For decades, lab-grade test equipment came from either HP or Tektronix. There were other providers in niche areas (R&S, Anritsu, IFR, etc.), but nearly all lab-grade gear was too expensive for mere mortals. With few alternatives, hobbyists and small businesses scrounged eBay and corporate liquidations to find used gear from these manufacturers.
Times have changed and while those companies still make great test gear, the competition from China has steadily improved and in many (most?) cases, it makes more sense to buy new gear from a budget Chinese manufacturer than 20-40 year old big-name gear.
I’ve bought (and liked) products from Rigol and Owon, but my budget manufacturer of choice is, increasingly: Siglent. My recent purchases include:
- SDG2042X – 40MHz Arbitrary Waveform Generator hacked to SDG2122X (120MHz)
- SDS1104X-E – 100MHz oscilloscope hacked to SDS1204X-E (200MHz) w/options
- SLA1016 – Logic Probe for SDG1x04X-E
- SSA3021X+ – 2.1GHz spectrum analyzer hacked to SVA1032X (3.2GHz SA + VNA)
Siglent (like Rigol) sells gear that is easily hacked to add functionality including bumping a lower-end model up to a higher model in the same line. This is smart marketing: it lets them get higher prices from larger companies that won’t hack while still providing very attractive price points to hobby and small business users who couldn’t otherwise afford the higher models, but are willing to hack the lower models.
For the most part, I’m quite pleased. The Siglent gear always seems to meet or exceed its specifications and the specs are quite decent. There is a huge community supporting them in places like eevblog with in depth reviews of SDS1104X-E, step-by-step guides to hacking the SDS1104X-E as well as usage, repair, and enhancement tips.
I buy much of my new test gear from Saelig and TEquipment, both of which have provided excellent service and I recommend. If you’re thinking about buying new bench gear, you might give Siglent a look!