Teardown Of Two Russian Missile Sensors

Recently [Michel] received two packages from Ukraine containing some salvaged Russian electronics that once belonged to (presumably) a 9K38 Igla, Vympel R-27 or similar infrared homing missile, as well as a Fiber Optic Gyroscope (FOG) from an unknown missile, though possibly from the Tornado family of MRLSes. The latter uses the Sagnac effect to detect the phase shift between two laser beams being injected into the same fiber when the fiber, and thus the device, are rotating. The advantage of such a gyroscope is that it is effectively solid-state, requiring only some optical components, amplifier stage and as shown here an Altera Cyclone II FPGA to integrate the results.

The 16-channel linear infrared array sensor is more basic, with a matching amplification channel for each optical receiver element, which are fed into a multiplexer IC in a rather remarkable looking ceramic-gold packaged DIP format, with what looks like a 2004 date code (‘0424’). Although both are rather damaged, [Michel] figures that he might be able to restore the FOG to working condition, assuming no crucial and irreplaceable parts are missing. As useful as FOGs are in missiles, they also have countless uses outside of military applications.

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The Height Of 1960s Dental Electronic Technology

If you’ve ever been to the dental surgery and found yourself requiring some gum surgery, the chances are you’ll have found your dentist wielding an electronic probe to cauterise the flesh. It’s evidently some form of RF device because you are usually required to hold one of the electrodes while it’s being used, but annoyingly, for an engineer, it’s hardly the time or place to ask how it works. For the curious, then, [Keri Szafir] has the box of tricks behind the probe and is subjecting it to a teardown.

The box on her bench isn’t the one you’ll find in your dentist’s toolkit today, but its distant ancestor from the 1960s that integrates multiple functions into a single box. It’s a very period enclosure with typically 1960s-style vacuum tubes and point-to-point wiring. There’s an HF oscillator using a pair of EL81 power pentodes for that electrode you always wished you could ask your dentist about, and unexpectedly, a thyratron, a type of gas-filled switching tube not dissimilar to a thyristor, in a separate circuit for dental pulp testing. We’re not dental experts here at Hackaday, but [Keri] has done the research and explains the device in the video below the break. At one point, she observes that it’s quite a scary machine to be connected to a living person, and we can concur with that.

Her bench has provided a few projects here in the past, including one of her amplifiers. While it might be fun to tear down a more modern version, you are better off asking for old dental burrs.

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Just How Dodgy Are Cheap USB Chargers Anyway?

Aside from apparently having both the ability to reproduce on their own and simultaneously never being around when you need one, USB chargers seem innocuous enough. The specs are simple: convert mains voltage to 5 volts, and don’t kill anyone while doing it. Both specs are typically met by most designs, but judging by [DiodeGoneWild]’s latest USB charger teardown, the latter only just barely, and with a whole lot of luck.

The sad state of plug-in USB power supplies is one of [DiodeGoneWild]’s pet gripes, and deservedly so. Most USB chargers cram a lot of electronics into a mighty small volume, and are built to a price point, meaning that something has to give in the design. In the case of the two units he tears apart in the video below, it’s pretty clear where the compromises are. Neither unit met the specs on the label in terms of current supplied and voltage regulation, even the apparently more capable quick charger, which is the first to go under the knife. The PCB within holds some alarming surprises, like the minimal physical isolation between the mains part of the circuit and the low-voltage section, but the real treat is the Schottky diode that gets up to 170°C under full load. Safety tip: when you smell plastic burning, throw the thing out.

The second charger didn’t fare any better; although it didn’t overheat, that’s mainly because it shut itself off before it could deliver a fraction of its rated 1 amp output. The PCB construction was shoddy in the extreme, with a squiggly trace standing in for a proper fuse and a fraction of a millimeter separation between primary and secondary traces. The flyback transformer was a treat, too; who doesn’t want to rely on a whisper-thin layer of cheap lacquer to keep mains voltage out of your phone?

All in all, these designs are horrible, and we have to thank [DiodeGoneWild] for the nightmares we’ll have whenever we plug into one of these things from now on. On the other hand, this was a great introduction to switch-mode power supply designs, and what not to do with our own builds. Continue reading “Just How Dodgy Are Cheap USB Chargers Anyway?”

Vector Network Analyzer Demo And Teardown

[Kerry Wong], ever interested in trying out and tearing down electrical devices, demonstrates and examines the SV 6301a Handheld Vector Network Analyzer. He puts the machine through its paces, noting that the 7 inch touchscreen is a pretty nice feature for those whose eyesight isn’t quite what it used to be.

The internals are similar to the nanoVNA-F V3, but not identical.

What’s a Vector Network Analyzer (VNA)? It’s not for testing Ethernet or WiFi. It’s aimed at a more classical type of “network”. The VNA tests and evaluates characteristics of electrical networks, especially as related to RF and microwave.

It provides detailed information about properties across a specified frequency range, making it an indispensable tool for advanced work. Tektronix has a resource page that goes into detail about exactly what kinds of things a VNA is good for.

[Kerry] shows off a few different features and sample tests before pulling the unit apart. In the end, he’s satisfied with the features and performance of the device, especially the large screen and sensible user interface.

After all, not every piece of test equipment does a great job at fulfilling its primary function, like the cheap oscilloscope that was a perhaps a little too cheap.

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Turning Soviet Electronics Into A Nixie Tube Clock

Sometimes you find something that looks really cool but doesn’t work, but that’s an opportunity to give it a new life. That was the case when [Davis DeWitt] got his hands on a weird Soviet-era box with four original Nixie tubes inside. He tears the unit down, shows off the engineering that went into it and explains what it took to give the unit a new life as a clock.

Each digit is housed inside a pluggable unit. If a digit failed, a technician could simply swap it out.

A lot can happen over decades of neglect. That was clear when [Davis] discovered every single bolt had seized in place and had to be carefully drilled out. But Nixie tubes don’t really go bad, so he was hopeful that the process would pay off.

The unit is a modular display of some kind, clearly meant to plug into a larger assembly. Inside the unit, each digit is housed in its own modular plug with a single Nixie tube at the front, a small neon bulb for a decimal point, and a bunch of internal electronics. Bringing up the rear is a card edge connector.

Continues after the break…

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Tivoli Teardown Disappoints

[Fran] has been curious about the innards of Tivoli Audio’s Model One radio, but was reluctant to shell out $200 just to tear it apart. But she found one recently on eBay, won the auction, and proceeded to do a review and teardown. Spoiler alert, she was disappointed.

Physically speaking, the radio looks great and has quite an array of I/O connections. The geared tuning knob looks cool, but is heavily damped which [Fran] isn’t keen about. Turning it on, a few more quirks are discovered. The volume control is out-of-whack — it appears they substituted a linear taper potentiometer where a logarithmic taper was called for.

Another problem, at least in the RF-dense metropolitan areas like Philadelphia, is the FM tuner’s station-lock feature. It is so strong that it can be impossible to tune in weak stations. This is especially ironic since, according to Wikipedia, that was one of audio engineer Henry Kloss’s main goals when founding Tivoli Audio back in 2000:

Their first product was the Model One, a simple to use mid-century modern designed table top radio with a high-performance tuner, receiving FM radio in congested urban locations, while maintaining the ability to pick out distant or low power stations. Kloss had noted that the mid 60’s wave of Japanese radios lacked the ability to receive FM stations in congested locations, and this became a defining goal of his radio designs throughout his career.

Interestingly, many folks in the YouTube comments say their Model One radios have none of these issues. We wonder if [Fran] has obtained a damaged radio, or maybe a newer version produced with less attention to detail. If you have a broken Model One radio, before tossing it, consider the hack we wrote about last year, turning it into an internet radio.

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Tearing Down And Improving A Professional Power Supply

[OZ2CPU] has an HP power supply that is about 30 years old. It looks brand new, though, and has three outputs and includes tracking for the adjustable positive and negative supply. After a quick demo of the unit’s features, he tears it all down so we can see inside. You can catch the video below.

Some similar supplies offer a 10-turn adjustment knob, but this one doesn’t. Inside is a beefy transformer and quite a few through-hole components. There was room to change the main adjusted pot to a 10-turn unit, so he made the mod.

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