HP54501a repaired

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HP54501a repaired

I spent some quality time during this weekend to get the oscilloscope working. As I said in previous installments of the blog, the most likely culprit of the problem was the VRAM chip. These were built with a battery inside, and were used to keep the calibration variables. If it is not working, it not work properly until calibrated - but the calibration would then last only until powered off - and you'd have to recalibrate each time! Mine was even worse - it wouldn't show a trace. Running the test routines it failed on the VRAM (as expected) but also in the AD and DA tests.

I disassembled the machine, which was extrmely clean inside. The disassembly procedure was well explained in the service manual, and I managed to get the beautiful main board, equipped with a complete computer of the time - starting with the Morotola 68000 microprocessor (way more powerful than the 80X88 that equipped the primitive IBM PCs. The 68000 processor was also used in the Apple Macintosh)

The problem was that the integrated circuits were directly soldered to the board - no sockets in sight. Then it was risky to apply too much heat to solder or unsolder the chips. 

After all the effort, we switched on the machine. It worked. Then we proceed to the recalibration as per the user manual (the machine is self-calibrating, which saves a lot of time getting the proper equipment to calibrate it. You only need a cinch-to-cinch connector to run from one of the calibrating outputs in the back of the oscilloscope to one of the four channels)

After the recalibration, we powered off and on again, and run the self-tests. This is what we got:

IMG_1060This meant that we had succeeded. This unit is a little bit battered on the outside, but excellent inside - I hadn't seen so clean a machine since a long time ago. Built like a tank, too.














I then proceeded to see the time response of the filters of the new Meridian Explorer 2 DAC, with MQA. I could then see the ringing of the filters, which is supposed to be all after the pulse (as opposed to Linear phase filters, which "ring" before and after the event.). These filters are supposed to be nicer on the ear. Lets see them applied to a sqare wave:





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