[time-nuts] Tek FCA3100/Pendulum CNT91 vs Keysight/Agilen 53230A

jpbridge at aol.com jpbridge at aol.com
Mon Jan 26 12:30:37 EST 2015

Hi Time Nuts

This is my first posting on Time-Nuts though I've been reading others postings for quite a while.

I am thinking of upgrading my very basic counter but only have limited lab space which rules out the SRS 620 on the basis of physical size.

Tektronix are offering an ex demo FCA3100 (which I think is a rebadged Pendulum CNT91) and the other choice seems to be to wait for the Keysight store to get some more 53230As in (I missed out on the last lot about six months ago).

I am finding it hard to compare the FCA3100 to the 53230 in terms of practical differences (as apposed to the data sheet numbers).

The key difference seems to be the single shot resolution of 20 psecs for the 53230A compared to 50 psecs for the FCA3100. I've seen three sets of results for the 53230A which actually measure around 8 to 11 psecs (using the delay of a length of coax method).

But I've not seen any practical results for the FCA3100. If it is up at the 50 psec mark and the 53230A is really nearer 10 psecs then the difference between the two is even more marked than the data sheet numbers.

Have any owners of the FCA3100/CNT 91 done such measurements?

The FCA3100's main advantage over the 53230A is that it is cheaper but it also seems to have higher voltage resolution (1mV vs 2.5mV) and less noise (200 uV vs 350uV typical) and it has a pulse generator that I might find quite useful.

Is there anything else I should consider?

Any practical info/advice would be much appreciated. I'm hoping to use it for general GPSDO development and other experiments.


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