Controlling an HMC624LP4E RF Attenuator Using Arduino

I recently found a Hittite (acquired by Analog Devices in 2014) HMC624LP4E evaluation board gathering dust in my miscellaneous PCB bin and thought it might be a great little project to add a microcontroller interface to it so I can use it as a convenient digital attenuator in my lab. The HMC624LP4E had been replaced by Analog Devices’ HMC624A-EP but these two chips are mostly identical so everything described in this post can be applied to the newer HMC624A as well.
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Teardown of an MVMT Dual USB Port Wall Outlet Adapter

I bought a USB wall outlet adapter recently so that I can free up my wall outlets while charging my phones and tablets. Of course, before putting it into use, I wanted to open it up to take a peak inside to see if it was properly engineered and at least to make sure that it would not be a safety hazard at the least. After all, this USB adapter is meant to be plugged in all the time.
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Unusual Failure Mode of an APC Surge Protector

Recently I got hold of a dead APC SurgeArrest power strip that was about to be thrown out in my office. The power strip simply doesn’t provide power to any of its outlets regardless of the power switch position. Since there was no external fuse that I could find, I decided to take it apart and find out why and how it had failed.
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Keithley 775A Programmable Counter TCXO Repair

In my last post, I did a teardown of the Keithley 775A programmable counter/timer. And while feeding a 10 MHz signal from my Rubidium frequency standard, I noticed that the measured frequency was significantly lower (9.9981 MHz) than the nominal 10 MHz reading and could not be compensated by adjusting the TCXO fine adjustment screw alone. My suspicion quickly turned to the temperature controlled crystal oscillator (TCXO).
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Keithley 775A Programmable Counter Teardown

I just picked up a Keithley 775A programmable frequency counter from eBay. Specification-wise, this counter is very similar to the Racal Dana 1992 frequency counter I repaired last year. The Keithley 775A I got came with an additional channel (option 7751) and is capable of measuring frequencies up to 1.3 GHz.
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Teardown of a GM3120 Electromagnetic Radiation Tester

There are a lot of cheap electromagnetic radiation testers out there which boast some quite impressive claims. So I decided to pick up a popular one (GM3120) from eBay to see how well it works. And perhaps more importantly, I wanted to take a look inside to see how the E field and H field sensing is done.
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HP 8566B Spectrum Analyzer “YTO Unlock” Repair

While I was making a video on how to use HP 8671A as the frequency reference for an improved version of my simple DIY tracking generator for my HP 8566B spectrum analyzer, my spectrum analyzer suddenly decided to call it quits and displayed the dreaded “YTO Unlock” message. Although it wasn’t the first time it had done so — other times the “YTO Unlock” message only appeared once in a blue moon and rarely affected any measurements — this time however the problem seemed to be permanent and the error message wouldn’t go away.
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A Quick Look at the M5Stack ESP32 Development Kit

I recently received an M5Stack ESP32 development kit from Banggood. Although I have not used any ESP32 based development boards before, I have heard many good things about the ESP32 platform, especially for its rich feature set and versatile connectivity. After all, it was designed to have IoT applications in mind. So I was pretty excited to take it for a spin.
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Teardown of an EcoSmart 60W Dimmable G16.5 LED Bulb

Although LED light bulbs have been around for a while, I have not been able to totally replace all my lights in the house to LED ones until quite recently. The main reason is that some of my existing light fixtures only take G16.5 style bulbs with E12 screws and higher wattage LED bulbs of this kind only became available until quite recently.
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A Differential Amplifier Based on INA117

Differential amplifiers come in handy in applications where common-mode noise and interference are present in the system. This is largely attributed to the very high common-mode rejection ratio (CMRR) these amplifiers provide. And because of the high CMMR they are well suited in high-side current measurement applications and in situations where voltages must be measured deferentially. So over the past couple of weeks, I made a differential amplifier PCB based on TI’s INA117 and it will serve as building blocks for some of my future projects.
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HP 8620C Sweep Generator Repaired

In my previous post, I did a teardown of an HP 8620C sweep generator along with an HP 86245A 5.9 GHz to 12.4 GHz RF plugin. A few of the plguin boards in the 8620C had leaked capacitors and also there seemed to be some sort of mechanical issue as no power was delivered to the transformer regardless of the power switch positions. So what I planed to do next was to restore the power to the unit and replace those bad capacitors and see if I could bring this sweep generator back to life.
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Capacitor Plague? Inside an HP 8620C Sweep Oscillator and HP 86245A RF Plugin

I just picked up an HP 8620C sweep oscillator with an HP 86245A 5.9 GHz to 12.4 GHz RF plugin on eBay. This time around though, the unit does not work. While it was advertised as a working unit I could not get it powered on and there was no sign of life whatsoever. So before I start troubleshooting and repairing the unit, I thought I would do a quick teardown to see what’s inside and if I could spot anything obvious that was out of the ordinary.
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Teardown of an HP 8671A Microwave Frequency Synthesizer

I recently bought an HP 8671A microwave frequency synthesizer on eBay. This synthesizer can generate signals from 2GHz to 6.2GHz with an unleveled output of more than 8dBm. It is a nice complement to my HP 8642B signal generator and Wavetek 907 signal generator. Using these generators, I can now generate signals of pretty much any frequencies under the 12GHz range. A video of this teardown is linked towards the end of this post.
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Further Disassembly of the HP 493A TWT

My video on the teardown of an HP 493A traveling wave tube amplifier had generated quite a bit of interest. After I revealed that the electron gun portion of the tube was radioactive, a couple of my YouTube channel viewers had wondered if I could take the traveling wave tube further apart. So I did just that.
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The Traveling Wave Tube inside HP 493A is Radioactive

In my previous video featured on EEVBlog I did a teardown of an HP 493A microwave amplifier along with the traveling wave tube inside. I actually had done a teardown of an identical unit a while ago but this time I managed to take a peek at the traveling wave tube inside.
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