Tag Archive for Experiments

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.

Noise & Performance Considerations of the DPH3205 Buck-Boost DC/DC Converter Module

In this episode Shahriar investigates the noise generated from the DPH3205 Buck-Boost DC/DC Converter Module. This module is part of a family of affordable devices which can be purchased online. The particular model (DPH3205) shown in this video can be purchased from here. The Keysight S-Scope in conjunction with the N7020 power probe is used to measure the noise behavior of the circuit. It can be observed that the module produces many harmonics of noise spanning up to and beyond 1MHz.

A power operational amplifier is used in conjunction with a 4V Zener diode to produce a crude voltage follower. The PSRR of the operational amplifier can filter the noise from the DC/DC converter. This is verified by measuring the noise coming from the operational amplifier. The noise is significantly reduced. This circuit is not entirely practical and is used for demonstration purposes only.

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.

Tutorial, Teardown & Experiments with Stanford Research SR530 Lock-in Amplifier

In this episode Shahriar goes over the operation and principle theory behind Lock-in Amplifiers. The SRS SR530 is one of the most iconic lock-in amplifiers ever made and since it offers two channels it can be used to perform very interesting experiments across many domains. After reviewing the block diagram and equations governing the theory of operation, a brief instrument teardown is presented.

Two unique and interesting experiments are also presented. In the first experiment the instrument is used to measure the speed of light. This is accomplished by measuring the wavelength of sound at 20kHz using a pair of speakers and a function generator. The distance between the speakers can be carefully adjusted and the relative signal strength from each lock-in channel is measured and thus the wavelength can also be measured.

In the second experiment the sensitivity of a red LED to blue laser light is measured. Due to the semiconductor composition of the red LED as well as its red plastic casing, the responsibility of the LED to blue light is extremely low. A chopper is therefore used to lock the light to the lock-in amplifier’s reference input. The measured induced current is measured down to very low optical level in the order of hundreds of fempto (10^-15) amps.

Siglent SSA3032X 9kHz – 3.2GHz Spectrum Analyzer / TG Review, Teardown & Experiment

In this episode Shahriar presents a full teardown, analysis and review of the Siglent SSA3000X Series Spectrum Analyzer. Siglent’s SSA3000X family of spectrum analyzers offer a frequency range of 9 KHz to 2.1 GHz / 3.2 GHz. With their light weight, small size, and friendly user interface, the SSA3000s present a bright easy to read display, powerful and reliable automatic measurements, and plenty of impressive features. Applications are many, but include research and development, education, production, maintenance, and many more.

The review is organized as follows:

00:41 – Model comparison and overview.
03:56 – Full teardown and analysis of internal hardware.
17:38 – Initial performance assessment including tracking generator behavior.
29:50 – Antenna and diplexer measurements and characterization.
50:00 – Built-in applications overview and measurement personalities.
56:58 – PC interface software performance and overview.

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