Author Topic: Wavetek Model 271 Function Generator Restoration & Calibration  (Read 15331 times)

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Online xrunner

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This is my next project - a Wavetek Model 271 Function Gen. I got it off Ebay for only $80. I've used one before but it's probably been 25 years. I haven't seen much on the EEVBlog regarding this model, so I thought it'd be interesting to some of you. Will be posting much more as I get into it. Nice pretty VFD display, still very bright.
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Online xrunner

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Re: Wavetek Model 271 Function Generator Restoration & Calibration
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2016, 11:40:05 am »
Checked out a few waveforms and it seems to be working. One issue is a low battery message, as so many of these older pieces of kit used batteries that had to be replaced to hold settings. This particular battery was totally dead - 0.0V and after an exhaustive search I found it is no longer available / no substitute. It's a BR-1/2A. I found batteries close in size but they would be too long to fit in the battery holder, so I plan on replacing it with a 3V battery with solder tabs - maybe a coin cell? Any ideas welcome.

A few more pics. Front panel is a membrane type keyboard, dirty but that should be simple to clean off. Many of the metal panels were date-stamped, which is neat. It's chock-full of electronics and boards to get the job done, but seems to be well-made and designed.

Lots of dust inside ...
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Offline Andy Watson

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Re: Wavetek Model 271 Function Generator Restoration & Calibration
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2016, 12:01:56 pm »
It's a BR-1/2A. I found batteries close in size but they would be too long to fit in the battery holder, so I plan on replacing it with a 3V battery with solder tabs - maybe a coin cell? Any ideas welcome.

I replaced mine with a Varta CR 1/2AA. It's slightly longer than the original but it can be persuaded to fit.
 
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Re: Wavetek Model 271 Function Generator Restoration & Calibration
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2016, 12:25:27 pm »
It's a BR-1/2A. I found batteries close in size but they would be too long to fit in the battery holder, so I plan on replacing it with a 3V battery with solder tabs - maybe a coin cell? Any ideas welcome.

I replaced mine with a Varta CR 1/2AA. It's slightly longer than the original but it can be persuaded to fit.

I looked at that battery and did notice it was several mm longer. Not sure if I'll use that or a battery with leads already attached and just mount the battery on the side, or even just remove that battery holder since that battery is no longer made and there is no substitute.
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Offline Nuno_pt

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Re: Wavetek Model 271 Function Generator Restoration & Calibration
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2016, 01:36:51 pm »
xrunner,

In my opinion I would put a new holder in place that fit there for an easy obtainable battery.
Nuno
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Offline Andy Watson

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Re: Wavetek Model 271 Function Generator Restoration & Calibration
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2016, 02:04:46 pm »
I looked at that battery and did notice it was several mm longer.
Yes, it's not the best of fits! I think the previous owner had already "adjusted" the holding bracket. It is quite solid once it's in position.

 

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Re: Wavetek Model 271 Function Generator Restoration & Calibration
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2016, 04:10:19 pm »
In my opinion I would put a new holder in place that fit there for an easy obtainable battery.

That's an option to consider yep.

Yes, it's not the best of fits! I think the previous owner had already "adjusted" the holding bracket. It is quite solid once it's in position.

That was the first battery I was considering.

I might unsolder the batt. holder and try to make some new accurate bends with pliers so as to accommodate a longer battery. Might as well try since there's no battery going in it again anyway.  :-//

If that doesn't work I'll put in a new battery holder.
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Re: Wavetek Model 271 Function Generator Restoration & Calibration
« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2016, 06:13:23 pm »
I have a Wavetek 278 that has the same battery issue.  The previous owner replaced the battery with a 1/2AA cell.

I see in the manual that the battery provides backup for "up to  6 months (typically 1 to 2 years)."  The 1/2A battery has a capacity of 650 mah while the 1/2AA has a capacity in the range of 850 - 1000 mah for a potential lifetime of 2 - 3 years.  I haven't done it yet, but I'll measure the current drain of my unit to see just how much it really draws.

If the current drain is similar to the typical values mentioned above, I'm not comfortable with the idea of soldering in a battery that has to be changed that often.  Buying a new lithium battery that often doesn't seem like the best plan either.  I might install a battery holder somewhere that holds 2 AA alkaline batteries.  Cheap, easily replaceable and, if it leaks, the damage will be seperated from the board.

Ed
 
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Re: Wavetek Model 271 Function Generator Restoration & Calibration
« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2016, 06:32:21 pm »
I have a Wavetek 278 that has the same battery issue.  The previous owner replaced the battery with a 1/2AA cell.

I see in the manual that the battery provides backup for "up to  6 months (typically 1 to 2 years)."  The 1/2A battery has a capacity of 650 mah while the 1/2AA has a capacity in the range of 850 - 1000 mah for a potential lifetime of 2 - 3 years.  I haven't done it yet, but I'll measure the current drain of my unit to see just how much it really draws.

If the current drain is similar to the typical values mentioned above, I'm not comfortable with the idea of soldering in a battery that has to be changed that often.  Buying a new lithium battery that often doesn't seem like the best plan either.  I might install a battery holder somewhere that holds 2 AA alkaline batteries.  Cheap, easily replaceable and, if it leaks, the damage will be seperated from the board.

Ed

Thank you very much for that info. My plan for the moment is to disassemble the entire unit (I would have anyway for cleaning) and unsolder the battery holder and try to re-form it with tools so it will fit the 1/2AA cell better.

I have taken out the logic boards on one side now. I noticed that the top board was designed to "flip-up"  for maintenance on two hinges. However, the two hinge pins were not in their respective holes  ???, so the hinges would not work. Hopefully you can see that in the pictures. Anyway, the boards came out just fine, but I noticed that even if I put the hinge pins in the holes so it would have flipped up (or tried to), that a shield was in place that prevents it from flipping up. The shield bumps against the frame way before the board can move up very much. If you take the screw out of the shield so the board can flip up - the hinge support falls off anyway so why is it there. Something of a mystery. Either it came from the factory made that way and they realized the design didn't work, or ... or I don't know what.
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Online edpalmer42

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Re: Wavetek Model 271 Function Generator Restoration & Calibration
« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2016, 09:05:04 pm »
I measured the battery drain on my unit.  Looks like it's not going to be a nuisance after all.

I measured 12 ua @ 3V0 and 13 ua @ 3V6.  Not impressive by today's standards, but within spec.  The battery is powering two HM6116LP-4 CMOS rams.  Maximum drain for them is 30 ua each @ 3V0 in standby mode.  Therefore, a 650 mah battery should last for over 6 years.  Wavetek's 'typical 1 - 2 years' is based on the maximum drain of 30 ua each.

So the dead Tadiran TL2150 cell in my unit (1/2AA rated for 1 ah) would have lasted for over 9 years!

By the way, it looks like the models 270, 271, and 278 are all variations on a theme.  Start with the 270 and add more features for the 271 and even more for the 278.  I didn't find a manual for the 271, but there are manuals for the 270 and 278 available online.

Ed
« Last Edit: June 07, 2016, 09:07:20 pm by edpalmer42 »
 
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Re: Wavetek Model 271 Function Generator Restoration & Calibration
« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2016, 09:43:04 pm »
I measured the battery drain on my unit.  Looks like it's not going to be a nuisance after all.

I measured 12 ua @ 3V0 and 13 ua @ 3V6.  Not impressive by today's standards, but within spec.  The battery is powering two HM6116LP-4 CMOS rams.  Maximum drain for them is 30 ua each @ 3V0 in standby mode.  Therefore, a 650 mah battery should last for over 6 years.  Wavetek's 'typical 1 - 2 years' is based on the maximum drain of 30 ua each.

So the dead Tadiran TL2150 cell in my unit (1/2AA rated for 1 ah) would have lasted for over 9 years!

Thanks Ed. Good info. I got busy with the battery holder, and managed to remove it, but not without a fight. It was not only held by two solder pins, but also by a sort of rivet joint. I had to carefully drill out that rivet. I removed the holder because I have several ideas for modding it, and even if that doesn't work out, I'll replace it anyway with a new size for a new battery. But I want to try modding it first.

Quote
By the way, it looks like the models 270, 271, and 278 are all variations on a theme.  Start with the 270 and add more features for the 271 and even more for the 278.  I didn't find a manual for the 271, but there are manuals for the 270 and 278 available online.

Ed

I did find a "Wavetek 278 Operators Manual, which covers the 271. Never found one specifically for the 271 though.
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Offline TiN

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Re: Wavetek Model 271 Function Generator Restoration & Calibration
« Reply #11 on: June 08, 2016, 04:23:43 am »
Holy trimmer batman. There are many of those in this box.
Thanks for teardown and sharing!
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Re: Wavetek Model 271 Function Generator Restoration & Calibration
« Reply #12 on: June 08, 2016, 06:20:53 am »
Holy trimmer batman. There are many of those in this box.

Yeah, and there's something a bit weird about that.  Notice that the trimmers are square (Bourns?) 10 turn.  But the silkscreen outline is round.  My 278 has single-turn round trimmers where xrunner has 10-turn square ones.  I only see one round one near the yellow connector.

Xrunner, does it look like those trimmers are original or have they been replaced?  A couple of mine are broken.  The round ones are still available from Digikey.  Now I'm not sure what type to use.

Ed
 

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Re: Wavetek Model 271 Function Generator Restoration & Calibration
« Reply #13 on: June 08, 2016, 12:50:06 pm »
Holy trimmer batman. There are many of those in this box.
Thanks for teardown and sharing!

Yea a tweakers paradise. Going through the cal should prove interesting.  :-/O


Yeah, and there's something a bit weird about that.  Notice that the trimmers are square (Bourns?) 10 turn.  But the But the silkscreen outline is round.  My 278 has single-turn round trimmers where xrunner has 10-turn square ones.  I only see one round one near the yellow connector.

Xrunner, does it look like those trimmers are original or have they been replaced?  A couple of mine are broken.  The round ones are still available from Digikey.  Now I'm not sure what type to use.

Took a look at the board after you mentioned that, looked at the back carefully with a magnifying glass. In my opinion it hasn't been touched since it left the factory. Don't know why they decided to start using those 10 turn pots in those positions.

I took the battery holder to the garage and grabbed the vise grips. The CR1/2AA battery has a length of 0.99". I had a BNC termination that was about that length so I used that as a dummy battery. What I did was make some new bends in the end holders. You can see the new bends in the pic. I also added a dollop of solder on the neg. terminal to help make up the distance. I believe it will fit, and I have the battery on order.



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Re: Wavetek Model 271 Function Generator Restoration & Calibration
« Reply #14 on: June 08, 2016, 06:18:33 pm »
More disassembly.

Pics for reference in case anyone needs to see them someday. It's neat that there are date stamps on almost every piece of metal.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2016, 06:33:31 pm by xrunner »
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Re: Wavetek Model 271 Function Generator Restoration & Calibration
« Reply #15 on: June 08, 2016, 11:23:53 pm »
Next up is a keyboard issue. All of the keys work, but the +/- key does not "click" like it's supposed to. The reason is it's obvious that key took a hit from some pointed object, as evidenced by an indentation in the front panel plastic. I'm going to be attempting a repair of the metal membrane under that key.

More tomorrow ...  :popcorn:
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Re: Wavetek Model 271 Function Generator Restoration & Calibration
« Reply #16 on: June 09, 2016, 01:13:52 pm »
So here we have the 271 front panel disassembled. I have notated the "ding" in red in the picture. An object hit the front panel, imparting a dent in the plastic and denting the metal membrane switch. The switch still works, but it doesn't have the nice tactile feel it should have. It's interesting that the ding is almost directly in the center of the switch, almost like someone tried to push the switch with a metal pointy thing.

I have an idea how to fix it, which I'll be working on today.

« Last Edit: June 09, 2016, 02:01:38 pm by xrunner »
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Offline edavid

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Re: Wavetek Model 271 Function Generator Restoration & Calibration
« Reply #17 on: June 09, 2016, 05:23:21 pm »
By the way, it looks like the models 270, 271, and 278 are all variations on a theme.  Start with the 270 and add more features for the 271 and even more for the 278.

They also made models 273 and 275.

I think the lineup was:

270 basic FG
271 FG + pulse
273 synth FG + sweep
275 FG + sweep + AWG
278 synth FG + pulse
 

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Re: Wavetek Model 271 Function Generator Restoration & Calibration
« Reply #18 on: June 09, 2016, 06:33:34 pm »
I have some sort of love-hate relationship with Wavetek. I don't like the looks of it or the user interface, but I do like the build quality and the silkscreened functional blocks on the pcb's.
I do have a 178 (no idea how that relates to the 2XX series) and 2 98's in mint condition. To be honest they don't get much use since I have a Rigol DG4000 on the bench.
They just occupy too much space and lack the modern interfaces like USB or Ethernet.
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Online edpalmer42

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Re: Wavetek Model 271 Function Generator Restoration & Calibration
« Reply #19 on: June 09, 2016, 07:22:20 pm »
They just occupy too much space and lack the modern interfaces like USB or Ethernet.

Years ago I realized that the equipment I was going to be interested in only had GPIB so I made a point of picking up a few PCI GPIB cards and cables when I came across them.  I make good use of them for collecting data from counters and DMMs in particular.

Ed
 

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Re: Wavetek Model 271 Function Generator Restoration & Calibration
« Reply #20 on: June 09, 2016, 07:47:00 pm »
Years ago I realized that the equipment I was going to be interested in only had GPIB so I made a point of picking up a few PCI GPIB cards and cables when I came across them.  I make good use of them for collecting data from counters and DMMs in particular.

True, and I did the same but now I've almost replaced everything with "modern" stuff. only the counter still has a GPIB port. My PCI card didn't even make it into my latest workbench PC but I do have a USB-GPIB cable that I can use. Some of the old equipment that I use even has ethernet already, like the E4406 VSA which must be over 10 years old.
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Online xrunner

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Re: Wavetek Model 271 Function Generator Restoration & Calibration
« Reply #21 on: June 09, 2016, 10:45:25 pm »
I have some sort of love-hate relationship with Wavetek. I don't like the looks of it or the user interface, but I do like the build quality and the silkscreened functional blocks on the pcb's.
I do have a 178 (no idea how that relates to the 2XX series) and 2 98's in mint condition. To be honest they don't get much use since I have a Rigol DG4000 on the bench.
They just occupy too much space and lack the modern interfaces like USB or Ethernet.

I understand. I have modern stuff too, like a Rigol DG1032Z. What am I doing with this thing? Because it's a hobby. I enjoy restoring the "vintage" test equipment to near-new condition, and playing with it. This Wavetek is fun to use, it's sorta like programming a calculator.  :)

By the way, the repair of the keyboard is going well, should have some pics by tomorrow.
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Re: Wavetek Model 271 Function Generator Restoration & Calibration
« Reply #22 on: June 10, 2016, 05:56:24 pm »
You can clearly see the dent in the pics. The entire back of the keypad has a plastic stuck-on sheet. What I did was to cut an opening along one side of the damaged metal part. I then used a tool (in this case a soldering helper tool) to insert under the metal and "scrubbed" the underside hard enough to re-form it back to where it should be. After I did this, it worked again as it should. I then sealed the cut with a piece of clear packaging tape. I also worked on the plastic membrane to get that dent out, by using the back of my X-Acto knife. Now the switch works as good as new.
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Re: Wavetek Model 271 Function Generator Restoration & Calibration
« Reply #23 on: June 10, 2016, 06:26:56 pm »
The adhesive on most packing tape dries out after a few years.  3M Magic Tape (the stuff with the green tartan label) will last for a couple of decades or more.  I don't know if it matters for this application.

Ed
 
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Re: Wavetek Model 271 Function Generator Restoration & Calibration
« Reply #24 on: June 10, 2016, 11:36:47 pm »
The adhesive on most packing tape dries out after a few years.  3M Magic Tape (the stuff with the green tartan label) will last for a couple of decades or more.  I don't know if it matters for this application.

OK, I'll keep that in mind. Not sure if it's a big deal here as it's basically pressed tight back there anyway by the mechanical assembly.
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