Tektronix MDO4104C-6 Mixed Domain Oscilloscope (MDO4000C) Review, Teardown and Experiments

In this episode Shahriar performs a full review on the Tektronix MDO4000C series mixed domain oscilloscope, particularly model MDO4104C-6. The MDO4000C combines up to six instruments including a function generator and a built-in spectrum analyzer. Unlike any other instrument, it can synchronize RF, analog and digital channels. These correlated measurements provide insight into difficult to find problems particularly intermittent events.

This review begins with a comparison between the MDO4000B and MDO4000C instruments. The full review of the MDO4000B can be viewed here. All experiments demonstrated in the MDO4000B review are also relevant to the MDO4000C instrument.

The teardown of the instrument reveals a multi-board construction where the ADCs, FPGAs, application processor and memory are on the main system board. A complete analysis of the entire system is presented including the operation of the RF module.

In order to demonstrate the instrument’s capabilities, an encrypted frequency hopping transmitter system is analyzed. The system exhibits various problems such as high BER, low SFDR, poor phase-noise and EVM. The MDO4000C is used to perform advanced measurements across analog, digital and RF domain to track and resolve these problem. The complete block diagram of the experiment can be found here.

Teardown & Repair of an Agilent 8164A Lightwave Measurement System

In this episode Shahriar investigates a failure of an Agilent 8164A lightwave measurement system. A quick power-on test reveals the main power supply of the unit has failed and has caused catastrophic damage to some of the instrument modules.

After the teardown of the unit the power supply module is examined. Tracing the signal path from the switching transformers shows a pair of damages rectifier diodes. A new component with similar specifications is salvaged from a different power supply. After the installation, the unit can be powered on and detects all the installed modules. Most of the modules are functional, however the main tunable laser module fails alignment. The repair of that component is reserved for another video.

Teardown & Repair of a Sencore PR570 Variable Isolation Transformer & Safety Analyzer

In this short episode Shahriar performs a teardown and repair of a Sencore PR570 variable isolation transformer and safety analyzer. One of the LCD segments of the unit does does not display.

The teardown of the unit reveals a variable auto-transformer followed by an isolation transformer. The main board contains all of the circuitry for performing over-current protection, ground leakage current monitoring and other safety analysis software. The LCD problem is easily corrected by cleaning the contacts of the LCD module. A quick experiment on an Apple iPhone charger is used to verify the instrument functionality.

The Future of The Signal Path, Patreon & Q/A

Since the creation of The Signal Path video blog in May of 2011 I have focused on producing the type content which is either difficult to find or difficult to learn. Despite being the foundation of human communication, RF and microwave electronics often seem like magic and my goal has been to demystify these concepts. The Signal Path blog provides a rich depth and breadth of electrical engineering topics and experiments. Equipment reviews and repairs are always accompanied with research and industry relevant experiments and tutorials. The aim of The Signal Path is to provide free education to everyone across the world, possibly the greatest gift from a human to another.

Any support you offer to The Signal Path will be put back into lab maintenance, improving the quality and frequency of video production and acquiring components to further diversify content production. As of August 2016, The Signal Path has produced over 66 hour of original material.

On behalf of all viewers from around the world I want to thank you for supporting The Signal Path.

Shahriar Shahramian, Ph.D. Owner & Host
The Signal Path

Teardown & Analysis of an Agilent 86109B Optical/Electrical DCA-X Oscilloscope Module

In this episode Shahriar presents the inner workings of an Agilent 86109B optical/electrical DCA-X oscilloscope module. This particular model offers up to 50GHz of electrical bandwidth and an optical input capable of receiving up to 40Gb/s data rates. The differences between a real-time and sub-sampling oscilloscopes are presented with focus on ADC resolution, signal periodicity requirements and input bandwidth. The block diagram of the module as well as a sub-sampling oscilloscope is also presented.

The teardown of the module shows various components such as samplers, O/E conversion block, impulse generator as well as a step-recovery diode driver. I/O interfaces as well as various analog blocks are also shown. Several modules are further disassembled to observe the inner semiconductor designs under the microscope.

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