Teardown & Repair of an Agilent N5182A MXG 100kHz – 3GHz Vector Signal Generator

In this episode Shahriar repairs a malfunctioning Agilent N5182A MXG Vector Signal Generator. While the instrument operates perfectly above 250MHz, below 250MHz the output is very low with a significant increase in the noise floor.

The block diagram of the synthesizer is presented showing various RF signal paths. It is shown that the sub-250MHz band is derived from a hetrodyne section which is where the problem located. Using a EM probe, various signal flows are discovered on the main board and compared with the block diagram. The main problem is traced to a doubler circuit which generates a 1-GHz LO signal for the hetrodyne section. The doubler comprises a transformer coupled to a dual diode surface mount IC. The IC is replaces which restores the doubler functionality and repairs the instrument.

Tutorial on Theory, Characterization & Measurement Techniques of Phase Noise

In this episode Shahriar demonstrates the fundamentals of Phase Noise. The theory behind phase noise is presented both from a time-domain and frequency domain points of view. Various mathematical equations which represent phase noise behavior is also presented.

Phase noise measurement challenges and techniques are covered. Capabilities and limitations of different instruments for phase noise characterization is explained. The experiments show AM/PM modulations both in time and frequency domain and their relationships to phase noise measurements. Using a spectrum analyzer the phase noise of several synthesizers are shown. However, it is clear that the phase noise of an ultra-clean 1-GHz reference signal cannot be measured using traditional methods.

The concept of cross-correlation is introduced as a means of measuring phase noise below the phase noise of the measurement instrument. The block diagram of the an Agilent Phase Noise Analyzer is presented followed by a short teardown. The measured phase nose of the ultra-clean 1-GHz source is shown using correlation techniques which matches the datasheet.

Teardown & Repair of an Agilent N9020A MXA 10Hz – 8.4GHz Spectrum Analyzer (November 2019)

In this episode Shahriar troubleshoots a defective Agilent N9020A 8.4GHz spectrum analyzer. The instrument reports LO Unlock and refuses to perform any sweep at all. The complete block diagram of the instrument is presented with focus on the LO generation blocks.

The teardown of the instrument reveals the individual assemblies presented during the block diagram overview. After a few measurements, it is concluded that the LO Synthesizer module is faulty. The module is presented in detail and various components and signal paths are identified. Extensive measurements are carried out until the fault is traced to problems in the varactor bank of the main VCO. After the component replacement, the instrument is fully functional. The X-Ray of the synthesizer module is also presented during the repair.

Teardown & Repair of an Agilent 1169A 12GHz Smart Active Probe (And a Puzzle!)

In this episode Shahriar examines a failed Agilent 1169A 12GHz Smart Active Probe. The probe does not get recognized by the oscilloscope and therefore cannot be calibrated. The instrument uses an I2C interface to the probe to download the probe’s specifications and characteristics.

The probe teardown reveals a simple I2C EEPROM IC. After removing the IC it becomes clear that the chip is damaged and must be replaced. A duplicate probe is used to copy the EEPROM data onto a new IC which revives the probe. With the help of the community, the CRC checksum code is discovered and the probe is assigned a new serial number.

Siglent SVA1032X 3.2GHz Spectrum & Vector Network Analyzer Review, Teardown & Experiments

In this episode Shahriar reviews the newly released Siglent SVA1032X. The SVA series instrument spectrum & vector network analyzers are powerful and flexible tools for broadcast and RF device / system testing. With a wide frequency range covering 9 kHz to 3.2 GHz, the analyzer delivers reliable automatic measurements and plenty of features including a tracking generator and multiple modes of operation. This review is organized as follows:

00:09 – Introduction and instrument overview
02:25 – Complete teardown and detailed analysis of the instrument hardware
23:36 – Basic instrument GUI operation and overload detection limitations
28:38 – Tracking generator signal purity and performance
30:06 – Instrument internal phase noise performance
33:01 – VNA operation and amplifier impedance tuning experiment
39:28 – Amplifier characterization using built-in functions
44:20 – Digital demodulation experiments
49:30 – Distance to fault experiments using built-in functions
49:16 – Concluding remarks

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