I just bought a really nice HP 8560E spectrum analyzer from eBay seller testcalinstruments. It has been refurbished and calibrated, and I’m really happy with it! I encountered another user over at the EEVBlog Forum who is also considering buying an 8560E series rig from testcalinstruments, and he asked me to share some pictures of my new 8560E.
It has a bit of trail wear, as you would expect for an instrument of this one’s age. But it works very nicely! I get spoiled by the test equipment I have access to at work, but this one is just new enough that it doesn’t feel clunky, and I was able to use it effectively immediately. There are probably cheaper deals to be found, especially if you are interested in getting a fixer-upper. And of course, HP service manuals are not hard to come by, especially compared to other brands of otherwise excellent test equipment, making them a bit safer for a hobbyist who may need to perform their own repairs. But I didn’t want a fixer-upper just now; I have plenty of other projects that are more important to me, so I opted to spend a bit more on a calibrated unit.
I considered getting a unit with a tracking generator, but in the end I decided to save some money by not getting that option. I think I’ll want a proper vector network analyzer one of these days, and I can sweep filters (with a bit more effort) with my Mini-Circuits USB-interfaced RF power detector and my HPIB-controlled HP 8648A signal generator.
I also considered getting a brand new Rigol DSA815-TG. I still think those are a good deal, but I wanted 2.4 GHz band coverage, and the Rigol units which cover that band are quite a bit more expensive.