Reverse engineering a simple four function calculator: die decap


Electronupdate did a teardown and analysis of a cheap four function calculator:

It’s such an amazingly old looking die
Even with 400x magnification it would not be too hard to reverse engineer back to a schematic! This must be a very old design indeed. When one thinks of high-tech it’s always the new-new thing… however some designs can be very old indeed and still be in production.

More details at Electronupdate’s blog.

Check out the video after the break.

Contactless transit card teardown


A RFID transit pass teardown from Electronupdate:

Here is the die photo: super tiny. I bet they get thousands of dice off of each wafer. Looks like it’s a protocol called MIFARE. Vendor of the chips is NXP. I think it’s their ultra light family
The amazing bit is that a card is printed with conductive ink, a semiconductor added (with a transistor count in the tens of thousands), a vendor-specific ID placed on the outside with another layer of paper, spooled in to giant rolls, vended for a single trip and then thrown away…..

More details at Electronupdate blog.

Check out the video after the break. 

Teardown, repair and experiments with the Anritsu 37347A 20GHz Vector Network Analyzer

Here’s another great video teardown from TheSignalPath:

In this episode Shahriar repairs an Anritsu 37347A 20GHz Two-Port Network Analyzer. The unit does not boot up and as a result its internal state is unknown. The boot fault is traced to a bad RTC module which has a built-in integrated battery. A replacement unit is located which allows the unit to fully boot.
The instrument initially displays an unlock condition on the internal PLL. This problem is resolved by loading the PLL calibration files from the HDD. The complete block diagram of the unit is examined in detail and an unusual PLL intermittent locking problems is demonstrated. Various measurements on several of the internal PLLs confirm their functionality. As a final experiments, the instrument is calibrated and the S-parameters of a tune-able band-pass filter is measured.

More details at The Signal Path homepage.

Counterfeit Macbook charger teardown: convincing outside but dangerous inside


Ken Shirriff writes, “What’s inside a counterfeit Macbook charger? After my Macbook charger teardown, a reader sent me a charger he suspected was counterfeit. From the outside, this charger is almost a perfect match for an Apple charger, but disassembling the charger shows that it is very different on the inside. It has a much simpler design that lacks quality features of the genuine charger, and has major safety defects.”

Details at Ken Shirriff’s blog.

555 timer teardown: Inside the world’s most popular IC


Another great teardown article by Ken Shirriff, a look inside the 555 timer chip:

Given the popularity of the 555 timer, I thought it would be interesting to find out what’s inside the 555 timer and how it works. While the 555 timer is usually sold as a black plastic IC, it is also available in a metal can, which can be cut open with a hacksaw revealing the tiny die inside.

More details at Ken Shirriff’s blog.