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About This Part Of Me

I have always been interested in steam trains and vacuum tubes. I love historical technology. Apart from that I love the ocean and hiking in the mountains, music and reading. The other major part of me is connected to people and making a difference with people. My life used to occur to me as miserable and I actually did experience a major epiphany; I now see all that seemed so miserable as the gifts that caused me to wake up and hear my soul, and what I heard is how much I love people and I got the immense privilege of letting go of the cynicism and resignation I had about myself and all people that was crushing my experience of life. The epiphany came about shortly after ceasing work due to a full-on physical and mental breakdown. It is true that while seemingly horrible things happen, looking back there is usually a great lesson and some of us are fortunate enough to wake up and see that clearly. I now would not have have my life be any different, it was and is, perfect.

Since my professional life (as a mechanical engineer) ended, I have been expressing my interest in vacuum tubes  by designing and building  vacuum tube audio audio equipment (www.triodeguy.com). What this blog is about is my abiding interest vacuum tube test equipment and specifically, oscilloscopes, I am  creating something of retirement home for oscilloscopes which I intend to document bit-by-bit here.

I will be documenting my collection here together with what I have learned that may be of use to you.

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28 Comments
  1. DrRick permalink

    I could have written this myself!
    Take care, my friend.

    I have always been interested in steam trains and vacuum tubes. I love historical technology. Apart from that I love the ocean and hiking in the mountains, music and reading. The other major part of me is connected to people and making a difference with people. My life used to occur to me as miserable and I actually did experience a major epiphany; I now see all that seemed so miserable as the gifts that caused me to wake up and hear my soul, and what I heard is how much I love people and I got the immense privilege of letting go of the cynicism and resignation I had about myself and all people that was crushing my experience of life. The epiphany came about shortly after ceasing work due to a full-on physical and mental breakdown. It is true that while seemingly horrible things happen, looking back there is usually a great lesson and some of us are fortunate enough to wake up and see that clearly. I now would not have have my life be any different, it was and is, perfect.

    • Dear Dr Rick.
      Thank you for sharing your common experience with me. It is both beautiful and important.
      Peace,

    • Hello Richard:
      Sounds like you’re living the life of an intelligent, thinking person! I’m a retired Electromagnetics Engineer so share things with you. I consider all the negative things and occurrences to be learning opportunities. While I as a Scientist assign a low probability to an external force : Fate, Karma etc it seems that I keep being afflicted by people that I least am able to feel positive about so have to learn how to.
      I’m AMAZED at the detail that you’ve put into these fine old horses! I have a load of these oldies from my long closed lab so welcome the advice to slowly bring up these.
      Do you have any information on the Nelson Ross TA1013SA?? It’s a plug in to the 460a.
      If you’re looking for any olde equipment , tell me, Maybe I have one.
      Cheers;
      Michael Rogers
      Electronic Measurement Consultants
      Central Coast of Calif.

      • Hi Michael.
        Thanks for your response. I do “believe” in divinity though I find it ineffable. Religion seems to be primarily about control and people wanting to put responsibility for who they are being (which we DO actually have complete dominion over if, if, we are willing to be responsible for that) outside themselves and then say “God told me to – insert atrocity du jour -”
        And so I see my life as a journey to go deeper and get that the separation from the divine is a conversation that was perpetrated by religion that we have inherited (and are trained in) and that truly, I am not alone. It is quite a journey! It seems to me that true “unconditional love” can only arise among humans who get how beautiful they are and start living true to that. Right now, I think the trajectory for humans is not to heal the separation but to keep inventing ever more complex and sophisticated ways to survive, which means fight for our lives and material “needs”, by any and all means, the most insidious of which is commerce. And so we effectively do the same things over and over, hoping for different results, and that is the insanity of the human condition. Without a sea change in consciousness and an understanding that the most powerful and profound thing we have to say about ourselves is the “being” in human being, the trajectory will not change.
        I hope that isn’t too much??
        I am VERY interested in getting to know more about your world of electronics. In the world of electro-magnetics, I have successfully developed and wound a couple of pairs of wideband tube-audio output transformers, that was not a trivial undertaking?
        I regret that I do not have information on the items your are interested in.
        Peace.
        Richard

  2. Robert permalink

    Do you do repairs?

    • Hi Robert.

      Not really, I have not considered it. One thing to consider is what you want to accomplish. These old instruments, great though they are, are not suitable as a go to instrument, being loaded with old parts, the reliability is never going to be solid. If you want to restore an instrument for the satisfaction of seeing it work, I would consider it, What is your need?

      Richard

  3. Paul R. Scoville permalink

    Hi Richard,

    While Demolishing an old building, I came across an oscilloscope AN/USM-38. It appears to be compete with power cord and some other cords with tube attachments. It also has the instruction book. There is a Contract number on the outside of the case, #59445 and the copyright date on the book is 1 June 1956. I did not attempt to power it up as i know nothing about it and did not want to possible damage it. I would like to learn more about it. Could you steer me in the right direction?

    Paul

    • Hi Paul.
      I am not familiar with the USM-38. You are right not to attempt to power it up and wise, most people are not that wise. Unless you have somebody very experienced nearby to work with you, it is probably best to simply take care of it as is. It is extremely unusual for the manual to be with it, you do have a good start there. Do you have any experience with vintage electronics? You could join one of the antique or vintage electronics forums and look for support there. Where are you located?
      Richard

      • Paul R. Scoville permalink

        Richard
        Thanks for the speedy response. I have no experience or knowledge in vintage equipment. I have a limited amount in modern electronics. I live in Lake Charles La. and am looking for someone who is familiar with this model.I would like to see if it is operational still.
        Paul

      • I would say that it can be operational and most likely is not. The power transformers I have wrecked through not taking my own advice have both been in AN/USM units.
        Richard

  4. Josh permalink

    I have an old oscilloscope an/usm 50-c that is still in working order and i do not need it. Im trying to sell it but i cannot find a good price to put on it. I would like to see it go to a collector or someone who will use it though. Any advice will be appreciated.

    • Hi Josh.
      As a collector, I like ebay auctions that are $XX or best offer. Make sure you know that cost of shipping to anywhere in the US at least. That’s the best I have to say.
      Good luck.
      Richard

  5. Volker permalink

    Hi Richard,
    just found your blog, VERY interesting. I know how you feel as I collect scopes but stay away from Teks. When I studied (in Germany), at first, I could not afford a scope and then finally I got an old scope from the university for a cheap price. The scope was an AEG O20 and it was one of my luckiest days. Ever since, I can’t help it and try to save as many scopes as possible. If I would have the time and funds, I would start a full blown Save-A-Scope-A-Day action.
    Your blog shows some fine examples of scopes. Especially the Siemens 05 is interesting. Let me know if you ever need any German translations.
    Good vibes,
    Volker

    • Dear Volker.
      Thank you for taking the time to let me know that my blog is of value to you. That I went with Tek largely stemmed from literally finding the 535 by the side of the road. What then showed up was the context for the blog that can be stated as “Employers achieving amazing and wonderful results through supporting their employees in having great lives”.
      I would be grateful if you can translate the Siemens 05 timebase circuit description and set-up procedure. I made it up by studying the circuit. I think I have the manual in German on my computer.
      With thanks,
      Richard

  6. Volker permalink

    Dear Richard,
    no problem with the translation. How long it will take will depend on the length of the text. I would be an expert in certifying that German manuals, and especially SIEMENS’s, can be very hard to read and confusing, even as a native German speaker. I deal with a lot of industrial SIEMENS equipment and it was probably a SIEMENS manual which triggered the invention of Quickstart guides.
    Please send the text to my email address.
    Back to scopes…. of the many scopes I have, actually I have one Tek, a 516. The center tap of the primary winding of the HV transformer is corroded off and I wonder if you may have a source for something like this. I believe the same HV transformer is used in 514 & 515. I would like to get the 516 working again and maybe use it as a swap candidate.
    I admire the detailed work you did on your scopes. It shows how much you value them.
    All the Best,
    Volker

  7. Mary Hrabik permalink

    Hello Richard,
    It is nice to see that people use these. I have scopes that I am looking to sell. My husband passed away in October and I know little about them. I know he would not want me to throw them away. I just emailed a couple places to see where would be the best sell for me. I hope I find someone as appreciative of these items as he was. We are in Minnesota if you know of any one. If not ok. I am happy for your choice of hobby. I have read a lot of people enjoying the former scopes and meters.
    Have fun, Mary

    • Hello Mary.
      I am sorry to know that your husband passed recently. I am sure that you are right in that he would not want you to throw them away.
      Richard Sears

  8. Hello Mary,
    I am sorry about your loss.
    My name is Volker and I have been collecting oscilloscopes for many years, You can see most of my collection at http://www.oscilloscopemuseum.com. The focus of the collection are oscilloscopes from 1930 to 1970.
    Richard was so nice to make me aware of your message on his blog.
    Please contact me through my website if you are still looking for an oscilloscope afficionado.
    Best Regards,
    Volker

  9. Paul permalink

    Richard
    I just stumbled across your site and have a feeling I’ll be spending a lot of time here and just wanted to thank you for taking the time to write it!

  10. Keith permalink

    Richard, I love looking through your site. As a test equipment calibrator from the early 70’s to mid 80’s I have used, calibrated and repaired most of the items in your collection. Looking over your photos brought back some wonderful memories.

    • Hello Keith.
      Thanks very much, both for the appreciation and for letting me know about you!
      May I contact you if I find myself completely befuddled?

      • Keith permalink

        Yes, absolutely contact me. It would be my pleasure to assist you.

  11. Richard

    I wanted to say thanks for sharing your information and pictures here, and let you know of the unusual way it has been helpful to me.

    In addition to restoring old test equipment, I like building boat anchor gear from scratch. I recently completed a vintage electronics construction project that involved a lot of historical research to be certain that the components and design were accurate to the period, which in this case is 1959. Your high resolution photos were particularly valuable in that effort. I think you would like the project, it’s an all-tube clock, and it’s fully documented on my site: http://wv7u.com

    Since you’re a ham, you might also like my other tube projects, but they’re of a more modern design.

    73, Hank

  12. Lars Gunnarsson permalink

    Hello,
    Has anybody ever repaired a Tektronix 7T11 sampling-plug-in timebase unit?
    BR
    /Lars G

  13. Stan McIntosh permalink

    Thank you for posting your experiences with the USM-32. I have had a soft spot for this scope for a long time, and finally managed to snag another with a working power transformer. Now, I need to find where I put my copy of the manual to work on the power supply (the electrolytic was under-rated, as I remember it). I have a question, though, about the Aerovox tubulars. Are these paper or polymer dielectric. The years for this scope seem early for polymer, but these look a lot like the polyester dielectric Aerovox caps that appeared in the ’60s.

    Regards

    • Hi Stan.
      Thanks for your comment. I don’t know the answer to your question and most likely, the easiest thing to do is to cut one open! On the other hand, I do not recall any of these caps being electrically leaky and that would suggest that they are indeed polymer. As far as the PSU electrolytic goes, I too recall that it was under-rated though this may be due to rising line voltages over the years.
      Richard

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