A Brief Look Inside a Homebrew Digital Sampler from 1979

A Brief Look Inside a Homebrew Digital Sampler from 1979

While we generally prefer to bring our readers as much information about a project as possible, sometimes we just have to go with what we see. That generally happens with new projects and work in progress, but it can also happen with old projects. Sometimes very old indeed, as is the case with this digital sampling unit for analog oscilloscopes, circa 1979.

We’ve got precious little to go on with this one other than the bit of eye candy in the video tour below and its description. Luckily, we’ve had a few private conversations with its maker, [Mitsuru Yamada], over the years, enough to piece together a little of the back story here — with apologies for any wrong assumptions, of course.

Built when he was only 19, this sampler was an attempt to build something that couldn’t be bought, at least not for a reasonable price. With no inexpensive monolithic analog-to-digital converters on the market, he decided to roll his own. A few years back he recreated the core of that with his all-discrete successive approximation ADC.

The sampler shown below has an 8-bit SAR ADC using discrete CMOS logic and enough NMOS memory to store 256 samples. You can see the ADC and memory cards in the homebrew card cage made from aluminum angle stock. The front panel has a ton of controls and sports a wide-range attenuator, DC offset, and trigger circuit with both manual and automatic settings.

It’s an impressive build, especially for a 19-year-old with presumably limited resources. We’ve reached out to [Yamada-s ..

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