Name that Ware August 2016

The Ware for August 2016 is shown below.

Thanks to Adrian Tschira (notafile) for sharing this well-photographed ware! The make and model of this ware is unknown to both of us, so if an unequivocal identification isn’t made over the coming month, I’ll be searching the comments for either the most thoughtful or the most entertaining analysis of the ware.

42 Responses to “Name that Ware August 2016”

  1. tz says:

    My guess would be an early RFID reader “probe”, probably from Symbol Technologies.

  2. jimmyjo says:

    First impression, mixed signal board, RJ-50 connector has both signal and DC power. 2x 8bit MCU, LC pi filter between analog and digital sections. Weird coreless transformer of somesort, doesn’t appear to be for power, maybe signal. Multivirator and dual comparator in the analog section. Strange hole pattern and tulip pin sockets. Mystery module appear to have been removed for top photo. No user interface/display other than the two LEDs.


    • Christian Vogel says:

      The SOIC14 to the right (adjacent to the two yellow-packaged LEDs) is a quad opamp (probably MC33204D) which has the dual pin socket (there’s white residue on the top) as inputs. Doing filtering, and it seems two outputs of the opamp go to the dual comparator.

      The outputs of the LM393 comparator trigger the MC14838B dual monostable, the monostable outputs go to the ‘HC14 located between the two 8051 micros.

      The rather central SOIC14 in the “analog section” also seems to be a quad opamp (judging from the pinout) and this one is mostly concerned with whatever happens in the open core coil. Only one signal seems to come in from the core to the opamp, but there are heavy traces (Vcc/GND?) going to the core: Maybe it also has some mechanical function, moving something electromagnetically?

      The three pin sockets on the upper hand side of the “-bot” jpg, next to the comparator seem to be connected to an inductive load (switching transistor + diode, the sot23 with only two pins used), maybe a motor and/or a solenoid?

      Judging from the location of the trimpots and a few testpins, most of the rightmost third will be covered by some contraption.

      • faulty says:

        Actually all 3 pins are used, if you look at the top side. On the second picture, the 3 and 2 pin sockets is still soldered and whatever attached to it can still be seen, partially.

        It seems like the coreless transformer or coil is to pickup signal or disturbance from a core maybe ferrite, and could be circular, which is secured to the 2 mounting holes.Looks like the 3 pin sockets is driven by a power transistor or fet, might be connected to additional coil to energize the core. One of the 3 pin looks like a feedback to MC14838B.

        My wild guess is that this is used to pickup angular position much like LVDT.

        • Christian Vogel says:

          I was referring to two pins of the SOT23(diode), of course the three pin sockets are used.

          Regarding the FET, I’m quite convinced it’s used as current source: There’s the blue 5.1Ω between GND and what I suspect to be the source of the FET sensing the current; Drain goes to one of the socket pins delivering the power. Gate leads via a (small, blue) resistor towards the middle quad opamp, and (parallel to a transistor?) towards a 4.7µF electrolytic towards GND. No connection to the MC14838.

          Something connected to the right two pins will be driven with constant current, maybe a laser diode?

          A very early laser-barcode-scanner could use a laser-diode for illumination, the photodiode connected to the rightmost opamp and the coil for wiggling a mirror to generate the scan-line.

          (but it looks like an awful lot of electronics just for such a simple task, and putting the MC14838B in the signal chain doesn’t make too much sense)

          • Hakunamenta says:

            i looked for some personal metal detectors on alibaba and found a device that has a very similar shape on the handle. also the „transformer has hole of a similar size like the holes in the pcb and i think there was an insulated wire going through the pcb and the inductor as the receiver and another wire from the daughter board as the sender. it was probably an AM metal detector because those dont need precise clock source for the sender.

    • Christian Vogel says:

      I’ve pondered about this board for a little more, and what strikes me as odd:

      They’ve used two very similar 80c51 microcontrollers, with a lot of pins to spare, one has four times the ROM, double the RAM of the other. They are clocked with 12MHz, but could go much higher: Why have they wasted CPU power? Unlikely that both of them are completely maxed out, why not put everything in the larger MCU?

      Probably the “communication side” chip was re-used from an earlier design, or maybe purchased pre-programmed from somewhere else?

  3. -dsr- says:

    The markings, PC-P86-94V-0, match several manufacturers’ power control boards.

  4. carl says:

    My instinct is to pick it up and hold it to my face. Therefore, it might be a cordless phone.

    • carl says:

      Further thought, I still want to pick it up because of the coke bottle outline, but now I think it is a metal detector wand, for personal security search. The trim pots would be sensitivity adjusts and sensor loop tuning.

  5. Paul Warren says:

    Looks like a signal injector for tracing twisted pairs. Though thats just from its general shape, I’ve no idea what the electronics are :-)

  6. Grant B says:

    Hmmm … handheld serial to IR blaster type thing. Technical, I know ;-) Not sure why they would need 2 8051’s for that though.

  7. kodabar says:

    IR this? RFID that? Nonsense. This just shows how the human mind likes to reject reality in favour of the mundane.

    This is future technology. It’s an early version (Revision A, apparently) of the Babel Fish. Just look at the piscatorial shape, the ‘mouth’, the holes for the eye sensors and the flared tail, it is clearly a fish.

    And just take a look at those Philips’ microcontrrollers. Take all the part numbers and add them up and they sum to 42. That’s what really gives the game away.

  8. CKThorp says:

    Looks like a medical diagnostic device. Starting from the P/N scheme, it is clear the manufacturer has a very good grasp on design control (which often means defense or medical).

    There is a P/N for the bare PCB (the complete P/N with tabulation and revision) and a separate P/N for the assembled PCBA (the second P/N that has a space after the 5-digit part identifier and a blank rev). Typically for this type of product, they would mark in during development, and sometimes for production, the “tab” (which model, e.g. if there were several population options with different features), and the assembly rev (in case they change resistor values without altering the empty PCB). It is also likely that the “60” in the first P/N is a code for “bare PCB” and that “24” is a code for PCB assembly.

    Using the hints of “STI” and “medical” to Google, it looks like this is the manufacturer of the board: They were founded in 1996, so enough time to make this design before the PCB’s 1997 copyright date.

    Their current technology is based on “hyper spectral imaging” technology.

    Given the age of the product, I’m guessing this is a “1 pixel” multispectral imaging sensor. Power and data via the modular jack on the left, some user confirmation LEDs on the right end, and handheld against the surface/tissue of interest.

    • Christian Vogel says:

      That’s a pretty good observation, and the shitload of test-points (on almost every signal in the analog section) speaks for an item that’s certainly designed to be thoroughly tested. But maybe it’s a device that’s only halfway, or just recently, out a prototyping phase to get the analog electronics right?

      On the other hand, the adjustment pots look like kind of cheap, and most importantly they haven’t been secured with any glue or lacquer against accidental change. In the insides of a product possibly used for medical diagnosis, this would be a no-go.

      Also, it’s certainly not a “high precision” measurement device, as their routing looks kind of “random”, without a clear concept of e.g. star-ground I’ve seen in some other vintage (1997?) equipment (without huge ground planes that made this rather irrelevant in more recent designs).

    • Novae says:

      Hmmm… Some deep Googling also shows that there was an STI Government contractor back then, and they had a contract with the Navy in 1997 to build them an AAHIS (Advanced Airborne Hyperspectral Imaging System), as well as a contract to modify said tech to unknown specifications.

      I wonder if this thing is related to that project? If Christian V. is correct, then this would fit as a prototype for whatever they eventually delivered.

  9. Travis Deyle says:

    Looks like a barcode scanner… similar to the CueCat.

  10. Paul says:

    I think it’s a barcode scanner from Symbol Technology, but I can’t find the form factor. It doesn’t really help that they where aquired by Motorola and then by Zebra.

  11. zYmBra says:

    It’s CueCat barcode scanner

  12. Thomas says:

    My guess is medical… it is a hand held shape. My guess was some ultrasonic imager thing, but I guess that is not the right answer.

    Anyway there is a preamp on the far end, shielded by the ground plane. And in one of the pictures we get to see something extra through the center hole.

    With the coil and teh receive circuitry I’d indeed guess a metal detector. The PCB mounted coil is excitation, and there used to be a coil mounted on the conponent side of the PCB for sensing. But then, that side of the PCB would have been rounded.

  13. razvan784 says:

    I will add the following findings:
    * the two LEDs on the right side seem to be driven in anti-phase by an MCU
    * on the left side, above the 78M05 regulator, there are two big pads with a small rectangular piece ground plane underneath. One is 5V, the other is driven by an MCU through a transistor to ground. There is what looks like a diode between them. There was a component there, it’s been desoldered. Inductive probably, judging by the diode.

  14. Kron says:

    My guess is a handheld TDR (time domain reflectometer) used for detecting and locating cable faults.

  15. atomicthumbs says:

    this is the mainboard from a Mrs. Butterworth’s Syrup of Things sensor platform.

  16. mangel says:

    Because of the shape, coils, 8051s and the STI symbol, I guess it is a handheld rfid scanner by SYMBOL TECHNOLOGIES inc. (STI), an american manufacturer of rfid and barcode scanners.

  17. fox says:

    It is definitely a probe for, you know, probing ‘things’.

  18. NMI says:

    Omron bought a company called Scientific Technologies in 2006. They did safety devices and such. Maybe it’s a product from them.

    I don’t think it’s a board from the defense industry (at least not a shippable product). It’s way too lightweight and cheap. I don’t see any conformal coating or a CAGE code.

  19. voxadam says:

    At first glance the shape made me think it was an unreleased active oscilloscope probe from Bunnie’s Novena scope experiments.

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