Teardown Of Costco Ceiling Light Reveals Microwave Motion Sensor And Hackable Design

[hclxing] eagerly picked up an LED ceiling light for its ability to be turned on and off remotely, but it turns out that the lamp has quite a few other features. These include adjustable brightness, color temperature, automatic turnoff, light sensing, motion sensing, and more. Before installing, [hclxing] decided to tear it down to see what was involved in bringing all those features to bear, but after opening the lamp there wasn’t much to see. Surprisingly, besides a PCB laden with LEDs, there were exactly two components inside the unit: an AC power adapter and a small white controller unit. That’s it.

Microwave-based motion sensor board on top, controller board for LED ceiling light underneath.

The power adapter is straightforward in that it accepts 100-240 Volts AC and turns it into 30-40 Volts DC for the LEDs, and it appears to provide 5 V for the controller as well. But [hclxing] noticed that the small white controller unit — the only other component besides the LEDs — had an FCC ID on it. A quick bit of online sleuthing revealed that ID is attached to a microwave sensor module. Most of us would probably expect to see a PIR sensor, but this light is motion sensing with microwaves. We have seen such units tested in the past, which links to a video [hclxing] also references.

The microwave motion sensor board is shown here, and underneath it is a dense PCB that controls all other functions. Once [hclxing] identified the wires and their signals, it was off to Costco to buy more because the device looks eminently hackable. We’re sure [hclxing] can do it, given their past history with reverse-engineering WyzeSense hardware.

Inside A CAN Bus Mileage Manipulator

In the days of carburetors and leaf spring suspensions, odometer fraud was pretty simple to do just by disconnecting the cable or even winding the odometer backwards. With the OBD standard and the prevalence of electronics in cars, promises were made by marketing teams that this risk had all but been eliminated. In reality, however, the manipulation of CAN bus makes odometer fraud just as easy, and [Andras] is here to show us exactly how easy with a teardown of a few cheap CAN bus adapters.

We featured another project that was a hardware teardown of one of these devices, but [Andras] takes this a step further by probing into the code running on the microcontroller. One would imagine that basic measures would have been taken by the attackers to obscure code or at least disable debugging modes, but on this one no such effort was made. [Andras] was able to dump the firmware from both of his test devices and start analyzing them.

Analyzing the codes showed identical firmware running on both devices, which made his job half as hard. It looked like the code was executing a type of man-in-the-middle attack on the CAN bus which allowed it to insert the bogus mileage reading. There’s a lot of interesting information in [Andras]’s writeup though, so if you’re interested in CAN bus or attacks like this, it’s definitely worth a read.

Have LED Bulbs Reached Their Final (and Cheapest) Form?

[electronupdate] has done a lot of LED light bulb teardowns over the years, witnessing a drive towards ever-cheaper and ever-simpler implementations, and suspects that LED light bulb design has finally reached its ultimate goal. This teardown of a recent dollar store example shows that cost-cutting has managed to shave even more off what was already looking like a market saturated with bottom-dollar design.

The electrical components inside this glowing model of cost-cutting consists of one PCB (previously-seen dollar store LED bulb examples had two), eleven LEDs, one bridge rectifier, two resistors, and a controller IC. A wirewound resistor apparently also serves as a fuse, just in case.

Inside the unmarked controller IC. The design is as cheap as it is clever in its cost-cutting.

That’s not all. [electronupdate] goes beyond a simple teardown and has decapped the controller IC to see what lurks inside, and the result is shown here. This controller is responsible for driving the LEDs from the ~100 Volts DC that the bridge rectifier and large electrolytic cap present to it, and it’s both cheap and clever in its own way.

The top half is a big transistor for chopping the voltage and the bottom half is the simple control logic; operation is fast enough that no flicker is perceived in the LEDs, and no output smoothing cap is needed. The result, of course, is fewer components and lower cost.

Some of you may recall that back in the early days of LED lighting, bulbs that could last 100,000 hours were a hot promise. That didn’t happen for a variety of reasons and the march towards being an everyday consumable where cost was paramount continued. [electronupdate] feels they have probably reached that ultimate goal, at least until something else changes. They work, they’re cheap, and just about everything else has been successfully pried up and tossed out the door.

Form 3 SLA Printer Teardown, Bunnie Style

[Bunnie Huang] has shared with all of us his utterly detailed teardown on the Form 3 SLA printer from Formlabs (on the left in the image above) and in it he says one of the first things he noticed when he opened it to look inside was a big empty space where he expected to see mirrors and optics. [Bunnie] had avoided any spoilers about the printer design and how it worked, so he was definitely intrigued.

The view inside the Form 3.

Not only does the teardown reveal the kind of thoughtful design and construction that [Bunnie] has come to expect of Formlabs, but it reveals that the Form 3 has gone in an entirely new direction with how it works. Instead of a pair of galvanometers steering a laser beam across a build surface (as seen in the Form 1 and Form 2 printers) the new machine is now built around what Formlabs calls an LPU, or Light Processing Unit, which works in conjunction with a new build tank and flexible build surface. In short, the laser and optics are now housed in a skinny, enviromentally-sealed unit that slides left and right within the printer. A single galvo within steers the laser vertically, as the LPU itself moves horizontally. Payoffs from this method include things such as better laser resolution, the fact that the entire optical system is no longer required to sit directly underneath a vat of liquid resin, and that build sizes can be bigger. In addition, any peeling forces that a model is subjected to are lower thanks to the way the LPU works.

Details about exactly how the Form 3 works are available on Formlabs’ site and you can also see it in action from a practical perspective on Adam Savage’s Tested (video link), but the real joy here is the deeply interesting look at the components and assembly through the eyes of someone with [Bunnie]’s engineering experience. He offers insights from the perspective of function, supply, manufacture, and even points out a bit of NASA humor to be found inside the guts of the LPU.

[Bunnie] knows his hardware and he’s certainly no stranger to Formlabs’ work. His earlier Form 2 teardown was equally detailed as was his Form 1 teardown before that. His takeaway is that the Form 3 and how it works represents an evolutionary change from the earlier designs, one he admits he certainly didn’t see coming.

OWON Oscilloscope Teardown

We sympathize with [learnelectronic’s] statement: “I’m ashamed. I may have bought another oscilloscope.” We get it and we enjoyed watching him tear down the OWON SDS1102. (Video, embedded below.) As you might guess, this is a 100 MHz, two-channel scope, and very similar to many other Chinese scopes you can get inexpensively.

The last ten minutes are so of the video below shows him removing the case. There’s only three little boards inside. One is clearly a power supply. The other two don’t have much on them. There’s a tiny RF shield over one part of the board, so you assume that’s the input section.

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Fail Of The Week: Thermostat Almost Causes A House Fire

Fair warning: any homeowners who have thermostats similar to the one that nearly burned down [Kerry Wong]’s house might be in store for a sleepless night or two, at least until they inspect and perhaps replace any units that are even remotely as sketchy as what he found when he did the postmortem analysis in the brief video below.

The story begins back in the 1980s, when the Southern New England area where [Kerry] lives enjoyed a housing boom. Contractors rushed to turn rural farmland into subdivisions, and new suburbs crawled across the landscape. Corners were inevitably cut during construction, and one common place to save money was the home’s heating system. Rather than engage an HVAC subcontractor to install a complicated heating system, many builders opted instead to have the electricians install electric baseboards. They were already on the job anyway, and at the time, both copper and electricity were cheap.

Fast forward 40 years or so, and [Kerry] finds himself living in one such house. The other night, upon catching the acrid scent of burning insulation, he followed his nose to the source: a wall-mounted thermostat for his electric baseboard. His teardown revealed burned insulation, bare conductors, and scorched plastic on the not-so-old unit; bearing a 2008 date code, the thermostat must have replaced one of the originals. [Kerry] poked at the nearly combusted unit and found the root cause: the spot welds holding the wires to the thermostat terminal had become loose, increasing the resistance of the connection. As [Kerry] points out, even a tenth of an ohm increase in resistance in a 15 amp circuit would dissipate 20 watts of heat, and from the toasty look of the thermostat it had been a lot more than that.

The corner-cutting of the 1980s was nothing new, of course – remember the aluminum wiring debacle? Electrical fires are no joke, and we’re glad [Kerry] was quick to locate the problem and prevent it from spreading.

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See How Wildly Different Air Conditioners Can Be (On The Inside)

Air conditioners are easy to take for granted. From refrigerators to climate control, most of us would miss them dearly if they disappeared. That’s part of what draws [Josh Levine]’s interest in air conditioners, and he has provided an interesting tour of several different units and how different they can be, despite all working in basically the same way.

That white PCB is crucial (for running the bluetooth speaker and LED flashlight, that is.)

One way that air conditioners try to stand out is by being quiet, and the bulk of noise comes from the fans and the compressor. One unit (the Haier Serenity) aimed to be the quietest unit possible, but while this effort had mixed results at best it is still interesting to see [Josh] give a tour of the different ways they tried to reduce noise (YouTube, embedded below). Noise-limiting elements include the unusual step of using separate motors for the indoor and outdoor fans, and even little counterweights to ensure they are perfectly balanced, just like wheel weights on automobile tires.

Another notable air conditioner is the Zero Breeze, a portable unit that was the product of a Kickstarter campaign. Features included (either bizarrely or predictably, you be the judge) a bluetooth speaker and an LED flashlight. [Josh] more than half suspected the product would never actually ship, but was pleasantly surprised. Not only did it deliver, it turned out to be a pretty nice design with only a couple of mildly head scratching moments (YouTube, also embedded below).

There are a few more to check out in the roundup on [Josh]’s web site, which he also compares and contrasts with his own DIY unit¬†which we featured in the past.

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