Compact Stereo Dummy Load for Amplifier Testing

In a past post, I’ve attached a picture of the load I was using for speaker amplifier testing. I have a box full of these 50W wire-wound resistors and a heatsink (HS) I’ve tapped to be able to attach these resistors easily. I was simply connecting as needed for the specific case. In practice, I rarely change the default 8×2-ohm resistors which are split into 2 loads of 8-ohm each. When I needed to dissipate significant power I would normally point a fan at that HS and be done with it. However, this wasn’t very convenient, and I wanted something more “user friendly” to replace it, this is what will be described in this post.

Continue reading “Compact Stereo Dummy Load for Amplifier Testing”

Control Program for BK Precision 8500 DC Electronic Load

This post will be somewhat different to others, but I consider it interesting enough and useful enough to share on the blog. Over the past years I have used MATLAB quite a lot for communicating with instrumentation/test boards I’ve designed. Due to a number of reasons I’ve recently decided that gradually transitioning to use of Python instead is a good idea. My needs are typically quite basic, some communication with external instrumentation/test boards, data recording, data analysis, and finally generating some nice looking figures to summarize the results. Since the best way to learn is do, I’ve decided writing a control software for a DC electronic load I own would be a nice first project. The code is finally complete, so I’ve decided to share it with others so that anyone who owns an instrument from this series could use it.

Continue reading “Control Program for BK Precision 8500 DC Electronic Load”

AKG K1000 Headphones Repair

The AKG K1000’s have a somewhat of a legendary status as a unique pair of headphones. They are more like “floating” speakers than typical headphones. These are a fairly old model which was produced for a fairly long time, but it was discontinued some years ago. Many people still own these, but as all things, they do need some TLC over the years. In this post I’d like to briefly share my comments on these headphones along with some pictures to describe the work that was needed keep my pair of K1000’s in proper working condition.

Continue reading “AKG K1000 Headphones Repair”

Audio Measurement Pre-Amplifier – Part 5 – Updated Ver1.1

Over the past year and a half since posting the series of pages about the measurement pre-amplifier I’ve designed and built, I’ve received emails from multiple people who were interested in building the pre-amp. I’ve happily shared with them the remaining boards I’ve had from that first batch I ordered at the time. These few boards were all given out, and I’ve therefore ordered a few extra boards to be able to keep offering these boards to people who would like to build such an instrument for themselves. Unlike the first batch, this time I’ve printed boards that fixed the issues I’ve reported when building my own unit and were fixed by a “bodge” over the original board. These modifications to the board design (and the writing of this post) were all done well over a year a go when I’ve originally assembled my unit, but I didn’t see a need to post them until this point in time.

This post is meant to share the updated schematic, as well as to offer additional information that can be of help to people who would like to assemble such an instrument.  I didn’t make any functional changes to the pre-amp at this revision, therefore I will offer no additional measurements in this post.

Continue reading “Audio Measurement Pre-Amplifier – Part 5 – Updated Ver1.1”

Hafler 9505/9303 Power Amplifiers Repair and Measurements

Over the past few months a few different Hafler amplifiers passed through my bench. First it was a combo of a 915 pre-amplifier with a 9303 power-amplifier to accompany it, and some time later I got a 9505 power-amplifier. If you’ll have a look at the schematic you will see that while the pre-amp isn’t too exciting, the power amplifier has a few interesting points in its schematic. So I’ve decided these amplifiers are interesting enough to warrant a short post about them with some pictures and measurement results.

Continue reading “Hafler 9505/9303 Power Amplifiers Repair and Measurements”

Kenwood KA-7100 Vintage Amplifier Revisited

One of the amplifiers I own is a Kenwood KA-7100 stereo amplifier. It is a fairly old amplifier (late 70’s), with a modest 60WPC into 8ohm specification. I was a fan of the KA-XXXX amplifier series and its siblings from the moment I first heard its smaller brother (KA-601). While that KA-601 was in fairly bad shape, I was amazed at the time by how much better it sounded than my (back then) modern Denon AVR HT receiver. I’ve since had an opportunity to listen to quite a few amplifiers from this series including the KA-7300, KA-8100, KA-9100, and others. Therefore, when I’ve had the chance (more than a decade ago) to get my hands on a KA-7100 I grabbed it right away. It wasn’t in bad shape, but it has seen better days, no doubt. As I learned a bit more about electronics, that amplifier became one of my first projects.
I have recently had the opportunity to revisit this amplifier by doing another small modification, which gave me an opportunity to write something about it, and add some measurement results while at it.

Continue reading “Kenwood KA-7100 Vintage Amplifier Revisited”

TDA8954TH Based Subwoofer Amplifier Board from AliExpress (25$) Any Good?

In this post I’d like to briefly share my thoughts on a subwoofer amplifier board I’ve purchased from AliExpress a few weeks ago. I have purchased it as a cheap solution to test an in-wall subwoofer I’m building (2x10inch woofers model R1S4-10 from RF in sealed enclosures). I looked for an amplifier that will have ~400W output power into an 8ohm load (bridge connection), although I doubt I will ever need this much power, or even half that. I’m actually more interested to see how much output power I can get before distortion gets out of hand, with the hope I could get ~200W before onset of clipping. I would obviously much prefer to have a plate amplifier for this, but I haven’t found one that seemed to meet all my needs for a reasonable cost, so I went with plan B. As all temporary things, if it works well it will probably be turned into a fixed solution, so I was interested in seeing how it will perform on the test bench.

Continue reading “TDA8954TH Based Subwoofer Amplifier Board from AliExpress (25$) Any Good?”

Agilent 54831B Oscilloscope Taming

Just like any other DIY electronics hobbyist, a scope is one tool I can’t live without. Over the past few years I’ve owned the renowned Rigol DS1052E (which was hacked up to the 100MHz model), and more recently a Siglent SDS1204X-E. Both were great for the price and their respective time to market. The DS1052E was probably among the first scopes that almost every hobbyist could afford, and the SDS1204X-E was much more capable with more channels and processing power and its MSO option (which at the time was quite buggy, but I understand it has improved). However, the thing I was missing is the ability to probe (relatively) high speed signals. I wanted something that could do 500MHz, and preferably even 1GHz. Getting such a high BW scope would cost quite a lot of money brand new, so I knew I had to look for some older used units. After reading a bit on different forums, I’ve decided that an Agilent 54831B would be a good match for my needs. In this post I’d like to describe some mods I did to the scope to make it better suited for my needs. Hopefully some other readers will find this useful to learn about this scope, or how to mod it if the need arise.

Continue reading “Agilent 54831B Oscilloscope Taming”

Audio Measurement Pre-Amplifier – Part 4 – Casing the Pre-Amplifier

This is part 4 in the series of posts discussing the (audio) measurement pre-amplifier project. In part 1 I’ve covered the motivation for this project along with the circuit schematic and detailed circuit description. In part 2, I have gone through the board layout consideration and showed the assembled boards.  In part 3, I have gone through measurement results of the assembled pre-amplifier board, as well as some circuit modifications to extend its performance. In this post, part 4, I will briefly show the assembled unit, along with slight discussion of external and power supply coupling into the signal.

As with many of my recent projects, I stuck to PCB’s for the front an rear panels of the pre-amplifier. The benefits are clear, its cheap, its very easy to design in the same software tools used for all of my circuit designs, and it offers electrical shielding due to the internal copper layers that are available to us. Unlike in my previous builds, this one is significantly larger, has very large holes, and even square cut-outs. Therefore, I wasn’t sure how well it will come out. To minimize the chance of an error I’ve printed the panels on a piece of paper and measured it in place before placing the orders. You don’t want to spend a few 10’s of $’s, and wait for a few weeks before you realize you’ve made a mistake 🙂 Continue reading “Audio Measurement Pre-Amplifier – Part 4 – Casing the Pre-Amplifier”

Audio Measurement Pre-Amplifier – Part 3 – Initial Setup and Measurement Results

This is part 3 in the series of posts discussing the (audio) measurement pre-amplifier project. In part 1 I’ve covered the motivation for this project along with the circuit schematic and detailed circuit description. In part 2, I have gone through the board layout consideration and showed the assembled boards.  In this post, part 3, I will show some of the measurement results of the assembled boards. I will start with describing what it is I would like to measure, and how I plan on measuring it, including the limitations of the measurements I can make with the gear available to me. Then I will show the relevant result and discuss them.

The measurements I plan on performing can be split into 3 different groups. The first has to do with linearity of the pre-amplifier, to measure how much distortion it will have. Next are the noise measurements, as I want to verify the input referred voltage noise of the pre-amplifier to make sure it meets my target figures to allow measurement of low noise voltage regulators (and other devices). Finally are the “other” tests such as the accuracy of the True-RMS reading, the voltage limits of the output protection circuit, and so on.

Continue reading “Audio Measurement Pre-Amplifier – Part 3 – Initial Setup and Measurement Results”