Tag Archives: GHz synthesizer

Fractional-N PLL for the Micro-Tel 1295 receiver: some progress, more bandwidth, two extra capacitors, and a cut trace for the SG-811

Step 1 – Programming of the ADF4157, no big issue – fortunately, all well documented in the datasheet. The 1.25 MHz phase detector frequency selected will allow tuning in integer-only (no fractional divider) 10 MHz steps (considering the :8 ADF5002 prescaler).

One sigificant difference to the ADF41020 – the ADF4157 uses 16 steps for the charge current control (0=0.31 mA to 15=5.0 mA).

Step 2 – Checking for lock at various frequencies – in particular, at the low frequencies – the thing is running really at the low edge, 250 MHz input for the ADF4157. However, despite all concerns, no issues, prescaler and PLL are working well even at the low frequency. Quite a bit of noise! Not out of focus…
1295 noisy signal

The PLL is locking fine, but still, significant noise in the loop, and also visible in the 1295 scope display, with a very clean signal supplied to the receiver… bit of a mystery. When the PLL is disengaged, and the 1295 manually tuned – no noise, just some slow drift.

Step 3 – Increased loop bandwidth to about 8 kHz, even more noise – seems to PLL is working against a noisy FM-modulated source…. a mystery. Checked all cables, nothing is changing when I move them around.

Step 4 – Some probing inside of the 1295, and review of the signal path for the PLL tune and coarse tune voltages. And, big surprise – there is a relais (K1) on the YIG diver board, and this disengages a low-pass in the coarse tune voltage line – it is a 499k/22 µF RC, several seconds time constant.

See the red-framed area:
micro-tel 1295 A3B9 YIG driver loop damping

Tackling this through a lowpass in the coarse tune feed line (from the coarse tune DAC) didn’t change a thing – the noise is getting into the YIG driver from instrument-internal sources, or partly from the opamp (U5, LM308) itself, when it is left running at full bandwidth. As a side comment, note the power amplifier – it is a LH0021CK 1 Amp opamp, in a very uncommon 8 lead TO-3 package. Hope this will never fail.

Usually, I don’t want to modify test equipment of this nature, because there is nothing worse than badly tampered high grade test equipment. All conviction aside, 2 X7R capacitors, 100 n each, were soldered in parallel to the R38 resistor, so there will be some bandwidth limitation of the YIG driver, even with the K1 relais open.
micro-tel A3B9 YIG driver board - modified

With these in place – the noise issue is gone.
1295 clean signal

Now, triggered by this discovery – the SG-811 uses a very similar YIG driver board, which also has a low pass engaged, in the CW mode – however, not in the remotely controlled CW mode, with externally settable frequency… easy enough, just one of the logic traces cut, and now the filter stays in – don’t plan on sweeping it with a fast acting PLL anyway.

Back to the fractional-N loop: after some tweaking, the current loop response seems quite satisfactory. Set at 3 kHz for now, with plenty of adjustment margin, by using the 16-step charge pump current setting of the ADF4157. Getting 45 degrees phase margin (closed loop) at 3 kHz – therefore, should also work at higher bandwidth. Will see if this is necessary.

PLL gain
1295 fractional-n loop mag

PLL phase
1295 fractional-n loop phase

Leveler calibration PROM, now: EPROM

Fortunately, the manual of the Wavetek has some detail on the leveler correction PROM. Essentially, it is fed with 8 bits representing the frequency, 255 (0xff) for 7.0 GHz, 0 (0x00) for 12.4 GHz. For each of the 256 steps, it has a correction byte stored in a Texas Instruments TBP28L22N 256×8 PROM. This is programmed at the factory, to match each individual RF deck.

20140827_075737p

Getting this exact device and programming tools ready was out of question, some of these PROMS might still around, with datecodes of the 80s, but really not worth the effort and cost.

Step-by-step

Step (1) – A little test rig was set up, with the recently repaired HPAK 8904A as a DC source (can source -10 to +10 Volts, in very fine steps), and the DC voltage connected to the leveler correction control voltage line. The Wavetek is designed for servicability, and there is a nice jumper to disengage the actual level correction DAC, and the feed an external voltage instead. An EIP 545A was used as a frequency counter and power meter. Cable and EIP 545A power meter accuracy was tested with my best calibrated source at hand, and found to be within +-0.5 dB over the 7 to 12.4 GHz band.

Step (2) – Data were collected by setting the Wavetek to various frequencies, mostly in 0.5 GHz steps, and the control voltage was adjusted for the power meter to read about 0 dBm. The data were then used to calculate the coefficients of a forth degree polynomial, and converted to the 256×8 bit format. The Wavetek uses a DAC0800LCN DAC, and the output voltage (after the on-board opamp, a LM307N) was found to be very close to 10.00 V with 0xff input, and nearly -10.00 V, for 0x00.

wavetek 907 cal
wavetekcorr

Step (3) – The tricky part. How to get a replacement for the 28L22 PROM? There are mainly two choices, one option would be to use a little microcontroller, that can easily function as a pseudo-memory, or use something more permanent, in this case, an EPROM. I had some 2532 around, therefore, not much effort. Only a small fraction of the 2532 will be used, 2 kbit of a total of 32 kbit. What a waste!
Unfortunately, the 2532 isn’t close in size to the 28L22, nor are the pins arranged in a similar fashion – but this can be solved with a little adapter board, and a few wires. Not the most beautiful solution, but who cares, it works!

20140827_075707

The Wavetek 907A – initial assessment

A Wavetek 907A – this apparatus generates microwaves from about 7 to 12.4 GHz. All the typical modulation capabilities are provided, FM, AM, pulse. Found it on xbay, USD 45. That’s less than the value of the two precision bulkhead SMA to N connectors.

Quick look inside:

20140825_130111

RF unit:

20140825_130103

You can see the YIG oscillator on the top, followed by an isolator, leveler, isolator, two attenuators, isolator. There is a side chain, starting at the leveler, and with an additional isolator: this is a non-attenuated reference signal, which is available as an auxilliary output at the front panel – quite handy to use as as a signal for PLL stabilization, or other purposes.

Some items that need attention:

(1) Power LCD display doesn’t work properly, not showing the power reading

(2) Attenuator works, but leveler doesn’t seem to work (always at maximum, unleveled power)

(3) Only have a manual with partial, cut off schematics!

(4) Some TLC required, de-dusting – done.

(5) Two pushbuttons are missing, but switches work – more a cosmetic issue, will replace, once everything else has been fixed

(6) Some switches don’t work properly – fixed with the help of DeoxIT D5.