Restoring Vintage Electronics with Vintage Equipment

A certain amount of equipment is required to test, analyze and restore the equipment described in this site. The designers in the 1960s had the best equipment of their day but most of this is primitive by today’s standards. A single-trace analogue oscilloscope was the typical tool of a 1960s engineer but a modern multi-trace digital storage scope makes the same job faster, easier and more pleasant. DoPECC could adopt the philosophy of working on machines only with the technology of their time but this seems needlessly burdensome. On the other hand, modern meters and scopes can look quite out of place beside vintage electronics.

A number of factors are considered when obtaining equipment for DoPECC:

  • able to do the job with reasonable pleasure and ease
  • fits the hobby budget
  • fits the DoPECC philosophy of beautiful engineering and high quality construction

While these factors may look impossible to reconcile, there is a solution in the form of equipment from the Golden Age of the great US equipment makers such as Hewlett-Packard and Tektronix. From the late 1960s until the late 1980s these companies made equipment that was designed by engineers, for engineers. They built with the best materials, the best construction engineering and the best workmanship. Each instrument was supplied with a detailed operating and service manual that usually contained a complete theory of operation, circuit diagrams and detailed diagnosis and repair procedures. These instruments were built to work very well, to last nearly forever, and to be repaired if they should fail.

With patience it is possible to obtain good examples of these types of instruments and some of the best of these are described here. While notionally obsolete they are still very useful instruments and they often perform as well as their modern replacements. They are also are a pleasure to own and use.

Some other instruments will be found here because they are a bit like the calculators themselves, beautifully engineered examples of technology that was once at the cutting-edge, but now is obsolete and forgotten. It can be interesting to use these instruments to demonstrate the methods and techniques of the past.

A final group consists of some gadgets that were designed and constructed to perform tests that were otherwise difficult to do. Examples include the Wang Display Tester and the Wang Core Select Tester.