Category Archives: Spectrum Analyzers

HP 8569A Spectrum Analyzer: two mysterious resistors

Again, some repairs of a 8569A spectrum analyzer. This time, no problem at all with the front selectors and contacts that break all too often, but with the CRT showing only a defocused vertical line. Some probing around – the analyzer appears to be find but something wrong with the deflection circuit? This is on the A5 assembly, and with no extender board around, quite difficult to probe, and a bit dangerous because this assembly is using +120 VDC. Any short may damage the supply, and any touch may give you a shock. So better exercise some care. By soldering wires, I was able to trace the signal and it seemed to be OK up until to some of the last amplification stages of the X amplifier. Maybe something wrong with the transistors – no these are good. Probing around on the board, checking all values of components close-by: the 75k resistors (fairly large sized 0.5 Watt resistors) are high-resistance, both seemed to have failed at the same time – strange. Eventually, this is becoming a quite frequent failure, already the 5th case or so over the last few years of open high-ohmic, say, 100k and about, resistors that are subject to 100 V or similar “high voltage” usage.

With no suitable 75k resistors available, I went with a combination of 82k parallel to 880k, resulting in 75.01k, close enough. And the 82k resistors that need to carry most of the current are really good old low inductance transistors suitable for such 100 volts service.

The repair, it is not particularly beautiful, but it works and at no cost, with available parts. Finally, some hours of test to make sure there is nothing else at fault in this unit. All good, test passed.

HP 8566B Spectrum Analyzer: lock and roll issues

With the 8566B main issues fixed, I carried out extensive tests, also switching it on and off many times, running it for a while. So far so good. With all the tests, discovered only one issue, unstable display for spans above 5 MHz.

The instability is difficult to see on the picture, it is a bit random, and at slow sweep, the trace becomes very wobbly and noisy. Jumps around. The common suspects are the A19, A20, and maybe A21 assemblies, these control the YTO. There are various capacitors on these boards that may fail or leak. Or some dead bits on the DAC, or similar. A bit strange that it works so well below 5 MHz span – isn’t it? Not really, because the 8566B has a different mode of operation, depending on the sweep width. Below 5 MHz, the LO stays locked all the time, above, it is only locked at the start of the sweep, and then the YTO is swept just be increasing the tuning coil current in a linear (and linearized) fashion.

After considerable study, probing, checking capacitors, including desoldering some – no success. Some more checks, solder joints fixed, finally, so occasional improvement. Touching the assemblies A19, A20, some response.
From that, suspected a contact issue with the board edge connectors, and indeed, these were not very clean. So I gave them a thorough treatment with polishing cloth, rubber erasor, alcohol. Reseated the boards, A19 and A20.

Finally, the sweep is very stable. Seems a lot of unnecessary concerns about capacitors and such, but well, finally, fixed. Screen shows a reference (stored) trace with slightly below 5 MHz, and a longer time max-hold display, slighly above 5 MHz span. Clearly, not much noise and instability. All looking good.

HP 8566B Spectrum Analyzer: Defective and fake transistors, and finally, a HP 4-404 equivalent

Recently, I got a HP 8566B at very low cost, unknown working condition of course. First, it would not power on, at least not fully. Some activity on the 8566B, but no display at the 85662A display unit.
Clearly, next step, to open it all up and do a good survey. Quickly found the issue in the 85662A power supply board. While all the other boards where good and clean, the power supply boards are directly in the airstream and showed some leg corrosion of transistors. Especially, 2n2369A transistors, and the famous 4-404 HP transistors (not that the 4-404 is anything special, but there are no replacements mentioned by HP.

Recently I found in some late 8662A boards that HP subsitute the then obsolete 4-404 with a MPS6521, a high gain NPN transistor. So I did the same and put in BC337-25 (-40 may be a closer match but not at hand here).

With these fixes, the 8566V turns on just fine, but it doesn’t turn off well. The 5.2 V rail goes high a little, and then nothing happens, no power down, when you switch the analyzer off. So measures all currents and voltages in the 5.2 V supply, and finally traced it to a defect of the main power transistor, a 2n5886 equivalent power NPN transistor in TO-3 case.

Checked it out internally, the defect is actually within the area of the bonding wire connection. So the transistor became better, non conducting, once I pulled of the bonding wires and measured directly on the die.

Quickly ordered some 2n5886 from China, a bag of 5 for less than a dollar a piece including shipping. Well, you get what you pay for. Look at the small die, the missing plate (die is directly bonded to the steel case, the bonding wires much thinner).

Doesn’t look like a genuine ON brand device, even the marking is not in accordance to the datasheet.

For comparison, the HP-Motorola part:

Tried to fix it with a 2n3055 temporarily, but it turns out there is not enough gain with that transistor. So the rail would only go up to 4 Volts.

The 2n5886 is a quite remarkable device, high current and substantial gain.

Finally, I got hold of this “Motorola” device, it may be genuine, at least it looks like solid quality. So I unstalled it for a test.

You can see it installed, a new and shiny transistor. Soldered it in generously applying solder.

Voltage is spot on without any adjustments.

Now all seems to work, except the various IF filters need a bit of alignment.

Although they are brittle, for these adjustments ceramic screwdrivers are definitely handy. Make sure to isolate other screwdrivers, easily there can be shorts when adjusting, resulting in complicated repairs of the IF signal chain.

Finally all adjusted within the toleraces, there are all too many adjustable capacitors inside this unit!!

At least, a well worthwhile repair, because the CRT is like brand new. It seems that someone had replaced it, but then put very little further use on the unit. I plan to use it together with my microwave phase noise measurement installation, for rough characterization of microwave sources prior to engaging the complicated phase noise test gear.

HP 85662A Spectrum Analyzer Display: a quick fix of the 120 V power supply

A 85662A spectrum analyzer display for repair, the symptom (I didn’t take a picture) – a green square in the middle of the CRT -some lines are visible within, but no proper display. So, acceleration, CRT, and focus seem good – at least it seems to be a manageable fault rather. Maybe something with the XY deflection amplifiers – but why would both fail at the same time? In any case, first things first and checked the power supply. All the LEDs are on, on the power supply boards, but there is no output on the 120 VDC supply (well, some output, like 7 VDC) – the supply that is essential for the deflection system to work.

Some study of the schematic of the A1A7 assembly. Note that the voltages differ with the serial, this is a 85662-60235 part number board. Q7 is a current source that is driving the main transistor, Q8. If the voltage is trending higher, some of the Q7 current will be shunted to ground through U2.

It is a bit troublesome and dangerous to work on the life circuit (about 150 VDC at the input!). So, I did a check of all the transistors with a diode tester – and found the B-C junction of Q5 shorted. A HP part 1854-0019.

Some study of cross-reference lists, the 1854-0019 is a simple 2N2369A, found some in the basement parts storage (even a military rated and tested JANTX2369A with golden legs!).

Still, even with this fixed, no success. Further to other parts – replaced the green parts in the picture, an LM301 opamp, and another transistor, with no luck. Finally, soldered a few wires to the board and did careful checked in the circuit with power on, it can’t be helped otherwise it seems.

A few minutes later – the failure found. The Q7 current source is not giving any current, the base of Q7 is not biased properly. An open 110 kOhm resistor! It is quite rare to find defective resistors in HP equipment, but especially high value resistors running at higher voltage are prone to aging and failure, eventually.

With a simple, new resistor added, a metal film 110 kOhm, the supply is working again, and so is the 85662A.

HP 5086-7803 YIG tuned Filter and Switch: “SYTF” details and adjustment

With the repair of many spectrum analyzers, it turns out, the preselectors are usually not easily damaged, because of their self limiting characteristics, and because of the absence of active parts. The SYTF is diffient in that it has an active part, a switch.

It is already some years old, but no reason why such parts should have much aging at all.

The symptom of this unit, it is working in the low frequency region setting, LOW band out, but the high band is dead, loss in excess of 35 dB, at all frequencies, and independent of the tuning current supplied.

So my first assessment was, this unit needs replacing, and I found a replacement part online, from a US seller, not cheap, but OK, the 8561E analyzer is worth it, if it is working again after the repair. Unfortunately, several week of waiting were all for nothing – the seller shipped the wrong part and it took a while to get the money back, but finally all settled, except, we still have the defective filter.

Let’s try to investigate the nature of the defect, and open it up. Fortunately, these filters are not hermetically welded like some other YIG parts.

You can clearly see the coil, the inlet and outlets (low and high band) by rigid SMA cable (1 mm size!).

First, let’s study the switch. It is not actually switching the high band, as I originally assumed, but it is switching on and off the low band.

It is a series-shunt-series type FET switch, controlled by about -10 V negative voltage (1 kOHM vs. -15 V connection is the usual control method, floating or ground to switch off).

I could not find the exact die and model for this switch, but there are many similar models that clearly show the structure. The shunt and double series construction will prov