Thursday, May 19, 2016

Philips HUE (2016) LED Bulb Teardown

The cheapest hue yet: only $15.00.  Finally cheap enough to tear down. This is Philips line of remote-controlled bulbs that support Zigbee. The zigbee controller has an 8 bit micro core... same one as the Arduino uses, I believe.

Much more credible to see an  8 bit process on a low-end consumer product.   The M0 on the Cree Connected bulb just seemed like over kill!

However, both bulbs sport a 4 Mbit serial EPROM.  That's a heck of a lot of storage (and cost).    Is there something in the Zigbee protocol which drives such massive data requirements.  Seems insane for a product which only can be turned on, off dimmed?

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Cree Connected LED Bulb Teardown

Teardown of a CREE Connected LED bulb.

Has Zigbee wireless protocol support enabling remote control.

Surprisingly complex and expensive ICs required on the Zigbee portion.    Looks like  a real niche application given the cost and complexity.    I was going to by a wireless gateway to try the remote functions out.... but cree does not offer such a product and they only vaguely point  at companies which might support the bulb (but no details on the exact model and fw version required)... not going to chance spending upwards of $100 on a gateway only to find out it does not work!

Reverse Engineering a PCB with White Solder Mask using GIMP

 White solder mask can really obscure the traces below.

A quick video showing the power of a photo editing program, GIMP, and how it can be used to work around this problem.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Metallurgical Microscope Review: Ebay purchase, vendor microscopeind

From India, via ebay.

For when you can't afford a Chinese microscope!

Metallurgical microscopes start to become rather specialized items and their prices match.  Units from Japan run well over  $10K, Chinese ones around the $1K mark.

Recently, however, I have seen a vendor from India offering these for a very attractive ~$400 price point.  Took a chance and ordered one.

Shipping was reasonably fast.

Unit quality appears reasonably good.  Does what I need it to do!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Philips T8 LED Tube Tear down: The most boring teardown yet....

48" long T8 LED tube: design as a drop in replacement for a florescent tube.  No need to change the ballast.

Very straight forward design...

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Extreme Tear down of a Digital Luggage Scale

Tear down of a scale I got off of Amazon: the "Etekcity Digital Portable Luggage Fishing Scale 50 Kg".  I took a look at the die, de-capped it from the board and then etched off the top metal layer.

The video completes with a look at the construction of the strain guage assembly.

Again: just  a world of engineering in even the cheapest  assembly.

die photos:

Wednesday, April 13, 2016


LED based replacements for old T8 fixtures are finally becoming reasonably priced.  I see two old competitors  back at it again: CREE, and Philips.  Both bulbs attractively priced, both 4000K.

I tore down the Cree 1st.  Longest circuit board that I have ever seen......