HP-8640 Service: Hints & Kinks|
Note: None of the contributors or myself assume any liablility for any damage caused by acting on information contained herein.
Most recent HINTS and KINKS Update is #19 September 16, 2009
If you have a hint or a solution for fixing the HP8640, especially if it involves repairing
or finding substitutes for HP parts that are no longer in production please let us
know and we will post it on this web page.
- HP8640B Frequency display reads VFO directly (250-520MHz), 000.0->no osc.!
- If <250 MHz, VFO cuts out (esp. top of band) or O/P noisy, RF Divider U11/U12 area bad?
- Normal VFO O/P 250-520MHz, about 0dBm with 0 to +2dB variation over band?
- VFO cavity repair is extremely difficult (impossible?) without HP experience and tools.
- Aglient Technologies (purchased HP) has online manual, see below.
- Sourcing? See HP Part# to industry (JEDEC) #s PDF list by (WA1GFZ) Frank Carcia.
1. Output dies on tuning to high-end on all bands, November 2004: Markus VE7CA
This may be due to a problem with the 128-256 MHz band ECL divider in RF Divider A10A2,
the board located just under the large die-cast cover on top-side of generator. If there is
input at the divider over the full freq. range but the output fails above a certain freq.
then this fix may apply.
A factory modification was made: 100 ohm variable resister R6 was added from pin 13 of this
divider to ground. This mod. increases the sensitivity of the divider. To adjust the resister,
tune gen. to high frequency end of band and set resistor half-way between the high and low
cutout. If the bias is too high or low, the divider will not clock.
2. Cracked Wheels, November 2004: Hadley K7MLR
I just finished the first read of your article, quality work, thank you very much.
There are two other, very common, problems with the HP8640:
Ed. Note: Picture of a Cracked Styrene Wheel on EB5ABV's Web site is
here. It shows a cracked wheel before repair
and the small finger contacts, mounted to a clear styrene wheel.
- The nylon gears, in the gear trains, of the audio osc. and range switch crack and will
eventually fall apart. If caught in time, epoxy will extend their life.
- The small finger contacts, mounted to the clear Styrene wheels, located on the range
switch assembly and the attenuator will become intermittent. Again with some work and
epoxy this is pretty easy to fix. The Styrene wheels are reversible and give new purchase
points to re-mount the fingers when they fall off. Every HP8640 I work on gets the epoxy
treatment on the wheels because the fault will occur sometime down the road. Just a
warning, don't lose any of the fingers during disassembly or you will be up the creek
unless you have a hanger queen.
3. More Cracked Wheel Help, November 2004: Ken VE3FIT firstname.lastname@example.org
I read your article in QEX about repairing an HP8640 and it led me to your web site.
I greatly enjoyed both. Last winter, I restored an 8640B which I had bought "as-is" on e-Bay.
Fortunately, it was a long winter: I did a repair on several cracked Delrin gears and in a
nutshell, here it is:
I had to replace the final power amp in my unit. Fortunately, I managed to get a 'pull'
from Fair Radio, but it cost about US $125. I was just looking on the WJ Communications
web site and it looks like they now have several MMICs that could work in the 8640B.
Check out their ECG008.
Having removed the gear, I put it in a refrigerator's freezer compartment for
a few hours. This will cause the delrin to shrink more than the brass hub.
Drift out the brass hub. Mine came out with just a gentle tap on a hammer
and drift. (Credit the next part to Jeff Liebermann). Use 24 hr epoxy to glue
the Delrin back together. Use a round file to open up the delrin centre hole
so that the brass hub will just fit back in. Epoxy the hub back in.
It's great that you have offered your web site for posting information regarding the HP8640.
4. Caution when storing HP8640, November 2004: Terry K7TAU
A retired co-worker (George Steen) has located a fellow that worked at HP on the HP-8640-B RF
generator and has been corresponding with him regarding the instrument. Here is something George
passed along to me and suggested that I copy you on this information.
"Word of caution: don't store the oscillators on-end (with their tuning shaft pointing up),
because if you do so, eventually the internal silicone grease migrates down to (and saturates)
the back plate where the transistor oscillator resides. The grease sometimes gets between the
plate and the case, causing loss of good electrical connection. End result: the unit drops out
of oscillation at parts of the band - - or in bad cases, won't oscillate at any part of the band.
" This is a direct quote taken from correspondence between George Steen and Greg Burnett,
Retiree of HP.
Thought you might be interested in reading this and perhaps posting this on your web page.
Regards, Terry K7TAU
PC Board Layout & Schematic
5. Using a surface mount type MAV-11 and PCB, December 2004: Angiolo Chiti I5SXN
I am I5SXN, an old Italian radio amateur no more active but I am now only a technician. In 1999
I had the same problems on two generators HP 8640B. At that time HP asked me $600 for that
modules. I solved the problems in the same way, as you, but I opened the container of the
amplifier and I introduced inside a small printed circuit with an MMIC type MAV11, two
condenser and a lot of chip resistors series and parallel to obtain the right current for the
MMIC and dissipation using directly the 44 volt supply. I closed the container and in this way
if you open my HP8640 you do not see any transformation. I send You the schematic diagram and
the printed circuit indications.
Printed circuit and mounting position of the components. The shape is octagonal for problems
with my CAD, I rounded the circuit before mounting in the container. Diameter 25 mm.
Distance between pins A and B 12.5 mm, and between B and C 16.4 mm.
The circuit was of 0.8 mm thickness, with copper on the lower side. I scratched the copper
around the active pins. With small holes and wires I connected the ground pins of the MMIC to
the lower copper side. I used the original pins of the module. Another time I repaired the
burned final amplifier adding a zero bias diode on a different printed circuit. I hope to be
useful to you. Good luck and 73.
Angiolo Chiti I5SXN, E-mail: email@example.com
6. Another replacement type for the MAV-11, May 2005: Tom Bruhns K7ITM
I just photocopied a mixer article from QEX (July/Aug 2004 issue) and happened to get the last
page of an article you apparently wrote about HP8640 amplifier issues. In footnote 4, you
mentioned a WJ amplifier. For a little better output power and quite a bit better IP3, have a
look at Sirenza SBF-5089. It's rated nominally for 500MHz high end, but the rolloff is gradual
and it should be no problem using it in the 512MHz HP8640B. It's probably a bit shy on power
output to be used directly in the output stage if you need full power output. The SBF-5089 has
a particularly high IP3 (which is why I know about it...), and you probably don't need that
linearity in the 8640 output. For power output from a monolythic gain block, have a look
instead at the Sirenza SGA-7489, which should give you a bit better IP3 than the WJ part and
about twice the output power--maybe enough to actually give full 8640 output. Plus, it's rated
for a wider frequency range.
Cheers, Tom Bruhns
7. Help for Oscillator Failure in the HP8640B., October 2005: John Klingelhoeffer WB4LNM
John wrote an excellant article in the Sep/Oct 2005 issue of QEX
describing how he fixed the oscillator in his HP8640B generator. John describes in great detail
the process of disassembling the A3 oscillator assembly in order to get at the oscillator circuit.
He included many clear pictures of the inside of the generator and oscillator assembly.
If you don't have a copy of the QEX article you can order a copy from ARRL.
8. Oscillator Frequency Adjustment HP8640B., January 2005: Markus VE7CA
If you set your HP8640B so that the frequency counter reads exactly 10.000 Mhz but
the output frequency is not exactly 10.000 Mhz, you can easily calibrate it yourself.
- Remove trim strip that holds front panel window in place. Gently pull window up and
out and remove it. Allow generator to warm up for 2 hours.
- While listening to WWV at say 10 MHz in a AM receiver,(with a a short length of wire
attached to the generator output), if your generator is off frequency even though the frequency counter
reads 10.000 Mhz, then you will hear a beat note over-riding the WWV carrier. Adjust the time base
adjustment pot (available through the hole in the front of the counter casting) until the
oscillator is zero beat with WWV at 10 MHz, i.e. the beat note disappears.
- Replace front panel window and trim strip.
9. More Gear Information for the HP8640B, March 2005: Jim, K8JL
In order to purchase new plastic gears for the HP 8640B one must specify the Diametral pitch (DP), the Pressure Angle,
and of course, number of teeth, bore, thickness, etc. The DP is 48. A new 20 deg. pressure gear does NOT
mesh correctly with the original gears. Hence, I conclude the pressure angle is 14.5 deg., the other
choice. I have not tried a new 14.5 gear with the originals, however. I used Super Glue to mend split
gears and it worked well. Clamp the pieces together for a few hours. I could not pull the joint apart with my hands.
NOTE: The latest available manual from 1992 for the 8640-B covers the "new" assembly and it gives a detailed
gear specification for the combination gear:
"48-T 48-DP 14.5 DEG-PA".
Regards, and tnx for your help. Jim, K8JL.
10. More Information regarding Storing the HP8640., January 2006: Jim Korenz N8PXW
I E-mailed you awhile back about HP8640B problems. I stored my 8640 face up. When I read your webpages, I saw the comment
bout intermittent frequency operation. Sure enough, I had 7 dead sections in the tuning range, including both ends.
Additionally, the generator would not lock, even after an hour warmup. I E-mailed Terry, K7TAU, for help. He recommended
operating the unit face down, to let the silicone grease flow back. After three months in this position,the HP8640 had
only one dead spot in the middle of the range and would lock. I turned the unit off and let itset flat for another couple
of months. I turned it on before Xmas, and lo and behold, the oscillator works perfectly. The bottom line, you don't have
o open the unit and dissemble and clean the cavity oscillator to restore proper operation. You can let it sit face
down, but it will take some time to come back to full operation.
Thanks for your help, and your webpages.
11. Information regarding variable and fixed audio irregularities in the HP8640., September 2006: Markus VE7CA
After finding and reading through the HP repair information on your site, I thought the following may be of some interest to fellow HP
user's. My HP8640A developed a fault causing the variable and fixed audio oscillator to stop working. I located the
problem to the thermistor module and discovered that the fault seemed to be an open circuit between the common point
(A) and the two series connected thermistors to connection point (C). The path between (B) to (A) was ok. No information
is forthcoming in the HP manual regarding this component.
After trying several sources for a replacement and in most cases only being offered a complete replacement board for £50
plus vat etc, decided a cheaper cure must be sought. Trying various remedies I recalled that a solution might be to use
series connected lamps to replace the whole original thermistor sealed assembly. I happened to have a supply of miniture
16v lamps so connected 3 in series and placed them on the top of the pcb soldering directly to the pads and interconnecting
with thin wire.
The idea worked OK apart from a slight bouncing of the o/p amplitude at switch on. The output remains stable otherwise.
It may not be the best of "fixes" but it cost nothing to achieve and will certainly suffice for my needs.
Regards, Steve GW4ZDU
12. Information regarding manuals for the HP8640, July 2007: Markus VE7CA
Aglient Technologies who purchased HP has now posted operating and service manuals for many of the older HP test equipment.
Click here to go direct to the HP8640 service manual site:
13. Combination Gear Replacements. , October 2007: Markus VE7CA
One of the problems that many owners of the HP8640 series signal generators face is finding a replacement for the
combination gears (( "Fig. 8-97, A9 Peak Deviation and Range Switch Assembly" it is called: Item Number 13 and 19 (they are
identical!), Reference Designator A9MP12 and MP13, Description: Combination gear. ))
Recently I recieved an email from Mr. Wieschhoff in France regarding the Split Gear Combination Assembly:
"After having followed the conversation of some interested circles in early 2007 about
the re-manufacture of the combination gears in the HP generator 8640B I tried to get some information about the follow-up
and result. The early generators manufactured containing what I would call
the "old" dev./freq. switch assembly. The difference to the "new" one is that it uses standard type switch segments where
as the "new" ones uses a printed circuit type rotary whiper discs to switch. Apparently both assemblies were manufactuerd
in parallel for some time, since the manual from 1976 covering the generator version HP8640-A shows still the "old" assy.
The latest available manual from 1992 for the 8640-B surely covers the "new" assembly and for the fist time I see it gives
a detailed gear specification for the combination gear: "48-T 48-DP 14.5 DEG-PA". It may also have been given in manuals
between 1976 and 1992 but I do not have any. In ALL manuals quoted (including the one covering the "old" version) the
part numbers for these gears are identical: 1430-0773 and 1430-0774. In fact both different numbers describe identical parts.
Why HP did this I do no know but it may have been for internal procedural reasons.
I used a 0734 replacement gear bought from HP some years ago (unfortunately at the time I only bought one) in place
shown for the 0774: no problems."
Best regards, Reinhart
14. Final Hybrid Amplifier Replair, November 2008: Markus VE7CA
I recently made a small SMD board to plug in in place of a blown output hybrid in a 8640B. I used the Philips BGA6589
and could reach about +6dBm. Whilst this got the machine back in working order it was not as linear when modulated really
only got to 0dBm.
I started to wonder why the hybrid had died since it showed output on the meter but none at the output pin. I concluded the
either the output C had become detached or itís bond wire to the output pin broken. So I mounted the hybrid on a hardwood
mandrel and centred it in the lathe and gently turned off the top.
Fig 6. Final Hybrid Amp. with lid removed.
As the picture shows the bond wire to the output was vaporised! The output C had a slight coating of gold sputter but was
otherwise OK. A small semiconductor pad capacitor which had been bonded to earth had also melted and was undoubtedly the
path to earth for the blast of volts which took out the hybrid.
I soldered on to the output pin an 0805 50V 0.1 and connected it to the original output C with a single strand of 0.2mm.
The added capacitor is because the old output C has now 10K of leakage. I re-inserted it in the 8640B put a piece of
cling film over it and all is back to normal.
Click Here to view a copy of the circuit for the final Hybrid Amplifier.
"The schematic attached is an educated guess at the hybrid by looking closely at the blown up photo. The resistor values
are scaled by measuring the square area of a couple of known resistor values and applying this to the other resistor tracks.
Capacitors are estimated. The inductors are calculated. This excellent job was done by Richard, G3SHK who made this sort
of stuff in a past-life at Philips labs".
I am pretty certain a good number of old output hybrid may have been zapped by working on valve kit as the DC input voltage
of the spec is very low. If anyone has hung onto the hybrid I recommend peering inside! Mine had a sapphire substrate but
since you might encounter Beryllium Oxide turn at low speed with care and wear a face mask!
73 Robin G3LBA
15. Various: Display - Lock Range - Split Gears, January 2009: Mark Kolber WB2WHC
Mark has kindly provided details of several remedies that he performed to his ailing HP8640B in (.doc) format.
#1 describes how he fixed his display, +5 Volt supply and added a coupling capacitor to the EXT input of
the the counter to it is AC coupled. (Mark used one 0.001 uF coupling cap. I would suggest using two 0.001 uF
capacitors in parallel). #2 details how Mark increased the Lock Range. #3 talks about the split gear situation
common to the HP8640B.
#1 Display+ #2 Lock Range #3 Split Gears
16. -5.2V Supply - No RF - Counter,   January 2009: Johan, KC7WW
Johan described solutions to several problems he inherited after he purchased a HP8640B.
17. Frequency Tuning Gears, January 2009. Markus VE7CA,
Recently I noticed that when turning the main frequency tuning dial I reached a point where I began to feel resistance
and if I continued to turn the dial further I heard a loud click. This did not sound good so I decided to
investigate. After removing the bottom cover from the HP8640B, the first thing I noticed was that some of the range assembly
gears were cracked.
Fig 5. Split Gears in my HP8640B Combination Gear Assembly
Following the directions on Page 7-71 of the manual I removed the Switch Assembly. Don't forget to take lots of pictures
so that you can refer to them again when putting everything back together. You need two different sized allen
wrenches, a 1/16" (inch) and a 0.050" to remove the knobs. I found that the set screws in the knobs were very tight and
my cheap set of allen wrenches stripped so I had to purchase a high quality set.
Referring to page 7-70 in the HP8640B manual, gear numbers 13 and 14 were the two effected gears. Do not remove the two
small gears (which mesh with gear #13 and #14) from shaft numbered #12. When you take the front gear off, remove the
whole shaft (#12) by gently pulling it out. Remember these gears are very old and there are no replacements readily
available. You can then remove the rear gear #14.
The gears have cracked apart at the weakest point where the set screws go through to the brass centre hub. The gears have
shrunk for some reason so they can not simply be glued back together because the brass centre didn't scrink along with
the delrin gears.
Fig 6. Here my delrin gears after dis-assembly
Using a file I carefully filed the centre of the delrin gears so that when replaced over the centre brass hub, the two
pieces met. Leave enough room for the glue and the delrin gears centre rough so that the glue has something to
adhere too. I strongly advise taking your time so you get it right the first time! It is also necessary to enlarge
the hole around the set screw with a small file. This is really important. If you don't make the wholes large enough,
when you try to put the set screw back in, the set screw will pry the delrin gear apart again! Check it once and once again
I was not able to find any 24 hour epoxy however I did find 5 hours expoxy.
In order to hold the gears together while the glue sets I used a hose clamp. Be very careful that you don't tighten the
camp too much or you may crush the teeth! Make sure there is no glue between the teeth and the gear is flush with the
Fig 7. Hose clamp holding gear together while glue sets
I recommend that you leave the gears in the clamp for 24 hours before removing them.
Now all you have to do is re-assemble the gear assembly following the directions in the manual. Hopefully you
have taken notes and photographs in case you forgot some important detail!
17.(B) Fixing the snapping sound. On the left side of the main oscillator cavity there are two pots
(VT and FM Gain Compensation pots) with gears attached that turn in conjunction with the main tuning dial.
Being I had a probem with the gears binding I removed the oscillator cavity to investigate and saw that the lower pot
gear was split. Mark WB2WHC, in Hints and Kinks #16, notes that he had a similar problem. The snapping sound I heard
occured when the gear driving the two pots tried to jump over the gap in the gear that had split apart.
After glueing the split gear together I re-assembled the gears and as Mark suggested, set the two pot gears so they didn't
mesh with the centre gear at the set screw positions. You can do this because these pots do not turn a full 360 degrees.
I also re-set the Cavity oscillator "end stop postion" as per the instruction on page 5-36 and 5-37, making sure that
the VT and FM Gain Compensation pots did not reach their stops first.
Since I had all the knobs off, I did a thorough cleaning of the knobs and front panel. After re-assembling everything
and setting the knobs to their correct position I was happy that the Main Cavity Tuning Knob turned without
binding and the frequency display corresponded to the Range Switch setting. I let the generator warm for 2 hours
and then following the instructions in Hints and Kinks #8 I calibrated the frequency read out. (See page 5-35 in the
manual for further details.)
18. HP8640 High Speed Divider, April 2009: Nevel N2GX
Nevel kindly shared his solution to repairing his HP8640 High Speed Divider Circuits. This is a very
creative solution describing how Nevel subsituted presently available IC's for original HP parts which are no longer available.
Click to view a PDF file of Nevel's article in PDF.
19. Lesson from Jeff King, ZL4AI, Learning something the hard way. September 16, 2009
With my last HP8640B, I undertook the careful file out and epoxy gluing of one of the Delrin gears. I clamped the parts
together with a spring type clamp. In a hurry, wanting to speed up the gluing process, I decided to heat up the gear.
I figured about one minute in the microwave would not be too much.
Basically the gear melted! The Delrin material melts at very low temperatures.
DO NOT HEAT UP IN A MICROWAVE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.
I hope this warning will prevent others from destroying their gears. Jeff ZL4AI
If you have any solutions for problems you have encountered for the HP8640 series signal
generators, please let us know at: