Exposing some fake electronics with too-good-to-be-true prices

[Giorgos Lazaridis] needed an AC adaptor for his Canon PowerShot camera. He hit eBay and was excited to find this branded adaptor for just five bucks! It works and, even though it would sometimes reboot his camera if the cord was twisted around in the jack, he was satisfied that it did what it was supposed to.

That is, until one day he observed some very peculiar behavior while taking pictures of a PIC circuit he was prototyping. When holding the camera and putting his other hand near the breadboard one of the status LEDs in his circuit began flashing sporadically. If he was using the camera with batteries instead of the adapter this didn’t happen.

His first instinct was to hook up the adapter to his oscilloscope and see what is happening on the power bus. The signal is incredibly noisy. Shockingly so. [Giorgos] cracked open the case to see what is going on with the power supply circuit inside. You simply must view the video after the break to see the horror-show he found. The board is poorly soldered, components are not properly seated in their footprints, and our favorite is when [Giorgos] points out a squiggly trace which takes the place of the smoothing inductors.

Have you documented your own fake electronic hardware finds? We’d love to hear about them.

128 thoughts on “Exposing some fake electronics with too-good-to-be-true prices

  1. Bought a “Dell” power supply for a laptop for $20 off ebay….The laptop seemed to work okay, but when I went to use it for a MAME build, it had some issues. wonder if I got a knock off…..will post if it’s obvious.

  2. this is typical knock off electronics from sweatshops.

    no design, on testing, and mostly salvaged components (usually sweepings off floors from bigger factories)

    remember a while back when sparkfun reported they bought a load of dud arm chips….turned out they were just a copper block encased in black plastic!

  3. You get what you pay for…
    I get so tired of people who buy cheap electronic from questionable sources and wonder why it isn’t working probably or fail after short time.

    Do the math… if it was $5 on ebay, how much did ebay cut out of the $5, the profit of the local seller, the shipment to the local seller, maybe multiple reselers, the boxing and packaging, the manufacturing, etc. etc., what do you think how much left for parts? I would say < $2 what do you expect to get for $2. if only the plug cost you already $3.5 in a local radio shop.

    This has nothing to do with Chinese engineering. You get what you pay for thats all.

    Unfortunately, most manufacture getting down on the price tag with there products. However, this tend more and more into crappy products.

    I'm the only one who observes a steady decrease in quality, functionality and customer service for consumer electronics?

    Nowadays you buy a product, which is only have way working and you have to wait another 6 month and 4 more firmware updates to get it at least stable. A few months later the manufacture completely stop support of the device since they already dealing with the 3rd generation of it.

    Try to get a really solid business laptop in these days… all the models out there are crappy… over are the days of HP and IBM selling (expensive) laptops designed to work for several years under tough conditions and providing support even 5 years after purchasing. And yes, even the business lines of todays laptops are crappy.

  4. This is why I love shopping with DX. Not because of the utter crap they sometimes sell, but because they not only are always willing to give you a refund on it, but you can talk about it right on the product page!

  5. @ RandomUserName

    crooks can get away with this because of a known fact about electronic and electrical parts.

    if the part leaves the store it is non returnable

    if you open the package it is non returnable

    @ Tron9000

    i had seen where cpu was just a chunk of metal made to look like the cpu and fan was just a plastic chunk made to look like the fan


  6. The laughable part is that some people actually think you are getting what you pay for.
    Not only is the device fake, but you will find the transformer will be fake, thinner wire than it should be, cracked magnetics, thinner bobbin, fake isolation tape.
    Semiconductors fake or seriously out of spec.

  7. Oh…..
    I forgot my ‘old favorite’:

    The connecting cable, wires strands not pure copper, low grade steel chemically treated to be ‘copper colored’
    high mix of other metal strands such as iron & aluminum.
    Individual wire strands ‘stretched’ by up to an extra 30% before sheath is added.

    Outer cable sheath treated with highly toxic and corrosive chemicals to soften the plastic rather than use the more expensive plasticizer.
    Take the cable, place it between two CD covers and leave it a week, it will gradually ‘eat’ its way thrugh the CD covers.

  8. I got one of these, for like 2.80 a few months ago. I got lucky (not sure that is the right word for it) and the only seriously bad part of it was the connector. Replaced it and it works. Mine was different then this although outwardly identical, and clearly using an identical cord. But inside was totally different and not nearly as bad as this one was.

  9. Got a bin of this kind of junk in my lab.

    One of my recent favorites is a knock-off MagSafe adapter. You know how all Apple products say “Designed by Apple in California”?

    Well, this got the font and placement pretty close…

    Except that it said “Designed by California”.

  10. There were quite a lot of fake “faraday flashlights” made.

    I have one with an unpopulated PCB, two coin cells, a white LED, a single layer of wire on the coilform and a crudely cut hunk of soft steel bar as a fake magnet.

    Another one I have has a PCB with all the components except the little rechargeable battery, a small amount of wire on the coilform, not connected to anything, and a real magnet. The LED is powered by a pair of coin cells.

    I’ve been thinking about making that one actually work by adding the rechargeable battery and winding the form full of fine magnet wire.

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