RF Cafe began life in 1996 as "RF Tools" in an AOL screen name web space totaling
2 MB. Its primary purpose was to provide me with ready access to commonly needed
formulas and reference material while performing my work as an RF system and circuit
design engineer. The World Wide Web (Internet) was largely an unknown entity at
the time and bandwidth was a scarce commodity. Dial-up modems blazed along at 14.4 kbps
while typing up your telephone line, and a nice lady's voice announced "You've Got
Mail" when a new message arrived...
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and text used on the RF Cafe website are hereby acknowledged.
This rare HP 5212A Electronic Counter was found in a second-hand shop sitting
in with a bunch of random electronic gear. The "HP" on the front panel piqued my
attention, so I carried it to the sales desk and asked the nice lady to plug it
in, figuring if the front panel lit up and none of the smoke that makes electronics
work leaked out, I'd buy it. It did, it didn't, and I did, respectively. The outside
condition is pretty good, with most of the scratches being on the top and bottom.
Some oxidation is present on the bare aluminum chassis components, but a little
rubbing with a
Scotch−Brite pad and some clear lacquer would take care of that. You can
order matching paint from numerous suppliers if you want to completely restore the
top and bottom covers. The front panel is in very nice condition and really does
not need rework. It could easily be restored to museum quality.
If you are a vintage test equipment collector, you are welcome to purchase
this HP5212A for a mere $350, and that includes packing and shipping to anywhere
in the lower 48 states.
The HP 5212A Electronic Counter uses all solid state circuitry - probably
one of the first such products from Hewlett-Packard. Its vintage is sometime in
the mid 1960's. According to documentation* found on the
HPArchive.com website, the maximum calibrated
operational frequency is 300 kHz, although my tests show it works up to 550 kHz
with sine, square, and triangle waveforms. Both frequency and period can be measured,
and there is a cycle counter as well, all of which appear to function properly.
The internal reference oscillator was used in my tests, but there is a jack and
switch on the rear panel for using an external reference if available. A parallel
port plotter / recorder connector is provided on the rear panel, but I did not test
I removed the top, bottom , and side covers and carefully removed all the plug-in
printed circuit boards for cleaning. The covers, frame, and front and rear panels
were cleaned with Windex. A vacuum cleaner and compressed air got rid of most of
the accumulated internal dust (of which there was amazingly very little).
CRC QD Electronic Cleaner was sprayed on all the PCB edge contacts and the chassis
connectors, and then the PCBs were re-installed. CRC cleaner was also used on the
switch contacts and on the external connectors. A careful "sniff test" did not reveal
any suspected overheated components. Both fuses were in good condition.
At first I started taking a bunch of photos with a signal generator sitting on
top of the HP 5212A Electronic Counter to show good agreement between the modern
instrument and the vintage instrument, but then decided that a short video would
do a better job.
I have finally listed the
HP 5212 Electronic Counter for sale on eBay. Please contact me if you would
like to buy it. An extensive search has turned up zero instances of this piece anywhere,
so it is likely extremely rare, and therefore valuable to a collector - especially
for one in what seems to be excellent working order.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then there are more than 30,000 words
worth of descriptions on this page. Enjoy.