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Old 22nd Apr 2024, 2:14 pm   #1
Julesomega
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Default Refurbishing an HP 8563E Spec An

A few years ago I asked the Forum about the symptoms I was seeing on a colleague's 8563E and was told to look at the YTO, so I gingerly got it out of the fearsome assembly that is an 8563E and measured zero output power. We discovered that there was an engineer in California who would rebuild these unobtainable oscillators, and had a good reputation for his work, which exceeded the build quality of the Malasian sourced units. We posted off the unit and paid up front, and the unit duly came back and has sat in its box until now. I said I would only work on the 8563E if he came round to offer moral and physical support (I can hardly lift this 'portable' model off the floor). This promise was repeated annually until this year, when he agreed to help.

There was a time slot when She who wouldn't stand for it was away for the weekend so the kitchen table was cleared and covered with cloth. I'd forgotten how I got the YTO out so I looked on YT and there are many videos on HP SAs, one even claimed to show how to dismantle and reassemble one from this series, but he showed neither, only warning us that the PSU unit is predestined to fail due to electrolytics failure. The PSU is as complex as it could possibly be made and is literally the centremost assembly. I warned my friend that it would be unwise to turn it on, but as soon as we got the YTO in and conected he plugged it in and pressed the ON button. Mercifully it came on, thought to itself for a moment, calibrated itself, and displayed the cal. marker!

I wouldn't be surprised if members here were involved with this product, which seems to be at the pinnacle of electronics (and mechanical) design. I'm wondering how well the 8563E meets modern requirements and how one would go about selling one. I would only entertain 'collection only'. My friend had been hiring this from a reputable company, and after a few years they offered to sell it to him for £4k. They may have done some work on the PSU but I suspect they foresaw the demise of the YTO and wanted rid. His total expenditiure is now nearly 5k so he's looking to get a fair bit of this back. What would be the price of a modern equivalent instrument? Is the California guy still in business?
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Old 22nd Apr 2024, 2:27 pm   #2
Alan Bain
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Default Re: Refurbishing an HP 8563E Spec An

My impression was that I have seen working (often therefore refurbished) 8563Es selling around the 2-2.5K mark, but there are variations which affect value e.g. CRT or LCD and hours run can affect the value (mainly to pick up the always-on-in-a-rack models). Dim CRTs are a major problem. Also sometimes the switches are unreliable.

Nice SA with 1Hz RBW, except when you need to repair it as you indicate.

There have been times recently when I could really have used one, but I think realistically my budget means I will have to look for an 8566 and put up with the weight!
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Old 22nd Apr 2024, 6:46 pm   #3
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Default Re: Refurbishing an HP 8563E Spec An

We still have an almost identical looking model at work, and still in daily use! I’ll have to go take a closer look to see what model it is..

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Old 22nd Apr 2024, 6:58 pm   #4
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Default Re: Refurbishing an HP 8563E Spec An

Would a modern instrument even match the performance?

I remember using one back in the late 90s to confirm a suspect LNA hooting at a frequency higher than all the 6.5GHz spectrum analysers. Mixing with harmonic of the LO to generate a product that would drift across the receive band as it warmed up.
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Old 22nd Apr 2024, 7:48 pm   #5
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Default Re: Refurbishing an HP 8563E Spec An

If you think that is heavy try moving an old 851/8551!

Well done on the repair. The mains input filter caps go on that range - and the PSU is a pig to get out, requiring some special screwdrivers I had to fabricate.
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Old 22nd Apr 2024, 9:12 pm   #6
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Default Re: Refurbishing an HP 8563E Spec An

I think he was complaining about the weight of an 8566, which is the league above the 140 scope frame plugin analysers.

THe 8563E is still pretty decent. The E suffix meaning it has the oprion card frame in it and a bit more CPU horsepower.

The awkward/expensive things in these are the decoupling (and the damping one) Tants on the LO coil driver board. When they go high ESR yu get random YTO Unlock warnings depending on freq and sweep settings. Getting the 100MHz VCXO to lock up can be another game. Overtone oscillators fall in pullability (in ppm) as the square of the overtone number, roughly. I eventually went to a 100MHz inverted-mesa fundamental crystal VCXO from Vectron in a later product

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Old 26th Apr 2024, 3:49 pm   #7
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Default Re: Refurbishing an HP 8563E Spec An

in the comming week a 3585A will arrive here.
The german post have not accepted this weight class it have to go by car..
This is the next restoration.
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Old 26th Apr 2024, 4:12 pm   #8
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Default Re: Refurbishing an HP 8563E Spec An

The 3585A is a useful analyser. It only goes to about 40MHz but it is fully synthesised and has low phase noise and a tracking generator. They're good for plotting narrow filters like crystal ones. 35xx model numbers were developed and made in the Loveland, Colorado division, and the team for that analyser was led by David Ford, an ex-South Queensferry chap.

Loveland were one of HP's earlier divisions and got a wide remit of products. All sorts of general bench instruments, multimeters, true RMS wideband things, wave analysers and general lower frequency RF stuff. They were a bit inclined to tread on other division's toes with the product range they developed. All was not exactly sweetness and light in the firm. Stanford Park division got the serious RF stuff and then shifted spectrum analysers to Rohnert Park (California) and Network analysers to Santa Rosa (California)

So the 8563 analyser is a Rohnert Park box derived from the 8566 analyser from Stanford Park.

The 8563 uses an X-Y CRT doing vector graphics. The 859x family use a raster scan magnetic deflection CRT and can give out 625 and 525 line TV compatible video.

CRTs for the vector graphics analysers were last made about 35 years ago in Colorado Springs. I think all spares are exhausted. If your CRT goes bad, you need an LCD conversion kit.

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Old 26th Apr 2024, 4:36 pm   #9
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Default Re: Refurbishing an HP 8563E Spec An

Are there any obvious calibration checks I can make on my 8563E with only simple home lab test equipment, and then adjust without going inside again? Contradiction in terms I suppose!
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Old 27th Apr 2024, 4:13 am   #10
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Default Re: Refurbishing an HP 8563E Spec An

connect the cal output to the main input, find self cal somewhere in the menu structure, sit back and watch.

Manual way is to use cal signal and set up analyser to plot its own bandwidths, measure cal amplitude and step ref level up and down watching marker readout. do 1dB and 10dB steps. Play with RF atten as well.

Tune various centre freq and span settings looking for error messages.

You'll need a microwave sig source to check high band preselection

David

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Old 29th Apr 2024, 10:45 pm   #11
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Default Re: Refurbishing an HP 8563E Spec An

Thanks so much David, I know it sounded like a lazy question but I must have left the calibration manual behind in the storage unit, quite a long drive away. I can find suitable signal sources. Only problem is I won't have exclusive use of the kitchen table for a while
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Old 29th Apr 2024, 11:59 pm   #12
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Default Re: Refurbishing an HP 8563E Spec An

Is it a STRONG kitchen table? You could wind up on an even stickier wicket.

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Old 4th May 2024, 7:59 am   #13
6AL5W-Martin
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Default Re: Refurbishing an HP 8563E Spec An

I got a relative from that, 8593A.
It seems to be a problem in the display area. any ideas?
switchin on makes green stripes without any sync on the screen, nothing else.
https://www.youtube.com/shorts/L8FeYyJx6yA


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Old 4th May 2024, 9:58 am   #14
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Default Re: Refurbishing an HP 8563E Spec An

The display arrangements of the 859x series is completely different to the 856x family.

The 9x family employ raster scan magnetically-deflected CRTs. Look inside and you'll find a small TV style monitor unit OEM'd from Panasonic. The HP service manual doesn't go into it. I don't have one but there was rumoured to be a Panasonic service sheet for them.

One quick check is that the video signal to the monitor is available on a BNC connector at the rear panel. Have a look with an oscilloscope and a monitor at what is coming out of it. If you get a sensible TV waveform and the correct picture for the analyser, then your internal monitor is at fault. If you don't then the analyser's display drive circuitry is at fault and that is included in the HP service info for the analyser. You may have to try to find the "CLIPS set" of service data to get component level information. Later service manuals went in for board-swapping level repair.

David
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Old 4th May 2024, 12:04 pm   #15
6AL5W-Martin
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Default Re: Refurbishing an HP 8563E Spec An

thank you. short check: there is no signal at monitor out BNC.
I see 3 missing parts:

card in slot 3 and slot 4 (this may be options, or the item is incomplete)
at front is a area with 4 screws and a plug with only 3pin, there is no board or part mounted. Also this can be a option, I am not familiar with that.
If this 8593A is incomplete and not repairable I will put it directly in the junk.
So i need at first the info if that is complete.
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Old 4th May 2024, 2:23 pm   #16
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Default Re: Refurbishing an HP 8563E Spec An

I'm working from 30 year old memories from when I was designing things based on the 9x analysers.

I think the monitor drive circuitry is on the main processor board.

David
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Old 4th May 2024, 2:37 pm   #17
6AL5W-Martin
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Default Re: Refurbishing an HP 8563E Spec An

thank you. I will look first to get a service manual.
Also, it is intereseting to me, a failed monitor drive I have never found in any gear.
Mostly there was any PSU problem or a defect monitor self.

So I can continue with the heavy metal hp 3585A what is also waiting to get place on the workbench..
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Old 4th May 2024, 2:52 pm   #18
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Default Re: Refurbishing an HP 8563E Spec An

Mines still sat on the bench waiting for a solution to the LOG AMP error messages I keep getting (described here https://www.vintage-radio.net/forum/...d.php?t=206708). Here are my previous attempts at a refurb (mostly successful)

https://www.vintage-radio.net/forum/...d.php?t=184949

I'm still working up the enthusiasm to tackle this. Also got to work out a strategy for where to look for the fault (may start with the cables/connectors).
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Old 4th May 2024, 6:55 pm   #19
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Default Re: Refurbishing an HP 8563E Spec An

Daft question maybe - but is there a good place to look for 8563Es in need of TLC as I like these challenges (maybe I'm mad, but definitely like broken HP test equipment better than working, by the time it works I usually understand quite a lot more about the equipment). OK, maybe HP power sensors excepted because them seem unfixable.... I'm not quite at the stage of returning eBay "spares or repairs" items because they work.

(I have too many SAs but don't have one going over 2GHz and it would be jolly useful if I keep building equipment operating at 10GHz, not to have to try and mix it down using the 8672A as the 0th LO).

Alan
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