Welcome to the HP8924C and RF Tools Page of AA9NV
A Collection of Pictures and Notes
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If you need a calibration, parts or repairs, contact Rick at Amtronix. Rick's service work, attention to detail and customer service are impeccable, outstanding and very professional.
Dust builds up inside the units, they have to come apart to be properly cleaned. Check out the dust on the fan and the fan side of the components, and this was after an initial cleaning. The far left picture is the power supply/regulator and fan cover. The next two pictures are of the inside showing the fan and power regulator board. The far right picture shows the power supply to be replaced in the top left corner of the picture, longer rectangle box about 2 inches wide.
Far left picture is of the front with the front panel turned and sitting on top of the machine. The next shows the fan/regulator area which would be directly behind the monitor section connected to the front panel. The middle picture shows the regulator board and fan in the lower part and the back side of the front panel - speaker is showing -so is the back of the monitor section and look at the high dollar piece :) to the right of the monitor in the picture - it is the 100 watt option. The option is also shown in the second picture from the right but more importantly - watch this cable on reassembly as it would be easy to damage it. Far right is a top view of the rear card area - power supply would be to the left if it was in the picture.
Left picture is the back side of the cover for the front card area. The rest of the pictures are of the rear card area. Second picture from the left is of one of the rear area cards pulled out. Middle picture is of the card slot, fourth is the side of the card and the far right picture is of some smaller cards and the Time Base area - which would be the back left corner of the machine looking from the back. If you look at the back left corner of your service monitor you will see the Time Base plug.
Far left two pictures show the cards that have to come out to get the regulator changed. The center picture shows the regulator removed. Far right two pictures show the old and replacement regulators and the empty card slots that were removed to get at the regulator screws.
Far left picture shows the holding plate that installs over the cards and under the front card area cover. Don't forget it like I did and have to do it all over again. :( Center pictures are of the fan/regulator/power supply area rewired and put back together. Far right picture shows the top of the mostly reassembled unit with the replaced power supply in the top left corner.
Far left picture - unit reassembled. Second from the left are the newly installed BNC connectors.
This work was the direct result of UPS's shipping. This was the most blatantly damaging to date and shows they have total disregard for product being shipped. There are no less than 13 big red fragile stickers all over this unit's shipping box. I have lost thousands of dollars in equipment because of UPS's terrible handling of shipped items. UPS has NEVER made good on one item that has come in damaged, and many were packaged very carefully with full respect to the contents in every way. This service monitor is one more classic example of their way of shipping items. The unit was bubble wrapped for shock protection, foamed in for placement and in a heavy cardboard box for durability. This unit hit so hard that it sheared the through the foam, cut the bubble wrap and punched though the side of the box. Now tell me this, what person would think this isn't fragile with all these stickers in place...
Simple Screen Capture - Amtronix
Decode DPL (CDCSS) or PL (CTCSS) - Amtronix
Microphone - Amtronix
HP8924 - HP Agilent 8924C -
How it all got started. I had originally worked with a friend's HP 8920B while living in Washington State. At that time, units were priced too high for my purchasing capability so I dreamed of them but didn't think much more about them until lately. Similar units, namely the HP 8924C, have become increasingly more affordable. The 8924C units have many of the similar features of the 8920 units but are not as compact and weigh more, probably due to the added CDMA testing capabilities. Now that one was affordable, I took the plunge for numerous reasons. One, waiting never gets any equipment in the door and two, the unit is equipped with many features I desired for playing radio. One of the must haves is the Tracking Generator / Spectrum Analyzer feature. I did find another nice feature after purchasing, there are self-tests built into the unit that will verify basic operational status. I ran them and there it is, running well and fully operational, as far as I know anyway. :)
Operationally the HP 8924C is pretty straight forward after working with it for awhile. The manuals are not much help and you are better off perusing the HP 8920 manuals for most of the operational guidance. While I was looking for additional help to set up the service monitor, I ran across some software posted by Measurement Innovation out of Australia. I read through their website and was very intrigued by what they offered, especially the additional capabilities I could use with the HP. I contacted the company and had a trial CD within a short time. After reviewing what I was pretty sure would be a fantastic tool for my HP, I rounded up the additional items needed to fully utilize the software and began to do testing of both the software's capabilities and testing / tuning of pieces of equipment I had in the shack. The incredible results are posted below.
The additional measurement capabilities are fantastic. A few things that are a huge bonus. Viewing whatever size of monitor is big improvement over viewing the monitor on the HP unit. The screen capture and screen shot utilities are easy to use and do a great job. I set my default printer to Acrobat and print my screen shots straight to a PDF for both archival and emailing reasons, anybody can open a PDF.
"The HP/Agilent 892x RF Comms Test Sets are regarded by many as the "tool of choice" for RF installation and maintenance, but the lack of simple PC connectivity restricts their usefulness. RF Tools is a suite of software tools that enhances and improves the effectiveness of RF technicians when installing and maintaining radio systems, especially field maintenance of repeater sites and RF site surveys. Automated procedures guide users through the measurement process. Measurement repeatability and quality are improved using the built-in save and recall databases. All results can be saved to file or printed."
RF Tools Screen Shots
The first two screen shot measurements were done on a NR73BNMO Diamond - magnet mount on a computer desk. The middle screen shot I ran up to a 120 - 480 for a 360 MHz span and the program ran perfectly. Should go wider if needed, 30-1000 MHz. The fourth screen shot was also done with the Diamond and so was the far right shot but only ran for a few minutes, signal at -40 was from my keyed VX-177 or my repeater. In all the excitement I lost track of a few details. :)
The first screen shot is of a 900 MHz pass can, markers missing from the screen shots, don't know why, -3 db. Second is of a TXRX 900 MHz pass can, 0 db. The third is of the same but using screen capture instead. The last screen shot is using a small antenna on the antenna port for receive, hmmm, looks like the remote temperature sensor I receive is about 430 something. That temperature sensor blasts out a wide signal, sad. Check out the business portion - that is a lot of RF hitting the shack.
The software is approved for use on the 8924C along with other 892X series units. Measurement Innovation now has the RFT-1000-HAM available for a significantly discounted purchase price to Radio Amateurs. Their online purchasing shows Australian dollars, convert those to US dollars.
The HP8924C I have is running version 8.04 firmware and 928 RAM. The testing computer is an IBM T30 with 100 GHz hard drive, 1 GHz ram, P4 2.2 processor through an externally powered PCMCIA card for 2.0 USB. I can run Echolink, Outlook Express, EBay, another Browser window, FrontPage, UI-View32, My Pictures and Acrobat at the same time I am using RFT-1000.
RFT-1000 uses an HP 82357B USP / GPIB interface to connect a computer to the HP8924C. Vendors offer new, used, reconditioned and rental 82357B units. Mine came from Metric Test.
RFT-1000 also uses an Eagle Return Loss Bridge, preferably the BKA8920 kit, to add more testing and measurement capabilities to the 8924C.
My initial observations are what I expected. The enhanced details and data available though this program makes it worth the costs all by itself. The HP monitor is basically a rough snippet of the wealth of available information one can see by using the RFT-1000 software. This and the added features gained by using the Eagle Return Loss Bridge turn the HP8924C into a real powerhouse of a service monitor, a workhorse comparable to equipment otherwi$e unobtainable to Amateur Radio Hobbyists.
Software and company information for Measurement Innovation or specifically RFT-1000 RF Tools.
The question has been raised as to whether or not the software would work with a slower GPIB interface. There are a number of different units available, but the word from Measurement Innovation for initial testing was to use the HP, mainly for the through put speed I believe. Would be nice to test and trial other units to see if they work properly at some point in the future.
The official word is that the 82357B or the older 82357A interfaces units are the ones to use, so, any units trialed or used outside of these is at your own choosing and risk.
Any questions or comments, drop me a note: aa9nv at arrl dot net
The accuracy of posted materials is not verified. Use of any materials from the site is done at your own risk.
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