Name that Ware July 2014

The Ware for July 2014 is shown below.

Sorry that posts and updates have been infrequent the past few months — been really busy!

26 Responses to “Name that Ware July 2014”

  1. wrm says:

    Looks like some kind of bidirectional RF amplifier. Signal path starts small transistor and ends up big transistor, left to right at the bottom and right to left at the top.

    Will have to be at two frequencies, obviously.

    Cellphone booster?

  2. axet says:


  3. Looks like an RF diplexor of some sort – signals at different frequencies going in different directions

  4. @f4grx says:

    Two similar RF paths back to back, MMICs and SAW in the way. That is a narrow band preamplifier, for a bidirectionnal RF signal, probably high in frequency, something like 1-3 GHz range.

    Not higher than ~4 GHz, otherwise PTFE (rogers) PCB would have been used instead of FR4+green varnish.

    There is a copper-colored block in the middle and visible signs of thermal paste – or is that reflections from the machined zones? It does not seem to be a high power device. The metal in the middle might just be for shielding both paths, and the orange color is anodizing.

    I would have said a switch, but both paths are powered at the same time, there is no power switching on each branch. BTW, notice the nice effort in the decoupling network, caps are very close to where they are needed, and there are additional caps on the long traces. DC is coupled to the RF traces via chip inductors.

    That tells me that the smd xtal like parts that seem to “split” the signal are directional couplers, and that each branch amplifies signal travelling in a single direction.

    I have no exact idea of what this device could be, maybe a wifi/bluetooth/something microwave range extender? Each (BNC? TNC?) plug gets an antenna over a long cable, and the device amplifies signals in both directions.

    However the “custom” bottom left screw looks like it could be an amateur device, not a commercial one.

    • @f4grx says:

      I can’t read what’s written on the filters, but each branch probably deals with different frequencies, however close.
      If not, then each branch would pick up the output of the other, and that would be a ring oscillator :)

      It is clear that:
      -each branch deals with only one direction (MMIC gets DC bias on the output lines)
      -3-way devices are directional couplers
      -these signals are close in frequency, since the couplers only have limited badwidths
      -xtal-kile with two ports are SAW filters; each line will probably be centered on a different frequencie, and have strong rejection for the frequency of the other branch.

      So it could also be a low power GSM test repeater, where both uplink and downlink are amplified, for test or indoor use.

    • Brad Gilbert says:

      What appears to you as thermal paste on that block in the middle is just an area that isn’t anodized. Either the holes are where they held the part when it was getting anodized, or the anodizing came off when they drilled the two holes.

      • @f4grx says:

        Yep, I got that later but did not post again for this minor fact :) Now it’s done, the anodizing was removed where the box was machined.

  5. SyreKron says:

    I’m guessing it is a jammer for cell phones and/or gps.

  6. Jonathan says:

    GSM indoor amp. The filter in the upper right is the right frequency, and the power range seems about right for that application.

  7. Jeff Epler says:

    I’m curious about the unpopulated parts like LB10, where the signal trace continues under the footprint of the LB part. If LB10 were to be populated, would the trace under it be cut?

    I also note some signs of rework, e.g., at the lower right, C26 looks like something I might have soldered myself. And just why are the LEDs so oddly placed?

    FWIW I assume Jonathan is on the right track. “GSM RF Repeater” produces a lot of pictures of brass/copper-colored boxes in a similar size range with a pair of antenna connectors, a power connector, and red/green LEDs for power and signal. so while that’s not real strong evidence, it doesn’t disconfirm anything about the theory.

    • pelrun says:

      Also the blurred section of the silkscreen is pretty obviously saying “GSM” if you look at the thumbnail and squint a bit :)

    • Brad Gilbert says:

      At the factory they will often start omitting parts until a large segment of the production run no longer passes functional testing. The ones that fail the test get some of the omitted parts added to it until it does pass.

      The fewer parts, the more money they make, even after paying someone to rework the failing devices. ( They pay the person anyway, might as well have them doing something. )

      I once fixed an LCD monitor by adding an omitted resistor from an RC circuit that was part of some safety mechanism. After years of operation the value of the capacitor changed enough that the safety circuitry started detecting faults that didn’t exist. I would like to point out that at the time it was already old enough that it would have been worth replacing; so even with a missing part it still worked for a significant period of time.

  8. Josh Myer says:

    It’s one of the variants of the “AT980” cell phone amps.


    That looks like it’s the right board layout (RF on a central axis, barrel jack with two LEDs equally spaced between the jack and the RF input), but the RF connectors seem wrong: most of the AT980s use type F, which this looks like, except that it appears to be panel mount. A bunch of the other GSM amplifiers use type-N connectors, which is what you really should use for GSM.

    It is definitely GSM, though: the upper path ends in an NDF9296, which is easy enough to find: 935-960MHz saw filter (

    The duplexers are NDF8977s (, which are good for both the 850 and 900MHz bands, which suggests that this is an 850+900 GSM amp.

    Add to this that a lot of the AT980s are “935-960MHz” amplifiers, and it’s a pretty strong case for it.

    • Josh Myer says:

      Err, that should say that the upper path “begins” in an NDF9296, since the right hand side of the board is the outdoor antenna.

  9. Yi says:

    My guess is its one of those bidirectional Wifi signal amplifiers. The green LED is for power and the red is probably a IO activity LED.

    Is this a prototype? Its got self tapping screws on the connector on the left side. The rest look like machine screws. There looks like a few (poor) hand solder jobs. Bits of solder left on vias too.

    • @f4grx says:

      cannot work, with wifi, tx and rx are on the same frequency, so each branch of the amplifier would bite the tail of the other branch :)

  10. Vorlt says:

    Great. Thank You for sharing!

  11. Nick Laing says:

    Its the continuum transfunctioner. I knew bunnie had it.

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  13. Sophie Erin says:

    Good details you have shared and this kind of circuit board.