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CSS Analytical has many products to help your Agilent, HP & Hewlett-Packard GC and LC Mass Spec Instrument run newer, better, faster and able to last for many years to come. Check out our entire list of mass spectrometer upgrade products

Troubleshooting the HP 5971 and HP 5972 Electronics (Part 4 of 5), Smart Card

I/O board - is otherwise commonly known as the "SmartCard".   The smartcard is the rectangular board to the left of and plugged into the Main board.   There are several versions of Smartcards and (for the hp 5971 and hp 5972) after the Smartcard I are all backwards compatible. The  Smartcard I can be identified by "Discrete" memory chips soldered directly to the board.  All Smartcards NEWER than the Version I, have memory in the form of RAM Sims, much like the RAM memory SIMS found in your desktop personal computer.  Go to our page:  http://cssco.com/smartcard-id  for easy id.  The Smartcard is the "Brain" of the mass spectrometer and is in fact a mini computer.  It has several micro processors and lots of memory.  It is responsible for the HPIB communication, control of the mass spectrometer scanning, data acquisition, data buffering and data manipulating.  Troubleshooting of this board is limited to "Initializing" (testing HPIB communication ... SCINIT at the comman line). hard reset - for newer boards,  and "Profiling" in manual tune.  Profiling with a bad Smartcard (in manual tune) can identify a memory SIM error.

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Troubleshooting the HP 5971 and HP 5972 Electronics (Part 3 of 5), Main Board

Main Board - is the large SQUARE board mounted on the front of the electronics chassis (right side board if you are facing the two boards).  Most of the control functions are placed on the main board and there is little to trouble shoot.  Testing of the DC power supply can be done by probing the test points on the main board.  (See our blog entry for troubleshooting the DC Power Supply)   This is the main mechanism used to troubleshooting the DC power supply.    However, a bad main board can  "Pull Down" the DC power supply.  Disconnecting the DC power supply from the main board and testing the power supply directly can help troubleshoot a bad main board.  It never hurts to remove all connectors (power off of course) and make sure none of the pins of the connectors or recipticals are bent.  We've seen that happen !  Other than that - remove and replace a bad or suspected main board with a known working main board, or send it to us for testing. 

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Troubleshooting the HP 5971 and HP 5972 Electronics (Part 2 of 5), Power Distribution Board

Power Distribution Board / Vacuum Controller Board

Power Distribution Board (PDB) - is both the primary distribution node for the the incoming power and the board that starts and controls the diffusion pump.   The PDB is stuffed under the manifold, behind the electronics chassis (sheet metal where main board and I/O board are mounted).  It is rare that this board dies, but it does happen. 

The beauty of this board is that it fully controls the diff pump with or without the PC and Chemstation up and running.  Get the manifold under vacuum and power on the MSD.  This board will take over and turn on the diff pump when the vacuum is low enough and provide the "Diff Pump On and Hot" signal when appropriate.  The board also provides a red led to indicate that the diff pump is powered on and running.  You can see the red led through a one-half inch hole in the chassis back behind the smartcard near where the power cord comes in. 

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HP 5971 and HP 5972 Diffusion pump trouble shooting and service

If you have an HP 5971 or Agilent 5972 MSD and you can't get the diff pump to turn on there are only a few possibilities.  1)  You have a massive leak and the diff pump controller board won't allow the diff pump to turn on.  2)  The DC power supply in the MSD is dead and can't run the pump controller board,   and 3)  The diff pump heater is dead.  

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Too Cold and Too Hot Sensors for HP 5971 and HP 5972

HP 5971 and HP 5972 Mass Spectrometers have difussion pumps and on the frame of the diffusion pump are two sensors.  A   Too Cold Sensor, the bottom (white wires) and the Too Hot Sensor, the top (red wires).   The signal from the sensors report to the startup and run electronics of the Power Distribution Board.

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Activate SICL Error - The Horror!

The Horror of it all!   Customers call when they get this error and exclaim all manner of frustration.  They've often spent several days trying to recover from this error - including re-booting, deleting and reloading the software, re-configuration of the instrument.  Violence is often part of the equation and sometimes I think drinking is also involved.  This particular error is very harsh and very un-forgiving.   In fact, the only way to recover from this insidious error is to reboot your PC!  Sometimes you even have to pull the plug.  Yikes!

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Backup Power Supply for your Benchtop Mass Spec

A customer recently asked me about installing a UPS (Uninterpretable Power Supply) on his bench-top mass spectrometer system.  Here's how I went about explaining how and why.

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More on Unplanned interruption of Chemstation Run

A customer read our first post on Unplanned Stopping of a Chemstation Run.  He contacted us with another problem he recently experienced.

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Customer Support

Technical Support Options

CSS Analytical handles a large volume of calls for support on HP and Agilent GC/MS systems. As support for these older systems is getting harder to find we continue to lead the field in support for these older Mass Spectrometers.  Click here for a list of our support options.

mass spec technical blog

In order to bring all our years of Mass Spectrometer technical experience to our customers, we have started a technology blog. Click here for troubleshooting tips and techniques.  Visit  this valuable resource often.