PM »

I use two sweepers: the Hewlett Packard 3314A, https://4gte.com/products/hp-agilent-3314a-20-mhz-function-generator/
and the Hewlett Packard 8601A, https://www.eham.net/reviews/view-product?id=4899
Of the two, the 3314A is more modern, with lots of programmable wiz-bang features, but it only goes to 20mhz, which might be a problem if you want to work with FM broadcast receivers. Otherwise, it's versatile and stable.
The 8601A is older, but will go to 110mhz, and is also quite stable, but without all the digital bling. 
Both are readily available and affordable at hamfests, or eBay, as well as from reconditioned test equipment outlets, but expect to pay to dollar to those operations.
.
Thanks. I believe I like that 8601. Bet it weighs a ton. But I like accuracy.
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KD1SH
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« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2024, 09:19:01 AM »

  Weighs a ton? Not at all—21 pounds per the manual, which you can download here:
https://www.keysight.com/us/en/assets/9018-02749/user-manuals/9018-02749.pdf
Compared to a lot of vintage test equipment, it's a flyweight.
Good luck, hope you find what you're looking for.


I use two sweepers: the Hewlett Packard 3314A, https://4gte.com/products/hp-agilent-3314a-20-mhz-function-generator/
and the Hewlett Packard 8601A, https://www.eham.net/reviews/view-product?id=4899
Of the two, the 3314A is more modern, with lots of programmable wiz-bang features, but it only goes to 20mhz, which might be a problem if you want to work with FM broadcast receivers. Otherwise, it's versatile and stable.
The 8601A is older, but will go to 110mhz, and is also quite stable, but without all the digital bling. 
Both are readily available and affordable at hamfests, or eBay, as well as from reconditioned test equipment outlets, but expect to pay to dollar to those operations.
.
Thanks. I believe I like that 8601. Bet it weighs a ton. But I like accuracy.
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« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2024, 10:57:03 AM »

Having just repaired an HP-606A, I would recommend anything that originated from the desk of Art Fong out at HP!
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KD1SH
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« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2024, 11:21:51 AM »

Never owned a 606A, but I've heard great things about them. Yes, old HP is like old money.

Having just repaired an HP-606A, I would recommend anything that originated from the desk of Art Fong out at HP!
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WA4WAX
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« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2024, 09:01:11 PM »

A company named Interstate made some good sweep generators.  I have one.

Look for FC-74 and F-77
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KD1SH
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« Reply #11 on: March 08, 2024, 10:04:27 AM »

  I've got an Interstate F34. It only goes to 3mhz, but it sweeps, and it's very well built. I've used it many times for sine-sweeping audio stages. Fine gear.

A company named Interstate made some good sweep generators.  I have one.

Look for FC-74 and F-77
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MikeKE0ZUinkcmo
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« Reply #12 on: March 16, 2024, 08:46:29 PM »

Although limited to a 20Mc upper frequency limit, I've used an HP3336C for several years.   Direct start and stop keyboard entry, excellent output step attenuator, adjustable sweep speed, DC ramp output for "X" input to scope. 






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KN4SMF
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« Reply #13 on: March 19, 2024, 11:04:48 PM »

There weren't any sweep generators at the Hamfest. But I DID luck out on a Hammarlund HQ 129X in pristine condition. Absolutely untouched. Not a nick or stain on the cabinet, the chassis is absolutely clean and flawless, I don't think it has ever been opened. Still had all original caps. No missing screws or evidence of tampering. Absolutely brand new in every way. I would know a fine restoration from an untouched original. This is an untouched original. Red Hammarlund logo. All original puny-ass knobs. I wonder why Hammarlund did that?  80 bucks. Can you believe that? Actually, I never really warmed up to a 129. I thought it was kind of butt ugly with that front bezel. Like a pretty girl with a big hook nose. But when one is this perfect, I believe I can give it a happy home.
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« Reply #14 on: March 20, 2024, 12:12:02 AM »

A nanoVNA is a tiny toy in comparison to what you have but it could fill a gap temporarily. There was also not one sweeping item at the recent Irving hamfest.
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Radio Candelstein
KD1SH
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« Reply #15 on: March 20, 2024, 09:00:00 AM »

   If you're inclined to buy things from eBay, there's quite a selection of lower priced sweepers over there right now; quite a number of B&K's in particular. Most max out at around 5mhz, though, with the higher frequency models usually selling a bit higher.
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KN4SMF
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« Reply #16 on: March 27, 2024, 08:55:16 PM »

Would this be a good one for ham/sw receiver alignment?
https://www.ebay.com/itm/364753471775
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KD1SH
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« Reply #17 on: March 29, 2024, 09:23:37 AM »

  It's hard to go wrong with Wavetek. I've never used that particular model, but I don't see why it wouldn't work, other than the fact that its 5mhz limit will restrict you to only two ham bands, 80 and 160 meters.

Would this be a good one for ham/sw receiver alignment?
https://www.ebay.com/itm/364753471775

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KN4SMF
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« Reply #18 on: March 29, 2024, 10:52:09 AM »

  It's hard to go wrong with Wavetek. I've never used that particular model, but I don't see why it wouldn't work, other than the fact that its 5mhz limit will restrict you to only two ham bands, 80 and 160 meters.

Would this be a good one for ham/sw receiver alignment?
https://www.ebay.com/itm/364753471775

My original question was one good for shortwave receiver alignment and TV. Putting TV aside, I decided on SW. When doing alignment on receivers with crystal phasing and similar circuits like the 129X, Hallicrafters SX-16, and HQ-140, these receivers need to be swept for IF alignment. After IF alignment is done you move on to osc, RF, and ant adjustments which can be done by switching over to simple RF generators and VTVM, not requiring sweeping. I believe the only necessary reason for sweeping is just to make sure the IF is aligned to the frequency of the crystal that is in the radio which may not be exactly 455 or 465. Tell me if I'm wrong on this and actually do need to sweep everything.
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KN4SMF
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« Reply #19 on: April 20, 2024, 05:36:45 PM »

Thank you for the advice on this. I trust this is what I need. It arrived today, at a very admirable price. Now all I have to do is figure out how to use it. My main purpose is to do sweep alignment on vintage ham/shortwave radio gear. Later on I may tackle FM broadcast alignment.


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KD1SH
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« Reply #20 on: April 20, 2024, 06:18:12 PM »

  Very nice—one of the sharpest looking 8601A's I've seen! Looks almost new: hardly a scratch, no broken or missing knobs, and none of those nasty hard-to-remove stickers on the front panel. Having been cared for speaks well for used test gear.
  Nice job!

Thank you for the advice on this. I trust this is what I need. It arrived today, at a very admirable price. Now all I have to do is figure out how to use it. My main purpose is to do sweep alignment on vintage ham/shortwave radio gear. Later on I may tackle FM broadcast alignment.
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KN4SMF
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« Reply #21 on: April 21, 2024, 12:18:35 AM »

One thing I don't get it that the manual lists 11 "options". I have no idea what of these "options" I have, if any. Since the machine was 1969 or thereabouts, I have no intention of wasting a minute of my time scouring the internet for these "options". Frankly all I want to do is sweep align tube AM shortwave radios and an occasional FM broadcast radio. This generator was meant for scientific and laboratory applications. In 1969 it probably costs a hundred thousand dollars and only the government or big business could afford one.
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Tom WA3KLR
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« Reply #22 on: April 21, 2024, 08:30:42 AM »

1980 HP catalog 8601A $3300, Opt 008 75 Ohm BNC output +$50.

It's not in my 1968 catalog.

From my manual January 1969 -
option 001 - variable FM deviation, 0 - 100 kHz
option 002 - variable FM deviation, 0 - 30 kHz.


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KD1SH
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« Reply #23 on: April 21, 2024, 12:46:28 PM »

  It doesn't look like yours has any options. On the serial number plate, on the rear panel, there a blank labeled "opt," and it appears to be blank on yours. Most likely that label would only apply to factory installed options, though, so if yours had options installed by someone else, they probably would not be indicated on that label.
  Regardless, that is one fine looking example of the 8601A.

One thing I don't get it that the manual lists 11 "options". I have no idea what of these "options" I have, if any. Since the machine was 1969 or thereabouts, I have no intention of wasting a minute of my time scouring the internet for these "options". Frankly all I want to do is sweep align tube AM shortwave radios and an occasional FM broadcast radio. This generator was meant for scientific and laboratory applications. In 1969 it probably costs a hundred thousand dollars and only the government or big business could afford one.
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KN4SMF
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« Reply #24 on: May 13, 2024, 01:39:45 PM »

Well this HP 8601A turned out to be no good. After I got a nice 455kc sweep out of it, by the time I get up to 1mc there doesn't seem to be any output. And opening it up to start troubleshooting would be more of a project than I care for. I've got projects in line needing a sweep generator already. I don't have time to fix my hammer with all these nails to pound.
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