Despite all of the capabilities afforded to designers by modern oscilloscopes, many engineers still swear by their old analog boat anchors. Visualization of signals remains the fundamental reason for using a scope. Even though modern digital and mixed-signal scopes generally deliver much larger displays, some engineers still believe the old standbys simply do the job better.
A recent blog post at â€śThe Testbenchâ€ť on aging bench equipment drew some interesting responses vis-a-vis old versus new. â€śKent Lundbergâ€ť declared that his â€śTektronix 556 is 46 years old. Latest isnâ€™t greatest!â€ť Another commenter, â€śZebonaut,â€ť said his 52-year-old Tektronix 575 curve tracer has capabilities, reliability, and a well-designed user interface that the current instruments cannot match.
Instrument manufacturers always emphasize how much market research they do before designing the user interface on new models, but many devotees of vintage equipment decry UI complexity. â€śBobâ€ť complained, â€śI have a couple of newer scopes and hate them. Sniffing through layers of menus to find something is annoying. The displays are more fatiguing to read.â€ť
Yet the modern equipment does have its champions. â€śBdcstâ€ť agrees that older gear is more intuitive and easily serviced. But he likes the lighter weight of modern equipment. â€śJim Hornâ€ť doesnâ€™t miss analog scopes at all. â€śModern digital scopes are phenomenal and, in constant dollars, dirt cheap.â€ť Finally, â€śdjerickson,â€ť whose home lab sports a Tektronix 465, still loves the old equipment, but â€śdebugging serial interfaces with an analog scope is no fun. Storing waveforms for reports is a necessity. At work, [he uses] a 500-MHz LeCroy scope and couldnâ€™t do without its functions.â€ť