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Boor Man's Spec rum Ana

-- - breakthrough
another 73

Frank H. Perkins WB51PM analyzer. Commercial ver- you t o view the frequency ature and some magazine
Box 13642 sions of this useful r i instru- components of its input sig- articles.
Arlington TX 76073 ment start at $2500, which nal on an oscilloscope CRT. To appreciate how useful
is a little steep for most of The spectrum analyzer re- a spectrum analyzer can
ams enjoy making all us. l t is possible for you t o ~ e a t e d l vtunes across the be, let's first look at Photo
types o f electrical build a simple spectrum an- krequency band you have 5, an rf signal on a normal
measurements. In fact, it's alyzer for about $150 that chosen with its center-fre- oscilloscope. To me i t looks
one of our favorite pas- works with a low-cost oscil- quency and frequency-span like a clean sine wave.
times and topics of conver- loscope. The analyzer can controls. For example, if What d o you think?
sation. Fortunately, good, be used t o check HF trans- you set the center-frequen- Now let's look at Photo
low-cost oscilloscopes, mitting equipment, among cy control for 20 M H z and C, the same rf signal on our
DVMs, and other instru- other applications. Its use, adjust the frequency-span spectrum analyzer. The
ments are available t o us theory of operat~on, and control for a tuning range half-spike o n the left is our
for measuring voltage, cur- construction are discussed from 10 M H z below t o 1 0 zero-frequency reference.
rent, power, swr, frequency, in this article. M H z above the center fre- The next signal t o the right,
and so on. quency, the analyzer will which is the tallest, is the
There is one instrument, Spectrum Analyzer
repeatedly tune the fundamental component of
however, that has been be- Operation
10-MHz-to-30-MHz band. our rf signal. The three sig-
yond the reach of most of A spectrum analyzer is a As the analyzer tunes nals t o the right of the fun-
our budgets - the spectrum special receiver that allows from the low end to the damental are the 2nd, 3rd,
high end of the band, i t and 4th harmonics.
moves the CRT trace from If the spectrum of our
left t o right. The S-meter transceiver or linear ampli-
output from the analyzer fier output looked the same
moves the CUT trace up- as this photo, we would not
ward from the bottom o f be complying w i t h FCC
the CUT screen according R e g u l a t i o n 9 7 . 7 3 , even
t o signal strength. A spec- though our fundamental
trum analyzer display usu- signal was properly within
ally looks like a number of an HF amateur band.
spikes. The farther t o the T o understand what's
right a signal (spike) ap- wrong, compare the height
pears on the CRT, the high- of the 2nd harmonic signal
er its frequency; t h e to the fundamental. The
strength of the signal is indi- second harmcnic is about
cated by its height. There 2.6 CRT divisions shorter
usually appears t o be some than the fundamental. W i t h
"grass" along the bottom of a 10-dB-per-division vertical
the CRT display. This is due calibration, the second har-
t o noise. You probably have monic is 24 dB below the
Photo A. High frequency spectrum analyzer covers 0 to 60 seen spectrum analyzer dis- fundamental.
MHz. plays in ham gear sales liter- FCC Regulation 97.73 re-
10 73 Magazine 9 August, 1982
,D ,' ? 5 l vrewed on an ord~naryoscrlloscope Is
~ i i aas Photo C. Same rf signal o n rhe speiiriini analyzer. Seconci
riil ,i;nal? harrilonic 1s only 26 dB beloiv the iundan?ei~ta/.L2ori't QLII
this signal ~ Ithe
I air!

t2r5 ;I> .,
y i i i ; e ~oi,:-,;oshier transmit-

p r e : ~ ; i : .iii,nal frequency
Watts t o sup-
your favorite net or club) t o
have one of your owlt! Overail Circuit Operaiie~n I-iext rnixed w i t h the 90-Mlir
t o 150-MHz voltage-con-
Let's first discuss F i g 2,
coin;:c.r;:?i;:5 (spurs) outside Spectrum Analyzer. Hookup trolled oscillaior- (vco) in
the spectrum analyzer
il!e .TIT ';-'
of operation at Fig. 1 shows how to hook bloc!< diagram. We w i l l the double-balanced mixer.
j C-.Z.,C t :,;1 .- ;._ -
below the fun- up the high frequency spec- then look at the circuits i n I he,differ.ence output from
d~.j.;i~!-;i ? i . :,i a transmitter t r u ~ ndnalyzer for rnonitor- each block in detail. Notice the mixer, which i s the de-
f rci--!1' -:> .;::(Ii/?iatts, this fig- rng the c u t p u t spectrcrni of that the analyzer block dia- sired I-f signal, is then fil-
ui-0 :.: .;., :.:%, For a 1000- a trarlsrnitter or linear am- tered by the 90-MHz band-
gram looks similar t o that
m i ; : ;ii..r;i!tter or linear plifier. Kemernber, the ana- of a s~ngle-conversion su- pass filter. The bandpass fil-
ar-i;~i;ii:l: ..h:e figure i s 43 lyzer i s a receiver. i t re- perheterodyne receiver. ter provides the necessary
dB. . I:i:.$:-k!~g our photo quires a very srnall sample The i-f frequency of the selectivity l o r the spectrum
agar, ,d..; :ioiice that the of power for operation. This spectrum analyzer is 90 analyzer. The 90-MHz sig-
3:~'; i , ; r i ; i ? j ( l i c s i g n a l is is done with an L-pad Sam- MIHz. nal from tiit; bandpass filter
abiii:: ,c jilJ below the fun- pler. 1-he sampler will not is preamjsiitied and applied
dam<-!iir,-i.Jl/e1re also going interfere with normal trans- The sampled input signal t o the Iog ampiifier. The
to i, :..=. . .; groblern with the mitting or transceiving op- f r o m the L-pad is adjusted o u t p u t ot the log amplifier
3rd i,?.;-:::>r~ic if we are run- e r a t i o n The output frorn t o the proper power level is l o g a r i t h m i c s i g n a l
niu?g ', ' ! i a : t s o i more pow- the L-pad is further reduced with the step attenuator, as strength video f o r the oscii-
er. 7 :: ;it!-I harmonic is n o with a step attenuator t o we discussed before. The loscope vertical ( Y j axis.
prcoie.-:-; :,ii~ceit's about 55 match the full-scale input- signal is titen taker1 through The v o l t a g e - c o n t r o i l e d
dl? .',i?icj>,v i h e fundamental. power requirements of the a low-pass filter with a oscillator frequency i s con-
5 - i
:,:t; correct the prob- analyzer (114 t o 1/10 of a 60-MHz cutoff frequency. trolled by the sweep gener-
letri :?v ddding a filter be- milfiwatt). The spectrum is The low-pass filter prevents ator, which simultaneously
t \ * ~e: i ~ d.( -, ~transceiver
~ - , or lin- displayed on the oscillo- 90-MHz signals from leak- controls the horizontal (or X
- : .
- . i t , ( : ~ . $ c antenna. How-
, --is-

scope being used with the ing into the analyzer and axis) o f the oscilloscope.
e\:i?:., ,:niess we are able t o spectrum analyzer. "confusing" it. The input is Note that when the vco is
checi; rile output spectiurn I t is important t o observe
of transmitting equip- good safety practices when
rnC17i, .NC?may never I<now using the L-pad, attenuator, OSCILLOSCOPE

we a pl.oblen3 - - u n t i l
'ieighbors start corn-
and spectrum analyzer. Be SAMPLED

sure all station equipment,
or we get a "friend- the L-pad, attenuator, ana-
I\/ adx:isory" from the local lyzer, and oscilloscope HF S P E C T R U M
Fc:C :;;:)nitoring station. cases are properly ground- ANALYZER WlDTH CENTER
1 ;!;?reare many uses for a ed. Use the proper L-pad for
Spec.iiun analyzer besides your power range. Double-
mOn!:cring transmitter out- check your hookup before
PQts, !>tit t.his use alone can applying power. If the out-
%a!<?3 2 l-iF spectrum an* Note I . Never hooktransmitter or linear directly to step attenuator or
p u t o f a transmitter was di-
analyzer. Always use L-pad sampler of the proper power rating.
lyre7 nonstruction project rectly connected t o the an-
Note 2. Be sure transmitter, linear, L-pad, attenuator, analyzer, and
"or-ri?whlie. If you build alyzer by accident, it would scope are grounded.
One. yocr'll probably be the instantly be damaged when
firs; oil your b l o ~ k(or in the transmitter was keyed. Fig. 7. Typical HF spectrum analyzer hookup.
73 Magazine August, 1982 'ill
tuned t o 90 MHz, the ana- with a Z-axis (blanking) in-
lyzer is tuned t o zero M H z . put. The power supply pro-
When the vco is tuned t o vides + 24 V dc, + 1 2 V dc,
120 MHz, the analyzer is and - 6 V dc for the spec-
tuned t o 30 M H z . With the trum analyzer circuitry. The
vco at 150 MHz, the analyz- p o w e r s u p p l y operates
er is tuned t o 60 MHz. from 12 V ac supplied by a
The tuning range of the wall plug transformer.
analyzer is adjusted with
the center-frequency and
frequency-span controls on Fig. 3 shows the sche-
the sweep generator. The matic of a 100-to-1000-Watt
sweep generator automati- L-pad sampler, w i t h alter-
cally tunes the analyzer nate circuitry for a 10-to-
across its t u n i n g range 100-Watt sampler, a l-to-10-
about 1 0 times each sec- Watt sampler, and a0.25-to-
ond. The sweep generator I - W a t t sampler. Four pairs
Photo D. Bottom view of spectrum analyzer chassis. Log clamps or "shorts out" the of 4.7k, I - W a t t resistors
amplifier is at the top. Power supply and sweep generator video during the retrace be- form the series element of
board is directly below the log amplifier. Vco is next. The tween each sweep to avoid the 100-to-I000-Watt sam-
mixer is directly below the vco. The mixer connects to the a confusing oscilloscope pler. A 51-Ohm, 112-Watt re-
low-pass filter at the left. The bandpass filter is at the lower display. This eliminates the sistor forms the shunt ele-
right. Preamplifier is on the middle right. need for an oscilloscope ment. The L-pad resistors
are rated for continuous op-
eration. A single hair-thin
L -PA0

H 14
strand from an old "zip"
cord provides some fusing
protection in the event of a
component failure or cir-
cuit fault. The series ele-
ments for the other power
ratings are shown in Fig. 3.

0-to-59-dB Step Attenuator


Fig. 4 shows the step at-
POWER SUPPLY + ( X AXIS) tenuator schematic. Five pi-
3 v P-P
CENTER FREO ADJUST 10-12H2 style resistive attenuators
are switched in or out as
necessary t o achieve the
proper attenuation. Switch-
Fig. 2. Block diagram. es are double-pole, double-
throw. Resistors may be 112
Watt or 114 Watt, although
114-Watt resistors are easier
t o work with. Note the
TO ANTENNA OR shielding between sections.
HF SPECTRUM Resistors must be 5% toler-
ance. (The resistor values for
TO TRANSMITT E R each attenuator came from
Reference 1.)
d? 1 0 0 - 1 0 0 0 WATT SAMPLER
Low-Pass Filter,
Mixer, and Vco
Fig. 5 shows the details of
these circuits. The low-pass
filter consists of three pi-
sections, s e p a r a t e d b y
shielding. The cutoff fre-
quency of the filter is about
Note 1. Carbon composition (noninductive) resistors. 60 MHz. Three sections are
Note 2. "Fuse" is single, hair-thin copper strand from ac "zip" cord. used t o give a high attenua-
Note 3. Connect SO-239 connectors with RG-8 center conductor wire. tion at the 90-MHz i-f fre-
Note 4. Test-run sampler before connecting to attenuator. quency and above.
Note 5. Keep BNC connector 3" away from SO-239s; space resistor sets318" minimum; "fuse" is 112" to
Each port of the double-
314" long.
balanced mixer is padded
Fig. 3. L-pad power samplers. with 50-Ohm attenuators t o
12 73 Magazine August, 1982
encourage good mixer per- 2N5379 v c o amplifier. The
f o r m a n c e ( l o w mixer spurs) o u t p u t o f this a m p l i f i e r
a t t h e expense o f extra con- drives the local oscillator
version loss. Mini-Circuits p o r t o f the mixer. A diode-
SRA-I and SBL-I are good capacitor rf detector pro-
c o m m e r c i a l mixers. I t is vides a d c o u t p u t f o r check-
q u i t e possible t o b u i l d a ing amplifier o u t p u t power.
suitable double-balanced The wideband amplifier de-
mixer f r o m small ferrite tor- sign is based o n data f r o m
oids and h o t carrier diodes, Reference 1. The oscillator
if y o u have t r o u b l e finding design i s based o n third-
these c o m m e r c i a l u n i t s . a t t e m p t desperation! N o t e
(Consult Reference 1 f o r de- the use of the feedthrough . . .
tails.) capacitors a n d shielding.
These are as m u c h a p a r t of Photo E. VCO layout. Osci//ator is near the feedthroughs.
The v c o consists of an the c i r c u i t as the MRF901.
MRF901 Colpitts oscillator resonators. The i n p u t and ture-coupled t o each other.
coupled t o a wideband Bandpass Filter o u t p u t resonators are tap- The t w o center resonators
2N5179 amplifier. The The bandpass filter is de- c o u p l e d t o the i n p u t and are slightly stagger-tuned t o
M R F 9 0 1 was e v e n t u a l l y tailed i n Fig. 6. It consists o f o u t p u t connectors. The give the f i l t e r bandpass a
chosen f o r the oscillator f o u r relatively small helical f o u r resonators are aper- sharp "nose." T h e 3-dB
transistor because o f its
w e l l - b e h a v e d phase-shift
characteristics between 9 0 UG-625BIU
MHz a n d 150 MHz. The t w o R . 5 8 COAX TO R G ~ 5 8COAX TO
M V 1 0 9 hyper-abrupt Epi- EQUIPMENT LOW PASS F I L T E R
( 6 d b m TO I O d b m I
cap diodes act as t u n i n g ca- (t20dbm M A X 0
1 300
pacitors and account f o r I
the oscillator's w i d e t u n i n g
range. A small pick-up l o o p
Note 1. DPDT toggle switch-Radio Shack 275-1546 or equivalent.
near the oscillator c o i l pro-
Note 2. BNC receptacle-Radio Shack 278-105 or Amphenol 31-236.
vides an o u t p u t f o r check- Note 3. Resistors 112 or 114 W, 5% noninductive.
ing frequency and d o i n g Note 4. Attenuator box made from single- and double-sided G-10 circuit board plus copper shim stock.
other tests. The oscillator is
also lightly c o u p l e d t o the Fig. 4. 0-59-dB step attenuator

R G - 5 8 COAX TO R G - 5 8 COAX TO
1-6 TO - 1 O d b m l

+ I 2 V D C FROM


2 - I 8 V . 10-12 H i


1 314 TURN *I4

I 1/2" INSIDE D l A I


Note I . Resistors are 114 W, 5%; unspecified capacitors are 50-V ceramic.
Note 2. Capacitors marked "SM" are A 5% silver mica.
Note 3. 1000-pF feedthrough capacitors available from Alaska Microwave.
Note 4. MV-209s or MV-309s may be substituted for MV-109s (contact Motorola distributor).
Note 5. Box built from single- and double-sided G-10 circuit board plus copper shim stock.

Fig. 5.Low-pass filter, mixer, a n d vco.

14 73 Magazine August, 1982
will begin contributing t o picked up by the 12-V-ac
the output. As the output is power leads.
made still larger, the 5th The heart of the sweep
stage will saturate or limit. generator is the 555 IC
From this point i t will con- timer. The t w o 2N2907s act
tribute no additional volt- as current sources. Each
age across the Ik output re- generates linear ramp volt-
sistor. At about this same ages across 10-uF tantalum
signal level, the 3rd log amp capacitors. The 555 syn-
stage will begin t o contrib- chronizes the ramps. The
ute some output, and so on. ramps are set at a 10-Hz-to-
Each log amp stage pro- 12-Hz repetition rate. One
vides a gain of about 12 dB ramp is fed through a dc-re-
until i t saturates. The gain storing capacitor-diode
of the i-f strip, from the Ik clamp to the output con-
resistor's point of view, then nector for the oscilloscope
drops 12 dB. I t is this suc- horizontal (X) axis. The sec-
cessive limiting and drop- ond ramp is fed t o the 5k
ping off of i-f stages that frequency-span potentiom-
Photo F. Bandpass filter layout creates the logarithmic vid- eter through an inverting
eo output characteristic. operational amplifier buf-
bandwidth of the filter is Notice that each stage in Note that when the 1 s t log fer The output from the fre-
about 220 kHz. Insertion the log amplifier has an rf amp stage saturates, the log quency-span pot IS summed
loss is somewhat high, b u t is detector across its output amplifier reaches its full- with the output of the 5k
acceptable for this applica- consisting of a 50-pF capac- scale output. center-frequency p o t in the
tion. itor, a I N 9 1 4 diode, and a I was surwrised how accu- vco-tuning voltage amplifi-
10k resistor. The rf detector rately the 'logarithmic am- er. The output of this ampli-
Preamplifier on the buffer stage is just a plifier does track a logarith- fier is fed t o the vco-tuning
and Log Amplifier tuning aid. The outputs of mic curve. Using my com- voltage input.
The schematics of the the rf detectors on the 1 s t mercial ster, attenuator as a When the ramps are reset
preamplifier and log ampli- through 5th log amp stages reference, the calibration by the 555, pin 3 o f the 555
fier are shown in Fig. 7. The are tied t o a common Ik re- of my logarithmic amplifier also t r i m the retrace VMOS
preamplifier consists of t w o sistor (in parallel with a was within 1 dB. The sensi- clamp transistor through
wideband 2N5179 amplifi- 150-pF capacitor). Because tive i-f system must be the retrace comparator am-
ers. The log amplifier con- of its relatively low value, shielded to prevent interfer- plifier. This shorts the loga-
sists o f six tuned 90-MHz i-f. the detector outputs are ence from commercial F M rithmic amolifier video out-
stages. Each stage uses the m o r e o r less s u m m e d stations put t o ground during re-
friendly 40673 dual-gate across the Ik resistor. trace. Otherwise, the video
FET. The input stage acts as Power Supply and Sweep
is fed t o the outout connec-
a buffer amplifier. The next A small input signal i s Generator Circuits
tor for the oscilioscope ver-
five stages form the loga- amplified by all five log These circuits are shown tical (Y) axis. The 4th ampli-
rithmic signal-strength vid- amp stages. Only the 5th in Fig. 8. The power supply fier in the TL084C quad-op-
eo detector. The log ampli- stage will develop enough is straightforward, provid- e r a t i o n a l - a m ~ l i f i e r IC is
fier may remind you of an signal t o provide an output ing + I 2 V dc, +24 V dc, used simply a; a 6-V-dc ref-
i-f strip in an FM receiver. In from its detector. As the in- and - 6 V dc. Note the erence by the other three
fact, i t uses the limiter prin- put signal is made larger, feedthrough capacitors amplifiers.
ciple in its operation. the 4th stage detector also used t o filter out any rf
Shielded Enclosure
All circuits in the high
frequency spectrum ana-
lyzer except the sweep gen-


erator and the power sup-
ply must be installed in
shielded enclosures. I built
each enclosure for m y ana-
lyzer using 1116-inch, C-10
Note 1. Coils are 6 turns of #12, 112" inside diameter, 518" long, taps at 114 turn. epoxy circuit board stock.
Note 2. 10-pF piston trimmer, Sprague-Goodman GGP8R500 or equivalent; alternate, air-variable, John- Enclosure base ~ l a t e sare
son 189-564-1. made from singl'e-sided or
Note 3. Filter box made from single- and double-sided G-10 circuit board plus copper shim stock. double-sided stock. Dou-
Note 4. Filter box is 1-118" deep. ble-sided stock must be
Note 5. Mount BNC connectors near front side.
used f o r t h e enclosure
Note 6. Coupling apertures are 318" x 3116". Drill 318"-diameter holes in compartment wall pieces and
then solder copper shim strips across tops and bottoms to narrow apertures.
sides, ends, and partitions.
(See Fig. 9 for construction
Fig. 6. Bandpass filter. details.)
16 73 Magazine August, 1982
I4ote t h e brass " c a p a partition o n the schemat-
strips." These provide a ics, use a 118-inch hole
base for soldering on the drilled in the partition
thin copper (shim stock) en- wall.
closure tops. i use this After you double-check
method for mounting the your wiring, install the cir-
tops so that they can be cuit boards in their shielded
peeled back easily when 1 enclosures. Tack-solder the
need t o modify or repair cir- ground plane o f the circuit
cuitry. Use a 40-Wlatt sol- t o one side o f the enclo-
dering iron for solciering the sure. D o not install the tops
enclosures together. Solder of the enclosures yet-we
the tops on with a 25-Watt have testing t o d o !
iron. Be sure the solder
Because o f the power in-
seams have no gaps.
volved, b u i l d the L-pad
i l o n ' t let tlie need for sampler carefully. The cir-
shielded enclosures dis- cuit board used t o mount
courage you. There are sev- the resistors has no copper
eral easy, accurate ways t o Photo C. Preamplifier layout. Note that the brass "cap on either side except at the
c u t circuit board material. strips" have been installed. corner on the far side o f the
Beg, borrow, or buy a copy SO-239 connectors. This
of Printed Circuits Hand- small piece o f ground plane
ry for construction on sin- rated. This is aided by using
book (Reference 4). This is covered w i t h masking
gle-sided c i r c u i t b o a r d circuit board strios. Check
book does a good job of tape before the copper is
stock. The copper is on the the photos of m y jayout for
showing how t o cut circuit etched with ferric chloride.
top side. I t acts as a ground ideas (minor circuit changes
board stoc!:. Alternativelv. ,, The 51-Ohm resistor is
plane and helps siabilize were made after some of
make friiind.; with a kafii grounded here. A ground
the circuitry. Ali analyzer the photos).
who o w r s or- works at a wire is then taken f r o m here
cornmerciai circuit board circuitry built in this man- Once the layout is com-
t o a lug at the BNC connec-
ner was built on '1.8inch- plete, tape i t t o your circuit
shop! Anyway, making tor (make the lug f r o m cop-
shielded enclosc~resis easi- wide circuit board strips- board blank. Drill through
per shim stock).
er than i t first appears. lengths as needed. The low- the layout into the circuit
pass filter, bandpass filter, board each lace where a M o u n t the board using
My o r i g i n a l a n a l y z e r and attenuator are built "in component or wire lead 4-40 X 314-inch screws. Use
used quite a few BNC con- the air" inside their shielded goes through the board. 5116-inch-diameter X 112-
nectors. The number of enclosures. They don't need Use a #55 drill bit. After all inch-long aluminum tubing
connectors can be reduced a circuit board. holes are drilled, lightly s l i p p e d o v e r e a c h 4-40
by building the low-pass fil- Get some drafting vel- countersink with a 118-inch screw t o stand the circuit
ter, mixer, and vco enclo- l u m w i t h a light blue, 1110- drill b i t all holes that are board off. Be sure the resis-
sures together on one base inch grid on it. After you not going t o be a ground tor pairs are separated from
plate. Look at the schernat- have ail the parts for a cir- connection. This keeps the each other by 318 o f an inch.
ic, Fig. 5, for shield parti- cuit, yoc: can begin devel- leads going through these The physical layout o f the
tioning details. Likewise, oping its circuit board lay- holes from shorting to the resistors should look like
the preamplifier and log out. After mulling over the ground plane. Drill 118-inch the schematic in Fig. 3. The
amplifier enclosures can be schematic, lay the actual holes in each corner of the "fuse" wire, which is a sin-
b u i l t together (Fig. 7). The components on the grid pa- b o a r d . 4-40 X 1 1 2 - i n c h gle, hair-thin strand of cop-
bandpass filter should be per and think through their screws are out in these per wire from an o l d "zip"
b u i l t by itself, as should the interconnections. juggle holes t o act as legs for the cord, must be at least 112
attenuator. This arrange- them as needed into a neat board. Begin installing com- inch long. The L-pad is b u i l t
ment allows the analyzer t o arrangement. Remember ponents. They are intercon- in a medium-size minibox.
be tuned u p with very little that all ground connections nected under the board by I mounted the shielded
test equipment. are going t o be made on the their leads and/or bus wire. enclosures and the sweep
top. Remember t'o keep connec- generatorlpower-supply
Circuit Board Layout After you have the layout tions as short as possible. board in a 3-inch-high x 12-
and Construction and interconnections visu- The vco oscillator circuit inch-wide x 18-inch-deep
There are a l o t of possi- alized in an area, pic!< crp is b u i l t totally on t o p of the aluminum chassis. (Refer t o
b l e c o m p o n e n t substitu- each component and circuit board ground plane Photo D for typical mount-
tions for the spectrum ana- sketch in its outline on the so that leads can be very ing.) Individual circuits are
lyzer. Some of the compo- velliim. Show its connec- short. Follow the layout in tested before final mount-
nents you use in your ana- tion t o other components the photo carefully. The ing and installation o f the
lyzer w i l l no doubt be dif- (under the board) with dot- vco amplifier is built in the enclosure tops.
ferent f r o m the ones I used ted lines. You w i l l be sur- normal way.
-at least in physical size. prised how fast this goes. I u s e d brass tubes Testing and Alignment
I his makes standard circuit Remember t o keep the in- (bought at a hobby shop) The minimum test equip-
boards impractical. I t is p u t and o u t p u t compo- for coil-winding mandrels. ment needed t o align and
easy t o lay o u t your circuit- nents o f each rf stage sepa- Where wiring goes through test the HF spectrum ana-
18 73 Magazine August, 1982
lyzer includes a high-im-
pedance volt ohmmeter, a
T m n
?Do 350-MHz frequency count-
er, and a 5-MHz bandwidth,
3 w single-channel, dc-coupled
o s c i l l o s c c ~ e w i t h a trig-
- --- ------ gered sweep. A grid-dip os-
cillator also is useful. You
should make u p several
2-foot RG-58 cables w i t h
BNC connectors. These w i l l
be used during testing. For
best results, testing and
alignment should be done
in the order listed below.
Power Supply Testing.
Check the resistance be-
tween the primary and sec-
, ondary o f t h e w a l l p l u g
transformer before use. I t
should show an open cir-
cuit. Check the secondary
ac voltage. I t should be 12
V ac t o 15 V ac w i t h n o
load. Hook the 12 V ac t o
the power supply and
check the 12 V dc, 24 V dc,
and - 6 V dc outputs. They
should be within 112 volt.
Sweep Generator Testing.
Connect the power supply
t o the sweep generator and
turn the power supply on.
Check pin 2 of the 555 IC
with your oscilloscope. You
should find a 10-Hz-to-12-
Hz ramp waveform. The
b o t t o m of the waveform
should be at 4 volts and the
t o p o f the waveform at 8
volts. The front o f the ramp
(long slope) should appear
straight. You should find a
similar ramp at the X-axis
o u t p u t c o n n e c t o r . This
ramp will be between -0.6
volts and 3.4 volts.
Check p i n 8 o f t h e
TL084C o p amp. You should
f i n d a pulse train w i t h a
10-Hz-to-12-Hz r e p e t i t i o n
rate. The pulse train should

Note 1. Resistors are 114 W, 5%;

- unspecified capacitors are 50-V
N o t e 2. Capacitors marked
"SM" are e 5 % silver mica.
Note 3. L43-12 rf transformers
and FT37-43 toroids are avail-
able from Amidon.
Note 4. Shielded box made from
m o o single- and double-sided G-10
- I circuit board plus copper shim
2 4, stock.

Fig. 7. Preamp and log amp.

20 73 Magazine August, 1982
be high (20 volts) about shim stock shields can be
20% of the time and low used t o eliminate the prob-
( - 3 volts) about 80% of lem. M y i-f strip was quite
the time. stable, so I do not think you
Turn the frequency-span will have a problem.
pot f u l l y clockwise (no If you live near a com-
ramp) and set the center- mercial FM station, it may
frequency pot mid-range. interfere with your tuning
You shohld find 6 V dc to12 efforts. Tape the shield top
V dc on pin seven of the on the log amplifier during
TL084C op amp (vco-tuning initial tuning to help elimi-
voltage). Vary the setting of nate this problem. As soon
the center-frequency pot. as it appears that the log
The vco-tuning voltage amplifier is working, solder
should vary from - 3 volts on the top. Once the top is
t o 21 volts. Set the center- soldered on, i t will totally
frequency pot for a 10-volt Photo H. Log amplifier layout. Note strip design. eliminate the interference.
output. Turn the frequency-
span pot counterclockwise amplifier output for a 0.8-V- counter. Hook the attenua- Bandpass Filter Tuning
until you have a ramp dc-to-I .3-V-dc level. Adjust tor box t o the vco rf test Set the vco t o 90 MHz.
waveform from 2 volts t o 20 the spacing between the iack with a two-foot RC-58 Hook the attenuator be-
volts (readjust the center- vco coil and the amplifier ;able. Hook the output of tween the vco rf test jack
frequency pot as needed). pick-up loop, if necessary, the attenuator to the input and the bandpass filter in-
This completes preliminary to obtain the proper detec- of the preamplifier with an- put. Hook the bandpass fil-
sweep generator testing. tor output. other two-foot cable. ter output to the preampli-
If your sweep generator Set the center-frequency Set the bias pot on the fier and log amplifier. Moni-
fails t o act as above, re- pot for a 150-MHz oscilla- log amplifier about mid- tor the video output of the
check component values tor output. You should have range. Monitor the dc out- log amplifier on your oscil-
and circuit hookup for a tuning voltage of about put of the rf detector on the loscope. With the tops off
problems. Refer t o the 18 V dc. Check the rf-detec- log amplifier buffer. Tune the bandpass sections, you
theory of operation for ad- tor output voltage again t o the buffer transformer slug should get some signal. If
ditional hints. be sure it's still between 0.8 for peak output. Use the at- not, temporarily bridge the
Vco Jesting. Connect the V dc and 1.3 V dc. Monitor- tenuator t o set the detector input and output sections
vco-tuning voltage from the ing the dc voltage from the output t o 0.2 V dc. Now ad- with a I-pF capacitor tack-
sweep generator t o the vco. rf detector with your scope, just the bias pot of the log soldered at the input and
Ground the RG-58 shield at tune the center-frequency amplifier for peak output. output tap points. Tune the
the vco enclosure. Connect pot back and forth between Adjust the attenuator for a input and output stages for
12 V dc from the power sup- 3 volts and 18 volts. The de- just-detectable output at peak response. Remove the
ply t o the vco power input. tector output voltage may the log amplifier buffer. If I-pF capacitor if used. Now
Disconnect one side of the smoothiy vary some but all seems well with the pre- peak the two middle stages.
oscillator coil for a mo- should not "jump." An amplifier, install the fop on You probably will get an
ment. Power up and check abrupt voltage change indi- i t s enclosure. Prepare the overcoupled response (dou-
the MRF901 collector volt- cates a parasitic oscillation. top for the log amplifier ble-hump). Just center the
age. I t should be about 6 V If this should occur, work section. Drill 118-inch-diam- tuning between the humps.
dc t o 8 V dc. If i t i s too high, with your oscillator layout eter holes in the top over Now install the shield
reduce the value of the (very short leads) to get rid each i-f transformer loca- tops, one at a time. Tune all
100k bias resistor. If i t is too of it. tion and over the bias pot. bandpass stages after each
low, increase the value of A tuning voltage of less (Use drafting vellum as a top is installed. Tuning will
the bias resistor. You can't than 1 V dc may cause the template.) become very sharp, espe-
use a pot here! Once the oscillator output to be erra- Hook the oscilloscope t o cially if you are using air-
collector voltage is verified, tic in frequency and ampli- the video output of the log variable tuning capacitors
power down and reconnect tude. This is not a problem. amplifier. Adjust the slugs instead of piston trimmers.
the coil. Once the vco oscillator and in each log amplifier stage When the last top is in-
Power up and connect amplifier are operating for peak video output. The stalled, carefully peak all
your counter t o the vco rf properly, install the vco en- tuning of each stage should stages.
test jack. Turn the frequen- closure top. be smooth, and the tuning Set up your oscilloscope
cy-span pot fully clockwise Preamplifier and Log Am- of the bias lnot should also for X-Y operation, using the
(no ramp) and adjust the plifier Jesting. Connect 12 V be smooth. if the video out- X-axis output of the sweep
center-frequency pot for a dc to the preamplifier and put from the log amplifier generator for the oscillo-
3-volt output. Your counter log amplifier circuits and jumps suddenly while tun- scope horizontal input and
should read about 90 MHz. power up. Turn the frequen- ing, you may have a self-os- the log amplifier video out-
Adjust the vco coil spacing cy-span pot fully clockwise cillation in the log amplifi- put for the vertical input.
to get the vco in the 89.5- (ramp off) and adjust the er. If this happens, carefully Gradually turn the frequen-
MHz-to-90.5-MHz range. center-frequency pot for 90 work with your layout. Fer- cy-span control counter-
Check the dc output from MHz at the vco rf test jack. rite beads, extra bypass ca- clockwise until you get a
the rf detector of the vco Disconnect the frequency pacitors, and small copper sweep display of the filter
22 73 Magazine August, 1982
Final Setup screen. Widen the trace
Install all circuitry in with the oscilloscope con-
your chassis and complete trols t o reach across the
all wiring and coaxial cable screen. Turn the frequency-
hookup. Set the analyzer span pot fully clockwise
upside down in front of again. Set the vco frequen-
your scope. Connect your cy t o 120 MHz. NOW turn
oscilloscope t o the ana- the span p o t counterclock-
lyzer X- and Y-axis outputs. wise until the zero-frequen-
Set u p the oscilloscope cy half-spike appears on the
again for X-Y operation. l e f t side o f t h e screen.
Turn the analyzer on (no There should also be some
signal). Turn the frequency- grass above the retrace line
span pot fully clockwise(no along the bottom on the
ramp). Using your frequen- screen. The analyzer should
cy counter at the vco rf test now be scanning 0 t o 60
jack, set the vco for 90 M H z MHz.

Photo I.L-pad sampler.

operation with the center-
frequency pot. You should
Feed a small 30-MHz sip-
nal from a grid-dip oscilla-
see t w o horizontal lines tor (use a pick-up loop as
bandpass. Make fine adjust- ing procedure. about 2 volts apart. Rotate shown in Photo J ) or a low-
ments for a smooth band- If i t seems that you have t h e frequency-span p o t power-signal generator to
pass shape. Stagger-tune an over-coupled response counterclockwise a little. the analyzer through the at-
the t w o middle bandpass in your filter, narrow the ap- You should see the band- tenuator. You should now
filter sections just a b i t t o erture between the t w o pass-filter response again. see the 30-MHz signal spike
sharpen the nose of the fil- middle bandpass filter sec- This is due t o mixer leak- about mid-screen You may
ter. Be sure t o p u t in enough tions. I f the filter tunes through and is normal. also see the 2nd harmonic
attenuation t o keep the vid- sharply but exhibits high Set the retrace line (lower of the 30-MHz signal on the
eo output from the log am- loss, then widen the aper- straight line) under the right edge of the screen Ad-
plifier under t w o volts dur- ture between the two mid- bandpass response curve at just the attenuator so that
ing the bandpass filter tun- dle sections. the bottom of the CRT the 30-MHz signal is about




" Y " AXIS

' x " AXIS



l0OOirF 112W
5ov IN4003 +24V
\I U 9
4E 1 ~ 4 0 0 3 1~4742
12VAC. 5 0 0 m A
:ypF ONlOFF IN4003

.Ad.--. 9
c x'
7; OlpF

'- 50V
1L 6 V

, - A
- 6V

Note 1. Wall transformer available from Jameco.

Note 2. Other devices available from Radio Shack.
Note 3. TL084C is quad op amp.
Note 4. 500-pF threaded feedthroughs available from Alaska Microwave.
Fig. 8. Power supply and sweep circuits.
24 73 Magazine August, 1982
the same height as the zero- than 2 : l . Always be sure
frequency half-spike. I f you are using an L-sampler
things have gone well so with a high enough power
far, you are getting a signal rating!
through the low-pass filter
and mixer, so you can now Component Sources
install their enclosure tops. and Substitutions
Set the frequency-span It often is lamented that
control so that the 30-MHz home-brewing projects is
signal spike is about two difficult these days because
scope divisions wide. Now of poor component avail-
fine-tune the bandpass fil- ability. I started seriously
ter again and re-peak the experimenting with elec-
log amplifier. Switch the tronics 20 years ago in the
10-dB attenuator section in good old days of compo-
and out while adjusting the nent availabil~ty. The differ-
vertical gain of the oscillo- ence between now and then
scope so that the signal is that we have about a
height changes one CRT di- thousand times more com-
Photo I. The spectrum analyzer can easily be tuned up with
vision. Now switch a 20-dB simple test equipment. ponents t o experiment
section in and out. Signal with!
height should change two ment. Be sure everything is If everything has gone It's simply a matter of
CRT divisions. Readjust the grounded properly. I sug- well, then power down your motivation and tenacity.
frequency span control for gest mounting the L-pad transmitter completely and You can get any component
a 0-to-60-MHz analyzer tun- and attenuator on an alumi- connect the attenuator t o that you need. True, Mom
ing range. num plate which is in turn the L-pad. Switch in all at- and Pop's local TV compo-
Increase signal strength wall-mounted. Ground the tenuation and connect the nent lace doesn't carrv
until the first small spike plate! Do not connect the attenuator to the spectrum everything, but they may bk
pops out of the grass be- attenuator to the L-pad yet. analyzer. Remember that able to order i t for you.
tween the 0- and 30-MHz Connect your transmitter t o the analyzer and oscillo- Don't be afraid t o dontact a
signals. This is slightly an swr meter, the swr meter scope cases should be sol- manufacturer or a big dis-
above the overload point of t o the L-pad, and the L-pad i d l y grounded. Starting tr~butorl ~ k eHall-Mark, Ar-
the analyzer. The 30-MHz t o your dummy load. The again with low power, key row, Allled, etc They are
signal spike should be near L-pad should introduce lit- down and adjust the attenu- usually glad t o work w ~ t h
the top of the CRT screen tle, if any, swr. Starting with ator for a full-scale spec- you (although order mlnl-
(8th vertical division). Full- low power (100 Watts or trum analyzer display. How mums can be an occas~onal
scale inputs should be the less), key down for 30 sec- does your spectrum look?! problem) Best of all, look
next (7th) CRT division onds. Power down your Always switch in full atten- at the ads in this magazine.
down. Touch up the oscillo- transmitter completely and uation before increasing There are several dozen
scope controls if necessary. quickly inspect the inside power. Remember, do not mail-order distributors
The zero-frequency half- of your L-pad. The "fuse" go over one kilowatt con- which market primarily to
spike will be about six divi- should be OK and nothing tinuous output (2 kW p-p). the experimenter
sions tall. Switch all attenu- should be hot. Continue Do not attempt to use the On specifics: You can get
ation out and reduce the testing t o f u l l s t a t i o n spectrum analyzer system circuit board stock, chemi-
signal generator output so power. where your swr is greater cals, drill and router bits,
that the 30-MHz test signal etc., from Kepro in Fenton,
is seven divisions t a l l . Missouri. You can get
Check the vertical calibra- MRF90l s, 40673s, 500-pF
tion of the analyzer over and 1000-pF feedthrough
t h e attenuator's 59-dB capacitors from Alaska Mi-
range. crowave Labs in Anchor-
Using your signal genera- age, Alaska. You can get
tor and frequency counter, ferrite beads, toroids, and
take notes on the horizon- i-f transformers from Ami-
tal calibration of your ana- SIDES AND
don Associates in N. Holly-
lyzer. This i s done by cen- DOUBLE-SIDEQ wood, California. Small air-
tering a signal from your G-10, 1/161n T H I C K -
variable capacitors for the
signal generator on each SOLDER F I L L E T S
bandpass filter are avaii-
CRT horizontal division able from Radiokit in
(vertical line) and recording BASE- Creenville, New Harnp-
its frequency. Your ana- G - I 0 CIRCUIT BOARD. 1/16 ~n shire. You can get resistors,
lyzer i s now ready for use. THICK capacitors, 555 ICs, TL084C
But first, test the L-pad care- quad op amps, VMOS tran-
Note 1. Solder G-10 circuit board and brass strips with 40-W iron.
fully! Note 2. Solder copper shim stock with 25-W iron. sistors, and many of the
Hook up your L-pad t o parts discussed above from
your transmitting equip- Fig. 9. Shielded box construction detail. Radio Shack. You can get
26 73 Magazine * August, 1982
Photo K. 0-todo-MHz spectrum on longwire antenna, using Juttoto L. 0-todo-MHz spectrum o n longwire antenna with
accessory preamplifier. my trusty but noisy computer on.

wall transformers and tan- the "hotter" 3N211 could fier circuit t o use as an ac- is d c - c o u ~ l e d .Be sure t o
t a l u m capacitors f r o m substitute for the 40673 if cessory ahead of the atten- add a blbcking capacitor
Jameco in Belmont, Califor- you crank its gain down a uator. This will allow you t o ahead of the attenuator if
nia. 2N5179s are carried b y bit with the log amplifier view the 0-to-60-MHz radio you are going t o look at an
most TV parts houses. The bias pot. You could use spectrum on a longwire an- rf signal that is riding on a
d o u b l e - b a l a n c e d mixers MRF90ls in place of the tenna and quickly judge the dc level. Stay away from
can be ordered directly 2N5179s (don't try t o go the band conditions through six high-voltage dc circuits.
from Mini-Circuits in Brook- other way!). Solid copper meters. Vco frequency-tun- The bandpass of this ana-
lyn, New York. See, you conductors (#12) stripped ing is somewhat nonlinear, lyzer is too wide for looking
have n o excuse! from house wiring can be which is typical of simple at SSB modulation linear-
OK, the MV109s might used for coil stock in the wideband oscillators. A ity. However, this can be
be a slight problem. An vco and bandpass filter. 6-MHz crystal oscillator judged adequately from a
MV209 or MV309 shouid Any decent electrolytics of driving a TTL Schmitt trig- two-tone pattern o n a nor-
also work. I got m y stock the proper capacitance and ger makes a useful calibra- mal oscilloscope.
from Hall-Mark. If you run voltage rating can be used tor, The output of the TTL
From Mere
i n t o a p r o b l e m getting in the power supply and gate contains every har-
these diodes, pick up the sweep generator circuits. monic through 60 M H z . This p r o j e c t demon-
phone and call Motorola Electrolytics could also be Lightly couple the TTL gate strates that a useful soec-
Semiconductor in Phoenix, used in place of the tanta- to the spectrum analyzer in- trum analyzer can easily be
Arizona, for help. lum capacitors in a pinch. put with an insulated wire built from relatively com-
The high frequency spec- Try t o get close-tolerance antenna placed near the an- m o n and inexpensive com-
trum analyzer should be parts in this case. alyzer input connector. A ponents. Avid experiment-
fairly tolerant of compo- momentary-on push-button ers should treat this design
nent substitutions except in Useful Accessories can be used t o activate the as a starting-off p o i n t .
the vco oscillator circuit You can duplicate the calibrator. Meanwhile, let's get those
and the L-pad. For example, 2-stage wideband-preampli- transmitter spectrums
Analyzer Applications cleaned up! i f you would
We have talked about us- like t o ask m e a auestion
Specifications for HF Spectrum Analyzer ing the HF spectrum ana- about the analyzer broject,
Frequency range 0 to 60 MHz lyzer t o monitor transmit- please send an SASE. 73!
3-dB bandwidth 220 kHz ting equipment. This was References
30-dB bandwidth 1,100 kHz the primary application 1 1. Solid State Design for the Ra-
3:30-dB shape factor 1:5 had in mind when I de- dio Amateur, by Wes Hayward
Dynamic range 60 dB signed the analyzer. I t is es- and Doug DeMaw, ARRL Publi-
Spurious responses 60 dB below full-scale cations.
pecially useful t o hams who
Noise floor 65 dB below full-scale 2. Hewlett-Packard Electronic
Full-scale input -8dBm ?2dBm
are home-brewing their own
HF transmitters or linears. I t lnsfruments a n d Systems, by
Y-axis output 0 to 2.5 volts Hewlett-Packard, Palo Alto, Cal-
X-axis output - 0.5 to + 3.5 volts is also useful for checking
ifornia, 1981.
Y-axis calibration 10 dBldivision low-pass filter performance
3. "High Performance Spectrum
X-axis calibration 6 MHzldivision (approximate) and band conditions. I'm Analyzer," Wayne Ryder, Ham
0 to 8 MHz 4 MHz + 0.75 MHzldivision sure you will find other ap- Radio, June, 1977.
8 to 24 MHz 8 MHz? 1 MHzidivision plications. 4. Pricted Circuits Handbook,
24 to 60 MHz 6 MHz -c 1 MHzldivision The analyzer has a 50- 2 n d E d i t i o n , by C l y d e F .
Ohm input impedance and Coombs, McGraw-Hill.
28 73 Magazine August, 1982