[time-nuts] old freq standards

Marco Bruno IK1ODO at spin-it.com
Sat Oct 15 07:53:11 EDT 2005

At 12.59 15/10/2005, you wrote:
>Symmetricom purchased (exactly) two products from Agilent:  the 
>5071A cesium beam frequency standard and the 5087B distribution 
>amplifier.  They have not announced discontinuation or 
>discontinuation of support of either of them.
>As to the larger question of providing support for obsolete 
>products, keep in mind that obsoletion of components is the 
>principal reason that products go obsolete.  These days, in the 
>commercial electronics industry, typical product cycle lifetimes are 
>1-2 years.  The component manufacturers cater to these high-volume 
>applications, not to the low-volume long-life frequency standard 
>industry.  Hobbyists may be able to keep things going for a few 
>years by scavenging components but probably not with the same level 
>of performance and reliability one expects from manufacturer service.
>Try getting a 5-year-old DVD player repaired before you start 
>demanding support on a 35-year-old mercury ioin standard that never 
>made it into production.
>Note that I do not speak for Symmetricom management, nor am I privy 
>to any future plans for product obsolesence.
>As TVB points out, that rack of Mg+ electronics was probably for a 
>prototype.  Eventually, about a half-dozen pre-production units were 
>built at HP, about the size of a 5061.  Most of them ended up at 
>USNO.  If one of those ever shows up on Ebay, it might be worth the 
>trouble to try and get it working, but only if it comes with manuals 
>and schematics.  The biggest issue will be the vacuum integrity of 
>the physics package.  If it's lost vacuum or the ion pump won't 
>fire, you're probably dead in the water.

Thanks Robert and TVB for the info on the Hg+ standard. I was not 
planning anything about it... just looking at the strange beast. And 
I was not aware of the HP research on this type of standard.

About obsolescence, I agree totally. My job is buying, repairing and 
selling second hand test equipment; the search for obsolete 
components is an every-day matter. Every day worse, of course.

Marco IK1ODO

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