Recently I acquired a rather nice Rediffusion Mk1 CU2213 and also already have a Philips 210, an Alba 2319 (Thorn 8500) not to mention a Pye TT1 all of which happen to be (mostly) transistor sets, some working and some requiring repair.
The thought occurred to me that the one thing lacking from my motley collection of test gear, should it be needed, is a transistor tester. Yes I know I could always go through the routine with my multimeter but I would rather have something designed for the job.
So my question is.... What would you guys and gal recommend for the job and where to acquire it but unfortunately on a very tight budget ?
I spent wasted a lot of time on getting to the right tester so can understand your query. I was saved from further grief by a kind forum member and from that day have never looked back.
I have three transistor testers, B&K, Hansen and the one I'm going to recommend. The other two led me up the garden path more times than I care to say. The Peak Atlas DCA55 is however the "AVO" of semiconductor testers. When it comes to obtaining data from the DUT then presenting it to you, the Peak is second to none and does the job via its scrollable display read-out. It also tests a variety of components that the others just cannot.
Next to my trusty Fluke DMM it is the most frequently used piece of test equipment getting used on every single repair job. In my opinion it's the only one worth its salt, anything else and you're wasting your time and money. I plan to save up for the LCR40 unit, the Peak range are not cheap but you can waste an awful lot of money buying inferior products, when you should just bit the bullet and go Peak.
Another firm endorsement for the whole Peak range here - I have four of the little beasties! (DCA55, SCR100, LCR40, ESR70).
One prospective usage will be a brace of Armstrong 520-series amplifiers I have in for modification as they have the expensive and not-too-reliable AL102 output transistors in them. So it'll be worth looking at the removed devices as they get replaced by MJ2955s!
For LCR measurements I also have a Wayne Kerr bridge, but desperately need a Kelvin adaptor for it to increase its usefulness. The Peak is as easy to use as the Wayne Kerr but is portable - and the ESR70 has dug me out of holes with SMPSUs a *lot* of times. And it is a *lot* easier to use than my Marconi TF2700!
Which reminds me - the LCR needs to go back for calibration and a firmware update...
I built a home made transistor tester in the 1970s and it is still used. It was built from a home made design with the intention of plotting curves as seen on a curve tracer so it has an IC range selector and facility to add an external power supply for more ranges. It is fiddly to use and one of those small testers is very tempting but I will miss out on the extra function I have been spoiled with over the years.
We used to have a Telequipment CT71 at my old place of work years ago. I expect it went the way of much of the older test kit, like the Kalee wow and flutter meter and the old HP spectrum analyser that pretty much covered the audio range - the skip
If your budget is really tight there is this one with its many variants. http://www.banggood.com/buy/transistor-tester-kit.html. They also measure L, C, R & ESR as well as transistors. I built the non-graphic one some time ago (£7.97, there wasn't the choice then) and have found it quite useful.
I don't know which version of the firmware is supplied now, mine was 1.05k which I updated to 1.12k. (The software is free and a suitable programmer is less than £1.50 on ebay.)
Power germanium devices with high Icbo can confuse it but it works well other than that.
I have a peak. It's an excellent instrument, although recently, it has failed to fail(?) two transistors which turned out to be defective. I can't blame it though, the transistors only seemed faulty when in use. They measured fine on my fluke too! It's the only time it's let me down in that last 6 years or so I've had it.
+1 for the Peak. Never had a problem with any of their gear, and it's nice to support companies like that where we can. I have yet to buy one of the cheap ones to see how they compare, but it's on the list...
Of course, there are some faults that regular transistor testers won't find - those darn Lockfits with excess noise, for example. One day I'll build some sort of test jig that biases up the transistor in a simple CE amplifier configuration and feeds the output into an audio noise measurement test set. One day...
It'll be interesting to see what the DCA75 can do - I've just bought one
Regarding noisy transistors, I once helped a former member fix a BRC record player that used Mazda AC156s in the front end. The thing sounded like an old FM radio off-station! One change of resistor though and a BC557 went in its place. Result = peace.
Indeed, a simple AC-coupled single transistor amplifier of "Evesham" design should do the trick for noise measurements.