Tag Archives: 8970A voltmeter

HP 8970A Noise Figure Meter: voltmeter assy (A7) defect

Not so good news today, after characterizing all kinds of noise sources, the 8970A stopped working. Can’t get it to calibrate properly, or to show any reasonable noise power values. A quick check revealed that the detector output (voltage proportional to the noise power measured) is good. But no proper display when activating the 8970A-internal volt meter (special functions 80, 81).

Checking various traces and signals – the issue seems to reside with the A7 assembly, voltmeter.
8907a a7 assy

Red – input voltage section; green – reference voltage section (about 1.2 V); blue – auto-zero section.
8970a a7 assy schematic

How it works, quite well-established dual-slope integration with autozero – a capacitor, initially at zero volts, is charged first from the input voltage, then from a (negative) reference voltage, until zero is reached again. The time it takes to do this directly relates to the input voltage.

See here, working example (sorry a bit dim- see the triangular shape in the lower left hand corner of the scope screen).
working trace

Here, non-working condition – integrator not working.
non-working trace

After checking various FETs, and timing signals – the TL072 integrator opamp appears to be the faulty device. It is a strange, intermittent fault – not triggered by vibration, but appears to be intermittent with no direct external cause – maybe a defective output stage of the opamp? Removed it from the circuit; unfortunately, all spare back at the main workshop in Germany, but fair enough will get some TL072s in soon.

tl072 defective

…. once repair is done, noise source project will continue asap!