Forum Rules and Etiquette

Our mission ...

This forum is part of our mission to promote the preservation of vintage computers through education and outreach. (In real life we also run events and have a museum.) We encourage you to join us, participate, share your knowledge, and enjoy.

This forum has been around in this format for over 15 years. These rules and guidelines help us maintain a healthy and active community, and we moderate the forum to keep things on track. Please familiarize yourself with these rules and guidelines.

Rule 1: Remain civil and respectful

There are several hundred people who actively participate here. People come from all different backgrounds and will have different ways of seeing things. You will not agree with everything you read here. Back-and-forth discussions are fine but do not cross the line into rude or disrespectful behavior.

Conduct yourself as you would at any other place where people come together in person to discuss their hobby. If you wouldn't say something to somebody in person, then you probably should not be writing it here.

This should be obvious but, just in case: profanity, threats, slurs against any group (sexual, racial, gender, etc.) will not be tolerated.

Rule 2: Stay close to the original topic being discussed
  • If you are starting a new thread choose a reasonable sub-forum to start your thread. (If you choose incorrectly don't worry, we can fix that.)
  • If you are responding to a thread, stay on topic - the original poster was trying to achieve something. You can always start a new thread instead of potentially "hijacking" an existing thread.

Rule 3: Contribute something meaningful

To put things in engineering terms, we value a high signal to noise ratio. Coming here should not be a waste of time.
  • This is not a chat room. If you are taking less than 30 seconds to make a post then you are probably doing something wrong. A post should be on topic, clear, and contribute something meaningful to the discussion. If people read your posts and feel that their time as been wasted, they will stop reading your posts. Worse yet, they will stop visiting and we'll lose their experience and contributions.
  • Do not bump threads.
  • Do not "necro-post" unless you are following up to a specific person on a specific thread. And even then, that person may have moved on. Just start a new thread for your related topic.
  • Use the Private Message system for posts that are targeted at a specific person.

Rule 4: "PM Sent!" messages (or, how to use the Private Message system)

This forum has a private message feature that we want people to use for messages that are not of general interest to other members.

In short, if you are going to reply to a thread and that reply is targeted to a specific individual and not of interest to anybody else (either now or in the future) then send a private message instead.

Here are some obvious examples of when you should not reply to a thread and use the PM system instead:
  • "PM Sent!": Do not tell the rest of us that you sent a PM ... the forum software will tell the other person that they have a PM waiting.
  • "How much is shipping to ....": This is a very specific and directed question that is not of interest to anybody else.

Why do we have this policy? Sending a "PM Sent!" type message basically wastes everybody else's time by making them having to scroll past a post in a thread that looks to be updated, when the update is not meaningful. And the person you are sending the PM to will be notified by the forum software that they have a message waiting for them. Look up at the top near the right edge where it says 'Notifications' ... if you have a PM waiting, it will tell you there.

Rule 5: Copyright and other legal issues

We are here to discuss vintage computing, so discussing software, books, and other intellectual property that is on-topic is fine. We don't want people using these forums to discuss or enable copyright violations or other things that are against the law; whether you agree with the law or not is irrelevant. Do not use our resources for something that is legally or morally questionable.

Our discussions here generally fall under "fair use." Telling people how to pirate a software title is an example of something that is not allowable here.

Reporting problematic posts

If you see spam, a wildly off-topic post, or something abusive or illegal please report the thread by clicking on the "Report Post" icon. (It looks like an exclamation point in a triangle and it is available under every post.) This send a notification to all of the moderators, so somebody will see it and deal with it.

If you are unsure you may consider sending a private message to a moderator instead.

New user moderation

New users are directly moderated so that we can weed spammers out early. This means that for your first 10 posts you will have some delay before they are seen. We understand this can be disruptive to the flow of conversation and we try to keep up with our new user moderation duties to avoid undue inconvenience. Please do not make duplicate posts, extra posts to bump your post count, or ask the moderators to expedite this process; 10 moderated posts will go by quickly.

New users also have a smaller personal message inbox limit and are rate limited when sending PMs to other users.

Other suggestions
  • Use Google, books, or other definitive sources. There is a lot of information out there.
  • Don't make people guess at what you are trying to say; we are not mind readers. Be clear and concise.
  • Spelling and grammar are not rated, but they do make a post easier to read.
See more
See less

Ic tester recommendations from users

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    Ic tester recommendations from users

    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 ?

    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 ?

    Hugo -

    If you're up to some soldering, the Retro Chip Tester is tremendous, and will test a very wide range of TTL, CMOS, Memory etc. The seller is very helpful, the unit is well designed and the assembly instructions are first rate.

    - Gary


      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.


        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.
        Reach me: vcfblackhole _at_ protonmail dot com.


          Originally posted by TheDrip View Post
          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.


            Originally posted by gekaufman View Post
            Hugo -

            If you're up to some soldering, the Retro Chip Tester is tremendous, and will test a very wide range of TTL, CMOS, Memory etc. The seller is very helpful, the unit is well designed and the assembly instructions are first rate.


            - Gary
            Well, that looks really interesting, I will investigate that, Thanks.


              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.


                I've got a pile of ECL (including RAM) that should be tested. Can this thing handle that?
                Reach me: vcfblackhole _at_ protonmail dot com.


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


                    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).
                    Reach me: vcfblackhole _at_ protonmail dot com.


                      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.


                        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.
                        Last edited by Chuck(G); May 31, 2021, 08:52 AM.
                        Reach me: vcfblackhole _at_ protonmail dot com.


                          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


                            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 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.


                              No argument that the Retro Chip Tester ( 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.