[time-nuts] OT - HP 5183A Waveform Recorder - is it worth playing with?

Rick Karlquist richard at karlquist.com
Wed Jun 2 20:45:27 UTC 2010

I designed the memory board for that, among other things, and was
the project manager for a while.  It seemed pretty daring to use
DRAM instead of SRAM, and 64k DRAM's at that.  When we started,
4k DRAM's were mainstream, and 16k DRAM's were the next big thing.
By the time we got into production, 256k DRAM's were ubiquitous at $2.

It was a two box product.  The digitizer proper and a "top box"
containing a display.  There was a "private" HPIB between the
top and bottom boxes, as well as a "public" HPIB on the top box.
Due to pressure from customers, we eventually allowed them to
connect to the "private" HPIB connector on the bottom box
and not use the top box at all.  The top box had a 9836 computer
inside of it running the Pascal operating system.  Kind of like
newer instruments that have a Windows computer in them.  Windows,
of course, didn't exist at the time, and even MS-DOS was barely
in existence.  At that time, I would say the 9836 ran circles
around any PC.

It had an "adaptive sample rate" feature that seemed like a good
idea at the time, but turned out to be of limited usefulness.

BTW, the sample rate is 4 MHz.  I don't know what you mean by
a 3 MHz sweep rate.  Obviously, this wouldn't make sense.

You can, of course, now get 12 bit digitizer PCI cards for your

Rick Karlquist N6RK

Jerome Peters wrote:
> Just curious about peoples experiences/thoughts about the HP5183A Waveform
> Recorder.
> It's a 2 channel 12 bit digitizer with 512K word memory, 3MHz max sweep
> rate (no display, HPIB must be used to transfer data).
> The sweep rate if pretty slow for a lot of applications, but the 12bit of
> vertical resolutions is intriguing, and both channels can have
> differential input capability.
> I've seen some recently for ~ $100.00 but have been unable to find a
> manual.
> -          Jerome
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> This email message is for the sole use of the intended recipient(s) and
> may contain
> confidential information.  Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure or
> distribution
> is prohibited.  If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the
> sender by
> reply email and destroy all copies of the original message.
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> _______________________________________________
> time-nuts mailing list -- time-nuts at febo.com
> To unsubscribe, go to
> https://www.febo.com/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/time-nuts
> and follow the instructions there.

More information about the time-nuts mailing list