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.

Carbide 3D Nomad 883 Pro CNC / PCB Engraving Machine Review & Experiments

In this episode Shahriar demonstrates the capabilities and features of the Carbide 3D Nomad 883 Pro CNC machine. The primary interest is for PCB milling and therefore the machine’s accuracy, speed and software capabilities are examined. The Nomad 883 Pro offers an Aluminum chassis design with a custom machined spindle. XYZ movements are supported by linear bearings with a resolutions of 0.0005 inches and a reputability of 0.0015 inches. Furthermore the Nomad has an accuracy of 0.005 inches. Unfortunately the spindle speed is limited to 10,000 RPM which lags behind other competing CNC machines such as the Bantam Tools Pro (formally Othermill Pro) which support up to 26,000 RPM.

In order to push the machine to its limits, a benchmark PCB design is milled with features smaller than 10 mils. The result shows that the PCB flatness is critical for achieving such fine features since the Nomad does not currently offer mapping features. All milling is done in a custom-made oil bath which must be used for FR-4 materials due to dangerous glass-dust generation during milling.

Dino-Lite USB Digital Microscopes Review and Experiments (2017 Edition)

In this episode Shahriar demonstrates a series of new Dino-Lite USB Digital Microscopes released in 2017. Several models are shown:

  • AM7515MT8A – This unit offers 700X-950X magnification with built in coaxial lighting as we as switchable bright-field and dark-field lighting options.
  • AM73915MZT – USB 3.0 interface with one touch auto-focus, EDOF & AMR. The unit also offers up to 45FPS in lower resolution mode. The magnification range is 20X – 220X.
  • AM73115MTF – USB 3.0 with Dino-Lite’s longest working distance at 1X – 70X magnification. Capable of 20X at 10.5” working distance and 70X at 4.5” working distance.
  • AM5218MZT – HDMI/DVI output connections, new edge optics, minimal latency with fast frame rate up to 60FPS in good lighting conditions.

Furthermore the Vision M1 automated platform is also presented which can be used to manipulate the XYZ position of any microscope through a PC USB connection. All other presented accessories can be found on Dino-Lite website.

The above models are used to analyze several microwave amplifier modules and components. The ASIC die of a 30GS/s Track & Hold Amplifier (THA) as well an RGB light sensors are also closely examined.

 

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.

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