Tag Archives: mj12002

Micro-Tel SG-811 Swept Signal Generator: a hot (and golden) driver

Suddenly, my SG-811 microwave generator started to play up, running hot, and then, stopped working with power supply failing. Too bad! Fortunately, the Micro-Tel power supplies have a fairly consistent design for all their various instruments, and I have fixed already several of them, so it will be an easy task. In this case, just needed to replace the main transistors to get it working again (MJ12002 replaced by BU208A, which are much more easily available). But switching on, I immediately noted that something was wrong, too much heat and current around the oscillator control board. This board has a LH0021CK power (1.0 Amp) opamp that is driving the tuning coil of the YIG oscillators. The part seems to be shorted out.

Looking at the schematic, there are current sense resistors for each band, with the sense wires switched by an analog multiplexer.

The LH0021 are not quite rare, but expensive – fortunately, a kind guy from the US offered a pair for these on eBay, NOS or used, for a reasonable price. And some weeks later, they made it to Germany.

These are really nice parts, all gold plated and solid pins.

Replaced the LH0021, and the SG-811 is basically working, but still too much current on the LH0021. What is going wrong? Turns out, there is a oscillator control board inside the RF unit, which is switching the coils depending on the band selected. Probing around, this doesn’t seem to work, because one of the coils, band 3, stays energized all the time.

Easy to find the troublemaker – a shorted switching transistor, a medium power PNP, 2N5193. These 2N5192 are not very common, so let’s do a search for similar parts in by basement archive of obsolete parts – and, in fact, there is a bin of BD438, including a note about their characteristics, and a not from the former owner (a generous old man who didn’t need any electronic parts any more, and had several lifetimes’ worth of supplies).

With the RF unit open and the board pulled out, it’s a good idea to check all the transistors and diodes, and in fact, another one found shorted as well (not a tuning switch, but the main power for one of the oscillators).

With both of these transistors replaced, the SG-811 can be put back into service. Didn’t take all that long to fix, not much longer than to deal with repair quotes, shipment, and other hazzles when repairing more modern units.

‚Ķplenty of power, up to 18 GHz…

Micro-Tel MSR-902C Microwave Surveillance Receiver: power back on – first signs of (extraterrestrial?) life

Today, a few spare MJ12002 transistors arrived. No time to lose, and put them into the power supply. Note that the new transistors are 1983 data code, whereas the Micro-Tel originals were 1988… fixing the power supply with old parts, but no reason to assume that these transistors have any issues with age. With such power supplies, I would always suggest to use a pair of transistors of the same manufacturer, rather than mixing up two very different devices. This is why both transistors were replaced, not just the defective part.

msr-902c 8322 mj12002

After this replacement, connected a 10 Ohms 25 Watts load resistor, and grounded the Interlock and ON/OFF lines. When powering up, the green AC ON light comes on, but not for too long. Look at the set of fuses sacrificed in the process:

msr-902c pwr supply rep fuses

Another set of tests – no issues found, all working fine. Something must be loading the power supply, and I can’t get any negative voltages out of it – but there must be at least one negative rail to provide -15 V to the various opamps in the receiver.

Not to long and the culprit was found – a shorted tantalum, a T310 series Kemet tantalum, directly at the – what turned out to be, -18 V output. Check out the date code. Why did Micro-Tel put a 1979, week 38 dated device, in such kind of expensive and specialized equipment (other parts suggest that this unit was made about 1989, at a price of about $40-50k – that’s about $70k in today’s dollars…).

msr-902c tantalum

Some tests show that there is a +18 V, -18 V, and a +12 V output. All are routed through feed-through capacitors. A fair bit of effort, and cost!

msr-902c pwr supply output

First test with the actual receiver connected –

msr-902c first pwr test

– connected the 1-18 GHz tuner – a bit of a cable mess.

msr-902c test setup

To test the basic functions, like, IF chain, detectors, etc, a 1.5 GHz test signal from a HP 8642B was routed to the tuner. And, to my greatest satisfaction, the MSR-902C is actually receiving!

msr-902c receiving 1.5ghz

1 kHz AM modulation…

msr-902 receiving am

… also tested the FM and AM detectors, both in sweep and fixed modes, the AFC, the IF gain, the marker – all working. Also the 8-12 GHz, and 12-18 GHz ranges, working fine. Clear signal down to -105 dBm input. So all working and pretty well tune.

msr-902c 8 to12 range

Unfortunatly, this is not the case for the 2 to 8 GHz ranges – the frequency display is not showing a reasonable value – not sure what is going on here. Maybe something with the band logic, or the signal multiplexers (see the MSR-904A repair story – these instruments are notorious for defective CMOS multiplexers).

msr-902c 2 to 8 ghz ranges defect

So far, so good – at least in some bands, we would receive satellites, or signals from other galaxies, given, there aren’t many strong sources out there, in space, and all the other solar systems, too far away!

Micro-Tel MSR-902C Microwave Surveillance Receiver: a very intriguing, 60 pound briefcase

A few days a ago, a most intriguing briefcase arrived, brown color, looking like the late 70s… Samsonite. It is heavy! Really heavy!!

msr-902c briefcase

Inside – a fully equipped MSR-902C receiver, including all cables (which are rare, and extemely expensive to fabricate, because they use special military connectors). This receiver can more or less receive any signal, down to very low levels, and comes in 3 modules, the actual receiver, a 1-18 GHz tuner, and a 18-26 GHz tuner. Other tuners and harmonic mixers were also available from Micro-Tel, but most likely, not many of these have ever been sold.

msr-902c view1

A brief description of the MSR-902, which is very close to the 902C:

msr-902 description

Unfortunately, there is very little literature or even manuals on the MSR-902C, no instructions, no schematic – fortunately, is shares some circuits with the MSR-904A, and 1295 Micro-Tel receiver, and it is an all-discrete construction, with a lot of wires and circuit boards, so it is repairable, even without schematic (just taking 10x longer….). Should you have a manual, or any other related documentation for the MSR-902C,

Inside of the main receiver (the tuners have not yet been touched), a most amazing combination of wires, switches, boards, and so on. All hand-soldered in Maryland, USA.

msr-902c wires

msr-902c wires2

msr-902c wires3

It is a marvel of engineering, but, currently, not in working order. It blows the fuse, as soon as it is connected to mains power. Something wrong with the power supply. After removing a cup full of screws, here it is.

msr-902c pwr supply

Strongly shielded by a thin magnetic shield, all nicely machined and assembled. Now all has to come apart for repair.

msr-902c mag shield

The internals of the power supply, a good number of boards and parts. The power supply can either work from AC mains, or from 12 VDC. The 12 VDC section appears to be find.

msr-902c side view

msr-902c top view

After some tests, found the first suspect item, a full short on one of the MJ12002 transistor that drive the primary of the switchmode power supply converter.

msr-902c dead mj12002

msr-902c transistor short

It a quite old-fashined part, but could still find 3 pieces, USD 5 each. Not cheap, but OK.

msr-902c pwr transistor mj12002

Once the transistor had been removed, time for some checks of the drive circuit. This circuit is based on an MC3420 switchmode controller.

msr-902c pwr supply disassembled

As you can see, the switch mode regulator is working, just no drive transistors around that could actually drive the transformer. But will be only a matter of days.

msr-902c pwr supply drive signal

For those interested, here are the specifications (of the very closely related MSR-902).

msr-902 specifications

More to come – stay tuned!