While I was making a video on how to use HP 8671A as the frequency reference for an improved version of my simple DIY tracking generator for my HP 8566B spectrum analyzer, my spectrum analyzer suddenly decided to call it quits and displayed the dreaded “YTO Unlock” message. Although it wasn’t the first time it had done so — other times the “YTO Unlock” message only appeared once in a blue moon and rarely affected any measurements — this time however the problem seemed to be permanent and the error message wouldn’t go away.
In my previous post, I did a teardown of an HP 8620C sweep generator along with an HP 86245A 5.9 GHz to 12.4 GHz RF plugin. A few of the plguin boards in the 8620C had leaked capacitors and also there seemed to be some sort of mechanical issue as no power was delivered to the transformer regardless of the power switch positions. So what I planed to do next was to restore the power to the unit and replace those bad capacitors and see if I could bring this sweep generator back to life.
A teardown of the HP 8620C and HP 86245A by Kerry Wong:
I just picked up an HP 8620C sweep oscillator with an HP 86245A 5.9 GHz to 12.4 GHz RF plugin on eBay. This time around though, the unit does not work. While it was advertised as a working unit I could not get it powered on and there was no sign of life whatsoever. So before I start troubleshooting and repairing the unit, I thought I would do a quick teardown to see what’s inside and if I could spot anything obvious that was out of the ordinary.
I recently helped repair the card reader for the Computer History Museum’s vintage IBM 1401 mainframe. In the process, I learned a lot about the archaic but interesting electromechanical systems used in the card reader. Most of the card reader is mechanical, with belts, gears, and clutches controlling the movement of cards through the mechanism. The reader has a small amount of logic, but instead of transistorized circuits, the logic is implemented with electromechanical relays.1 Timing signals are generated by spinning electromechanical cams that generate pulses at the proper rotation angles. This post explains how these different pieces work together, and how a subtle timing problem caused the card reader to fail.
Ken Shirriff wrote a great article describing the repair process of the vintage IBM 1401 mainframe computer:
The problem started when the machine was powered up at the same time someone shut down the main power, apparently causing some sort of destructive power transient. The computer’s core memory completely stopped working, making the computer unusable. To fix this we had to delve into the depths of the computer’s core memory circuitry and the power supplies.
Teardown, repair and analysis of an Agilent E4443A 3Hz – 6.7GHz PSA series Spectrum Analyzer from The Signal Path:
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.
Alan Wolke (a.k.a W2AEW) writes, “A local ham radio friend dropped off his Yaesu FT-1000D transceiver for me to take a look at. He said that the receiver was “dead”. This video documents my debug process and the repair and final check out.”
Teardown and repair of an Agilent E3632A DC power supply from The Signal Path:
In this episode Shahriar & Rosanah investigate an Agilent power supply which does not appear to power on. It can be quickly observed that the fuse has failed on the unit. Using an isolation transformer a small amount of AC voltage is applied to the unit after the fuse replacement. It is clear that a short is present somewhere in the instrument since even at 10V AC the instrument consumes more than 1A.
Agilent 53152A 46GHz frequency counter teardown and repair from The Signal Path:
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.
Over the past two months we’ve been super excited to follow Scotty’s adventure recycling/refurbishing an iPhone 6S in the used cell phone market just south of Huaqiangbei, Shenzhen, China. Scotty finds all the bits and pieces from various sellers and then follows the iFixit instructions, backwards, to build his own recycled franken-phone.
Despite living in the market and running six hacker camps, it was still not clear to us exactly what goes on in the used cell phone markets. This video blows that open and exposes the brisk trade in recycled iPhone parts here in Shenzhen.
Along with This is Not Rocket Science, Scotty also took us on a three day phone recycling expedition earlier this month. Watch his channel for more videos and clips soon!