Monday, February 1, 2016

Vertias (Lee Valley) Optical Center Punch

The problem of needing to mount a circuit board onto something is a common mechanical problem.

I often favor mounting my electronics onto aluminum metal carrier plates.  It's a relatively fast way to secure items and it requires a minimal tool set.

One challenge, however, is getting the holes in exactly the right postion.  Most circuit board mouting holes are small M2, M1.6 or smaller.  Precision is the name of the game.

I have always had trouble getting the punch mark in the absolute right position using my spring punch.  I found a gadget today at a store ( which make that quite a bit easier and more repetitive.

Lee Valley part # 05N59.01

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Philips "100W" LED for less than $10.00

Philips returns as the price leader.  It's nice to see 100 watt equivalent bulbs showing up on the market.  The 60 watt products long ago became very affordable.   However, many bulbs in my home are 100W and I could not justify spending upwards of $60.00 to replace those old CFLs.  At < $10.00 that decision becomes much easier.

I tear down a bulb, reverse engineer some of the circuits followed by some performance analysis.

There are trade-offs for sub  $10.00 bulbs.  The light pattern is more downward firing than it should be for a good emulation of an incandescent.   The warranty is quite a bit shortened (3 hours per day for 3 years)... that's only 3,285 hours.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Reverse Engineering an Arduino NANO Clone

A look at the Arduino nano.  This one was direct from ebay so it has a different usb-to-serial converter chip from the official nano.

I de-capped the dies for the Atmel 328 and the CH340 converter.  Interesting how large the CH340 die was in comparison to the whole Atmel processor.

More die photos at:

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Reverse Engineering the ESP8266 WIFI-to-Serial Port Adapter

Another very interesting bit of technology.   The combination of so much functionality into such a small part is a real touch-stone as to where things are  heading.

A quick look at the antenna design to see if I could sort down the details and then some die-decap to analyze the silicon a bit.  The RF section is especially interesting.  In the video I call out a section as being an inductor... on second thought as I type this it might even be a transformer?


more picture here:

The paper on the antenna design:

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Raspberry Pi Zero Extreme Teardown

no sense powering it on.... this one went straight into analysis.

A very good example of the level of integration of a System-on-chip controller.  Not entirely sure why they put the DRAM on top in a PoP (pakage on pacakge) as their appears to be lots of room for a traditional DRAM right next to it.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Looking Inside a Silicon Die

A very interesting  branch of electrical engineering is the reverse engineering and analysis of silicon dies of semiconductors.  The tools to play in this field are very specialized and I suspect very expensive.

In this video I went for the spend-no-money approach to see how far I could get at doing a top-side die polish  of an integrated circuit.   An arcane pursuit  to be sure, but I was a bit pleased at how far I got using nothing more than some diamond paste and the equipment lying about in my workshop.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Filament LED Long Term Test: 5000 Hour Report out

I have a bulb continuously powered and I measure its' light output every week or so.  I want to gain an understanding if this bulb will have a long life.

The bulb has been on for more than 6 months and it's past the 5000 hour mark.