Archive for the ‘name that ware’ Category

Name that Ware January 2019

Thursday, January 31st, 2019

The Ware for January 2019 is shown below.

Thanks to Jesse for contributing this handsome retro-ware.

This one should be a cakewalk — I did not blur out the part numbers because I felt like by the time I finished obscuring the ware there wouldn’t be much left for guessing! Instead, I’m just appreciating a retro-ware for what it is — a reminder of a time when not everything could be done in software, and we had to rely on special purpose chips to do even the simplest of things.

I also included a picture of the back side of the board because it illustrates a common problem seen in PCBs from the 80’s — namely, what happens when soldermask is applied directly over tin/lead plating. Tin/lead can be used as an etching barrier; conveniently, once the etch is done, the tin/lead plating doubles as the solderable finish for the PCB. So, if you scrape back the soldermask of the older PCBs like this, you won’t immediately find bare copper: you’ll first encounter a layer of tin/lead plating.

Unfortunately, when the PCB is subject to reflow temperatures (and particularly wave soldering), the entire tin/lead layer liquifies, and excess solder from the pads will flow under the soldermask, creating the wrinkling, ripples and bumps seen under the larger traces.

Modern PCBs still use a tin mask as an etch barrier, but the tin is stripped off entirely before the soldermask is applied (hence the term “SMOBC”, or soldermask on bare copper), and then solder is re-applied to all the pads using a HASL (hot air solder leveling) process (or ENIG, OSP, or whatever finish is required). Seems like a lot of work to apply a finish only to strip it off, but bare copper won’t allow solder to seep underneath the soldermask, so it’s worth it.

Winner, Name that Ware December 2018

Thursday, January 31st, 2019

The ware for December 2018 is from a 454 Sequencer. The direction of flow is actually from a single input port, splitting into two separate ports, each driven by independent peristaltic pumps downstream of the splitter. The four black boxes are customized Introtek “IntroFlow” ultrasonic non-invasive flow detectors. It’s interesting to see that many readers assumed the flow went in the combining direction, not the splitting direction.

I originally thought the ware was a simple flow splitter because the machine had a single reagent cartridge, and reagents are expensive so if they needed reagents in two spots it would be worth it to include a mechanism for splitting and measuring the flow. But after reading Stuart’s comment, I think he’s probably right, it’s a bubble trap. When I removed the device from the machine, I hadn’t quite traced the pipes back far enough — the inlet goes to a valve that looks like it can either select from a set of reagent sources, or a port that is labeled “air out”. So congrats to Stuart, email me for your prize!

Name that Ware December 2018

Sunday, December 16th, 2018

The Ware for December 2018 is shown below.

Finishing off the year with a (hopefully) easy one that’s slightly off the beaten path.

Happy holidays! Stay safe, and stay free.

Winner: Name that Ware November 2018

Sunday, December 16th, 2018

The Ware for November 2018 is a bias/control board for the HP 2-18GHz YIG-tuned multiplier. I really appreciate this fascinating ware, it reminds me that the MOS transistor is not the be-all and end-all of electronics. Of course, every day we encounter crystals as frequency references, and those are literally shaved pieces of quartz, but here is a sphere of Yttrium Iron Garnet (YIG) being used as a tunable RF filter. Thanks to phantom deadline for contributing this ware, and also congrats to Brian for nailing the ware. Email me for your prize!

Name that Ware November 2018

Friday, November 30th, 2018

The Ware for November 2018 is shown below.

Thanks to phantom deadline for sharing this ware! I enjoyed reading up about it.