Archive for Equipment Repair

Teardown, Repair and Experiments with an Agilent E4981A High-Speed Capacitance Meter

In this episode Shahriar investigates an Agilent E4981A high-speed capacitance meter which fails self-test during startup. The instrument reports a series of errors associated with the CPU board. The teardown reveals a multi-board construction where the main analog assembly employs an FPGA for control and interface to the main CPU board. The unit has a disconnected ribbon cable between the analog board and the main CPU assembly. After correcting the problem the instrument completes self-test without errors.

After the repair the unit is used to measure several known capacitors for functionality verification. Finally the instrument is used to measure a hand-made parallel plate capacitor. The capacitor can accept various types of dielectric material whose impact is studied.

Teardown & Repair of an Agilent E4440A 3Hz – 26.5GHz PSA Spectrum Analyzer

In this episode Shahriar takes a close look at a defective Agilent E4440A spectrum analyzer. Initial analysis reveals that the startup errors are caused by a defective pre-amplifier module. During initial alignment and calibration, the defective microwave relays inside the pre-amplifier module fail insertion loss specifications and cause alignment failures.

Unfortunately, the relays are not repairable and must be replaced. Two new relays are purchased and replacement clears all alignment issues. The main motherboard battery has also failed; a replacement battery corrects any time and date keeping errors. The repaired instrument is cycled through several alignment procedures without any problems. The performance of the unit is verified by examining the DANL of the instrument with and without the pre-amplifier activated.

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.

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