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TSP #224 - Signal Hound SM435C 43.5GHz Real-Time Spectrum Analyzer Review, Teardown & Experiments

12.3K views March 26, 2023 12:08 AM

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In this episode Shahriar reviews the successor to the popular Signal-Hound SM200C, the SM435C Real-Time Spectrum Analyzer covering 100kHz – 43.5GHz with 160MHz of gapless I/Q steaming using a 10GbE optical interface. With its constantly improving Spike software and incredible 1THz/s sweep rate, the SM435C has the potential to be a dream software-defined radio as well as a powerful laboratory & field instrument. This detailed review is organized as follows:

00:00 – Introduction
01:47 – Instrument overview & design
03:49 – Teardown, detailed circuits & systems overview and analysis including X-Ray imaging
16:33 – Analysis of a 24GHz pulsed radar module, real-time capability, zero-span mode, fast sweeps
29:06 – Noise figure personality and noise-figure measurements features
33:40 – Phase noise personality and characterizing the internal instrument phase-noise
33:49 – mm-Wave transmit mixer characteristics, digital demodulation capabilities
39:05 – Wideband IF output for digital demodulation using a Keysight MXR & PathWave VSA
41:35 – Wideband IF output for rapid pulse hopping analysis using a Tektronix MSO-6B Series
45:06 – Additional Spike software features
46:11 – Concluding remarks​​​

TSP #223 - Teardown, Repair & Analysis of a Tektronix THDP0100 ±6kV High Voltage Differential Probe

13.5K views March 6, 2023 1:20 AM

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In this episode Shahriar repairs another high-voltage Tektronix probe, this time a THDP0100 which is capable of measuring 6kV signals up to 100MHz. The probe does not get detected by the scope. However, it soon becomes clear that the problem with this probe is much more involved than the previous repair.
The probe has a short-circuit inside the probe body as well as several damaged components. Each is replaced one step at a time until a final fault is also detected in the probe head. After the repair, the probe is zeroed, calibrated and used to measure a signal at 6kVpp using an Associated Research HYPOT tester.​​​

TSP #222 - Teardown & Repair of a Fluke 5450A Precision Resistance Calibrator (1-Ohm - 100-MOhm)

18.5K views February 12, 2023 12:33 AM

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In this episode Shahriar takes a look at a non-functional Fluke 5450A resistance calibrator box. The unit is equipped with a wide range of resistors ranging from 1-Ohm to 100-MOhm some of which are 0.005% tolerance. The instrument powers on and shows a single LED on the front panel without any other activity.
Upon further inspection it becomes clear that there are no other activities from the main CPU despite the clock signal being present. A replacement CPU returns the unit to normal front-panel operation. The analog board also has two blown fuses which may be the result of a in-rush event. After fuse replacement the analog relay arrays also function. The unit is measured against a Keysight 3458A 8.5-digit multimeter and shows remarkable accuracy despite its age.​​​

TSP #221 - Teardown & Reverse Engineering of the Anritsu MS46121A 6GHz USB Vector Network Analyzer

16.4K views February 5, 2023 3:45 PM

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In this episode Shahriar presents an in-depth analysis of the an Anritsu single-port USB VNA which operates from 150kHz - 6GHz. The instrument has a corrupted firmware which prevents it from being useable.

The instrument's internal dual-board design is presented alongside detailed analysis of the digital and RF boards. Various components are identified as well as the ferrite directional coupler at the heart of the RF path. A simple version of such a coupler is used to demonstrate the impact of the ferrite material on the low-frequency coupling factor.​​​

TNP #28 - CZUR E24 Pro Vertical Scanner with Live HDMI Output Review & Use-case Demos

5.6K views February 2, 2023 11:33 PM

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In this episode Shahriar takes a look at a mailbag item from CZUR. The ET series digital document scanners are intended for a wide range of document & book scanning situations. The free software accompanying the unit is capable various editing, stitching, batch job processing as well as OCR (optical character recognition) tasks.

You can also purchase the unit from here:;

Please note that I do NOT collect any commission from the sales. The tracked link is intended for the seller to see how the video performs for their internal evaluation.

The live 1080p 6FPS HDMI output is used along some schematic analysis to judge the suitability for future tutorial videos. The Windows application is used for several scanning examples to produce searchable PDFs using the OCR capability. The book scanning (using flattering capabilities) is also demonstrated.​​​

TSP #220 - Detailed Reverse Engineering & ASIC Analysis of the Infineon 24GHz Doppler Radar Module

51.8K views January 15, 2023 3:47 PM

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In this episode Shahriar takes a close look at the Infineon 24GHz doppler radar module in the spirit of the upcoming IEEE ISSCC 2023 Conference:

The 24GHz radar module block diagram and its principle of operation is presented in details as well as the X-Ray of the PCB. Various design techniques and architectures are also explained. The RFIC ASIC is then extracted from the QFN package and examined under the microscope. The internal ASIC elements are correlated to the block diagram with discussions about various mm-wave layout techniques & high-frequency circuit design.​​​

TNP #27 - Design of a Custom Control Board & Software for a Broken NordicTrack S15i Exercise Bike

10.8K views January 7, 2023 12:08 AM

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In this episode Shahriar resurrects a broken NoridTrack S15i stationary exercise bike. The brain of the bike resides inside a custom Android table at the front console of the unit. The software & hardware of the bike are not publicly available and a replacement unit costs upwards of $1000.
Despite the consumer-unfriendly approach of NordicTrack, it would be a huge waste to dispose of the bike. Instead, we will design a custom hardware and software to control the bike's resistance as well as read RPM numbers to calculate wattage and calories. Although much simpler than the original hardware, the new system is sufficient to use the bike and achieve a satisfactory exercise routine.​​​

TNP #26 - Magic of Mechanical Timekeeping & Measuring the Accuracy of a Raymond-Weil Skeleton Watch

11.7K views December 24, 2022 9:01 PM

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In this episode Shahriar takes a look at the Raymond-Weil Blue Skeleton Freelancer wristwatch. The watch runs a little too fast. But before measuring its accuracy the internal structure of the watch as well as a few unique imaging of the watch mechanism are presented.
The teardown, theory of operation & measurements using a Multifunction Time Grapher No. 1000 is also presented. By using an external speaker in the place of the watch, the 8GHz oscillation of the watch can be emulated. It appears that the wristwatch runs 1mHz too fast resulting in gaining of about 12 seconds per day.

Make sure you check out @WristwatchRevival also!​​​

TSP #219 - Teardown & Repair of an Agilent 81101A 50MHz 20Vpp Pulse Generator

14.9K views December 18, 2022 7:17 PM

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In this episode Shahriar takes a close look at an Agilent pulse generator which does not produce any output signal. The generator has an output ON/OFF function which can disconnect the unit using a microwave relay. The output spectrum of the faulty unit shows the presence of the desired spectrum and residue of the square wave signal.
The teardown shows that the output relay is not being engaged with the output is enabled. The fault is traced to the relay switch transistor (NPN) which does not respond to the control signal. The replacement NPN corrects the problem and the unit produces the correct output. The unit's maximum output swing as well as frequency accuracy are verified using a R&S MXO-4 Series & a Rubidium frequency counter.​​​

TNP #25 - Teardown & Repair of a Keysight E36313A Triple Output Programmable DC Power Supply

14.6K views December 11, 2022 5:56 PM

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In this episode Shahriar repairs a broken Keysight E36313A with a blown fuse and burnt smell coming from the unit. The teardown shows the dual-board design of the unit as well as the large toroidal transformer. The magic smoke has escaped from a dual Schottky diode power device with a Vf = 0.45V at If = 5A. The replacement eBay component is first verified to meet the specifications and installed in the power supply. The Keysight unit is then tested at a few output voltages and current to ensure proper functionality.​​​

TSP #218 - JouleScope JS220 Precision Energy Analyzer Scope Review, Teardown & Experiments

16.5K views December 4, 2022 11:18 PM

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In this episode Shahriar takes a close look at the new JouleScope JS220 dynamic energy analyzer:

The USB-C instrument architecture and details teardown is presented alongside the main PCB X-Ray images. The instrument's unique six orders of magnitude current measurement and switching networks is also described and analyzed. The measurements confirm the six unique shunt resistors (alongside pairing CMOS devices) which can be chosen both manually and automatically by the autorunning software.
The GUI multimeter view is used to verify the accuracy of the unit across all current ranges and voltage ranges using a pair of Keithley 2450 SMUs. The dynamic behavior of the instrument is presented using a wide dynamic range load using various excitation waveforms and frequencies. Finally, a Z-Wave IoT motion sensor characteristics and communication patters is analyzed.​​​

TSP #217 - Teardown, Repair & Analysis of an Agilent E8267C 20GHz PSG RF Vector Signal Generator

12.8K views November 28, 2022 11:07 PM

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In this episode Shahriar attempts the repair of an Agilent PSG Vector Signal Generator. Aside from excellent RF performance, the PSG series generators are also equipped with built-in baseband generators allowing for a wide range complex RF modulations. The instrument has been loaned to The Signal Path by AllTest:

This particular unit fails the internal I/Q Calibration routines. This routine calibrates for image rejection, LO rejection as well as a wide range of I/Q routing, offsets, gain/phase corrections. The calibration errors points of the I/Q MUX board and the summing nodes inside that assembly. The measurements confirms that the Q signal exhibits large distortion.

The teardown reveals the complexity of the I/Q MUX board which comprises numerous op-amps, selectors, amplifiers & multiplexers. The block diagram of the I/Q mux is presented in details along with various measurements. The fault on the I/Q MUX board is traced to one multiplexer on the Q path. The IC is replaced and the waveforms return to their linear forms. The instrument passes the internal I/Q Calibration routine after the repair. The RF output of the unit is also verified and presented showing the correct operation of the vector modulation path.​​​