[volt-nuts] HP3458a available (was Re: hp 3458a advice)

J. L. Trantham jltran at att.net
Thu Feb 7 20:59:17 EST 2013


The 'value' of a 3458A is based on several issues, not the least of which is
supply and demand.  You only have to look at theBay to get an idea of what
units are selling for, both working and non-working.  The fact that the unit
passes it's 'Self Test' is not a guarantee that it would be able to be
calibrated to published performance specs.

Tha Agilent website is very useful in determining an 'upper bound' on the
value.  The 3458A is currently orderable and currently supported.  A new
3458A (without options) is available at $9,085 and would come with a fresh
calibration and warranty.  

Repair Per Incident is available for $2,660.64.  This means that if you have
a complete unit, they will repair it for that price.  That also comes with a
fresh calibration.  I don't know if that price includes all recommended
upgrades as listed in the Service Notes, of which there are 20, 6 of which
list 'Modification Recommended' and one of which lists 'Modification
Available'.  Perhaps someone on the forum knows the answer to this.
Certainly Gary Biermann at Agilent can answer this.

The fact that your unit does not have a serial number sticker but instead
'MTG PROTO 27' would be concerning as to whether Agilent would consider this
a 'complete 3458A', and thus a candidate for repair, or, rather, a
'prototype' or some other descriptor that would imply that it looks like a
3458A but is really not a 3458A.

Both new and newly calibrated units are candidates to add a Repair
Agreement, available for $178.68 per year with up to 5 year blocks available
for purchase.

I note you mentioned firmware REV 2,1.  The current firmware is 9,1.
Therefore it would appear that you have a rather old and probably not
'updated' unit.  That plus the 'stored in an attic' history would be
concerning about the ability to repair the unit without changing several
assemblies, etc.

Assuming you could get the unit repaired and updated by Agilent, complete
with a fresh calibration, then the maximum value would be $9,085 minus
$2,660.64 minus what ever value you place on 'new' over 'old'.

Then you are left with an older unit, made in the USA, with no (or perhaps a
reduced) warranty as opposed to a new unit, made in Malaysia, with a
warranty.  The question of whether a 'new' Malaysian unit or an 'old'
American unit is better is the subject of further discussion and

If the unit cannot be repaired by Agilent, then, in my opinion, the value
goes down and approaches the value of the hardware, transformer, etc., with
serious questions about the state and reparability of the assemblies,
particularly given the 'stored in an attic' history.

Gary Biermann would be very helpful in getting the history and reparability
of the unit.  He would be worth contacting about these issues.  He works at
the Loveland Calibration Facility.

Hope this helps.


-----Original Message-----
From: volt-nuts-bounces at febo.com [mailto:volt-nuts-bounces at febo.com] On
Behalf Of Paul Fox
Sent: Thursday, February 07, 2013 8:54 AM
To: Discussion of precise voltage measurement
Subject: Re: [volt-nuts] HP3458a available (was Re: hp 3458a advice)

part of me hates to do this, but...   there have been some rule-breakers
that ignored the "under $350" limit, and now they've ruined it for
everyone. ;-)

clearly the research i did into prices for "HP3458a, needs repair" was
woefully inadequate.

i guess the easiest thing to do is to simply remove the "under $350"
part.  that way everyone's working under the same assumptions.  again,
sorry.  local buyers still get preference.  (and, if you'd like to chew
me out for being a bozo, that's fine, but please do it privately.  maybe
i should have used ebay in the first place.  lesson learned.)


i wrote:
 > resurrecting a somewhat older thread --
 > it's now clear to me that i have little interest in (or time for)
 > resurrecting my 3458a.  several people on the list were interested in
 > it when i first brought it up, and you were all very helpful.  i'd
 > rather not go through the ebay hassle, and i'd rather make it
 > available to one of you folks first in any case.
 > i've put up a small set of pictures, along with a short video of
 > the startup sequence at http://www.foxharp.net/hp3458a .  re-reading
 > my original list message (below), i see that my startup video didn't
 > capture an error message i saw back in october.  so in addition to the
 > "110, Calibration required -- ACAL" message in the video, i guess we
 > should assume that it sometimes gives "204, "Hardware Failure -- Flatness
 > DAC Convergence:  198"
 > i haven't opened the unit, and wasn't really planning on it.  if
 > there's something that you'd like to know that will be clear from just
 > looking, and if it might appreciably change the unit's value for you,
 > let me know and i'll find a screwdriver and take some more pictures.
 > i have two original (i believe) copies of the manual.  no service manual.
 > firmware version is "REV 2,1".
 > so how about this:  best offer (by private mail) under $350 gets it,
 > shipping not included (it looks like shipping will be in the $40 to $80
 > range, once i find a box).  for obvious reasons, a local-to-boston
 > transaction will be given a lot of preference.
 > i'll wait until next wednesday evening (i.e., about a week -- feb 13)
 > before choosing a lucky recipient, since i hear some people don't read
 > their mail as continuously as i do.
 > paul
 > i wrote:
 >  > thanks joe, and to the other couple of people who responded privately.

 >  > i need to figure out how much of a project i want this to be, and how
 >  > it ranks against all the other projects that i also don't have time
 >  > for.  :-)
 >  > 
 >  > i have the full users manual (two copies!), but i don't have anything
 >  > else that speaks GPIB.  i'll play with some of the front panel
 >  > commands you've suggested, while i think about what to do.  thanks!
 >  > 
 >  > paul
 >  > 
 >  > j. l. trantham wrote:
 >  >  > Paul,
 >  >  > 
 >  >  > First, the meter is worth something if nothing other than parts.
It is
 >  ...
 >  >  > Good luck.
 >  >  > 
 >  >  > Joe
 >  >  > 
 >  >  > -----Original Message-----
 >  >  > From: volt-nuts-bounces at febo.com
[mailto:volt-nuts-bounces at febo.com] On
 >  >  > Behalf Of Paul Fox
 >  >  > Sent: Monday, October 15, 2012 9:50 AM
 >  >  > To: Discussion of precise voltage measurement
 >  >  > Subject: [volt-nuts] hp 3458a advice
 >  >  > 
 >  >  > hi --
 >  >  > 
 >  >  > i'm not a volt-nuts regular, and not even a precision measurement
 >  >  > at all, but given past discussion in the list archives, i think you
 >  >  > folks might be able to help.
 >  >  > 
 >  >  > i was recently given an HP 3458a multimeter.  the donor thought it
 >  >  > worked when he last used it, but that was quite a long time ago,
and i
 >  >  > think it was stored in an attic for some time, so i'm not too
 >  >  > surprised that it now doesn't pass self tests. :-/  he mainly
 >  >  > it out of his house, along with a bunch of other vintage (sadly
 >  >  > non-working) equipment he'd accumulated over the years.
 >  >  > 
 >  >  > the self-test error is:
 >  >  >     ERRSTR 204, "Hardware Failure -- Flatness DAC Convergence: 198"
 >  >  > 
 >  >  > judging from past list traffic, repairs on these units are 
 >  >  > expensive, and it would still need recalibration to be useful, and
 >  >  > there are may be other parts (eeproms?) that may not be good
 >  >  > any more.  i'm not really interested in pursuing any of this
 >  >  > myself.
 >  >  > 
 >  >  > what's worse is that the unit doesn't have a serial number.  (i
 >  >  > the s/n would normally be obvious on the rear of the unit.)  it
bears a
 >  >  > sticker on the back that says "MTG PROTO 27".  i think the unit
 >  >  > from a place that themselves produced reference standards, and they
 >  >  > may have gotten a very early model from HP to work with.  that's
 >  >  > conjecture.  i haven't opened the unit, so i don't know if there
 >  >  > other clues to its age inside.
 >  >  > 
 >  >  > so:  is this machine useful to anyone?  given the error message
 >  >  > are there any measurements at all that it might still get correct,
 >  >  > it's current state?
 >  >  > 
 >  >  > paul
 >  >  > =---------------------
 >  >  >  paul fox, pgf at foxharp.boston.ma.us (arlington, ma, where it's 63.1
 >  >  > 
 > =---------------------
 >  paul fox, pgf at foxharp.boston.ma.us (arlington, ma, where it's 30.0
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 paul fox, pgf at foxharp.boston.ma.us (arlington, ma, where it's 19.2 degrees)
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