Tag Archive for Parts

Starlink Dish Phased Array Design, Architecture & RF In-depth Analysis

In this episode Shahriar takes a detailed look at the Starlink Satellite Dish. The dish was kindly sent by Ken who has done his own initial teardown here.

The dish is analyzed layer by layer from the radome down to individual integrated circuits. The RF design, system architecture and many aspects of the overall product are described in details. An X-Ray of the RF stack is also shown which further explores the design of the array.

Teardown, Repair & Experiments with an Agilent 86118A 70GHz Dual Remote Sampling Head

In this episode Shahriar diagnoses a malfunctioning Agilent 86118A 70GHz Dual Remote Sampling Head. With 70GHz of analog bandwidth per channel, this module definitely deserves a repair.

Unfortunately most failed remote-head modules aren’t repairable if the damage is in the sensitive proprietary III/V front-end IC. However, in this situation the module intermittently fails calibration which is more promising. The teardown reveals the architecture of the module from the point of view of the analog and strobe paths. Measurements on the strobe path also show a potential failure on the power-amplifier/splitter network which feeds the two remote-heads. A pair of transistors are replaced on the strobe path which correct the problem. The unit passes calibration and is then used for various eye-diagram measurements to verify full functionality.

Teardown, Repair & Analysis of a Noise-XT 2MHz – 7GHz Ultra-Low Phase-Noise Synthesizer

In this episode Shahriar repairs a Noise-XT 2MHz – 7GHz Ultra-Low Phase-Noise Clock Synthesizer. The instrument’s history indicates that it has suffered a fall from a work table. After a lot of difficulty, the instrument control software was found so that the unit can be tested.

Initial tests reveal that a very small output is present, however nearly 40dB below the desired value. The unit teardown shows an architecture based on dual Analog Devices DDS 14-bits DACs in conjunction with a Z-COMM VCO and a series of dividers & frequency multipliers. A detailed analysis of the unit is presented.

RF and analog measurements indicate that the RF connector is not making adequate contact with the final trace of the RF output. This explains the low output power. This problem is resolved by replacing the SMA connector entirely. The device output power, frequency accuracy, stability as well as cross-correlation phase-noise measurements are presented.


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 an Agilent E8257D 250kHz – 31.8GHz PSG Analog Signal Generator

In this episode Shahriar repairs an Agilent E8257D PSG Analog Signal Generator generously loaned by AllTest. Please visit their website for all your measurement, calibration and service needs:


The instrument does provide an RF output signal. However, there is also a large DC offset voltage present at the output RF port which changes depending the frequency band. The DC voltage is present even when the output RF signal is disabled. Furthermore, the OCXO of the instrument is defective and does not produce a 10MHz output signal.

The block diagram of the PSG is examined in details with emphasis on the final attenuator, coupler and doubler RF decks. Interestingly enough the output offset is traced all the way back to the Modulator Filter block. The teardown of the module reveals a series of PIN diode switches and after some investigation the fault is traced to a damaged PIN diode on the sub-3.2GHz path. Since the diode can’t be easily replaced, the control voltage to the diode is disabled instead which removed the DC offset problem.

The OCXO teardown reveals that during a prior repair, the oscillator module has been damages and torn off the PCB. New pins are added to the oscillator module which returns the crystal back to working condition. The performance of the PSG is verified using a spectrum analyzer and frequency counter.

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