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.
In this episode Shahriar repair a Fluke PM6685R Rubidium Frequency Counter. The instrument shows highly unstable results and produces high-pitch noise when powered on. The high-frequency noises point to a problem with the DC-DC converter circuit in the power supply module. A close examination points to degraded capacitors. After all capacitors have been replaced, the noise issue is resolved. The instrument’s performance is then verified and calibrated against an external Rubidium reference. The agreement between the units is better than 10ppb.
In this episode Shahriar investigates a peculiar problem with a SRS DS345 function generator. The instrument does not appear to produce the correct output signal frequency. After some investigation it becomes clear that a few of the display digits are not active which hide the actual frequency settings. The problem is traced to a broken resistor on the display driver. The schematic of the instrument shows that the resistor is responsible for strobing the affected seven-segment digit. After the repair, the instrument’s performance is verified including the OCXO accuracy.
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.
In this episode Shahriar investigates a faulty Agilent 53152A 46GHz frequency counter. The instrument does not power on and shows no sign of internal voltage presence. Teardown of the instrument reveals a large PCB where all analog and digital circuity is contained. The power supply module is a module components and upon measurements shows no activity.
The power supply is a simple switching architecture with functioning input rectifier and capacitor filter. By using an oscilloscope it is clear that the power supply PWM controller attempts to start. However, the main power supply pin shows unstable voltages indicating inadequate charge retention on the rectifying capacitor. Replacing the capacitor revives the startup condition and the power supply function returns. The PWM controller and main switching transistors are also replaced with new ones. After this repair the unit powers on and passes all self-tests. The unit can successfully measure signal frequencies and power.
The Signal Path (TSP) is an electrical engineering video blog for industry professionals, students and hobbyists. TSP is a non-for-profit website dedicated to provide free education spanning a wide range of electrical engineering topics. Equipment reviews, tutorials and repair videos are posted regularly.