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HP 8753C Display LCD Replacement

Completed Install
Completed Install

Since I inherited an old HP 8753C Network Analyser from work, I figured updating a few things to relatively modern standards would be good. The factory CRT, being 28 years old, is definitely getting a little tired, not to mention being slow to warm up. I read over on the EEVBlog forums about a DIY modification to integrate an LCD display into place instead. There was also the option of a ready-made kit for these instruments which would integrate an LCD, but the cost at over £300 was very prohibitive!

CRT Pinout
CRT Pinout

The CRT display unit is a self-contained Sony unit, taking RGBHV signalling from the graphics control card of the analyser. Power is 65v DC which will definitely come in handy for powering the new LCD & control gear, after some conversion.

Test Wiring
Test Wiring

Doing a quick test with some wiring stuck into the video connector from the graphics controller, proved that I could get a decent video signal out of the unit! The only signals used here are RGB, along with the vertical & horizontal sync.

GBS-8200 Converter Board
GBS-8200 Converter Board

The video is converted to VGA by way of a GBS-8200 arcade machine video conversion board, which will take many different video formats & spit out standard VGA signalling. The power supply to the left is a standard 100-240v to 12v PSU, which is happy to run at 6t5v DC input voltage, albeit with a ~5 second delay on output startup when power is applied. This is due to the massive 6.6MΩ resistance of the startup resistor chain, which I did reduce by 50% to 3.3MΩ with no effect. Since it does start OK even with the delay, I think I’ll not tinker with it any further. I doubt I could pull the full rated power from it with such a low input voltage, but all included, this mod draws less than 600mA at 12v.
A custom 20-pin IDC cable was made up to connect to the analyser’s graphics board, and this was then broken out into the required RGB & sync signals. Quite a few of the grounds are unused, I’ve not yet noticed any issues with EMC or instability.

Sync Combiner
Sync Combiner

There is a quad-XOR gate deadbugged to the PCB, which is taking the separate sync signals & combining them into a composite sync. The conversion board does have separate sync inputs, but for some reason doesn’t sync when they’re applied separately. This gate IC is powered from the 3.3v rail of the converter board, with the power lines tacked across one of the decoupling caps for the DRAM IC.

LCD Control PCBs
LCD Control PCBs

The donor 8.4″ LCD came from eBay in the form of a POS auxiliary display. I pulled the panel from the plastic casing, along with the control boards, and attached them all to the back. This LCD also had a sheet of toughened glass attached to the front, no doubt to protect against the Great Unwashed while in use! This was also removed.

Control Boards Mounted
Control Boards Mounted

A cut piece of plexiglas allows the boards to be mounted in the cavernous space the CRT once occupied, with some brass standoffs. 12v power & VGA are routed down to the LCD on the front of the analyser.

LCD Wiring
LCD Wiring

The LCD itself is tacked in place with cyanoacrylate glue to the securing clips for the glass front panel, which is more than enough to hold things in place. The input board which just has the VGA connector & power connector is glued edge-on to the metal back panel of the LCD, and is under little strain so this joint should survive OK.

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BluVision Bluetooth Low Energy Beacon

Violent Disassembly
Violent Disassembly

These photos were sent over to me by a friend, an interesting piece of tech that’s used in the retail industry. This is a BluVision BLE Beacon, which as far as I can tell is used to provide some automated customer assistance. From their website it seems they can also be used for high-price asset protection & tracking. These units don’t appear to be serviceable, being completely sealed & only having a primary cell. I’m not sure what they cost but it seems to be an expensive way to contact clients with adverts etc.

Component Side
Component Side

There’s not much populated on this PCB, the main component here is the CC2640 SimpleLink ultra-low-power wireless microcontroller for Bluetooth Low Energy. It’s a fairly powerful CPU, with an ARM Cortex M3 core, 129KB of flash & up to 48MHz clock speed. There’s a couple of crystals, one of which is most likely a 32,768kHz low-power sleep watch crystal, while the other will be the full clock frequency used while it’s operating. Unfortunately I can’t make the markings out from the photos. There doesn’t appear to be any significant power supply components, so this must be running direct from the battery underneath.

2.2Ah 3.6v Lithium Cell
2.2Ah 3.6v Lithium Cell

The other side of the PCB has a single primary lithium cell, rated at 3.6v, 2.2Ah. The factory spec sheet specifies a 2.2 year life at 0dBm TX Power, Running 24/7, 100ms advertisement rate.

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Virgin Media Hub 3 Crap & Router Upgrades

I posted a while back a teardown of the VM Superhub 2 router, as VM has “upgraded” to a rebranded Arris TG2492S/CE CM. Alas Virgin Media in their wisdom have decided that simple router features like being able to change the LAN subnet & DHCP server range are far too complex to trust to the Great Unwashed, so they’ve removed them entirely from the firmware, and locked the local LAN onto the 192.168.0.0/24 range.
As my network is already numbered in the 10.0.0.0/16 range, with several statically addressed devices present and other systems relying on these static assignments, using this router would have meant renumbering everything.

Luckily Virgin had the decency to leave the “modem mode” option in the firmware, effectively disabling the WiFi & routing functions & allowing the connection of a third-party router. Some searching for a suitable replacement for the core of my network turned up the Linksys WRT1900ACS. While I waited for this to arrive, some temporary workarounds were needed to make everything function well enough with VM’s crap router.

WRT1900ACS
WRT1900ACS

These routers have been designed as a modern replacement for the venerable WRT54G series of routers from some time ago, with full support for OpenWRT/DD-WRT firmware, and with a beefy 1.6GHz dual core CPU & 512MB of RAM I doubt I’ll be able to knock this one over with too much network traffic! This was pretty much the most powerful router I could afford, and should mean I don’t need to upgrade for a long time. (No teardown of this yet, as it’s taking care of the network at present. Maybe some point in the future I’ll take the plunge).

The stock firmware isn’t totally awful, and has some nice features, but I decided it needed to be replaced with DD-WRT for more security & future flexibility. I’ll leave the firmware flashing stuff for another post 😉