As the pace of technology charges blindly forward, a lot of older tools or products get left in the dust, forgotten to most but those left with them. This doesn’t mean they’re useless, though. In fact, old technology that continues to survive in the present tends to be more robust and sturdy than most modern, cheap replacements. While this might be survivorship bias, this is certainly true in particular of oscilloscopes. Rugged CRTs in large metal housings with discrete through-hole components in simple layouts made them reliable, but they’re heavy, bulky, and lack features of modern instruments. With some modifications, though, you can give them a new home and keep their vintage aesthetic.
[BuildComics] had just such an oscilloscope on hand and set out to make it into something useful but aesthetically pleasing as well. With a small circuit board, formerly available as a kit from Sparkfun/Dutchtronix but now only available if you can build them yourself, the cathode ray tube can be modified to output not waveforms but rather a working clock face. The donor oscilloscope was a Heathkit IO-102 which was fine for its time but is now lacking, so the CRT was removed from its housing and placed in a custom-built enclosure with a 40s radio style that suits its new purpose well.
Seeing old hardware that is past its prime being put to work in a new way is great, both from a technical standpoint and also because that’s usable hardware that’s being kept out of the landfill. Oscilloscopes are popular for projects like these too since they are relatively easy to understand and modify. Besides being used as clocks, we’ve also seen them modified to play video games such as Pac-Man.
11 thoughts on “Antique Oscilloscope Gets New Home And Purpose”
Love the mantle clock enclosure!
This could have been a really good project but you forgot to stick an Arduino in it.
If you watch the hour hand closely for while, you get a nice tan too!
Nice build :)
Quite a deep one as the x-rays tunnel their way through the epidermis. https://physics.nist.gov/PhysRefData/XrayMassCoef/ComTab/tissue.html
Nah, the acceleration voltage of these tubes is way to low to generate any kind of x-rays
Looks great! I’m a little worried about burn-in of the numbers and tick marks though. But this is probably it’s last application, so maybe not a big deal.
If it gets really bad it might be a cool effect :))
Nuts & Volts had an article or two about doing this and they have a kit for sale in their store for plugging an Arduino Teensy into an O’Scope’s X+Y inputs. But personally I’m going to preserve my analog O’Scope as long as I can. Due to the continuous analog operation it can show things that would slip between the sampling windows of a digital scope.
If its allowed here’s the links:
It’s kinda sad you didn’t mention the way the log was written. It’s really worth the read.
Just stumbled upon this on Aliexpress…
and thought it might interest those who want one as a kit
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