Tag Archives: hp power meter

HP 8481A Power Sensor: why are they all blown?

A remarkable HP product, the HP8481A sensor. It appeared on the market about 1974, and still today, these devices are very much thought after. It works from about 10 MHz to 18 GHz, -30 to +20 dBm.

Quite some detail about this sensor can be found in the HP Journal, 1974-09 edition (pages 19ff).
There is says that the sensor can withstand 300 mW power, and even 0.5 Watts for seveal days. Still, there are many sensors around that are blown – why do so many people connect them to 0.5+ W transmitters and destroy them along the way? I have no idea!

Here, a quick glance at the internals:

8481a view

8481a thermocouple chip

8481a thermocouple cross section

8481a schematic hp

8481a schematic

8481a exploded view

8481a power sensor

8481a shield

8481a open

8481a internal

8481a ferrites

8481a connector

8481a sensing element

Note the capacity values – measures: 3.5 nF at the input, 3.0 nF at the output. This is all real gold on sapphire substrate!

8481a capacitor values