HPIB connector size?


I am not sure this question belongs here - I'd like to try to readout my Fluke 8842A multimeter (GPIB option installed) with my 9825, for which I have the reqired HPIB card (my real objective would be to hook up the DMM to my HP85, but I haven't found the HPIB card yet). I am about confused about HPIB/GPIB/IEEE488 differences; I recall IEEE488 being compatible with the older HPIB standard. However, I notice that already the connectors aren't the same size. Does anybody here know about a site where these things are explained? I suppose adapter cables can be bought somewhere? Sorry if this doesn't belong here.



HPIB, GPIB and IEEE-488 are all much the same, and all are electrically compatible. They all use the 24 pin 'Blue Ribbon' connector, which is similar to a Centronics printer connector, but smaller.

The HP98034 HPIB interface for the 9825 certainly came with that connector on the end of the cable.

There was also something called IEC625, which had the same signals, but which used a DB25 connector (like an RS232 connector).

What are the connectors on your instrument and on your interface?


Hi Tony,
the instrument has a centronics-like connector, just smaller, 24 pin, properly labelled "IEEE STD 488 port", with a second label saying "SH1 AH1 T5 L4 SR1 RL1 DC1 DT1 PP0 C0 E1". The connector on the interface is similar, only larger. Or shouldn't that be an IEEE interface? Let me check, I start having a doubt.



There are various slightly different looking connectors in metal and plastic, but the only functional difference you should see among actual IEEE-488/GPIB/HP-IB connectors is that newer ones use metric screws but older HP-IB ones did not. On genuine HP connectors, on both the cables and instruments, they color-coded it; IIRC the black hardware is metric.

You can use the connectors with metric and non-metric hardware together as long as you don't try to screw them together (which will damage the screws).


In some idealistic future, we will have about 5 connectors from which to choose, not millions. Things being connected will negotiate with each other before applying voltage, so no damage is ever possible.

Our connectors will include:

  • very small, easily attached and detached - for providing data or power (or both) to small devices, where accidental disconnection is acceptable (and perhaps desirable, instead of breaking something.
  • Small, reliable (locking) connector for data or power to small and medium devices. Designed for less-frequent use, and difficult to accidentally disconnect.
  • Heavy duty - suitable for delivery of lots of power. Probably comes in several sizes: 1KW, 10KW, 100KW, etc.
  • environmentally secure - watertight, gas-tight, etc.

In this ideal future, gadgets will need only one connector, but will perhaps have extras, to allow easy daisy-chaining etc. Plugging a calculator into a wall outlet would require negotiation: "I need 12VDC. I can supply data at this rate." "OK. I can give you 12VDC. Tell me more about your data; I have a refrigerator that wants to know something."

Sound far-fetched? Imagine all the effort we've spent over the years designing millions of special-purpose connectors. And all the effort wasted trying to connect dissimilar devices. And the sheer stupidity of re-using the same physical connector for incompatible (and electronics-damaging) purposes. Like the good-old DB-25 connector, used in the 1960s - 1990s as an RS-232 serial connector. Used also 1990s - 2000s for PC Parallel printers. Used also 1980s-1990s as Macintosh SCSI connector. Oops - there goes another blown chip!


Hi all. Hi John.

I am actually working on early prototypes of the sort of connectors you seek. Amazingly, I found some information on what my products will look like. The data comes from an e-mail mistakenly sent backwards in time to me from another e-mail box I set up in 2008...


The new connectors from WALLACE LABS offer greatly increased ease in connecting devices together. Using advances in bio-psychic hybridization as a result of using living cells (the so-called "wet chip") running a custom genome with splices of DNA from PSYCHIC LAB RATS (descended from 1960's UCLA stock) and mature breeding salmon, the hybrid electro-biological interfaces are able to morph into various shapes on contact with each other to ensure machanical compatibilty. The custom electronics then adapts on-the-fly by "sensing" the other interfaces preferred data format, protocols, voltage and current levels by "feeling the VIBES, Man! (direct quote from a reply by an interrogated chip)".

Connector performance is excellent. There are some special considerations and drawbacks however... Early users of the new products report that the data links, while very reliable, slow
down when exposed to FUNK MUSIC from the early 1970's. They are prone, due to telepathic leakage currents, to "sulking" in office environments when there are stressed or frustrated humans around and
refuse to operate at all if exposed to Hip-Hop or Opera. They will tolerate Stravinski, however and run well in an ambient environment
of music by Frank Zappa, Pink Floyd or loudly played Led Zeppelin.



Careful with those things, Don. Don't let the blue nosed get hold of the technical details.

Gives a whole new meaning to the term "Xbox!"


Hi Howard.

IBM take on a scheme which ensured COMPATIBILITY?!
With equipment from OTHER VENDORS?!

Don't worry; we're all quite safe, it will NEVER happen.


P.S. An old joke:

Q. How many IBM executives does it take to change a light bulb? (I know, you all KNOW THIS ONE...)

A. 500. 1 to hold the light bulb and 499 to TURN THE COMPANY AROUND.



I'll have to tell that one to my colleagues. 8)

But, I meant "blue nosed" not as in "big blue" but as in "member of the joy police." That usage, I now find after a Wikipedia and Google search, is quite rare. I only found two references to my favorite meaning of the phrase. It is swamped by the Nova Scotian schooner "Bluenose" on Google. And the London "Blue Nose Society" of poets outranks it too.

Regardless, I grew up with "blue nose" meaning "prude." It is death to a joke to have to explain its meaning, but you might try rereading my prior attempt with the correct definition in mind. 8)


Howard, I am sure that the "lab" could come up with
"appropriate" firmware in the datalink products for the PC
(politically correct, not personal computer)...

I am not sure that there will ever be a version which can withstand Hip-Hop or opera, though... That is just TOO MUCH to ask ;-)


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