Author Topic: HP 3437A System Voltmeter - first half of teardown, pending repair  (Read 14673 times)

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Offline c4757p

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HP 3437A System Voltmeter teardown and repair, part one

Still quite a way to go, this is a complex piece of kit and not in the best shape.

Never mind the mostly uninitialized blog, it's brand new.

The analog people here might appreciate this preview:



Edit - added a couple photos I missed.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2013, 12:12:43 am by c4757p »
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Offline echen1024

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Re: HP 3437A System Voltmeter - first half of teardown, pending repair
« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2013, 12:32:21 am »
Delightful. Some interesting construction quirks though. However, those white ceramics are absolutely beautiful.
I'm not saying we should kill all stupid people. I'm just saying that we should remove all product safety labels and let natural selection do its work.

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Offline c4757p

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Re: HP 3437A System Voltmeter - first half of teardown, pending repair
« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2013, 12:38:48 am »
I tracked them down in the schematic (just updated the text to reflect it) - the two in the analog section are actually just precision matched resistor networks! The one in the digital section is an unobtainium microprocessor made by a company nobody's ever heard of, which specialized in MPUs for T&M applications. (I can't remember the name anymore) made by HP themselves, as free_electron pointed out - don't recall where I read that but I don't think it's true.

There are definitely some quirks. The digital board in particular looks like it was laid out rather carelessly - all sorts of pointless kinks and twists in traces, etc. The black jumper wire you can see in the picture of the MPU installed in its socket? There's a perfectly good space on the back of the board to run a trace for it. (Possibly it's there to allow disconnecting for service, but why a long wire with crimped connectors when a two-pin header-style jumper will do?) Parts of it are clearly designed with servicing in mind, but others are totally not - for instance, most of the connectors are directly soldered/crimped. Removing the GPIB port to get the digital board out was interesting.... the ribbon cable is mounted into the IDC connector and soldered directly to the board. I had to work the connector itself out through the back panel cutout (it was that or desolder twenty-something wires).

Of course, if you don't need to fully remove the boards, both of them are mounted in with flexible plastic hinges. Just unscrew on one side and fold out. :-+

And I'm curious about that triax connector on the rear panel. It's directly paralled with a standard coax connector on the front panel, and the guard is undriven, so what's the point? :-// Unless it was a junk box replacement by a clueless person. That is a possibility - there was one screw missing from the chassis, so I don't think I am the first one inside this.

I don't think I'm going to have to dig far into troubleshooting this one. I think it's just some stuck keys. But does anyone have access to a schematic that is actually legible? Agilent's copy is ridiculously smudged, as usual. (How the hell does the company that made it not have access to decent-looking schematics??)
« Last Edit: October 31, 2013, 02:05:19 am by c4757p »
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Offline sync

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Re: HP 3437A System Voltmeter - first half of teardown, pending repair
« Reply #3 on: October 31, 2013, 12:54:08 am »
That turrets are teflon insulators. High impedance stuff.
 

Offline c4757p

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Re: HP 3437A System Voltmeter - first half of teardown, pending repair
« Reply #4 on: October 31, 2013, 12:58:22 am »
Ah yes, I see that now! Thank you. (That's pretty clever, actually.) I never noticed the ring around the metal, I saw the traces encircling them and thought they were connected to those traces. I guess they are actually guard traces.

By the way - am I right to think that the "crinkly" look to the top of this ROM is due to heat? The underside of the PCB around them is darkened a good bit, too. I'm really hoping there's no thermal damage to this thing, once I get the panel fixed - I don't remember hearing the fan spin up when I turned it on. :-BROKE

« Last Edit: October 31, 2013, 01:09:17 am by c4757p »
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Offline kizzap

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Re: HP 3437A System Voltmeter - first half of teardown, pending repair
« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2013, 01:19:03 am »
Is the top of the chip feel greasy or sticky, or is it solid?

It looks like it might have some of the spray on it that is on the board.

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Offline c4757p

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Re: HP 3437A System Voltmeter - first half of teardown, pending repair
« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2013, 01:28:00 am »
It is solid, and there is no spray on the board.
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Offline BravoV

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Re: HP 3437A System Voltmeter - first half of teardown, pending repair
« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2013, 01:37:01 am »
Looks like the same conformal coating that is applied on the pcb, and those "crinkly" probably trapped bubbles when the chip was heated while the coating was not properly dried ?  :-//

Offline free_electron

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Re: HP 3437A System Voltmeter - first half of teardown, pending repair
« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2013, 01:39:30 am »
you bet there is spray on the board. even the ceramic part is 'glazed' by some conformal coating ....
looks like this whole board was coated in something.

that cerqmic chip is an HP design processor. made by the Loveland division in colorado
« Last Edit: October 31, 2013, 01:51:26 am by free_electron »
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Offline sync

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Re: HP 3437A System Voltmeter - first half of teardown, pending repair
« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2013, 01:40:43 am »
IFIAK that cap between the ROMs at the bottom of the picture is a wet tantalum. Don't replace these type of caps. They are high quality and expensive.
 

Offline c4757p

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Re: HP 3437A System Voltmeter - first half of teardown, pending repair
« Reply #10 on: October 31, 2013, 01:45:53 am »
If it looks that way, it's just the photo. I am 99.99% certain there is no coating on this board. You can clearly see exposed PCB material and metal in places where the soldermask has been pulled back (around vias and testpoints, for instance). There are even a couple places where uncovered copper (the traces on the digital board appear to be raw, unplated copper) has begun to corrode. I'd take a better picture but my camera is just a cell phone and it's really hard to photograph anything shiny...

Also note that a few of the pictures were taken shortly after washing the boards, there may have been water still in nooks and crannies and moisture on some parts that I didn't notice.

BravoV, the "crinkly" look is just 1970s soldermask.

Upon closer inspection, the ceramic chip appears to be permanently shaped that way. If you look very closely, even the screen-printed label follows the contours. (Again, can't manage a decent picture...) I think it rolled off the assembly line like that.

IFIAK that cap between the ROMs at the bottom of the picture is a wet tantalum. Don't replace these type of caps. They are high quality and expensive.

Yup, I don't replace wet tants. I haven't gone through the capacitors yet, so if there is one there I didn't notice it.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2013, 01:51:17 am by c4757p »
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Offline sync

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Re: HP 3437A System Voltmeter - first half of teardown, pending repair
« Reply #11 on: October 31, 2013, 01:59:59 am »
It has lot of tantalums. Look in the service manual (Table 6-3 Replaceable Parts).
These are the metal ones with the positive lead soldered on them.
 

Offline c4757p

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Re: HP 3437A System Voltmeter - first half of teardown, pending repair
« Reply #12 on: October 31, 2013, 02:04:21 am »
that cerqmic chip is an HP design processor. made by the Loveland division in colorado

Is it? I remember reading that they were made by some defunct chip company. Don't remember where I saw that, though, probably was bullshit.
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Offline lowimpedance

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Re: HP 3437A System Voltmeter - first half of teardown, pending repair
« Reply #13 on: October 31, 2013, 03:37:31 am »
Nice fingerprint on the ROM next to the crinkly 'finished' one !, testing for heat??.
I have a vague recollection that I have seen this surface finish before, I would be surprised if it was heat damage.
 It was one grubby 'bugga' that's for sure. How people let stuff end up like this browns me off!.
On a somewhat different note I see the Micro is in a 'RED' socket. I recall seeing a service note for the 3456a regarding units which contained these sockets that would cause lock up problems, and should be removed. See the third note in the thread below.
Of course I would just put in a high quality replacement socket.

https://www.eevblog.com/forum/testgear/hp3456a-service-notes-for-owners-info!/msg144820/#msg144820
The odd multimeter or 2 or 3 or 4...or........can't remember !.
 

Offline c4757p

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Re: HP 3437A System Voltmeter - first half of teardown, pending repair
« Reply #14 on: October 31, 2013, 03:51:14 am »
Thanks for the note about the socket. Can't read it on my phone though, I'll check back tomorrow.

f_e, you were right (as usual   ;D) about the coating. It's very, very thin, but definitely there, and definitely a spray: there is a ceramic capacitor touching a crystal, and the interface between them remains uncoated. If it weren't for that, I swear to god the components look perfectly natural and uncoated! They are just slightly duller without their coating...

I was also wrong about the unfinished copper corroding - it's not unfinished, it is gold, and still had some gunk on it.
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Online Vgkid

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Re: HP 3437A System Voltmeter - first half of teardown, pending repair
« Reply #15 on: October 31, 2013, 07:22:51 am »
I can't wait to see more of the teardown, along with it working properly.
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Offline c4757p

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Re: HP 3437A System Voltmeter - first half of teardown, pending repair
« Reply #16 on: November 01, 2013, 05:04:58 pm »
It works!

It's got a few segments out on the LED display, and a few discrete LEDs out, so I'll replace them*, along with any aluminum caps. Needs a cal, too. (What? You're trying to tell me that giving a precision sample-and-hold voltmeter a literal bath screws up its calibration?)

Looks like one of the LED drivers might be out as well, one of the annunciators seems to be stuck half-on.

I was right, the fan is completely stopped. It has its own discrete three-phase driver circuit, so probably just a transistor blown in there. They completely omitted any back-EMF diodes... :wtf: I'm sure in a three-phase configuration they aren't technically required, but when the fan jams because it's caked with filth, those poor driver transistors are just sitting there plucking the motor windings like a harp.

*I'm hoping I can find new 7-seg displays that fit in the front panel cutouts. I'll just stick them on a PCB to match the one that it has. The old one with tiny LED modules glued and bond-wired to a separate PCB is cool for old-shit nostalgia points, but if it doesn't work...
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Offline sync

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Re: HP 3437A System Voltmeter - first half of teardown, pending repair
« Reply #17 on: November 01, 2013, 05:17:03 pm »
It works!

It's got a few segments out on the LED display, and a few discrete LEDs out, so I'll replace them*, along with any aluminum caps. Needs a cal, too. (What? You're trying to tell me that giving a precision sample-and-hold voltmeter a literal bath screws up its calibration?)
Congratulation!

How do you did the bath? These high impedance circuits must be very clean.
 

Offline c4757p

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Re: HP 3437A System Voltmeter - first half of teardown, pending repair
« Reply #18 on: November 01, 2013, 05:21:54 pm »
Hot water, detergent and a soft scrub brush. Followed by an alcohol rinse and a second bath.

Hmm... the fan drive circuit is completely dead. Powered, but no sign of oscillation. (And none of the motor windings are open or short.) Ah, screw it, I'll just replace all six transistors. Can't be bothered to probe around for an hour trying to find which 2N2222 or 2N4403 has kicked the bucket...
« Last Edit: November 01, 2013, 05:36:19 pm by c4757p »
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Offline sync

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Re: HP 3437A System Voltmeter - first half of teardown, pending repair
« Reply #19 on: November 01, 2013, 05:45:51 pm »
The water and detergent will leave a film which can affect the high impedance circuits. As final step I usually gently scrub and rinse them 2-3 times with pure IPA and then 2-3 rinse cycles only. It's important that the alcohol is pure and leave no residues.

 

Offline c4757p

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Re: HP 3437A System Voltmeter - first half of teardown, pending repair
« Reply #20 on: November 01, 2013, 06:01:46 pm »
Yep, of course. As of yesterday, I was only concerned with getting this thing rapidly to the point where I can tell whether or not it's beyond economic repair. Now that I can see that everything works, I have components to replace, so my grubby hands will be all over the boards and I'll be leaving plenty of flux and crap behind. They'll get another, much more proper cleaning after that.

The motor driver works too, now. Just had to change out the 2222s. Even after the bath, that motor was frozen solid... finally poured alcohol directly in it and started twisting it back and forth, and out pours a huge slurry of grime and dust. |O I want to know where this meter was before I came to have it...

And yes, those ROMs get very hot. No wonder they (and the PCB under them) look scorched. The microprocessor also gets very hot. I would not want to run this for long fanless.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2013, 06:04:35 pm by c4757p »
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Offline sync

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Re: HP 3437A System Voltmeter - first half of teardown, pending repair
« Reply #21 on: November 01, 2013, 06:11:42 pm »
Maybe overheating affected the calibration.
 

Offline c4757p

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Re: HP 3437A System Voltmeter - first half of teardown, pending repair
« Reply #22 on: November 01, 2013, 06:16:39 pm »
Doubtful. The analog section and ADC are completely encased in heavy metal shielding with little ventilation, so I doubt they respond much to the fan being disabled. I think it's more a combination of "probably last calibrated in the 1980s", "spent a decade in a mud pit", and "scrubbed with a brush that may have pushed trimmers". (I know for a fact that cleaning upset at least one trimmer - I intentionally rotated an open-frame capacitor to clear out any dirt between the rotor and stator.)
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Offline sync

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Re: HP 3437A System Voltmeter - first half of teardown, pending repair
« Reply #23 on: November 01, 2013, 06:25:45 pm »
Yes, of course. No software calibration but trimmers. And I'm currently working on a 3450A which also adjusted by trimmers. :palm:
 

Offline macboy

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Re: HP 3437A System Voltmeter - first half of teardown, pending repair
« Reply #24 on: November 01, 2013, 06:26:18 pm »

*I'm hoping I can find new 7-seg displays that fit in the front panel cutouts. I'll just stick them on a PCB to match the one that it has. The old one with tiny LED modules glued and bond-wired to a separate PCB is cool for old-shit nostalgia points, but if it doesn't work...
I have several very similar multi-digit 7-segment LED displays at home. Post more details (pictures, dimensions) of the faulty one(s) and I'll see if I have a potential match.
 


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