Archive for Projects

Teardown & Repair of an Agilent 54845A 1.5GHz 8GS/s Infinium Oscilloscope

In this episode Shahriar repairs an Agilent 54845A oscilloscope with an intermittent failure. The instrument occasionally fails self-calibration and the displayed waveform shows undesired spurious activities. The teardown of the instrument reveals customized front-end section coupled into a ceramic-substrate ADC ASIC designed by Agilent. The packaged ADCs are placed in sockets. The ICs are removed and the ceramic carrier is cleaned; this resolves the intermittent problem with the channels. The architecture of the scope is also presented. The functionality of the scope is verified through self-calibration, self-test and measurement of various waveform.

Tutorial on the Theory, Design and Characterization of a CMOS Transimpedance Amplifier

In this episode, Shahriar and Shayan discuss the design and characterization of a deceptively simple CMOS inverter-based transimpedance amplifier. The the large and small signal behavior of the CMOS inverter is discussed and measured using the Keithley 2450 and 2460 source meters. The transient response is also measured using a Keysight MSO-S series oscilloscope.

The small signal gain of the circuit is calculated from small signal parameters which are extracted directly by measuring the devices I/V characteristics. The NMOS/PMOS devices used are from an ADL1105 quad-discrete transistor IC. Through the use of a shunt-shunt feedback, the CMOS amplifiers is converted to a transimpedance amplifier which is capable of amplifying the current from a photo-detector diode by a gain of 30kV/A. The feedback theory is used to calculate the gain of the amplifier. The slides for this tutorial can be downloaded here.

Tutorial and Experiments with ESP8266 SoC, Blynk App, Arduino and Internet of Things (IoT)

In this episode Shahriar explores the functionality of the popular ESP8266 SoC chip. This IC incorporates a full ISM radio as well as the physical/MAC layer for 802.11b/g/n network communication. Furthermore it includes a uC core for code execution making it a low-cost candidate for Internet of Thing applications. This video uses a Sparkfun Thing evaluation board which also includes a LiPo batter charger, voltage regular, flash memory and all the I/O pins which are accessible to the user. The block diagram of the ESP8266 is reviewed as well as the schematic of the complete Sparkfun Thing board.

By using an Arduino library and the Blynk iOS application, a cell phone and the ESP8266 can simultaneously communicate with a server running the Blynk application and transfer data between the application and the module. In this demo various components such as NeoPixel (WS2812), OneWire temperature sensor and battery monitoring functionality are implemented. The code is available here.

Tutorial on the Design & Implementation of an FPGA RGB LED Matrix Driver

In this episode Shahriar and Timo demonstrate the design methodology of an FPGA based 32×32 RGB LED matrix driver. Timo has kindly devoted some of his time to describe the block diagram and the thought process which goes into designing this type of FPGA display driver. The various components of the overall system (PLL, UART, and Display Controller) are shown along with the simulation data. The outputs of the Spartan-6 FPGA board are then measured using a Keysight S-Series oscilloscope. The design of the RGB matrix is also demonstrated using a custom clock interface sent wirelessly to the unit via Bluetooth. All the FPGA design files can be downloaded here.

Teardown, Upgrade and Experiments with a Verity Visible Wavelength Monochromator

In this episode, Shahriar upgrades a Verity visible wavelength monochromator model EP200Mmd to be able to perform automatic scans. The instrument is retrofitted with a stepper motor and a microcontroller which performs wavelength scanning between 225nm to 875nm. The signal from the internal photomultiplier is sampled by the microcontroller and wirelessly sent to the computer. Matlab is used to plot the wavelength response.

The principle operation of a monochromator is thoroughly reviewed starting with the grating mirror behavior. The operation of the photomultiplier is also described. Various mechanical and electronic of the upgraded system is also shown. The presented slides can be found here.

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