Repairing An HP Power Supply

One of the interesting things about living in modern times is that a confluence of the Internet and rapid changes in the electronics industry means that test gear that used to be astronomically priced is now super affordable. Especially if, like [Frankie Mashockie], you can do a little repair work. He picked up an HP6038A power supply for $50. We couldn’t find the original list price, but even refurbs from “professional” sources go for around $800. However, the $50 price came with a “for parts” disclaimer.

The power supply is autoranging. You usually think of that as a feature of meters. In a power supply, autoranging means the device can adjust the voltage based on load as you can see explained in the video below.

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Tearing Down And Improving A Professional Power Supply

[OZ2CPU] has an HP power supply that is about 30 years old. It looks brand new, though, and has three outputs and includes tracking for the adjustable positive and negative supply. After a quick demo of the unit’s features, he tears it all down so we can see inside. You can catch the video below.

Some similar supplies offer a 10-turn adjustment knob, but this one doesn’t. Inside is a beefy transformer and quite a few through-hole components. There was room to change the main adjusted pot to a 10-turn unit, so he made the mod.

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An HP9863C partially disassembled on a workbench

Repairing A $25,000 HP Workstation To Run Pac-Man

The microcomputer revolution of the 1970s and 1980s turned computers from expensive machines aimed at professionals into consumer products found in the average household. But there always remained a market for professional users, who bought equipment that was so far ahead of consumer gear it seemed to belong in a different decade. While a home computer enthusiast in 1981 might fork out a few hundred dollars for an 8-bit machine with 64 KB of memory, a professional could already buy a 32-bit workstation with 2.8 megabytes of RAM for the price of a brand-new sports car. [Tech Tangents] got his hands on one of those machines, an HP Series 200 9863C from 1981, and managed to get it up and running.

The machine came in more-or-less working condition. The display cable turned out to be dodgy, but since it was just a straight-through sub-D cable it was easily replaced. Similarly, the two 5.25″ floppy drives were standard Tandon TM100-2As which [Tech Tangents] had some experience in repairing, although these specific units merely needed a thorough cleaning to remove forty years’ worth of dust. Continue reading “Repairing A $25,000 HP Workstation To Run Pac-Man

Your IPhone Can’t Do What This WinCE Device Can!

Most of us probably now have a smartphone, an extremely capable pocket computer — even if sometimes its abilities are disguised a little by its manufacturer. There are many contenders to the crown of first smartphone, but in that discussion it’s often forgotten that the first generally available such devices weren’t phones at all, but PDAs, or Personal Digital Assistants. The fancier ones blurred the line between PDA and laptop and were the forerunner devices to netbooks, and it’s one of these that [Remy] is putting through its paces. He makes the bold claim that it can do things the iPhone can’t, and while the two devices are in no way comparable he’s right on one point. His HP Journada 720 can host a development environment, while the iPhone can’t.

The HP was something of a turn-of-the-millennium object of desire, being a palmtop computer with a half-decent keyboard a 640×240 pixel TFT display, and 32 MB of RAM alongside its 206 MHz Intel StrongARM CPU. Its Windows CE OS wasn’t quite the desktop Windows of the day, but it was close enough to be appealing for the ’90s exec who had everything. Astoundingly it has more than one Linux distro that can run on it with some level of modernity, which is where he’s able to make the claim about the iPhone being inferior.

We remember the Journada clamshell series from back in the day, though by our recollection the battery life would plummet if any attempt was made to use the PCMCIA slot. It was only one of several similar platforms offering a mini-laptop experience, and we feel it’s sad that there are so few similar machines today. Perhaps we’ll keep an eye out for one and relive the ’90s ourselves.

Do Not Attempt Disassembly: Analog Wizardry In A 1960s Counter

[CuriousMarc] is back with more vintage HP hardware repair. This time it’s the HP 5245L, a digital nixie-display frequency counter from 1963. This unit is old enough to be entirely made of discrete components, but has a real trick up its sleeve, with add-on components pushing the frequency range all the way up to 18 GHz. But this poor machine was in rough shape. There were previous repair attempts, some of which had to be re-fixed with proper components. When it hit [Marc]’s shop, the oscillator was working, as well as the frequency divider, but the device wasn’t counting, and the reference frequencies weren’t testing good at the front of the machine. There were some of the usual suspects, like blown transistors. But things got really interesting when one of the boards had a couple of tarnished transistors, and a handful of nice shiny new ones — but maybe not all the right transistors. Continue reading “Do Not Attempt Disassembly: Analog Wizardry In A 1960s Counter”

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Hackaday Links: May 28, 2023

The Great Automotive AM Radio War of 2023 rages on, with the news this week that Ford has capitulated, at least for now. You’ll recall that the opening salvo came when the US automaker declared that AM radio was unusable in their EV offerings thanks to interference generated by the motor controller. Rather than fixing the root problem, Ford decided to delete the AM option from their EV infotainment systems, while letting their rolling EMI generators just keep blasting out interference for everyone to enjoy. Lawmakers began rattling their sabers in response, threatening legislation to include AM radio in every vehicle as a matter of public safety. Ford saw the writing on the wall and reversed course, saying that AM is back for at least the 2024 model year, and that vehicles already delivered without it will get a fix via software update.

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Hackaday Links: March 12, 2023

With a long history of nearly universal hate for their products, you’d think printer manufacturers would by now have found ways to back off from the policies that only seem to keep aggravating customers. But rather than make it a financially wiser decision to throw out a printer and buy a new one than to buy new ink cartridges or toners, manufacturers keep coming up with new and devious ways to piss customers off. Case in point: Hewlett-Packard now seems to be bricking printers with third-party ink cartridges. Reports from users say that a new error message has popped up on screens of printers with non-HP cartridges installed warning that further use of the printer has been blocked. Previously, printers just warned about potential quality issues from non-HP consumables, but now they’re essentially bricked until you cough up the money for legit HP cartridges. Users who have contacted HP support say that they were told the change occurred because of a recent firmware update sent to the printer, so that’s comforting.

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