Panoramic Spectrum Display - Cheap solutions survey

During my radio monitoring activity I stumbled in a couple of topics that ignited desire for a new toy in the shack:
  1. monitoring frequency usage.
    This is the case whenever you need to:
  2. tuning of simple rf devices, such as filters for my receivers.
An interesting sales leaflet targeted to professionals is available from Tektronix to get the picture.

Some AOR receivers (SR2000, and the recently announced AR-Alpha) are now featuring the spectrum analysis feature. I didn't consider much this option on the basis of sheer prejudice. I'm under the (probably wrong) impression that the SR2000 may be an AR8600 and an SDU5600 put in the same box. If that is the case, I don't like much the idea in the same way I don't like a VCR (or DVD) and TV combo. Separate components can be upgraded separatley and better tuned to need/taste. Not to mention that in case of faults you loose two devices and not just one. List price for the SR2000 is around 2300.

PRICE is the most important, but several other factors will influence choosing the right instrument for you, given a pretty wide range of options.
My requirements:

From various readings I understand that prices for such instruments is now much lower than in the past when sticking to basic requirements. Nevertheless they don't come cheap at all and I decided to focus mostly on second hand gear, as extensive searches on the internet draw this picture (feb-mar '06):
approximated prices taken from eBay and several surplus/used equipment stores
test equipment second hand HP and Tektronix boat anchors from 900 600 field test
new Far-East made equipment, Atten in first place from 500
oscilloscope adaptersHomemade, such as the "Poor man's spectrum analyzer" 600 full options
commercial 500 used
personal computer adapterstest equipment, such as Velleman's 400 new
software defined radios 900 for top notch
TV level metersdesigned for testing and tuning of TV/sat aerials. Promax products quite common. 250/300 field test
spectrum display monitorspurposedly designed units such as the AOR SDU5xxx. 350

Up to date professional stuff is still on a different planet. Have a look at this old page for a taste.

Last update: 24Jul06