Inside a Datum 9300 time code generator


Kerry Wong did a teardown of a Datum 9300 time code generator:

IRIG time code generators (not to be confused with the ones used in video and film industry) are often used for clock synchronization among various connected equipment and is commonly used in power generation and distribution industry as well as in the military. In this blog post we will take a look inside a Datum 9300 time code generator from the late 80’s. A video detailing the teardown is linked towards the end of the post.

See the full post on his blog here.

Check out the video after the break.

Electronic key tear down


Tear down of an Electronic key  from Electronupdate:

In the mid 1980’s a company called Dallas Semiconductor was producing a wide range of small RAMs with integrated battery backup. One of the more unusual item was an early attempt at an electronic key: a user would be issued a key which could then be typically used to allow access to equipment and to keep track of usage. Not very secure by today’s standards…. but an interesting data point.
Opening it up shows that it had two major parts: a silicon die and a battery. The amount of ram on the die was very small, 256 bits!

More details on Electronupdate blog.

Check out the video after the break.

Silicon die analysis: Inside an op amp with interesting “butterfly” transistors


An excellent in-depth look at theTL084 op amp by Ken Shirriff:

Some integrated circuits have very interesting dies under a microscope, like the chip below with designs that look kind of like butterflies. These patterns are special JFET input transistors that improved the chip’s performance. This chip is a Texas Instruments TL084 quad op amp and the symmetry of the four op amps is visible in the photo. (You can also see four big irregular rectangular regions; these are capacitors to stabilize the op amps.) In this article, I describe these components and the other circuitry in the chip and explain how it works. This article also includes an interactive chip explorer that shows each schematic component on the die and explains what it does.

See the full post on Ken Shirriff’s blog.

Siglent SDG6000X Series Arbitrary waveform generator review, teardown and experiments


A closer look at the newly released Siglent SDG6000X Series Arbitrary Waveform Generator from The Signal Path:

The full teardown of the unit reveals the internal architecture of the instrument, DAC / FPGA interconnect as well as the output amplifier structure. Although the limitations of the FPGA prevents the instrument to operate at full 2.5GSa/s in arb-mode, the instrument is capable of providing complex modulation up to the full 500MHz signal bandwidth.

More details on The Signal Path blog.

Check out the video after the break.

My new third hand

I recently brought from Banggood a support for having a third hand during soldering operations…

hand-001 hand-002

the support is made by an aluminum base and three arms which end with a crocodile clamp with insulating sheath:

hand-003 hand-004

The assembly is very simple, the arms must be screwed on the base:


In general this support is very usefulthe arms are very well articulated and their length allows to “grasp” even medium-sized cards:

hand-007 hand-006

The only defect is the position of the feet, which makes the base not too stable:



First look at JQ6500 modules

For some time, on different chinese webstores (for example Banggood) there is a module called JQ6500 for sale:

jq6500-001 jq6500-002

it’s often described as a voice sound module or as an MP3 player sound module.

Actually JQ6500 is the name of the main chip hosted on the module:


The chip is manufactured by a Chinese company named JQ. A datasheet for the chip is also available, unfortunately only in Chinese (but Google Translate can help to understand what it contains).

On the other side of the PCB, the module houses two additional integrated circuits:

  • a 16Mbit flash memory (25L1606E)
  • a 3W audio amplifier (HXJ 8002)

When you connect the module to your computer via USB, it is detected as a CDROM drive. If you browse the content of the CD, you can find the MusicDownload.exe application that allows to upload audio files in the flash memory:


The software is in Chinese but its use is very simple: by moving to the second tab you can select the MP3 files to be uploaded. If you now move back to the initial tab, you can start the upload process clicking on the only available button. In the video at the end of this post you can see how it works…

You can control the JQ6500 chip in different ways. The easiest one is using external buttons connected to pins K1-2-3-4-5:


When you press a button, the chip plays the corresponding audio file. For example if you press the button connected to pin K1, the chip plays the audio file named 001.mp3.

The onboard amplifier (HXJ 8002) is a mono IC and its output is connected to pin SPK+ and SPK-. You can therefore connect to those pins a small speaker. If you want a stereo audio, you can instead use pins ADL_L (left channel) and ADC_R (right channel) and connect them to an external amplifier.


This module is an excellent and inexpensive solution to add audio to your projects. The use of an internal flash memory has the advantage of not requiring SD cards or other media to store your audio files; in contrast its capacity (16Mbit = 2MByte) makes it more suitable to reproduce sound effects / guide voices than to make a music player.

In the next articles I will show you how to interface the module with Arduino … meanwhile here is a video showing my first tests:




WGX iBeacons

In a recent tutorial I explained how to detect the presence of an iBeacon with the esp32 chip. The iBeacon used to demonstrate the program is manufactured by a chinese Company, Wellcore, and sold by Banggood.

The transmitter is enclosed in a plastic, non waterproof, case of 4x4cm size:

wgx-001 wgx-002

The enclosure has a hole that allows you to hang the iBeacon on the wall or alternatively use it as a key ring.

The transmitter is based on a double-sided circuit board: one side hosts all the components, while on the other side you find the lithium battery that powers the iBeacon. The antenna is also printed directly on the PCB.

A switch allows you to turn the iBeacon on or off:

wgx-003 wgx-004

Unlike Bangood says, this iBeacon is based on the Nordic nRF51822 chip:


The use is very simple: just turn the iBeacon on and it continuously transmits the advertising package containing its unique UUID.

The manufacturer also offers an application to customize some parameters of the iBeacon. For iOS smartphones you can download the “Wellcore Beacon Tool” app from the App Store, while for Android the apk file of the application is available for download on this website.

The app performs a scan looking for compatible iBeacons:


Once found an iBeacon, you can change some of its parameters (in the example, its name):


The change is effective as soon as you click the Write command:


Capacitor plague? Inside an HP 8620C sweep oscillator and HP 86245A RF plugin


A teardown of the HP 8620C and HP 86245A by Kerry Wong:

I just picked up an HP 8620C sweep oscillator with an HP 86245A 5.9 GHz to 12.4 GHz RF plugin on eBay. This time around though, the unit does not work. While it was advertised as a working unit I could not get it powered on and there was no sign of life whatsoever. So before I start troubleshooting and repairing the unit, I thought I would do a quick teardown to see what’s inside and if I could spot anything obvious that was out of the ordinary.

More details on his blog here.

Check out the video after the break.

Teardown of an HP 8671A microwave frequency synthesizer


Kerry Wong did a teardown of an HP 8671A microwave frequency synthesizer:

I recently bought an HP 8671A microwave frequency synthesizer on eBay. This synthesizer can generate signals from 2GHz to 6.2GHz with an unleveled output of more than 8dBm. It is a nice complement to my HP 8642B signal generator and Wavetek 907 signal generator. Using these generators, I can now generate signals of pretty much any frequencies under the 12GHz range. A video of this teardown is linked towards the end of this post.

More details on his blog here.

Check out the video after the break.