BSide ACM03 plus clamp meter review and teardown

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A review and teardown of a cheap Hall effect clamp meter (ACM03 Plus) from Kerry Wong:

I recently purchased a BSide ACM03 Plus clamp meter so that I could do some high current measurements for my tab welder project. This meter can be bought on eBay for around $25, which makes it one of the cheapest Hall effect clamp meters on the market that is capable of measuring both AC and DC current.
Since this is such a cheap meter, I wasn’t expecting much. But it actually feels really sturdy in hand and the construction looks reasonably solid, which is certainly a good start. It came with a nice little black pouch inside a non-descriptive cardboard box. It even includes a decent product manual.

More details on Kerry D. Wong’s blog.

Check out the video after the break.

Battery adapter teardown and Sony A6000 power-off current draw

 

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Kerry Wong did a teardown  of a battery adapter for the Sony A6000 mirrorless digital camera and measured the poweroff current draw of the the camera:

With the battery adapter on hand, I decided to take a look at what’s inside and then use the adapter to measure the power-off/stand-by current of the Sony A6000.
I was not expecting to see much inside this battery adapter. After all, all it needs is the connection between the battery terminals and the input power jack and a resistor between the center pin and the ground in place of the thermistor that is used to sense the temperature of the battery pack. At the most, it might also include a reverse polarity protection diode.
But a quick measurement suggested that there must be some active components inside as the adapter itself draws around 17 µA current when connected to the power source. So clearly, there is some active circuitry inside.
Upon opening up the battery adapter, I was surprised to see the circuit board inside.

More details on Kerry D. Wong’s blog.

Check out the video after the break.

Tutorial, experiments and teardown of a 77GHz automotive FMCW radar module

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Tutorial, experiments and teardown of a 77GHz automotive FMCW radar module from The Signal Path:

In this episode Shahriar explores the principle operation of automotive FMCW radars. Thanks to a donated automotive radar module, various components of the system can be examined and explored. The PCB reveals three die-on-PCB ASICs responsible for generating and receiving 77GHz FMCW signals coupled to a 2D array of antennas. Several microwave components such as rat-race couplers and branchline couplers can also be observed. PCB rulers from SV1AFN Design Lab also show these microwave components at much lower frequencies. Two other ICs are used for ramp generation and PLL as well as a multi-input LNA/PGA/AAF with 12-bit ADC for IF processing. All components are examined under the microscope and the frequency of operation is calculated by measuring the branchline coupler’s dimensions.
Finally a simple Doppler effect radar is constructed by using a doubler, power divider, mixer and a pair of Vivaldi horn antennas. The Doppler effect can be observed by moving an object in front of the antenna pair.

More details at thesignalpath.com.

Check out the video after the break.

Cheap Powerbank Logic and Teardown

A fixture on many British high streets are pound shops. You may have an equivalent wherever in the world you are reading this; shops in which everything on sale has the same low price. They may be called dollar stores, one-Euro stores, or similar. In this case a pound, wich translates today to a shade under $1.24.

Amid the slightly random selection of groceries and household products are a small range of electronic goods. FM radios, USB cables and hubs, headphones, and mobile phone accessories. It was one of these that caught [Julian Ilett]’s eye, a USB power bank. (Video embedded below.)

You don’t get much for a quid, and it shows in this product. A USB cable that gets warm at the slightest current, a claimed 800 mA of output at 5V from a claimed 1200 mAh capacity, and all from an 18650 Li-ion cell of indeterminate origin. The active component is an FM9833E SOIC-8 switching regulator and charger (220K PDF data sheet, in Chinese).

A straightforward teardown of a piece of near-junk consumer electronics would not normally be seen as something we’d tempt you with, but [Julian] goes on to have some rather pointless but entertaining fun with these devices. If you daisy-chain them, they can be shown to have the properties of rudimentary digital logic, and in the video we’ve put below the break it is this that he proceeds to demonstrate. We see a bistable latch, a set-reset latch, a very slow astable multivibrator, and finally he pulls out a load more power banks for a ring oscillator.

If only [MacGyver] had found himself trapped in a container of power banks somewhere from which only solving a complex mathematical conundrum could release him, perhaps he could have fashioned an entire computer! The best conclusion is the one given at the end of the video by [Julian] himself, in which he suggests (and we’re paraphrasing here) that if you feel the idea to be unworthy of merit, you can tell him so in the comments.

That you can buy all this in one product for so little is a minor miracle, so as you might expect this isn’t the first time those in our community have turned their attention to dollar store items. We’ve brought you a dollar store Bluetooth camera trigger giving up its secrets, and a pedometer turned into a voltmeter. Keep watching, there are sure to be more devices finding their way onto the shelves for not a lot.

We’ve featured [Julian] before, when he found a very cheap and very bright LED array.


Filed under: teardown

Bad electrolytic capacitor teardown

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Teardown and analysis of a bad electrolytic capacitor from Electronupdate:

So, there sitting in a dumpster is what looks like a perfectly good monitor… some of the protective plastic on the base was never even peeled off.
A quick power up showed why it was tossed: it simply did not turn on.
I had been reading about the most likely failure mode was the electrolytic capacitors, especially in the power section. A quick disassembly quickly pointed out the likely culprit:
The bulging top is the give away. After replacing it with a capacitor from my parts bin the monitor powered right up looking really good. A fix that only cost me a few pennies.

More details at Electronupdate blog.

Check out the video after the break.

Body Cardio Weighing Scale Teardown

If you weigh yourself by standing on a bathroom scale, not liking the result, then balancing towards one corner to knock a few pounds off the dial, you are stuck in a previous century. Modern bathroom scales have not only moved from the mechanical to the electronic, they also gather body composition measurements and pack significant computing power.

Yet they’re a piece of domestic electronics that sits in our bathroom and rarely comes under scrutiny. How do they work, and what do they contain? The team at November Five tore down a top-of-the-range Withings Body Cardio scale to find out.

After a struggle with double-sided sticky pads, the scale revealed its secrets: a simple yet accomplished device. There are four load cells and the electrodes for the body measurement, and the PCB. On the board is a 120 MHz ARM Cortex M4 microcontroller, a wireless chipset, battery management, and the analogue measurement chipset. This last is particularly interesting, a Texas Instruments AFE4300, a specialised analogue front-end for this application. It’s a chip most of us will never use, but as always an obscure datasheet is worth a read.

The rather pretty fractal antenna.
The rather pretty fractal antenna.

Finally, the wireless antenna is not the normal simple angular trace you’ll be used to from the likes of ESP8266 boards, but an organic squiggle. It’s a fractal antenna, presumably designed to present a carefully calculated bandwidth to the chipset. A nice touch, though one the consumer will never be aware of.

We’ve shown you quite a few bathroom scales over the years. There was this wisecracking Raspberry Pi scale, this scale reverse engineered to gather weight data, and this one laid bare for use as a controller.


Filed under: ARM, hardware

Silicon Wafer Transfer Machine Is Beautifully Expensive

There’s nothing more freeing than to be an engineer with no perceptible budget in sight. [BrendaEM] walks us through a teardown of a machine that was designed under just such a lack of constraint. It sat inside of a big box whose job was to take silicon wafers in on one side and spit out integrated circuits on the other.

[BrendaEM] never really divulges how she got her hands on something so expensive that the engineer could specify “tiny optical fiber prisms on the end of a precision sintered metal post” as an interrupt solution for the wafer.  However, we’re glad she did.

The machine features lots of things you would expect; pricey ultra precise motors, silky smooth linear motion systems, etcetera. At one point she turns on a gripper movement, the sound of it moving can be adequately described as poetic.

It also gives an unexpected view into how challenging it is to produce the silicon we rely on daily at the ridiculously affordable price we’ve come to expect. Everything from the ceramic plates and jaws that can handle the heat of the silicon right out of the oven to the obvious cleanliness of even this heavily used unit.

It’s a rare look into an expensive world most of us peasants aren’t invited to. Video after the break.


Filed under: misc hacks

Soviet Portable Scopemeter Teardown

Browsing YouTube may prove to be your largest destroyer of productive time outside of Hackaday, once you have started looking at assorted Lincolnshire plumbers or young Ukrainians doing dangerous stunts it’s easy to lose an hour with very little to show for it. There is so much to divert our attention, it’s a wonder that any of us ever make anything!

So to ensure you lose a further quarter hour today, we’d like to bring you [Jesper Broe]’s demonstration and teardown of his latest oscilloscope. This might seem unpromising when we tell you it’s a single-trace model with a bandwidth of 10MHz, but don’t give up. This is a RIMEDA C1-112, a portable instrument made in Lithuania when the country was part of the Soviet Union, and its party piece is that it contains a digital multimeter with a vector display using the oscilloscope CRT.

We’re shown the compact device being unpacked, then put through its paces as an oscilloscope. It gives useful results above 10MHz, but it is visibly losing amplitude and eventually it has trouble triggering as the frequency increases. Interestingly all the controls work in the opposite direction to the ones you will be used to, anticlockwise rotation increases rather than decreases. Then we’re shown the multimeter function, which is compared to a modern DMM and found to be still pretty accurate after nearly three decades.

The ‘scope’s lid is then removed, and we see something of the logic boards that produce the digital display. A host of Soviet K155 series logic ICs are at the heart of it, and at the end of the video we’re shown a period review in Russian with a glimpse at the waveforms they produce to vector draw the figures.

Take a look at the video below the break, we’re sure you’ll agree it’s an instrument that many of us would still find useful today.

This is the first Soviet ‘scope teardown we’ve brought you here at Hackaday, but there have been quite a few other instruments receiving the treatment. A Rigol needed a faulty encoder replacing back in 2011, while we showed you the inside of a National Instruments VirtualBench in 2015. The ultimate ‘scope teardown though is the Teledyne LeCroy Labmaster 10-100zi, a 100GHz powerhouse with a million-dollar price tag.


Filed under: tool hacks

Teardown a Classic : Tektronix P6042 Current Probe

[Paul Rako]’s teardown of his treasured P6042 current probe shows why Tektronix commands so much respect among the old hats of the electronics world.

Built in 1969, the P6042 is pretty sparse transistor-wise when compared a modern sensor. The user would clip the current probe, permanently attached to the case since the circuit was tuned for each one, over a wire and view the change in volts on an oscilloscope. When the voltage division on the oscilloscope was set properly the current in a circuit could be easily seen.

The teardown is of a working unit so it’s not completely disassembled, but it also sits as a nice guide on refurbishing your own P6043, if you manage to snag one from somewhere. Aside from capacitors and oxidized switch contacts there’s not much that can go wrong with this one.

As for how it compares, the linear power supply, analog circuit design, and general excellent engineering has the P6042 coming in with a cleaner signal than some newer models. Not bad for a relic! Do any of you have a favorite old bit of measurement kit?


Filed under: classic hacks