Tag Archive for Experiments

Tektronix 6-Series 4-Channel 25GS/s 8GHz MSO Review, Teardown & Experiments (Part 1)

In this episode Shahriar reviews the top-of-the-line Tektronix 6-Series Oscilloscope. This 4-channel instrument offers 8-GHz of bandwidth at 25GS/s on all channel independently. Tektronix has made great strides in offering low-noise front-end custom ASICs combined with hardware digital down-conversion built into the core of the 6-Series. This enables advanced triggering across in both time and frequency domains as well as multi-domain correlated measurements.
This review is organized as follows:

00:06 – Introductions
01:42 – Instrument design, front and back panels
03:34 – Full acquisition board teardown, analysis and architecture
18:11 – PLL Experiment: Spectrum View, advanced triggering, PLL characterization and debugging
38:33 – Backplane Communication: Jitter analysis, eye diagrams, jitter composition, cross-talk
49:24 – Concluding remarks

TSP #171 – Signal Hound SM200C/B 100kHz – 20GHz Real-Time Spectrum Analyzer Review, Teardown & Experiments

In this episode Shahriar reviews the long awaited Signal Hound SM200C/B Real-Time 100kHz – 20GHz Real-Time Spectrum Analyzer:

The SM200C is a high-performance spectrum analyzer and monitoring receiver with a 10 Gigabit Ethernet SFP+ port, enabling the SM200C to communicate with a PC over long distances using a fiber optic cable. Designed for remotely-located accurate RF data analysis at the lowest cost possible, the SM200C features:

  • 160 MHz instantaneous bandwidth I/Q streaming over 10GbE
  • SFP+ port for fast, long-distance communication with a PC using an optic cable
  • Device control and data transfer occurs via SFP+ connection, not USB
  • Tunes from 100 kHz to 20 GHz
  • Sweeps at 1 THz/sec at 30 kHz RBW
  • 110 dB of dynamic range
  • Ultra-low phase noise
  • GPIO port antenna switching

The SM200B offers a USB 3.0 PC interface with 40MHz of instantaneous I/Q streaming. Furthermore, the SM200B includes a full 2-second of internal memory at 160MHz of capture bandwidth which an be accessed through the API.

The review is organized as follows:

00:00 – Introduction
00:49 – Overview, build quality and detailed specifications
05:51 – Full teardown, analysis and system architecture
18:00 – 10GbE PC interface using M.2 Key to PCIe converter
19:22 – Experiment #1: FMCW signal analysis, GUI overview & 160MHz capture capabilities
31:33 – Experiment #2: Interfering hunting, FM-versus-time, frequency hopping & advanced triggering
41:32 – Experiment #3: Digital demodulation, phase-noise & equalization
46:02 – Other GUI capabilities, mask & EM compliance, API
47:20 – Concluding remarks

Upgrade & Experiments with an Agilent 8445B Auto Preselector – Giveaway! (April 2020)

In this episode Shahriar retrofits a vintage HP 8445B Auto Preselector for testing and characterization of high-performance data converters and oscilloscopes. The Preselector is in essence an electronically tunable band-pass filter with exceptional tuning range and quality factor.

After examining the schematic and block diagram of the instrument the unit is equipped with additional potentiometer, low-band, high-band switch and a voltmeter LCD screen which displays the center frequency. The modifications are applied to the front panel as well as internal circuitry to enable manual control of the preselector without the need for any external devices.

The modified instrument is used to measure the harmonic improvement of a 20GHz synthesizer. Several oscilloscopes are then characterized using the new preselector to determine the absolute performance of their internal data converter.

Finally, it is also time for a new giveaway! A brand new Keysight DSOX1102G scope! Patreon supporters are automatically enrolled.

Teardown & Repair of a Rohde & Schwarz SMBV100A 9kHz – 3.2GHz Vector Signal Generator

In this episode Shahriar takes a look at a R&S SMBV100A Vector Signal Generator which does not produce the correct output level. Despite passing all self-tests and ALC checks, the output power level is far below expectation. The output also shows a high-pass frequency response.

The (heavily simplified) block diagram of the instrument is examined and discussed. The teardown of the unit reveals the output RF board which is presented in details. Since the instrument cannot detect the failure internally, it is very likely that the fault is part of the RPP output RF relay. The circuitry as well as the datasheet of the components are examined. Measurements show that the output RF relay is never activated due to a faulty PMOS transistor. After transistor is replaced, the unit shows the correct output level. The baseband generator functionality is also verified.

You can purchase the Metabo HPT (Hitachi) Cordless Screwdriver Kit from my Amazon Affiliate Link.

Teardown & Repair of an Agilent N9020A MXA 10Hz – 26.5GHz Spectrum Analyzer (March 2020)

In this episode Shahriar takes a look at a malfunctioning Agilent N9020A MXA. This instrument was provided by AllTest who hold the largest inventory of used and refurbished instruments. They have trusted The Signal Path to attempt a repair on the instrument and to support the educational content of this channel. Thank you AllTest! Please visit their website for all your measurement, calibration and service needs:


The instrument fails RF Alignment despite the fact that all calibration signals are present and can be viewed on the unit. The front-end attenuators also appear to be fully functioning. A full sweep of the input shows that the instrument fails to make measurements between 8.4GH – 14GHz as well as above 17GHz. The block diagram is analyzed and the likely fault is traced to a doubler circuit on the A13 RF Assembly. The teardown of the assembly along with step-by-step reverse engineering is presented. An X-Ray of the module also reveals the hidden band-pass filter structure on the PCB. Various dies are also examined under the microscope. The A13 module is replaced with which corrects all the instrument faults and returns the unit to normal operation.

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