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Ic tester recommendations from users

Hugo Holden

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Dec 23, 2015
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I have never owned an IC tester. Specifically the types of IC's in my vintage computers I tinker with are 74 series TTL types, but there others, cmos etc and of course various types of memory IC's. Normally I test the IC's in their actual circuit with the scope. But, still, I was thinking of getting an IC tester to add to my assortment of lab equipment.

It seems there is a plethora of different testers out there, including home projects based on Arduinos and various PIC's, to stand alone units. Yet others which require use with a computer and run a software package and link to the computer with a usb cable.

And on top of this, the price range is very interesting, for example, this Leaper unit which tests 74 series and 4000 series cmos, it is a stand alone unit but it is over $800 AU, which seems a lot for a small unit, & I don't know if it can do any memory IC's.

I wonder why the Leaper unit is so costly, is there something very special about its design or construction that I'm overlooking, making its price in fact reasonable ?

http://www.farnell.com/datasheets/1816934.pdf

https://au.element14.com/leap-electr...SMART-SHOPPING

Are there any recommendations for stand alone IC tester units, that users on this forum have been happy with and regard as a good value workshop asset ?
 

TheDrip

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May 13, 2019
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San Diego CA
What do you own for an prom/eprom/eeprom burner? The TL866 and G540, both low cost Chinese burners, come with chip testing capabilities.

If you have one already, you probably don't need to get a dedicated tester.
 

Chuck(G)

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My Xeltek Superpro programmer certainly has that capability--and even has a feature to identify an unknown TTL chip. Worked wonders on some Fujitsu house-numbered chips I had around. Sadly, what with flash and JTAG, I scarcely haul the old thing out anymore.
 

Hugo Holden

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What do you own for an prom/eprom/eeprom burner? The TL866 and G540, both low cost Chinese burners, come with chip testing capabilities.

If you have one already, you probably don't need to get a dedicated tester.

In the way of programmers/burners, I have only two: the BP-1400 and the GQ-4x.
 

Hugo Holden

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euro22

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Jan 15, 2020
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I bought the first version with switches in the middle of last year and it was quite good.
Earlier this year I bought the above version and it's really incredibly good.
I can only recommend this one. There is practically no memory IC that cannot be tested.
ROMs, EPROMs etc. (including the old bipolar ROMs) can be dumped in sd card.
Almost 1000(!) logic ICs can now be tested (more than with any other tester).

The manual and lists of supported ICs can be downloaded from the website.
The documents that you get are very extensive: detailed BOM (with possible replacement types and shopping carts for various distributors).
Further IC definitions and lists to expand the tester via the memory card and much more.
 

euro22

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Damn, you are right, ECL is not possible and I have not read anything about DTL and RTL.
 

Chuck(G)

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DTL is level-compatible with TTL, so that would probably work, if the database was updated. RTL, maybe. ECL, not so much--almost certainly not HTL (logic 1 = 7.5V; Vcc = 15V).
 

euro22

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The Mullard databook says for a FCH181 (DTL):
Supply voltage: min. 5.7v, nom. 6v, max. 6.3v
voltage for High input, min 2.3v for s.n.i. 0, 3.9v for s.n.i. 1.6v
This may work with 5v.

For RTL I checked the K modules from DEC.
The voltage level might be fine but an login H input requires >30mA. I doubt that this can be delivered.
 

Chuck(G)

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In the 70s, you'd see DTL mixed with TTL. Consider, for example, the HP 7970 tape drive. There are certain things that DTL was better suited to than TTL.
Back in the day, Motorola had a hobbyists' program called HEP. One of the things they sold was a kit of miliwatt RL ICs (TO-99 cans). in a bubble card. The interesting thing about RTL is that it can easily be used in analog applications; the transistors tend to be better matched than discretes.
 
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gekaufman

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Jul 31, 2014
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New Hampshire, USA
I suspect folks needing to test ECL ram is a very very small group, perhaps {Chuck(G)} :)

BTW, if you just need to quickly test TTL or CMOS parts, the inexpensive IC testers from China like this one work surprisingly well, for < $30. It is also is surprisingly quick at identifying parts. I use mine all the time before tossing newly purchased (or recycled) parts back in the stock bins.
IC Tester.jpg
 

euro22

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I have a collection of these testers from China. The cheap ones can only test a handful standard ICs. When you want to test some more exotic ICs these testers fail. In my opinion the testers from China are too expensive for what they can test (some are abandoned open source projects).
When you want to test more ICs you have options like the ABI chipmaster for approx. 500 GBP. A friend of mine uses one and he says that you cannot trust this tester. When he was visiting me he checked mine from the 8bit-museum.de with a few ICs and was impressed. So he bought this tester a few days ago and is currently waiting for the components. He has a really huge collection of ICs, so I am looking forward to his judgment.
 

gekaufman

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Jul 31, 2014
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New Hampshire, USA
No argument that the Retro Chip Tester (8bit-museum.de) is a far better tester - I liked it so much I've built up two of them (I used a VFD display on the second) as well as many of Stephan's adapters for more obscure IC's. The unit, manual, support and firmware are all absolutely wonderful.

I still do make use of the inexpensive Chinese tester I pictured - it is helpful, and very quick when you have a batch of mixed IC's to test.
 

euro22

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Today I got a beta firmware. It supports over 980 logic ICs now. :)
Now I can also test my TIL311 displays.
 

euro22

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No argument that the Retro Chip Tester (8bit-museum.de) is a far better tester - I liked it so much I've built up two of them (I used a VFD display on the second) as well as many of Stephan's adapters for more obscure IC's. The unit, manual, support and firmware are all absolutely wonderful.

I still do make use of the inexpensive Chinese tester I pictured - it is helpful, and very quick when you have a batch of mixed IC's to test.

There is a new update available for the RCT. Have you already installed it?
 

gekaufman

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I installed V.18 last Tuesday. The new update adds some very useful types including (as you point out) the TIL311 display as used in the 1802 ELF and the 8T26 as used in may OSI systems.

The tests for the obscure displays TIL306 and TIL308 weren't working and I corresponded with Stephan who sent a revised version in just a few hours that work perfectly!
 
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