2023. március 24., péntek

New Arrival 11. - kind of...

New Old arrival.

The things I picked up today are not new, not even for me.

A friend started a community lab a few years ago. I donated to him a bunch of test equipment. Actually I had a much smaller lab myself, and I over collected things.

Then came the COVID. This killed the the lab. 

My friend finally gave up, repurposed the lab, for his own purposes.

Most of the equipment I gave, has not too much use for him. He felt, that it wouldn't be appropriate, to give away those things. So we agreed, that the equipment he doesn't need, or used come back to me.

Today I went to the lab, and picked those up.

Bunch of FreeScale (now NXP) development boards, a CubieBoard, two BeagleBones, and a big Analog Devices Backfin development kit.

Also some nice test equipment:

Fluke 8500 multimeter, a Fluke/Philips PM3082 Oscilloscope (Even, I have a second one from this), a Tektronix 1240 and a 1241 logic analyzer.

For the logic analyzers I even have the original carrying case for the probes (with full of probes).

My plan is to switch on, test, and sell most of the things above, as I barely need them (may keep, some of it, but this is not the main plan)

2023. március 23., csütörtök

VU Tower

I have children (a boy and two girls).

I always have in mind to connect my hobbies to my family. It not always turns the way I'd like, but not this time. For precious moments time-to-time I make presents myself. Like the repurposed radio for my mother for Christmas.

During the last weekend was one of my daughter's 14th birthday. She is moving to party age soon. What would be better than something with lights connected to music.

This project is just a simple, floor standing VU meter, using a microphone board, Arduino Nano, and WS2812 LED strip. Quite a simple one.

I had issues with the microphone board. I bought all together 7 different kind. It would be a long story the troubles I had with those (so not writing it today). Finally I choose one from DFRobot. Mainly because the two 3mm mounting holes, what perfectly fit into my design.

I don't want to write to much about it, so the pictures.

The finished "product" (first, just because it looks better when sharing on social media. 😂)

Bare electronics:

Assembled without the full enclosure:

How it is work (It is just her sisters yelling. I'm afraid, if I use some music on it, one of the YouTube's piracy dickheads ban it). It also has yellow and red, but unfortunately can't be seen on the video:

All of the elements (mainly code and the 3D design) can be found in this git repo. It also contains other VU meter related things, what is "work in progress" and not connected to this project:


2023. március 20., hétfő

New Arrival 10. - Additions to my lab

There are many other things arrived since the last "new arrival" post, but today, I'd like to focus on the additions to my lab.

Agilent 53131A

Actually a few years ago I bought a 53181A Frequency Counter. Actually one of my former projects required a two channel counter, so it was itching in me, to get the bigger one.

For surprise my old 53181A had the high stability oven option. So now, I moved the OCXO reference to the new unit. I'll sell the 53181A finally (no, don't ask for the price, I've the buyer for it).

I finished the project were I think before, I need the analog multimeter, during the weekend - without it. Before that I scored this nice Hioki FET multimeter.

I don't know, if or when will I need it, but for ~$40 is nice addition to my lab (actually building some bench unit is still in my focus)

I still have one half junk PM3082 oscilloscope lying around. I didn't give up to repair it. There is no picture on the CRT. My suspect is the high voltage supply. Playing with the 16500V rail is not a child play.

I scored this for nuts, to achive the task (when I have time for it):

Fluke 80K-40 probe in carrying case. Good for 40kV.

Two additional equipment. Those are not yet arrived. Those are somewhere at the currier services

Bruster Digistant 6405

Yes, I have already a similar unit, but for GBP60, I can't leave it there.

Boonton 8201 Modulation Analyzer

No, I will not become an RF guy. Actually I've four Panasonic/Leaver VP-8193 units. I want to test, repair them (and finally sell three of it).
I read through the service manual. I have most of the required or similar test equipment mentioned in the manual (Audio Analyzer, Oscilloscope, Low frequency spectrum analyzer, multimeters, etc.)
The only missing piece was the Modulation Analyzer/Measuring Receiver. The manual mention HP 8901A/B or 8902A. Those units are going for insane price on the eBay.
I was thinking to try to simulate the function with my HackRF SDR, but I think the result will be questionable, and probably need some programming, what is time.
I was so fortunate to score this unit for the third of the cheapest HP 8901A. I think this one has the same, or better function, and optically looks much better, than any HP unit I seen online.

2023. március 8., szerda

Analog Multimeter 1.

I restarted to work with electronics around 15 years ago.

At the beginning I decided, not to use analog meters (except on audio amplifiers) anymore. Those are not precise, outdated, etc.

But the things are changing.

I started to working on a project, what done some weird things. I guess, with changing the load, the power voltage is dropping and disrupting the input measurement.

This is something, I will never see on a regular digital multimeter. I either can use some higher speed data acquisition and record the result on a graph, or use an analog multimeter and see the needle movement.

Actually I don't have none of the methods actively setup at my lab.

I decided to go to the easier way, and get an analog multimeter working. 

I still have an old Russian meter from the soviet era, inherited from my grandfather (he were the person teaching me electronics, when I was six). This meter was lying on the ceiling, as I didn't use it.

This meter wasn't switch on let say 30+ years.

This can be seen on the batteries left in it:

At least, those doesn't cause to much damage. Just some minor corrosion.

Anyway. Those meters only use batteries for resistance measurement. For this, I'll definitely will use my digital meters. So no batteries going back to the case.
Opened it. Actually it had the original factory seal on one of the screws. It was never opened before.

It is in perfect condition internally.
Tested. It is spot on. So I'll keep it for my measurements, where analog has advantages.
This could be the end of the story. But as usual, the little devil in my mind started to chase something.
I like much more the bench instruments than the handheld ones.
Looked around on the eBay. But didn't find any subject with reasonable price and condition.
What would be the result, if I design something, with the current component possibilities.
I have quite a few Ganz 101DA-2 panel meter. I bought a few as new, a few others on a ham market.
Based on those meters, I may can produce something interesting.
First, I started to work with one of the panel meters.
These things are by design has 100uA full range. The ones I bought has internal shunts to 5 or 20mA. First I wanted to remove those.

Last time I was playing with those units, I was a bit rude. Directly measured the resistance of the coil, what is definitely not a good idea (https://pakahuszar.blogspot.com/2022/09/analog-meter-resistor-sizing.html).
This time I was much more careful.
Used my Digistant voltage standard as source (it is not calibrated, and a bit off, but it is perfect for a very low voltage source), a current and a voltage meter.

So the result for the full scale is 95uA and 22.22mV. This means two things to me:
The coil resistance is ~234 ohm, and I can drive meter to full scale with let say 25mV. So I can play with these values.
With a good low noise FET input opamp, I may can go down to uV range while keeping high input impedance (thinking about 100Mohm).
We will see the results.
As you see the original scale plate is white, with just the start and the end marks. It is made from 0.9mm aluminum. I need a scale, but I have no equipment to make it from aluminum and paint is accordingly.
In addition, it would be nice to have a mirror scale (why not, if you can).
The original case, even have place for the mirror

I was thinking to find a place, where somebody can cut the proper mirror to me with waterjet. Thinking it further, I decided, to design the mirror size, print it in 3D and use a self adhesive mirror foil on it.

Next is the scale itself. I was thinking, how can I create the scale. First printing on paper and laminating it was my idea. But this is not the best for the mirror scale, as the cutout would not be easily achievable.
Then came the idea. What if I design it in KiCAD and send it to a board house for manufacturing.
So the design born. The scale was designed in OpenSCAD, exported to DXF and used by KiCAD.
Here is the result:

As the board house create minimum 5 pcs, I'd like to figure out, what design to put to the other side. Then I'll send to manufacturing.

This is for now. I'll continue, as my build advance...