Archive for Equipment Repair

Teardown, Repair & Upgrade of an Agilent 3458A 8.5 Digit Digital Multimeter

In this episode Shahriar repairs and upgrades an Agilent 3458A 8.5 Digit Multimeter. The instrument has been kindly donated by AllTest Instruments Inc. You can access their website here, as well as their eBay store, Bonanza store and TestUnlimited hub. AllTest provides the following:

  • Massive inventory of test and measurement equipment with over 20,000 units to chose from.
  • Full service general laboratory where repairs, refurbishment, and testing are carried out.
  • An additional NIST traceable metrology laboratory with extensive T&M capabilities where OEM grade calibrations are performed.
  • 5% discount on any purchase when The Signal Path Blog is mentioned for first time customers with limit one per customer.

The 3458A unit fails startup conditions with several errors. After close inspection of the boards, the initial problem points to a poorly plugged in fiber-optic cable. After this fix, the unit still fails ACAL on the AC Board. The unit’s NVRAM modules all have to be replaced. During this process the memory of the unit is also upgraded and the firmware is updated to the latest available version. After analysis of the schematics the problem is traced to a damaged JFET input operational amplifier on the attenuator flatness calibrator unit. The replacement allows the unit to pass all self-test and ACAL calibration. The instrument is then NIST calibrated by AllTest Instruments and shows excellent performance when compared with various multimeters in the lab.

Teardown, Repair & Calibration of a BK Precision 9185 DC – 600V Linear Power Supply

In this episode Shahriar repairs a BK Precision 9185 600V linear power supply. The instrument is missing a power connector and therefore cannot be powered on. To be cautious, the unit is disassembled first before being retrofitted with a new connector. The teardown reveals damaged resistors at the back of the main power supply PCB. The damage points to a defective high-voltage MOSFET. This transistor is one of six devices in parallel. The impacted components are all replaced before the unit is retrofitted with a new power connector.

After power on the unit is verified for proper operation. Using a Keithley DMM7510, the power supply is calibrated and is ready for future experiments.

Teardown, Repair & Experiments with an Agilent 8562E 30Hz – 13.2GHz Spectrum Analyzer

In this episode Shahriar repairs an Agilent 8562E 13.2GHz spectrum analyzer which does not power on. Upon pressing the power button the power LED briefly flashes and turns off. Teardown of the unit reveals a compact instrument where the power supply is rather difficult to reach.

The power supply block diagram shows various internal block functions which include startup, DC-DC converter and output regulation stages. In order to diagnose the instrument, the CMOS driver ICs were removed and swamped. An error during the installation of the gate drivers caused a cascade failure of the supply components! After replacing all the affected components as well as the DC-DC converter PWM controller IC, the power supply is repaired.

After powering on the unit it becomes clear that there are several internal self-test and alignment errors. The errors point to YIG oscillator failure. The YIG oscillator no longer has the full range of frequency tuning. The core of the YIG block is replaced with a spare unit from a different Agilent instrument. After re-alignment of the YIG the unit functions correctly. The principle operation of the YIG oscillator is explained and the internals of the defective unit are examined under the microscope.

Teardown, Repair & Analysis of an Agilent E4443A 3Hz – 6.7GHz PSA Series Spectrum Analyzer

In this episode Shahriar repairs an Agilent PSA Series Spectrum Analyzer. The instrument generates many errors during self-alignment and produces no measurements below 3.2GHz. The block diagram of the unit is thoroughly presented and various possible failure points are considered. Based on the observation of the noise floor, the most likely cause is the second LO module. The measurement of the LO power indicates that the second LO power is fall below nominal.

The second LO signal (at 3.6GHz) is generated by a DRO PLL module which is locked to 600MHz. The PLL is functional, however the output power is below -20dBm. Teardown of the module reveals a simple design with a doubler and filter. The filter (which is discolored) shows a huge loss likely caused by RF losses due to trace degradation. Thinning the traces provides some improvement and the remaining loss is compensated with a two stage RF amplifier. With this modifications, the instrument’s alignment errors are partially resolved.

The next problem is with the input attenuator at the 20dB range. This problem is simply resolved by providing lubrication on the attenuator solenoids after disassembly. The instrument is then used for various measurements to verify its correct operation.

Teardown & Experiments with an Anritsu MS9710B 0.6-1.75um Optical Spectrum Analyzer

In this episode Shahriar repairs an Anritsu MS9710B Optical Spectrum Analyzer. The instrument intermittently does not boot and when it does it generates a Grating Mirror error. Some investigation reveals that the problems may simply be poor internal cabling connections which can be resolved by cleaning all connectors and re-building the unit. The LCD screen’s CCFL have also failed. An LED back-light replacement provides the screen with a vibrant and bright colors.

The unit is very compact (which is unusual for an Optical Spectrum Analyzer) and makes it ideal for bench-top working environments. The broad-spectrum built-in reference laser can be used to calibrate and align the instrument which proves to work perfectly. After calibration, a laser diode from an Agilent Lightwave Transmitter is measured. Interestingly it can be seen that the unit produces two tones at ~1nm apart which indicates the laser operates in two modes. A very interesting result given that the wavelength meter only reports one tone at the average wavelength of the two modes.

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