A Black Box Mystery

One of the members of the SomethingAwful forum recently found a black project box on the street (as seen above), with no idea what the thing did. After (hopefully) making sure there were no explosives, [noapparentfunction] posted a picture online to see if someone could figure it out. According to them, this is what the chips are labelled as:

Center black IC: MICREL Y22758C; 0417
Long white DIP switch IC: CTS 206-12; T438
Small black microcontroller on right: 12C508A; 04/P1V6; 0437. Has a tiny “M-inside circle” logo.

From our experience, we recognized the PIC on the board, but without some more photos, it makes this mystery a little more interesting.

Right now their best guess is a garage door opener of some kind because of the 12 DIP switch part. Any HAD readers willing to investigate and weigh in? The game is afoot!

[thanks to Dave D. who sent this in]

171 thoughts on “A Black Box Mystery

  1. Not enough information. I see a couple more transistors/ICs up near the top of the photo, what are they? Regulators? Transistors? Micrel used to make a lot of FET driver chips, so they could be FETs. That would help identify either a transmitter or receiver.

    But certainly need more information.

    The main board looks probably home made, so any identifying marks on the smaller board at the top?? The one with the silkscreen on it?

    Need to trace it out, find out what connects to what. And identify ALL the parts.

  2. 12C508A -A Microchip PIC12C508A microntroller. If it has not been code protected, the code could be read out and analyzed by a knowledgeable human.

    MICREL Y22758C – Micrel has a few RF transmitter and transceiver chips. There’s no data for “Y22758C” (doesn’t even look like a real part number). The 12 position dip switch suggests setting a code. Is there a Micrel facility in the area? This may be a prototype transmitter chip.

    A part number from the TO-220 part on the smaller board might help, or it could just be a voltage regulator (powered from a vehicle battery?)

    A better picture of the smaller PCB might help.

    What is the small white block next to the controller?

    Are there more wires connecting the two boards other besides the red and black wires?

    My guess is that this is a remote control transmitter of some kind powered by an external battery, built by Micrel to test a new IC in development. I can’t guess why the controller is there…

  3. I know i’m not the first to say its a garage door opener. The small circuit board with the 8-pin IC maybe came out of a car with a programmable door opening feature (programmed with existing remotes)? Ive seen cars with those. Maybe the larger board is made to program it in “learn mode” and the button is the open/close. The antenna gives it away for sure. As for the power source, maybe the thing with the heat sink is a voltage regulator…

  4. Green board filter bus, lime board programmable RF bus. It doesn’t transmit and one of the chips has flash…also what is code protect? you mean on chip debug disabled?

    Again I say it’s a data logger, posting such a pic on the net and saying guess what is a big annoying though, are people really to lazy to take proper pics?

  5. “After (hopefully) making sure there were no explosives”
    hahah coward!
    As if all the world was against you with explosives and nuclear bombs everywhere… you are not in a movie lol!

  6. Clearly it’s a blue smoke trap. It absorbs magical blue smoke from other electronics. To retrieve the smoke you need the code, but you can also get it out by overloading the circuit. For example, if you were to strip the ends of a household extension cord and plug mains current directly into the battery leads, I am quite certain that you’ll get it to release whatever blue smoke it has already absorbed.

  7. I call Bullshit on the lack of thorough Breakdown of the device {like more pics of the traces and components} if it does not have any power source then perhaps it is capable of getting power from the mains like a passive rfid readers etc …..does not look like it can save much data so i see perhaps it sends small pulses of data etc …either way the limited data “so far” is not useful although some one has to know what the parts are :-p

  8. The Micrel Y22758C is a “read-only contactless identification device”. I could find nothing more on that specific IC.

    But by searching for that description, I was able to find other ICs with similar function. Here’s a clip from such a datasheet:

    “The circuit is powered by an external coil placed in an electromagnetic field, and gets its master clock from the same field via one of the coil terminals. The other coil terminal is affected by the modulator. By turning on and off the modulation current, the chip will send back the 128 bits of information contained in a factory pre-programmed memory array.”

    The coil is no doubt that white cylinder.

    So basically, this appears to be a very fancy RFID tag.

    I can’t speculate on the function of the PIC. Perhaps it logs when the device is activated, or overrides the normal data stream to make it into a fully programmable RFID device.

    Whatever it is, it’s definitely NOT a garage door opener. :)

  9. in addition … it looks like the narrower board is removable with out any major tool use and as indicated by the long red and black wires …looks like it can be removed to access the board with the socketed 8 pin DIP chip …either way it IS a project of some sort lol DUH

  10. I know for a 100% fact that the front end WAS a garage door opener. I dissassembled that exact model a couple of months ago. If you look at the pic board, it has what appears to be an LM317 voltage regulator (i assume for dropping pack voltage for logic operations). There are 3 transistors, likely 2n3904/3906 or 2n2222. They are sourcing current to a relay(~150mA drive current). If you extract the garage door opener, the button should be shorted so that applying current to the battery terminals (where the pic board is connected) will send the signal. Without the code, you cannot see whether it is random trigger, or on a specific time of day trigger. SO it`s purpose is 1 of 2 things. 1. A guy that arrives home at the same time every day and wants it to open his garage door(unlikely). 2. A randomized (hince pic based) annoyance device to open his neighbor`s garage door at weird times (more likely).


    1. I like the second one best. :D Here in Dominican Republic garage doors openers are uncommon and they always stop working on the moments you need them (read: heat).

  11. http://img513.yfrog.com/img513/9990/mysterybox.jpg

    there’s a hole in the upper right corner
    and some red isolation left over beneath it.
    also there’s a little thing that looks like
    a fiber of wire soldered to the board.

    my guess is that two small power wires were coming
    into this box trough the hole and soldered directly to the board.
    the box was probably pulled out of it’s place.

    it’s more reasonable then the two loops of wire
    on the “inductor” as a power source.

  12. @axodus i agree with the evidence given which points out this project was dislodged or dropped from it’s original placement. any ways that pretty much nullifies my whole “passive” hypothesis…. garage door opener comes closer but i hope it is something cooler

  13. also the red and black loops look still like they are used when lifting the narrower board from the box to access the 8pin DIP or what ever as well as to pull said board up when dislodging the power supply on the pinkish wire that is left over.

  14. Can someone tell the folks from SA to learn some electronics?

    First, ask them to take a flat picture of the bottom of both boards.

    Second, let them know that a LM7809 is a 9V, 1A voltage regulator. It requires a higher than 9v voltage to work properly. Preferably 12v. Like a standard 12v N size battery that most garage door openers use.

  15. The last post says:
    Going to get the 9V, trace the voltage regulator, and attempt to turn it on. Anyone need any more part numbers?
    If you see any time portals opening, you know whats causing it.

  16. Its a sony thing, If they find one of their warranty expiration killswitches has not activated properly they can park outside your house and remotely break your sony equipment from there.

  17. It is definitely some sort of remote control – UHF given the antenna – the use of a ‘garrage door controller IC’ and the 10 position dip switch also points that way.

    The PIC – Hmmm – To understand what its role is, we need to see the back of the baords. Any chance of a photo?

    It is unlikely to be a device to send sequences of door open messages, as that chip only looks at the switches for coding, and not the pic.

    It is NOT A BOMB!

  18. board with regulator = signal and power filter

    programmable board = programmable RF receiver

    doesn’t transmit so most guesses here are fail

    I do think it has something to do with RFID, I stick with my data logger guess, unless the other side has a lot of components.

  19. This is a simple hacked garage door opener, it’s probably connected to the brights, so it opens your garage door when you flash it, the PIC is just to prevent it from keeping on while the brights are continous.

  20. I’m going to go ahead and start this off by saying that I really don’t know much about this sort of thing and that I’m basing this entirely on the comments that I’ve read here. If the one board is from a garage door opener, and the other board contains something that is little more than an fancy RFID, isn’t it possible that this was wired to the bottom of a car to open a garage door at a specific point?

    The damn thing was dislodged when the car hit something on the street…

  21. This is not a RFID-Related device, it’s just a fancy garage door opener! Hacked by someone to open the door with some other command, just put 10+ volts on that and it will transmit for a couple of seconds and then turn off.

  22. Seems I was wrong. I think Henrique’s got it right.

    The Y22758C is used in garage door openers, and it broadcasts at 390mhz (Google “xoclipse Y22758C” for my reference).

    The transmitter board was probably taken from a manual remote. The blue button originally triggered its operation, but is probably now bypassed (always on). As long as the PIC board is powered, it applies power briefly to the transmitter every 10 seconds.

    1. ^^This guy got it. It’s a hacked old-skool Genie 390MHz garage door remote. It came out of a firetruck. It’s normally powered by the 12/24VDC supply of the truck. It will transmit every 11 seconds when the truck’s ignition is on. The receiver (which also uses an old genie receiver PCB) turns the station exhaust fans on.

  23. So, some guy with no tools found this device…… he should send it to someone who can actually analyze it.

    I’m not trying to be an ass, but he said he doesn’t even have a multimeter and wants to figure out what the board does.

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