Spectrum analyzers for signal monitoring

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UglySteve

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Hi,
I'm new here. I haven't seen any discussion of this topic on this forum.

I have recently been using old spectrum analyzers as receivers, and I'm wondering if anyone else has done the same.
There are some advantages. Mt HP 8555a had continuous coverage from about 50 MHz to 18 GHz. I can't find anything over 1 GHz that is analog. My HP 8553 has coverage from about 1 MHz to 110MHz, good for shortwave. To listen to the signal, the vertical output is connected to an audio amp.

They are analog, so I have to tune, adjust band with, and gain, and I can't program frequency's for scanning.
They can sweep the frequency span thousands of times a second and give a display of signal strength. To identify the frequency of a signal, I tune a signal, then tune a HP 8660c signal generator to the same frequency to get 10 digits of accuracy.

It is hard to listen to aircraft,or police, because the transmissions are short, by the time you tune it, it's gone. It is easier to listen to broadcast, am, FM,and shortwave.
Steve
 

prcguy

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A common dongle receiver can only do a very small fraction of what a dedicated spectrum analyzer can do for measuring signals. They are amazing for their low cost but not really a measurement instrument.

There are some dedicated dongle spectrum analyzers that are on the low end of measurement type spectrum analyzers but they start around $500 and are still limited in their measurement capability compared to even an ancient but dedicated spectrum analyzer.
prcguy

Meanwhile, the rest of us do that and more with $20 dongles...
 

UglySteve

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I ordered a $20 dongle. I will try it and compare. I always thought they looked like toys, but for $20, it's worth a try.
I like old HP lab equipment, you can pick up a quality piece of equipment that originally cost a ton of money, for a reasonable price. The manuals are great, so repairs are not difficult. When my signal generator was made, it cost about $39K (with all the options and plug ins) in 1972, adjusted for inflation that's about $227k in todays money.
Steve
 

majoco

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Ditto. My HP 3586a selective level meter is a great piece of kit for doing what it's made for - and some extra things which was probably never intended by HP. It covers 50Hz to 30+MHz with a good 3.1kHz filter etc etc but as a receiver - nah. Too noisy, SSB only, no AM, no AGC, needs external audio amp and speaker, the internal speaker is hopeless, etc etc.... :)

Still what do want for NZ$200! The hi-stab internal oscillator is worth more than that! :)
 

PACNWDude

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I have used spectrum analyzers and radio service monitors to monitor radio transmissions for years. Hewlett Packard/Agilent gear, Rhode & Schwarz, and others.

A realy old Singer CSM-1 sits on a shelf that gets used a little too. It can be fun to use older test equipment to monitor and see what is out there. Have done this and still do from time to time.

Also have some SDR dongles, but that is not quite as fun at times.
 

UglySteve

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I have used spectrum analyzers and radio service monitors to monitor radio transmissions for years. Hewlett Packard/Agilent gear, Rhode & Schwarz, and others.

A realy old Singer CSM-1 sits on a shelf that gets used a little too. It can be fun to use older test equipment to monitor and see what is out there. Have done this and still do from time to time.

Also have some SDR dongles, but that is not quite as fun at times.
I was tempted to buy a Singer CSM-1, but I decided to get the HP 140S and 141T systems because of the quality and availability of the HP documentation. Also, for around $100 they seemed like a good deal.
I am a collector of old German radios, so a Rhode & Schwarz, would be a nice addition to my collection, but they cost a bit more than I care to spend.
Steve
 
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