IC testers to see if vintage chip is good or bad

Semiconductor test equipment (IC tester), or automated test equipment (ATE), is a system for giving electrical signals to a semiconductor device to compare output signals against expected values for the purpose of testing if the device works as specified in its design specifications.

IC Testers are devices which are used to test Integrated Circuits by sending in Pulses as per their Truth Table. Generally, IC number is fed into IC Tester and a comparison test is made against that particular IC’s Logic Table.

If you have many old logic ICs that you are not sure if they work (either on your misc ICs from old equipment bin or inside old device that does not work), IC testers can be useful tool. Keeping old computers and other electronics running can sometimes be a difficult task due to the fact old chips fail. Having something that can quickly test the myriad of chips if they are OK or NOT, can be really helpful in keeping these machines alive.

IC Testers used to costly special instrumentation devices that are certainly not a mandatory addition for your collection of test and measurement-equipment. But nowadays there are also cheap alternatives at electronics experimenter price range (starting from tens of euros/dollars).

Keeping old computers running can sometimes be a difficult task due to the fact old chips fail. Having something that can quickly test the myriad of chips on in these old computers would be really helpful in keeping these machines alive. Many IC tester device promises to do just that, watch to find out if it delivers.

I some time ago thought I might needs one IC tester, but finally decided that at the moment I don’t need it so much that I would buy one now. So I have just read the product pages and reviews to write this article, and I have not personally tested any of those products.

Here is the overview of IC testers currently on the market I have found:

Unbranded IC-Tester from eBay

The multi-function integrated circuit tester is a professional instrument designed for the first-line microelectronic engineering staff , maintenance staff . Different test mode can be selected 5v mode , 3.3v mode , AUTO mode can test 74HC series 74LS series , CD4000 series , HEF400 Series , 4500 Series , operational amplifiers, interface class chip , optocoupler transistor automatic identification regulator regulator value recognition , and so on . Built-in 13 kinds of various types of chip data model , the transistor data model more than 420 kinds , covering a majority of 24 feet or less common universal device , can significantly reduce the workload and improve work efficiency

This Device Checks Everything! Review of mega functional “IC TESTER”.

An IC-Tester from EBay

IC Tester (eBay Generic/Unbranded) Review & Exploration

This product and similar are available from various sources with different names:
Digital Integrated Circuit Tester Portable IC Tester LED Transistor Online Maintenance – 3 test sockets (Banggood)


1PCS Integrated circuit tester ic tester transistor + 3 gold-plated patches
(Ebay)

Digital IC Tester Detect IC Tester Meter Maintenance Transistor Tester MOS PNP (Ebay)

Digital Integrated Circuit Tester Portable IC Tester LED Transistor Online Maintenance – Host (Banggood)

TES200 Integrated Circuit Tester

TES200 Digital IC Chip Tester is a digital integrated circuit chip tester checker with LCD screen, and mainly used to test 74 series and 40 series IC chips. The specifications promise that you can test more than 200 kinds of chips.

The description says it is easy to use, just select the chip type and press test. Only by pressing four buttons, user can get the testing results in LCD screen easily. It’s LCD screen with back light can show IC models and testing results clearly. Its power supply is 7-12V wide range.

IC Tester Checker Kit Integrated Circuit Chip Tester

#152 TES200 IC-Tester 40xx 45xx 74xxx Hands on Test

Links to buy:


Digital Integrated Tester Integrated Circuit Tester IC 74 Series & 40 Series
(Ebay)

TES200 Integrated Circuit Tester 74 40 Series IC Tester Test Logic Integration can Judge The Quality of Logic Gates (Amazon)

New Version of The IC Tester IC Tester 74/40 Series (Ebay)

IC Tester 74 40 45 Series lC Logic Gate Tester Digital led Meter (Ebay)

TES210 USB tester

Digital Integrated Circuit IC Tester IC Logic Checker for 74 40 Series

https://www.hicomponent.com/advanced-digital-integrated-circuit-tester-ic-logic-tester-for-74-40-series-ic.html

TES210 IC Tester is a digital integrated circuit chip tester checker module. It is designed to test 74 series and 40 series digital integrated circuit IC. It can test is up to 200 different IC models.

That IC tester module can check the logical gates in IC are working normally or not. The testing operation is handled through related software and PC. It has USB port for the IC testing operation. The controlling is done with PC software and results can be seen on PC screen. The module is powered with 5V from USB port.

Reviews:
https://www.banggood.com/TES210-NEW-Integrated-Circuit-Tester-74-40-Series-IC-Analog-Chip-reviews-p1817180.html
Comparison between TES210 & TES200 Digital IC Tester
https://www.brightwinelectronics.com/tes210-and-tes200-digital-ic-tester-module.html

Where to buy:

TES210 NEW Integrated Circuit Tester 74 40 Series IC Analog Chip (Banggood)

TES210 banggood Chip Module Board from Electronic Components & Supplies on banggood (Banggood)

Digital Integrated Circuit IC Tester IC Logic Checker for 74 40 Series (HiComponent)

USB Port IC Logic Checker Digital IC Tester 74 40 Series Chip Meter Module (Ebay)

Original TES210 Integrated Circuit Logic Checker Digital IC Tester 40 74 Series Testing Meter Module USB Port PC Software (AliExpress)

BackBit Chip Tester Pro

BackBit Chip Tester Pro is a tool designed to help vintage computer diagnosis and repair. Tired of playing a guessing game with swapping chips? Don’t want to risk putting bad chips in a good machine (and vice versa)? Want to do as little desoldering as possible? Then the BackBit Chip Tester claimed to be your solution.

It definitely has a unique twist to it that makes it stand out for vintage computer repair applications. It’s particularly aimed at Commodore enthusiasts, but it goes much beyond that.

Is This The Retro Chip Tester For You?

Reviews:

CHIP TESTER KNOWS IF YOUR OLD CHIPS ARE WORKING
https://hackaday.com/2021/10/23/chip-tester-knows-if-your-old-chips-are-working/

Buy:
BackBit Chip Tester Pro

Retro Chip Tester Professional

Retro Chip Tester Professional 1.2h by Stephan Slabihoud/8Bit-Museum.de

This has claimed to be the ultimate DIY retro chip tester aimed in helping to keep keeping old computers. Having something that can quickly test the myriad of chips on in these old computers would be really helpful. This device promises to do just that, watch the following to find out if it delivers.

The Retro Chip Tester Pro does it all

This video shows the initial impressions of a quite low-priced IC Tester that I bought on eBay. The tester is supposed to identify and evaluate logic ICs in the 7400 series, 4000 series, 4500/14500 series, plus Op-Amps, bipolar and MOS transistors, Zener diodes, opto-couplers, small SCRs, and a few other parts.

To get Retro Chip Tester Professional you can buy the boards from the creator directly http://8bit-museum.de/rct

0014 It’ll be a lot of work, but it’ll be worth it! video shows how to build that tester

Other

UNIVERSAL CHIP ANALYZER: TEST OLD CPUS IN SECONDS
https://hackaday.com/2018/04/11/universal-chip-analyzer/

DIY plans

Here are also DIY plans for IC testers. Here are links to some promising looking projects:

Integrated Circuit Tester & Exploratory Tool
Interactive tester and exploratory tool for logic chips
https://hackaday.io/project/169707-integrated-circuit-tester-exploratory-tool

https://hackaday.com/tag/ic-tester/

https://hackaday.com/2018/02/15/building-an-arduino-smart-ic-tester-for-25/

https://www.instructables.com/Smart-IC-Tester/

Smart IC Tester

5 Comments

  1. Markus says:

    In the RCT section you wrote “The biggest problem was hat documentation was poor. ”
    The RCT has the best documentation of all projects I have ever seen. Check yourself. You can download teh manual from their homepage, it is 200 pages big and 60 more pages about the BOM etc.

    Reply
  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Why are curve tracers still so expensive? I respect the big old Tek instruments, but with a µP and small monochrome touchscreen it should be simple to get most of the same functionality without much hardware. A small Variac, tapped power transformer, simple V/I converter for base drive, a few rotary switches and resistors…

    Heathkit, Leader & Sencore boxes are expensive (if you can find one) for what they are, limited V & I ranges and need XY oscilloscope for display.
    I see https://www.instructables.com/Transistor-Curve-Tracer/ Is something like that (ideally with more power) available commercially?

    Reply
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