Photonics — Ultrasensitive Instrument Design — Analog
Lab Equipment List
Here's a partial list of EOI's lab equipment.
The list is heavily weighted towards electronic stuff, but we also
have a very complete set of high precision optical and
optomechanical parts: mounts, translation and rotation stages,
lenses, prisms, polarization optics, gratings, filters, modulators,
detectors, lasers, and fibres, for a start. This lets us try out
new ideas quickly and build test setups to verify them.
Tektronix TDS694C Digital
125 ps rise time, 3 GHz BW, 10
Gs/s simultaneously on all 4 channels, colour LCD
and Centronics printer
1.44M floppy drive
Internal hard disk drive
A true beauty. 50 Ω DC-coupled only,
of course, but then I have
the matching P6249 FET probes for
Tektronix TDS784A Digital Scope 1 GHz 4Gs/s, 4 channels,
colour LCD over monochrome CRT
About the fastest scope that still
has a 1 MΩ input option. The display is a bit dim,
but it works great. (Thanks to Jay at
TestPlus for help with the conversion from 744A to 784A.)
HP 54542C 4 Channel 500MHz 2 GSa/s Color Digital Scope
HP scopes have much better knob response than Teks of the same vintage. This is the
first HP scope I've ever owned. It was less than half the price of my workhorse Tektronix
TDS 744A, and overall it seems to work
fine. One wart is that it doesn't automatically
sense when you're using a ×10 probe.
Tektronix 11802 20 GHz Sampling Scope
Sampling scopes are stroboscopic; you
get one data point per trigger event so
that it takes 512 triggers to get a
full trace. On the other hand, a digitizing
scope this fast (50 Gs/s) would
cost as much as a house on a lake. This one is
nearly pristine; it's my primary tool
for really fast measurements and for things
like settling time,
where stroboscopic sampling prevents overdriving the
scope's vertical amplifier and
causing artifacts. Takes two 2-channel plug-ins
and has two built-in semi-rigid coax
Tektronix 11801C 50 GHz Sampling Scope
More of a workhorse—21k hours, but
still nice and bright. The 11801C
doesn't have the built-in delay
lines, but can take up to four 2-channel
plug-ins. (The 50 vs 20 GHz
doesn't matter much—I don't have the 30- or
50-GHz plug-ins, but a 20 GHz
scope is enough to be getting on with.) Since I
rely on the 11802 so heavily, it
makes sense to have a spare.
Tektronix 11800 Series Sampling Heads SD-14 3 GHz Dual Probe Head #1 (new) SD-14 3 GHz Dual Probe Head #2 SD-14 3 GHz Dual Probe Head #3 SD-14 3 GHz Dual Probe Head #4 (B channel mildly broken)
These are 120-ps rise time sampling
heads with built-in high-impedance FET probes on 1-m
SD-22 12.5 GHz Dual Low Noise Head #1 SD-22 12.5 GHz Dual Low Noise Head #2 SD-22 12.5 GHz Dual Low Noise Head #3
Usually I don't need the full speed
of the SD-24 and SD-26, so the lower noise
level is a win
SD-26 20 GHz Dual Sampling Head #1 SD-26 20 GHz Dual Sampling Head #2
These and the SD-24s below have
beautiful clean 17-ps rise times with almost no
overshoot or ripple.
SD-24 20 GHz Dual TDR Head #1 SD-24 20 GHz Dual TDR Head #2 SD-24 20 GHz Dual TDR Head #3 SD-24 20 GHz Dual TDR Head #4
My favourite head of all; produces a
17-ps rise time pulse for TDR measurements,
which is also widely useful as an
ultrafast pulse generator for driving lasers
and testing circuits.
SD-51 20 GHz Trigger Head One of the less convenient featurs of sampling scopes is that they don't really
have internal triggering. Their front end amplifiers are hidden behind sampling
bridges, so they aren't able to watch the signal change except stroboscopically,
i.e. after triggering occurs. This head helps with that at high
frequencies (in the gigahertz) but not so much lower down.
Tektronix SD-20 Loop-Through Sampling Head Besides triggering, another inconvenient thing about sampling scopes is that we
frequently want to measure the effect of some amplifier or other device, by
measuring its input and output and comparing them. At low speeds this is
easy—often we just use a tee connector on the scope, to connect one cable
to both the scope and the input of the device under test (DUT). Unfortunately
this doesn't work at high frequencies due to transmission line reflections. For
narrow-band measurements we can use special splitters or couplers, but they
generally don't work down to DC, and most aren't really intended for fast pulses.
The SD-20 is a good solution to this problem: the input signal passes through
the SD-20 on its way to the DUT, and the DUT's output goes to another sampling
head such as an SD-26.
SD-48 30 GHz O-E Converter
The SD-4x plugins are InGaAs devices
that work from about 800 to 1600 nm.
The fastest ones (SD-48) go up to
30 GHz, but they're scarce and expensive.
Fortunately I found one on eBay for a
steal. SD-46 20 GHz O-E Converter
This one is the older, 20 GHz
version of the fast photodiode boxes. It was an even better buy
than the SD-48.
SD-42 6.4 GHz O-E Converter #1 SD-42 6.4 GHz O-E Converter #2
These ones go for a lot less, and realistically are fast enough for most of
what I'm likely to do.
Tektronix 067-1331-00 Sampling Head Simulator
This is a calibration fixture that mimics an SD-24 head with a pulse source attached,
for testing and aligning the 1180x sampling scope mainframes. Just one of those nice-to-haves.
012-1221-00 2m Sampling Head Extender #1 012-1221-00 2m Sampling Head Extender #2
Fast signals attenuate so rapidly in
cables that you really have to bring the
head to the circuit. Using these
cables means you don't have to hang your gizmo
off the front of the scope, but
instead bring the sampling head onto the bench.
These 2m ones are great for when the
scope is in the rack.
Tektronix 475A Analog Scope
150 MHz, great triggering, no
aliasing, very low noise (2 mV/div)
Tektronix 2467 Analog Scope
350 MHz, 4 channels.
Ultra-bright microchannel plate CRT: fastest writing
speed of any portable scope ever
Owon SDS7102V 100 MHz 1 Gs/s 2-Channel Digitizing
Cheap 'N' Cheerful Chinese. Pluses: A very nice
display, Ethernet and USB connectivity, USB storage, 10 megasample
length, low price for a new
scope (although I paid the same for a 4-channel, 500 MHz HP
from eBay). Minuses: Very slow
screen updates (~20 Hz), and a bit noisy on its most sensitive
It forces you into the 20 MHz
bandwidth limit mode in order to get to 2 mV/div.
Some firmware issues.
Active Scope Probes
Tektronix P6249 4 GHz 5x FET Probe
#1 Tektronix P6249 4 GHz 5x FET Probe #2
The matching probes for the
TDS 694C. Normally a bit on the pricy side, but
these were quite reasonable—in future
I may wind up making my own with
some cascoded pHEMTs. (One of these
guys is on the sick list—its bias loop is
oscillating at 2 MHz or so.
Probably a dead capacitor.)
Tektronix P6201 FET Probe #1 Tektronix P6201 FET Probe #2 Tektronix P6201 FET Probe #3 Tektronix P6201 FET probe #4
900 MHz, AC and DC coupling,
×1, ×10, ×100
All probes have probe hooks, ground
springs and ground leads. One of these
days I'll get round to doing one of
these using a pHEMT cascode, and not have
to buy these slow ones. They're
pretty good for most things, of course.
Tektronix P6042 50 MHz Current Probe
Hall effect plus inductive pickup for
fast DC-coupled current
measurements. Unsurpassed for looking
at transients in switchmode
power supplies, magnets, and so
Semiconductor Measurement Tools
Hewlett-Packard 4145B semiconductor parameter analyzer and
spare disk drives
These boot from the floppy drive, and that's the
only thing that ever seems to
break. (Of course it has a proprietary
Spectrum and Network Analyzers
Most of these are
connected to the lab's 10 MHz rubidium reference
HP 70004A/70820A Microwave Transition Analyzer & Display
(DC → 40GHz)
One of HP's best instruments ever: a combination network analyzer,
sampling scope, and
spectrum analyzer running from DC to millimeter waves.
It's based on a dual-channel picosecond sampling system that works from
DC to 40 GHz. These are outrageously cheap at the moment, considering what they do,
although they do need precision 2.4 mm connectors, which are not cheap.
Hewlett-Packard 8568B Spectrum Analyzer, 100
Hz → 1.5 GHz
A real boat anchor, but it has
-110 dBc phase noise at 100 Hz offset,
which is 30 dB better than you
can get in affordable modern analyzers
Hewlett-Packard 8566B Spectrum Analyzer, 100
Hz → 22 GHz
The 8568's big brother. I've been
getting into much faster measurements
recently, especially with the
Mach 9 ISICL sensor, which
signals up to about 8 GHz. The
1.8 GHz HP 8568B is too slow, so I got one
of these. This one was very very
cheap, and has a much brighter display than
the 8568B. It arrived with a problem:
the display text was all torn and garbled.
I happened to have a spare A4A3
memory board, so I swapped it in on spec, and it
fixed the problem. (Score one for
The one real drawback of the 8566 is
that the RF (0 → 2.5 GHz) and microwave
bands can't be displayed at the same time. In most cases this is more an
than a practical issue. In the microwave band (above 2 GHz) the noise baseline is a
little funky-looking, with ~1-dB ripples, so it probably needs calibration fairly
urgently before I do any quantitiative measurements with
Hewlett-Packard 35665A dynamic signal analyzer
Options 1C1 Add 2MB memory
1C2 HP instrument BASIC
1D1 Real time octave measurements
1D2 Swept-Sine measurements
1D3 Curve fit/synthesis
1D4 Arbitrary function source
1F0 PC-style keyboard
All-Option ROM for HP 35665A
About the best of the classical FFT
analyzers, with all the functions needed for
optimizing control loops. A factor of
100 or so more bandwidth would be nice.
Frequency Counters and Modulation Domain Analyzers
Hewlett-Packard 5372A Frequency and Time Interval
Option 040: Jitter FFT
The original "modulation domain"
device: plots Allan variance, jitter
histograms, jitter spectra, frequency
vs. time, and so on. A beautiful
thing for laser heterodyne stability
measurements, moderate bandwidth
phase-locked loops, and so on. It's a
bit of a pain to set up, though, so it
doesn't get used as much as it
Hewlett-Packard 5316B 100 MHz Universal
Simple and reliable.
EIP 535C Microwave Counter
A plain-vanilla 18-GHz counter. One
of the slightly newer ones that can supply
frequency locking to a sweeper would
Signal Sources / Time & Frequency Generators
Hewlett-Packard 8640B ultraquiet
Recently repaired by Bill Dino at
Revisited in Massachusetts—he more or less jacked
up the name plate and slid a new
synthesizer in underneath: A great outfit!
Hewlett-Packard 3325A Frequency Synthesizer #1 Hewlett-Packard 3325A Frequency Synthesizer #2
Opt 01: High Stability OCXO
A nice stable high resolution synthesizer with extreme amplitude accuracy.
and free of the usual weird spurs that plague DDS-type units. Only goes to 20 MHz.
Systron-Donner Datapulse 101 pulser #1 Systron-Donner Datapulse 101 pulser #2
One of the best of the old-line
analog pulsers: stable and easy to use.
Highland Technology P400 Digital delay
No chains of monostables for
sequencing in this lab, thanks—4 triggered
delay outputs with 20-ps jitter,
about 20 dB better than the competition.
Wavetek 145 20 MHz Pulse/Function
Not brilliant, but good for simple
jobs where analog controls are convenient.
Hewlett-Packard 8620C Microwave Sweeper Mainframe
with HP 86222B 0.01 → 2.4 GHz Plug-In Hewlett-Packard 8620C Microwave Sweeper Mainframe
with HP 86290C 2 → 18 GHz Plug-in
Microwave sweepers aren't the
quietest things in captivity, but they produce a lot of output
power (>=50 mW), and
they're great for low-resolution
swept measurements. These ones accept source locking from a counter
than can provide
it. The higher frequency one is for
driving diode lasers for testing the Hypervelocity ISICL.
Other RF gear
Texscan RA-50 Rotary step attenuator,
DC → 2 GHz Texscan RA-100 Rotary step attenuator,
DC → 2 GHz Hewlett-Packard step attenuator 0-120 dB, 1 GHz,
BNC Hewlett-Packard step attenuator 0-11 dB, 1 GHz,
BNC HP 33321H Rotary 0-70 dB step atten 18GHz Drawers full of Mini Circuits, TTE, and other RF/microwave
Amps, attenuators, filters, mixers,
splitters, directional couplers, phase
Hewlett-Packard 400EL AC
Voltmeter (10 MHz)
Hewlett-Packard 3400A True RMS AC voltmeter #1 Hewlett-Packard 3403A True RMS Voltmeter #1
(100 MHz) Hewlett-Packard 3403A True RMS Voltmeter #2
In the ultrasensitive measurements
business, you have to be able to make really reliable noise and SNR
A good photon budget will predict the
noise in a good measurement very accurately, but you have to be
able to verify it.
The 3400A and 3403A are HP's finest
AC meters, with accuracies of a percent or two and a crest factor
I use these a lot for noise
measurements, in conjunction with passive filters: RCs for simple
and fancier ones from TTE otherwise.
That's the most reliable method: A known noise bandwidth and a
Spectrum analyzers read noise as much
as 2.5 dB too low, due to doing average detection and
log video averaging, so fast RMS
converters are key. (For the reasons behind this, there's a classic
HP/Agilent app note AN150.)
Peak-reading voltmeters such as the
HP 400EL have a less pronounced version of this
add 1 dB when measuring noise.
(It's really 10 log(4/π) = 1.049 dB.)
The problem arises when you're
measuring low-SNR signals, because those hacks no longer
work—there's no substitute for
true-RMS detection then.
Boonton 72A Capacitance Meter
Analog, but very sensitive, stable
and easy to use. Accepts an externally
controlled bias for C-V
measurements, and analog I/O works well with data
Boonton 72BD Capacitance Meter #1 Boonton 72BD Capacitance Meter #2 (100 mV
excitation, needs contact cleaning)
A 3-1/2 digit version of the 72A
above. Very stable: on the 2 pF FS range,
once it's zeroed it sits there
showing 0.000 pF all afternoon. Wave a hand
nearby and see the reading increase
to a few femtofarads. These Boontons use
low-level (15 mV) 1-MHz AC excitation
with phase-sensitive detection, do 2-, 3-
or 4-terminal measurements, and allow
external DC bias to be applied. That
makes them ideal for measurements on
active devices; you can even measure the
capacitance to ground of a
bootstrapped front end.
So useful that it makes sense to have
at least two.
Smart Tweezers STAD-KBHP LCR meter
Especially helpful for measuring
unmarked SMD components; also unusually good
for doing in-circuit
AADE L/C Meter II
This was actually the first kit I ever built—in 2015!
It does a very good job of measuring capacitors and inductors for RF circuits.
It seems to be
generally better than the Smart Tweezers in that range, though not
so general. (You can't get one anymore, owing to the untimely
death of its inventor, Neil Hecht.)
AVO Universal Avometer Model 8 Mk IV
AVO made the best analog multimeters
ever, and the Model 8 Mk IV was really the best
of the lot. This one came from the
estate of a man who collected
Rolls-Royce cars as well. No trace of
stickiness in the meter movement.
AVO Universal Avometer Model 16
More modern looking but not in the
same class at all. It's almost like a
barometer—you have to thump it to get
the meter to settle properly.
Simpson Model 260 Series 3 Analog Multimeter
Almost as nice as the older AVO, but
Simpson Model 303 VTVM #1 Simpson Model 303 VTVM #2
Mostly for nostalgia, but sometimes
still useful for looking at slow voltage
changes in high-Z circuits; really
nice meter movements
Keithley 410 Micro-Microammeter
This has a 100 fA full scale range.
It uses tubes, and takes a good two hours
of warm-up to get down that low, but then it's been sitting on some shelf for fifty years.
Instruments have come a long way in performance since 1964, but have lost character doing it.
I built a little box with CMOS op
amps and Russian 33G vacuum resistors in it
that does more or less the same
thing, only better, and works right when you
turn it on—but where's the fun in
Keithley 610C Solid State Electrometer
Solid state from '68. A beautiful instrument with a nice meter movement. This one was super cheap,
it'll probably need a bit of repair, but it's well worth it. Its most sensitive ranges are
1 mV, 10 fA, 100 TΩ, 100 fC full scale.
Keithley 602 Solid State Electrometer
Solid state, runs off six 9-volt batteries. It's about as sensitive as the old tube one, but it wants
an unobtainable 1.34 V mercury
battery for the ohms ranges. It's waiting for a
brain transplant—I'm going to use the meter and switch and give it
probably based on a 100-pF charge dispensing loop. Or maybe I'll hang onto it for 610C parts.
Hewlett-Packard 339A Audio Distortion Meter
The best of a long series of total
harmonic distortion (THD) bridges.
It has a very low distortion sine
wave oscillator to drive the device under test (DUT).
The DUT's output goes into a notch
filter that gets rid of the fundamental,
and the meter displays the amplitude
of this distortion-plus-noise signal divided
by the fundamental amplitude. To DSP
folks, this is actually not THD but SINAD
(Signal to Noise And Distortion), but
that's how THD has always been defined in
the audio business.
Measurements (later Boonton) Model 59 'Megacycle Meter' #1 Measurements (later Boonton) Model 59 'Megacycle Meter' #2 Measurements (later Boonton) Model 59 'Megacycle Meter' UHF Head
The classical grid dip meter. A dip meter's job is to find LC resonances. It's a bit specialized,
but very useful in hacking together RF circuitry quickly. Usually the resonant frequencies of
the individual sections make more difference to a filter's response than the exact L and C
values, and that's what dip meters are good for. The way they work is pretty interesting.
There's a variable-frequency LC oscillator in the meter, whose tuning knob has a reasonably
accurate frequency scale. A resonator such as a parallel LC circuit will absorb energy near its
resonant frequency. If the dip meter's coil is placed so that it couples to the unknown LC circuit,
the unknown will absorb oscillator power when the oscillator is tuned to its resonance. This will reduce
the strength of the oscillation, which is easily detected. Classically, and in the Measurements 59, it's
done by measuring the DC grid current of the oscillator tube, but nowadays there are lots of other methods.
A less obvious use is in measuring the coupling coefficients of transformers: a secondary winding that's 10 mH
open circuit can drop down into the low microhenries when the primary is shorted. A dip meter is good at
measuring low-Q resonances, so with a nanofarad or two in parallel, you can get a decent measurement
of the leakage inductance. I recently measured an ISDN transformer's coefficient of coupling at 0.99986 this way.
The Measurements 59 gives a nice sharp dip even for very weak inductive coupling—much better than any later
dip meter I've used. That means that it hardly perturbs the circuit under test at all.
I have two meter units and three RF heads: two
VHF and one UHF. The frequency
calibration of my main VHF one is still excellent: within 2% of reading over the whole 2.2-250 MHz
range, though I haven't measured the others.
This illustrates one of my old opinions: in
both approaches apply, a smart engineer, even working with very limited
technology (vacuum tubes, hand calculation, and mechanical everything) can run rings around a less-smart engineer
with SPICE and all sorts of great modern parts.
Hewlett-Packard 3456A 6.5 digit DMM #1
Good to ~1 ppm (relative) over a really
wide range of voltage and resistance
measurements. (It's 25 ppm ± 2 digits
absolute on all DC voltage ranges.)
Its big brother, the HP 3458A
8.5-digit DMM, remains the standard in cal
Fluke 87 Handheld True RMS DMM
The standard for 25 years—which is
about how long I've had this one.
It has the separate rubber holster
and the flexible tilting bail that you can
wrap around stuff to hold the meter
in odd places. The more recent versions
have better input protection but come
with a much cheesier hard plastic bail.
Tektronix DMM916 Handheld True RMS DMM #1 Tektronix DMM916 Handheld True RMS DMM #2
Roughly in the same class as the
Fluke, which is saying a lot. These ones
came from eBay in 2014/15, and they work great.
Tektronix TX3 Handheld True RMS DMM
Another nice meter, but this example isn't very accurate, unfortunately—it reads 0.18% high.
BK Precision 2809B 6600 count True RMS DMM
A very nice midrange digital
multimeter with a really fast continuity beep, which
makes it an excellent kick-around
Keithley 191 5.5 digit DVM #1 Keithley 191 5.5 digit DVM #2 with AC board
Older mains-powered DVMs with excellent
DC accuracy (70 ppm ± 2 LSB), but no current ranges.
Keithley 177 4.5 digit Microvolt DVM
Another mains-powered meter with full
scale ranges of 20 ohms, 20 mV, 20 uA, with 0.03% basic accuracy.
Probemaster Series 8000 DMM Probes These
things are the most beautiful DMM probes I've ever seen, and they're only $16 per set.
Thick gold plating, very sharp points, lovely supple
silicone-insulated wires, easy to hold, 1 kV CAT III rated. They
also sell a bunch of accessories, some of which I also have. Try
these out and you'll toss all your others into the back of some drawer and never use them again.
Data Acquisition & Control
LabJack U6 Pro Data Acq Bricks #1, #2, and #3
A very capable and well-supported ADC/DAC module that also has six
PWMs and 20 digital
I/Os. They work great, and are an excellent
value, though their DACs are PWM-based, so you may
have to use an external SPI DAC. There's also a good library for writing my own code.
[I am Not A Fan of
graphical toolkits like LabView—as a colleague says,
"Ah, LabView: spaghetti code that even
looks like spaghetti."]
On the other hand, LabJacks are brilliant, and I use them all the time; for instance, in Spring 2013,
I built a low cost grating SWIR spectrometer proof-of-concept for a medical devices
It was doing data acq, servomotor control, and temperature control.
In 2015, I'm using one to control a laser scanning microscope
operating at a numerical aperture of 5.0.
Many of the gizmos I build myself have switching
power supplies built in, usually based
on the National Semiconductor (now TI) LM259x 150 kHz Simple
Switchers. They aren't
the very most efficient things you'll find, but they work
painlessly and don't
produce much in the way of EMI on account of their slow switching
edges, especially with
toroidal inductors. I tend to power them from random laptop bricks, so I don't need
as many lab power supplies as I used to.
MIT PMT-2000 HV Power Supply for photomultipliers
Power Designs TP343A triple DC power supply Power Designs TP325 triple DC power supply Kepco MPS 620M triple DC power supply Kepco ATE 150-1.5M 150V 1.5A power supply
My standard bench supplies.
Reasonably beefy, quiet, bulletproof, and well-behaved.
Kepco BOP50-2M Operational Power Supply
Kepco BOPs are like op amps, if you
think a 98-pound weakling is like the Incredible
Hulk. This ±50 V, ±2 A unit is
one of the baby 100 W ones—they come up to 400 W
(e.g. ±72 V, ±6 A.) They
work in all four quadrants, which is both useful and rare.
Kepco JQE 36-3 36V 3A power supply
A slightly stronger adjustable linear
supply, nice and quiet
Tektronix 1103 Tekprobe Power Supply Tek has a nice method for powering probes, using PCB pads arranged around the BNC
connector. This is especially useful because it allows me to use the 4 GHz
P6249 FET probes with spectrum analyzers.
Tektronix 1101 probe power supply (±15 V for the
Hewlett-Packard 6112A Precision 0-40 V, 0.6 A DC power
supply Hewlett-Packard Harrison 6111A Precision 0-20V, 1.0 A DC power
supply Hewlett-Packard 6116A Precision 0-100V DC power
supply Hewlett-Packard 6110A Precision 0-3kV 6 mA DC power
These have 4-digit thumbwheel
switches, and are dead accurate, except for the 6110A which needs calibration.
Burleigh RC-44 Ramp Generator
Generates voltage ramps for three
piezos of an RC-110 or RC-140 Fabry-Perot, for
scanning, intracavity measurements,
and moderate-accuracy wavelength locking. Burleigh RC-43 Ramp Generator
Earlier, noisier version, kept as a
Amplifiers and Signal Conditioning
Highland Technology J750
Amplifier Highland Technology T860 Buffer/Driver
Highland stuff is all clean, fast,
Krohn-Hite 3905B 10-Ch Filter Mainframe
with plug-ins Model 39A-5, 34 and
A really capable, digitally programmable filtersystem for all sorts of baseband jobs where the
usual RC in a Pomona box won't cut it.
Krohn-Hite 3103A Bandpass Filter 10 Hz to
A dedicated BPF box. Lots of ganged
pots and wafer switches.
Standards and Decade Boxes
General Radio 1434-G Resistor Decade
0-1 MΩ, 0.1 Ω steps
Efratom LPRO-101 Rubidium Frequency Standard
Distributed via a Mini-Circuits 12-way splitter
Interfacing and Control
Advin Pilot U40 programmer
For PALs and retro stuff like that, plus making
backups of instrument ROMs
Prologix GPIB-Ethernet module
Very fast and trouble-free; gives your GPIB
stuff an IP address.
Piles of MCU development tools, Sparkfun boards, Raspberry Pi's, custom data acquisition hardware,
small instruments in die-cast Bud boxes, and so on.
Supermicro 733TQ tower #1
150 Gflops peak, very high main memory bandwidth
Supermicro H8DGi-F mobo
Dual AMD Opteron 6128 Magny-Cours 8-core
32 GB of DDR3 ECC RAM,
4 × 1 TB HDDs
Adaptec 6405 RAID controller board
XFX HD667XZHF3 ATI Radeon HD6670 1 GB
CentOS 6 Linux, with Win 7 Pro 64 bit and
Win XP 32-bit in Qemu/KVM virtual machines
27-inch Dell LED/LCD monitor
A pretty nice box all round. I bought it for doing
simulations, but it's also
my main office machine. After 2-1/2 years running continuously, the
power supply started to hiccup,
which made the machine cold-boot every 10 minutes or so, but a
new supply cured it.
One of these times I'll put SSDs in it, but not today.
Supermicro 733TQ tower #2
250 Gflops peak, put together from eBay parts plus a new case and PSU
Supermicro H8DGi-F mobo
Dual AMD Opteron 6174 Magny-Cours 12-core
56 GB of DDR3 ECC RAM,
500 GB SSD
Qubes OS v3.2
27-inch ASUS LED/LCD monitor
For running simulations and general workstation use.
ASUS i7 Quad Core Tower box
8 GB fast RAM
Win 7 Pro
27-inch Dell LED/LCD monitor
Mostly for my PC layout person, Magdalen
Synology DS411slim NAS #1
A pretty nice network-attached storage (NAS) box that runs Linux and allows you to
install normal Linux packages. Synology has their own version of RAID that seems to work
better than the normal kind. This is configured with four HGST Travelstar 5K1500 1.5 TB
2.5 inch drives, three in a RAID array and one hot spare. One out of eight drives failed
in less than a week, but the others have been running flawlessly for a year now.
It's set up to send me email if one of the drives fails a S.M.A.R.T. test, so I knew
about the drive failure very quickly.
Synology DS411slim NAS #2 (offsite)
This one has the same configuration—why mess with success?
About 10 Thinkpad T42, T43, & T410 laptops for various jobs
Optics and Lasers
Coherent Compass 532 Frequency-Doubled Nd:YAG Ring
A beautiful thing, with a coherence length >
150 m. I bought it for testing
the new 10 MHz laser noise canceller
design. I'll push the beam through a
Pockels cell and a single mode fibre to make it
then use free-space optics to split it into
three adjustable-strength beams
with exactly the same modulation and spatial
Melles Griot LGR192 2 mW green He-Ne (randomly polarized
(Plus a bunch of visible diode lasers)
JDSU NPRO 126N-1064 700 mW 1064-nm Nonplanar Ring Oscillator
(NPRO) Nd:YAG laser
Single frequency YAGs are beautiful devices. I
do a fair amount of stuff in the NIR
and SWIR, so having a selection of IR lasers is
Infrared Diode Lasers
SDL 5420 830 nm 150 mW Diode Laser #1 SDL 5420 830 nm 150 mW Diode Laser #2 SDL 5420 830 nm 150 mW Diode Laser #3 All single frequency, TE cooled, with collimators and circular output beams
1540 nm Fabry-Perot Diode Laser 15 mW, pulsed with 190 ps rise time
Mitutoyo FS110 Long Working Distance Microscope
I often use Mitutoyo microscope lenses in optical setups, and missed
the microscope to go with them. Mitus are workhorses, and the optical
quality is outstanding.
This one has 5×, 10×, 20×, and 50×
eyepieces, plus a camera port.
Newport Fibre Microscope
For inspecting fibre facets before use
Blue Sky Model 200 Collimeter #1 Blue Sky Model 200 Collimeter #2
Dithered shear plate collimation testers—indispensable. It would be great to have a real wavefront-
wavefront-measuring interferometer. I used to have an old Wyko Ladite, which was a thing of great
beauty, but had to be put out to pasture because it couldn't communicate with any modern hardware.
Burleigh RC-110 Fabry-Perot Interferometer
with mirrors for the red; really great for
Photon Beam Scan 1080
A scanning slit instrument for measuring beam diameters. Much faster than either then
or razor blade + translation stage methods.
Spectrometers and Monochromators
Ocean Optics 2000+ UV-VIS-NIR
350-1050 nm coverage, 2048 pixels, about 1.5 nm
resolution. Primarily for the egg-grading
sensor, but will also have applications in future blood constituents
Optometrics SWIR Monochromator
A nice small Czerny-Turner monochromator with a 1400-2800 nm range and
two sets of slits.
Detectors and Cameras
Thor Labs 7 GHz
Only slightly faster than the Tek SD-42
plug-ins, but small and battery powered
Electrophysics 7215 700-1300 nm IR viewer
Handheld IR viewer. Useful alternative to a CCD camera and monitor.
Electrophysics 6100 700-1300 nm IR viewing goggles
Head-mounted IR viewer: easier to manage while
doing alignment, but blind past
Electrophysics 7290 IR Camera with 50-mm f / 1.4 Lens
A lead-salt vidicon, covering 0.6-2.2 μm: Big
and clunky, so it's conveniently
mounted on a Manfrotto Magic Arm for hands-free
Needs a bit of adjustment because the display
contrast is sort of low at the moment
A bunch of Toshiba RS-170 CCD cameras
These are good out to 1064 nm, and are a lot more convenient.
Test Monitor NTSC 3.5"TFT
For use with the Electrophysics and Toshiba cameras.
Optical Components and Optomechanics
Hundreds of single- and
multi-element lenses, with coatings for UV to 1.6 μm
Dozens of cylinder lenses and astigmatism correction
Mirrors and Prisms
More than 100 first-surface
ordinary folding mirrors with dielectric stack,
enhanced aluminum, protected gold
coatings, in λ/10 and λ/20;
a lot of
interferometer mirrors, laser output couplers and HRs.
Folding and Dispersing Prisms
Dove, Porro, equilateral, wedge,
Wollaston prisms: About a
dozen, in 12-mm and 25-mm apertures
Glan-Taylor and beamsplitting Glan-Thompson prisms:
Polarizing cube beamsplitters: About 20, 400 nm -
Beam separator prisms: PBS laminated with a λ/4 retarder, 633
& 750 nm; about a dozen
Waveplates for 532 nm, 633 nm, 750-840 nm, and 1.5 μm;
Film polarizers, thin-film waveplates,....
Holographic and replicated ruled
various lines/mm and blaze wavelengths,
UV/Visible/SWIR: about 40
Schott Glass (Coloured)
About 50, UV to SWIR
Neutral Density Filters
Two sets of 50-mm metal ND filters plus a bunch
of black glass ones
A dozen or so SM and MM patch cords, fibre on
reels, FC connectors and polishing
stuff, collimators and so forth. Both glass and
Electro-Optic and Acousto-Optic Devices
Crystal Technology 2405-01
Acousto-Optic Tunable Filter (AOTF)
SWIR: tunes 1.4-2.45 μm with 3 W of
52.5-95 MHz drive
80% efficient and 3.5 nm resolution at the
short end, 45% and 10 nm at the long end
optical acceptance ±3°
Matsushita (Panasonic) EFLD-340 Acousto-Optic Deflector and
Off-axis TeO2 cell for the
50-110 MHz operating frequency, 340
resolvable spots @ 633 nm
Matsushita (Panasonic) EFLD-250 Acousto-Optic Deflector
#1 Matsushita (Panasonic) EFLD-250 Acousto-Optic Deflector
Like the EFLD-340, but with a smaller crystal,
giving 250 resolvable spots.
Both in excellent shape; about 150 kHz
Isomet 1205C Acousto-Optic Modulator and driver #1 Isomet 1205C Acousto-Optic Modulator and driver #2
200 MHz centre frequency, 10 MHz
analog modulation bandwidth.
Crystal Technology Acousto-Optic Modulator and driver
80 MHz centre frequency, 10 MHz
analog modulation bandwidth.
EOD Low-Voltage Longitudinal Pockels cell modulator
5 mm aperture, with 8 plates, which reduces
Vπ from 3 kV to about 400 V,
and runs as fast as you can drive it.
36 × 48 × 6 inch Newport Aluminum
Nonmagnetic, which is sometimes a pain and
sometimes very useful
Piezo positioning stages
Wye Creek Instruments, Burleigh, Newport, and
Oriel 18011 Encoder Mike Controller
Encodermikes are useful for moderate-performance applications, where open-loop
steppers are too coarse, but you don't need extreme accuracy. This control box
is easy to talk to over RS-232, and I have a bunch of code from years back to run it.
Manfrotto Magic Arm
Indispensable for holding cameras and other things that need to sit at odd angles.
It's about the length of your arm, and
articulated much the same way, with a ball
joint at shoulder and wrist and a hinge at the
elbow. Move and point it as you like,
then a quarter turn of a handle locks it in
place. Mounts conveniently via a 1/4"-20
screw to the breadboard. A big favourite at
Manfrotto 035 Super Clamp
For attaching the arm to places that don't have
tapped holes handy. Especially
good for holding on to Unistrut and other
Some dozens of Newport, Melles Griot, Klinger, Thor Labs, and
Mirror mounts, tilt stages, 1-, 2-, and 3-axis
translation stages, damped posts,
prism tables, lab jacks, fibre positioners, and
so on. All the stuff an optics
lab needs to allow bolting optical systems
Microbench (Spindler & Hoyer aka Linos aka
Qioptiq) is an optical Meccano set
based on mounts threaded on four 6-mm
centreless-ground stainless rods. Good for
more alignment-sensitive jobs, but more prone to
etalon fringe problems than random
One of these times I'll declare it to be Fixit Week and get these guys back in
harness where they belong.Hewlett Packard HP 200CD Wide Range
Just because. The original HP 200A was HP's
first product, and this is a lineal descendent.
Wien bridge, tubes, and a light bulb for
automatic level control. It was the last tube product in the HP
Hewlett-Packard 3400A True RMS AC voltmeter #2
An early model that reads about 2.5 dB low,
probably due to a dead emitter bypass cap someplace. Hewlett-Packard 3456A 6.5 digit DMM #2 Hewlett-Packard 8013B pulser Tektronix P6201 FET probe #5 Tektronix 466 Analog Storage Scope Boonton 93A True RMS Voltmeter
(1 mV-300 V)
The Boonton is a bit of an
experiment—it's a lot like an HP 3400A, but with a bandwidth
of 20 MHz.
Like the 3400A, its maximum range is
300 V, which is a fair amount higher than any other
RF thing I have. Boonton's
capacitance meters are amazing, but this particular unit
reads about 4 dB low.
(Roughly in priority
Printed Circuit Board Equipment
PCB Reflow Oven
Since EOI now has a full time PC board designer, we're building more
prototype boards, so it would be useful to
have a proper reflow oven.
HP 70000 Series Modules 70001A Mainframe 70800A 0.5m MSIB cable to connect the 70001A to my 70004A display 70900A/B Local Oscillator 70902A IF Section 10 Hz → 300 kHz 70903A IF Section 100 kHz → 3 MHz 709310A Precison Frequency Reference 70910A RF Section 100 Hz → 26.5 GHz or 70905A RF Section 50 kHz → 22 GHz 70300A Tracking Generator 20 Hz → 2.9 GHz 70301A Tracking Generator 2.7 GHz → 18 GHz
HP 89441A Vector Signal Analyzer
Like a dynamic signal analyzer, but
good up to 2.6 GHz, or DC-10 MHz in one band.
The 35665A is great, but only goes up to 102.4 kHz.
Agilent E4406 Vector Signal Analyzer
A more modern version of the 89441A, used for
testing 3G cell phones (which is why they're now
pretty affordable used). Needs Option B7C to get the baseband input.
HP 85024A FET Probe
This is an AC-coupled, 300 kHz -
3 GHz high-Z probe specifically designed for spectrum analyzer
It has low noise and low
distortion, and (most important) no DC output, so it won't blow up
your spectrum analyzer's input mixer.
Physical Measurement Equipment
Taylor-Wharton LD25 25-litre nitrogen
D050-8C00 transfer tube
R018-8C00 roller base
For noise temperature measurements in
ultrasensitive front ends, and for
extracting the junction parameters of
metal-insulator-metal (MIM) tunnel junctions
(It looks like I'll be revisiting that work in
the near future.)
1064-nm Nonplanar Ring Oscillator
(NPRO) Nd:YAG laser 1319-nm Nonplanar Ring Oscillator (NPRO) Nd:YAG laser
Single frequency YAGs are beautiful devices. I
do a fair amount of stuff in the NIR
and SWIR, so having a selection of IR lasers is
I have a JDSU NPRO 126N-1064 700 mW
unit, which is a thing of great beauty, but it belongs to a client.
Some low-chirp telecom lasers
For locking to etalons
Astrovid Stellacam III TE-Cooled CCD
(Rebadged Watec 120+ with a cooling system
bolted on by CosmoLogic) plus a
telecentric C-mount lens for video microscopy
Primarily for advanced amateur
astronomy, but a sweet solution for high
sensitivity imaging in a lab setting
too. Not the absolute lowest dark count rate
available, but excellent bang for
The lab is somewhat weaker in fibre devices
than in free-space optics, which should be fixed
40 Gb/s Telecom Modulators, e.g. Avanex SD-40
Zero-chirp longitudinal Pockels cells—very
quick, and easy to drive
Diode Laser Launchers
50:50 and 90:10
850 nm, 1064 nm, and 1550 nm
Oscilloscopes and Accessories
I have 8 scopes all to myself as it is, but
you really can never have too many.
4-Channel 1 GHz Digital Scope,
16 Channel Logic Analyzer
6 GHz Spectrum Analyzer
For when my ship comes in. The spectrum
analyzer's phase noise is no match for better-grade
standalone units such as my HP 8566B, but
the mixed-domain capability is entirely unique.
I'm also a fan of the new Agilent 2000 and 3000
series Infiniium scopes,
especially on account of their writing speed (1
M traces/s) and their very
responsive user interface, but the three-domain
capability gives the Tek the
edge for electrooptical work.
Tektronix 11800 Series Sampling Heads
Another SD-20 Loop-through sampling
head SD-32 50 GHz sampling
To match the SD-48 30-GHz O-E converter
A couple of 012-1220-00
1-m Sampling Head Extenders for benchtop use
Counters and Spectrum Analyzers
EIP 578 Source Locking Microwave Counter Turns the HP 8620C sweepers into synthesized
generators. In that mode,
their phase noise is still horrible, but their
centre frequency accuracy is very good.
Kepco BOP 72-6M Operational Power
Supply, ±72 V, ±6 A
Mostly for fast temperature control and motion
RF Gear, Analyzers, and Filters
Hewlett-Packard 3577B 200 MHz
Vector Network Analyzer
HP 35677A/B S-Parameter Test Set
HP 35676A/B Reflection/Transmission
Hewlett-Packard 8752C Opt 006 6 GHz Vector network analyzer
Option 004: 70 dB step
HP 85032B Cal Kit
Hewlett-Packard 8753C Opt 006 6 GHz Vector network
HP 85047A S-Parameter Test Set and
Hewlett-Packard 4470A transistor noise tester
Apparently these have all disappeared, so I'll probably have to build
Krohn-Hite Plug-Ins for 3905B
Models 30A, 31A
Hewlett-Packard 8444A Opt 59 Tracking Generator for 8568B
The 8566 and 8568 have a slightly screwy
frequency plan, so the tracking generator
isn't exactly locked to the LO, but it's a lot
better than nothing.
Another 7-foot EIA rack to hold all this extra stuff!
hobbs @ electrooptical.net
Send me an email and let's discuss your application.
Comments, corrections, suggestions, or questions are also
Innovations LLC, 160 North State Road, Suite 203, Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510