Posts Tagged ‘repair’

TS-930S PA/PS Postscript

August 11th, 2010

Long-time followers of the blog know that one of my TS-930S transceivers has been a money and time sink for about the past five years, fully 60% of the time I’ve owned it.  So, if you haven’t been following the story over the past couple of months, I pretty much replaced (almost—get to this in a second) all of the electrolytic capacitors in the power supply and power amplifier, plus replaced the driver and final amplifier transistors.  As I increased the drive past the point where I got 50 watts output, I started to get a lot of AC hum on the signal.

At first, I thought the hum might be associated with a low-frequency instability in the power amplifier.  I read all the Helge Granberg articles I could find on the topic and tried all of the prescriptions he suggested.  Last night, I even went so far as to tweak the feedback resistances in the PA stage to increase low-frequency stability.  Still there.  Finally, I measured the frequency of the AC hum—exactly 120 Hz—full-wave bridge rectifier leakage.  Tonight, I pulled the power supply board out of the radio, which is a herculean task, by the way.  There were still three small, insignificant-looking electrolytic capacitors that I hadn’t changed.  I found two of them in my junk box and crossed my fingers on the third one (a 25 uF, 100-volt unit), leaving it in place.  While I had it out, I also found and shunted a pair of dying PCB traces with pieces of wire.

After putting the board back into the radio, I disconnected the PA 28-volt line and powered it up.  I checked the 28B voltage…right on 28.5 volts.  So, I reconnected everything and it fired right up at 100 watts without the hum.  Perseverance seems to have paid off.  For now.  I keep telling myself that the next time it breaks, I’m going to get a K3/100.  But, I just can’t bear to buy a radio that’s worth more than my car.

More on the TS-930S PA

July 29th, 2010

I put the “troublesome” TS-930S back on the bench again yesterday to investigate its PA instability some more.  A few points are worth mentioning:

  1. The instability onset power gets lower with increasing frequency.  That is, at 7 and 14 MHz, the instability onset is at about 60 watts output.  At 28 MHz, that drops to 40 watts.
  2. I was able to increase the onset power slightly by increasing the resting bias of the MRF-422/2SC2510A pair from 1.1 A to 1.5 A.  I don’t know if that was a real effect or just a coincidence, though.
  3. I tried adding 0.001 uF, 0.1 uF, and 4.7 uF capacitors shunting the 28B line to ground to remove RF that I observed on that line during transmit.  I don’t have a good measurement of the amount of RF, yet.  But, I know that it’s the same frequency as the transmitter because it varies as I change bands.

I still need to find that Helge Granberg article from RF Design to locate the references.  Still counting my lucky stars that I haven’t destroyed anything in the course of these experiments.

IC-290H dial frequency offset

July 5th, 2010

Some time back, I had the good fortune to stumble across a broken IC-290H at an attractive price.  The IC-290H is a synthesized mid-1980s 25-watt 2-meter all-mode transceiver.  Since I had been contemplating a radio to use as the IF to my W1GHZ transverters for 903 through 3456 (yeah, still need to build/integrate all of these), I jumped.  The problem was described as an offset of some tens of kHz between the dial frequency and the actual transmit and receive frequencies.  Since the IC-290 lacks a user community like the TS-600 and TS-700 (my other 2-meter all-mode radio), I went to Google and then posted a quick inquiry on the Stanford VHF e-mail list to see if this was a common problem.  Google produced nothing and the VHF list produced the usual “get the Service Manual” response.  Since I already had the Service Manual thanks to the previous owner, I was set.

The synthesizer (“PLL”) in the IC-290H has at its heart a VCXO (shown above).  The control voltage biases varactor diodes D2 and D3 in a tank circuit with crystal X1 operated between the series and parallel resonant frequencies (as a very high-Q inductor).  Contributions to the control voltage come from the microprocessor (red dot), the receive incremental tuning (RIT, blue dot), and an overall bias of -9 V derived from 5 V using DC-DC converter IC2.

In the “PLL Adjustments” section of the Service Manual, the VCXO adjustments are outlined, checking the synthesizer output with a frequency counter.  I noted that as I changed rotated the VFO encoder on the front of the radio and the digits changed on the display, the output frequency of the synthesizer changed accordingly.  Similarly, the RIT caused the frequency to shift.  Neither of these things were surprising since I could tune in different stations before.  In USB mode at 145.998.5 MHz, the synthesizer should output at 134.250.0 MHz.  I read it at 134.230.21 MHz, clearly the source of the almost 20-kHz offset.  I nudged potentiometer R2 (against the vehement warnings of the Service Manual) and the output didn’t change.  For good measure, I swept R2 over its entire extent with no change.

R2, it seems, controls amount of the available -9 V bias applied to the varactors.  I checked the -9 volts line.  Zero.  Who stole the bias from the cookie jar?  The 5 V line was sagging down to 4.23 V.

I removed IC2, which is in a metal can that resembles an overgrown Mini-Circuits mixer and has only “DP-1” stamped on the cover in black ink.  For kicks, I drove this little guy with 5 volts into no load and got well over -100 V out.  Did this punk destroy other parts in my synthesizer?  I put this question to Dad, who happened to be here over the weekend.  He suggested that it might require a load to produce a regulated output.  Good thinking.  Nothing on the synthesizer board appeared to be charred.  So, my theory was unlikely and I proceeded.

Without IC2, the 5 V line bounced up to 4.95 V.  And, the output side (connected to L6) showed a DC short to ground.  If you trace the circuit from the output of IC2 to one of the legs of R2, nothing should show a DC short.  I looked for bridged solder traces.  None.  Taking the divide an conquer approach, I removed R10 (green dot), to isolate the entire RF portion of the circuit.  Still shorted.  So, this left the following three suspects:  two 0.1 uF ceramic disk capacitors and a 10 V, 100 uF electrolytic.  Since electrolytic capacitors, especially older ones, have a bad reputation for causing problems, I interrogated it first (C20, purple dot).  Bingo.

The only 100 uF capactor I had on hand that even came close to fitting was a 50 V unit from a previous repair.  I squeezed it in—it’s the big brown one against the edge of the case in the center of the photo below.  Note IC2 “DP-1” in the lower right corner.

So, I plugged the radio into a power supply and antenna.  And, low and behold…it was about back on frequency.  So, I completed the synthesizer and RIT adjustments in the Service Manual and put it back together.  It actually receives WA1ZMS/B on 145.285.0, which, Doppler notwithstanding, is GPS-locked at 145.285.000…   Stay tuned for the low-drive transverter IF modification in the next few months once I start building them again.

TS-930S PA mod — first try

May 25th, 2010

As I wrote recently, I have been tackling the low-frequency instability problem in the TS-930S PA unit.  My first attempt was to add several bypass capacitors to from the supply side of L7 to ground (through a lug on the Q7 mounting screw a short distance away).  This should tame the drivers, although the problem is not there.

The hum came back when I pushed the power beyond about 50 watts.  The push-pull MRF-422 final amplifier circuit in the TS-930 comes from Motorola EB27, with a few small modifications.  However, it is not clear to my untrained eye where additional precautions could be taken.  I have a hunch that my next target will be this portion followed by the 2SC2075 pre-driver stage if I come up empty on the finals.

More on the TS-930S PA

May 21st, 2010

I’m not sure that I’ve shared this on the blog, but I’ve long known that the reason that my “troublesome” 930 burns up PA drivers is a low-frequency oscillation.  This mechanism was also mentioned by Leeson in his comprehensive list of 930 upgrades and repairs.  At first, I thought that the 28-volt power supply’s filter capacitors might be the culprit—insufficient ripple-suppression.  After all, the oscillation sounds like it has a 60-Hz component (I’ve never tried to measure this because I’m concerned about blowing up more transistors).  I finally completed the capacitor replacement last night, realigned the power supply voltage and PA bias levels…and the oscillation is still there, just as I increase the drive past the point where I get 50 watts out.

There is a good Helge Granberg article in the September/October 1980 issue of RF Design titled “Good RF Construction Practices and Techniques.”  I would like to get a copy of the original article because Motorola, in their infinite wisdom, reprinted the article as AR164 but neglected to include the list of references.  Granberg devotes an entire section of the article to instabilities, a full of half of that section to low-frequency instabilities.  This is the area I will focus on first:

Causes for the low frequency instability are usually inadequate collector DC feed bypassing or an extremely poor ground in that area.  Two or three RF chokes together with various values of bypass capacitors from 1000 pF to several uF may be required in the DC line to stabilize the circuit.  (See examples in Reference 1.)

Ah, Reference 1, where (who) art thou?

If I ever get to the bottom of this problem, there should be a useful body of work and notes to prevent this from happening repeatedly to others.


April 17th, 2010

Something noteworthy that I should have added to the previous post, but that could deserve it’s own:  I’m all caught up on radio repairs, which means I’ll have more time to operate!  And, I can return to the business of building transverters (or repairing test equipment—Dad’s Tek 464 and my HP 8405A).  NN3W told me yesterday he’d give me $10 to repair his TS-930S when I got done with mine.  I told him I wouldn’t take the screws out of the case for that…

TS-930S repair notes (17 April 2010)

April 17th, 2010

This is just a quick note summarizing my repair of the 5-million S/N TS-930S.  Both the fragile MRF-485 drivers and the hardy MRF-422 finals were toast.  The power supply pass transistors (2N5886s) were also dead.  Two electrolytic capacitors in the PA bias network over-voltaged and exploded.  Original cause unknown, but certainly exacerbated by a slipped probe when setting the driver bias previously.

I almost wrote this one off and parted-out the goodies from this radio to finance a new radio.  But, when I saw the price of a used Orion or properly-configured K3/100, I realized I could repair this one a lot of times and save my money for my newly-acquired VHF+ habit and the eventual, mythical, first tower.

To begin with, I got the power supply working again with my last set of spare 2N5886s.  Should buy a half-dozen more of these to keep on-hand.  With the PA disconnected, I set the 28B line at 28.5 volts.

Now for the big job:  I tore-down the entire PA board, cleaned it, and cleaned the heatsink.  Replaced all of the bias resistors with new carbon composition types from Mouser.  Replaced the MC1723 regulator IC in the PA bias with LM723.  Replaced all electrolytic capacitors in PA.  Replaced drivers with MRF-485MP-HB (matched-pair, high-beta) from RF Parts.  Used all-new mounting hardware and mica insulators.  Replaced finals with 2SC2510A-MP, also from RF Parts.  This part is essentially the Toshiba version of the Motorola MRF-422, but at about 1/2 of the price and a little higher beta.  Yes, I know the higher beta may cause instability if run at full output or poorer IM if run at lower power.  But, I was in a thrifty and experimental state of mind.  Performed the PA bias alignment according to the Service Manual.

I fired the radio up into a dummy load on my bench (which is in the basement, two floors away from the shack—note to self:  this was a dumb idea).  No output on CW.  Check ALC—pegged.  Check Ic meter (PA collector current)—pegged.  The radio wasn’t groaning (or popping/stinking) like a circuit drawing too much current.  So, I figured it was in the current transducer circuit.  Righto!  This circuit contains a beefy 0.5-ohm cement resistor bolted to the power supply heatsink—basically they use the voltage drop across this resistor to estimate the current.  One of the sensor leads from this resistor read 0 volts.  After a good deal of tracing and troubleshooting, including inductors on the power supply board, I tracked it down to a bad trace near the connector on the power supply board, which was easily shorted with a small piece of wire.

That fixed it right up.  The radio made slightly more than 100 watts on CW and about 55 in TUNE mode, just as it ought to.  Next, I noted that the PA and P/S fans did not come on while I was transmitting, even though the heatsinks had become appreciably warm to the touch.  So, I hard-wired the P/S fan to the 8-volt line in the fan case (see the W6NL mods for more details).  In the case of the PA fan, I hard-wired a 7812 regulator (with an appropriate capacitor–0.68 uF/50 volts) to the 28B line on the power supply and brought 12 volts out to the fan.  So, both of the fans run all of the time now, which is a better arrangement.  Plus, I now have a regulated 12-volt source easily accessible inside the top portion of the radio.

I put the radio back together and took it up to the shack.  Made a few QSOs in the Michigan QSO Party and it seemed to be working great.  However, I did hear a little popping on the second radio.  I don’t know if this is a symptom of poor isolation in my station (need to follow the K9YC directives for SO2R bonding) or a power spike or IM problem on the radio.  Probably should make some measurements on those things.


March 2nd, 2010

One of my TS-930s (2-million S/N) has always been a little touchy when it comes to the synthesizer PLLs. A while back, I put new electrolytic capacitors in the power supply because the old ones were drying out, reducing the regulation. After setting the supply voltage back to 28.5 volts, I noticed the PLL wouldn’t lock (indicated by the letters PL.L on the display—this radio has the PIEXX digital board upgrade) on any band.

Thanks to KA5IPF, whose expertise has been invaluable to me as a Kenwood owner, I learned that this was probably due to the master heterodyne oscillator not oscillating since it affected all bands. I tweaked L77 on the signal unit (front corner of the radio behind the PITCH/AF TUNE knob) until the oscillator dropped out, then backed up until it came back and dropped again. Then, I split the difference, just as Clif recommended. I had the radio on 40 CW at the time. And, it was so touchy that when I changed bands, it would unlock again. So, I got it dialed in on 40 CW and left it. This was fine since I was operating domestic contests at the time and having a radio on 40 all the time from the Midwest is usually a good idea.

But, now that I’ve moved to the East Coast where DX contests are the name of the game, I’ve decided that it would be a good idea if the radio were more frequency-agile. I pulled it apart last night and got to the PLL board, which is notorious for cold solder joints. (Is it a bad thing when you “just know” how to get to any circuit in your radio in 10 minutes or less? Probably.) I didn’t see anything that looked visibly cold, but I went around and reflowed a bunch of joints and, fresh off my success with the TS-700, I cleaned all the connectors. Then, I repeated the L77 master heterodyne oscillator adjustment.

It seems to be working now, although I need to give it a good run in a contest to be sure. This leaves only the radio that eats expensive transistors like popcorn to be repaired…

TS-700S repaired

February 16th, 2010

I finally knocked a radio off my repair list.  The TS-700S gave out during the ARRL January VHF Sweepstakes.  It turns out that most of the problems were due to bad connections internally.  I hit the heterodyne crystals and their sockets with contact cleaner and reflowed a few joints.  I may yet fix the LNA, but with 10 watts, I haven’t had too much trouble being an aligator.

Trials and Tribulations of a Geriatric Electronics Specialist

February 6th, 2010


I have an old radio problem.  Make that three old radio problems…err…problem radios.

My first used radio was the TS-930S you see in this picture.  It’s been good to me, and I’ve tried to reciprocate, although I am a contester.  It hasn’t quite been the same since I put the third set of PA drivers in it and repaired the power supply.  Something deeper must be wrong.  I found out tonight that something deeper was indeed wrong, in the form of not one, but two, exploding electrolytic capacitors.  At least I had one of them in the junk box, but I figured I was pushing my luck and came up here to the shack to blog instead of blowing up another one.  The power supply pass transistors were assuredly toast since they were riding high at 40 volts—got that fixed.  But, it still pops caps.  Crap.  Something is amiss in the final PA bias circuit (MRF-422).  I don’t think that the ratings of the MRF-422’s have been exceeded.  So, it should be a matter of diagnosing the bias circuit and getting back on track.

The TS-700S at right is my most recent used find.  It’s in practically perfect cosmetic condition.  But, during the ARRL January VHF Sweepstakes, the output power started fluctuating before finally going to zero.  The T/R relay driver transistor failed, but there’s still something else going on—it looks like an ALC issue of some sort.  I did just finally find a service manual for this guy and that should help the diagnosis.  Although, the service manual is unusually vague about the purpose of some of the control signals that are passed between functional blocks.  This might take a while, too.

The other TS-930 actually works, except only on 40 CW.  On the other bands, the PLL unlocks.  KA5IPF suggested that I tweak the master oscillator to keep it off the ragged edge of unlock.  I’ve done that a few times and can’t quite hit the sweet spot.  My next plan is to pull the PLL unit out (a real pain) and reflow all the solder joints on the board since it comes from the early era of the TS-930, when cold solder joints were common.

I’ve pulled the FT-840 out to be the second radio for bands other than 40 CW.  And, I’m missing the Sprint tonight to spend time with my wife since I spent the better part of the afternoon tracing through the TS-700 and hooking up the FT-840.  Fortunately, I have the FT-840 configured as a drop-in replacement for a TS-930—this is in no small part due to the fact that the PIEXX boards use Yaesu-style BCD band-decoders—so, I can plug right in with the appropriate adapter.