Name that Ware, February 2022

The Ware for February 2022 is shown below.

I was cleaning out my desk and decided to give this a crack and see what was inside. There’s a couple things I found notable about the design. First, basically every part on the inside is a catalog part or an OEM variant of one — I’m used to opening up these types of devices and seeing more full custom ASICs, weirdo unsearchable Japanese or Chinese part numbers, or anonymous black globs of glue. It’s kind of neat that catalog parts have caught up to the point where you could build one of these essentially just ordering stuff off of Digi-Key (alternatively, one could lament that it’s sad that “Moore’s Law” (in the broader sense) has slowed to the point where it’s no longer economically viable to spin custom ASICs even for products like this). Second, I really liked the antenna. It’s making good use of all three spatial dimensions, yet the design is clean and simple. It is a little bit odd, though, that no underfill was used to secure any of the chips, but maybe that’s part of the reason why it’s in my scrap pile.

16 Responses to “Name that Ware, February 2022”

  1. Per says:

    Based purely on shape and a possible SIM slot I’m guessing portable LTE WiFi router of some kind.

    • willmore says:

      There are ten signals coming off that ‘SIM’ connector, so it’s most likely a uSD card slot. Dual band radios and one of them looks pretty low. There are three contacts for the antennas. The center is ground. The one closest to the edge is the ‘low’ band and the one closer to the center is the high band.Photo B shows the low band antenna (looks like it’s pretty well sub-GHz, but from its construction could have several resonances between 1 and 2 GHz. The ‘high’ band antenna looks to be 3+GHz (eyeballing, haven’t measured it vs known lengths).

      That doesn’t rule out your LTE router idea, though, as things can have eSIMs pretty easily and an embedded device like an LTE router is a good candidate for those.

      Bunny mentions that the chips don’t have underfill, but they did glue in the two switches, so *some* effort was put into making it rugged.

  2. wam says:

    Let’s see.
    A cortex M4, a GNSS chip, a bluetooth chip. Plus one “wearable battery controller”

    Then there’s a slot for what could be either microSD or SIM (more likely microSD, can’t see any lte/gsm controller, nor enough RF shielding)

    Compact factor, which makes me think of a fitness tracker (similar to Microsoft band).
    But then the buttons placement would be awkward, and the antenna would be too bulky
    Could be for either a GPS tracker (fits with GNSS chip, Bluetooth, possible sd slot).

    Alternatively could be for a GPS dashcam. Probably more suited to the beefier cortex M4, sd for storage, with the central connector used to plug in the actual cmos sensor.

  3. phantom deadline says:

    Looks like a cellular (modem PCB is not pictured so hard to say which generation) GPS (+BEIDU or GLONASS via MT3333A) tracker to me. Also has Bluetooth (NRF51422) and two! application processors (Kinetis K26 and MSP430)

    • willmore says:

      Add in the uSD slot to store tracking data and you might be right. You’d need the low power uC (MSP430) and the GPS for tracking and the application processor + BT for syncing. So, seems plausable.

      Neither antenna looks like what I would expect for GPS–nothing is circularly polarized, etc. Maybe the antenna fits on one of those connectors? The 6 pin board to board connector is in the right place for that. There’s clearly a board missing in this stack.

      • Per says:

        What about that 26-pin mezzanine connector in the middle? Is that purely for connecting an LCD display board or is it a connection to a board with even more functionality?

        • bunnie says:

          This is the only rigid circuit board in the system. I won’t say what the connectors go to because it’d give away a bit too much about what the ware does, at least just not yet!

          • Per says:

            I didn’t want you to reveal more. I just put those questions out there for discussion because I wanted to hear more theories.

  4. Jason says:

    I was gonna go with a pager of some sort.

  5. Jason says:

    At first thinking garage door opener, because of size. A sim card slot seems over kill for either of these.

    • J. Peterson says:

      Definitely not a door opener. I’ve opened those before, and they have, like, five components: battery, chip, LED, switch, -maybe- a passive or two.

  6. SAM says:

    I would guess a bike computer with GPS, touch LCD and SD card.
    The connectors look like the connectors on the Garmin Edge 830 LCD/Touch, but have a different number of pins (10 and 34 vs. 6 and 26).
    The NRF51422 also support ANT+ used by bike and heart rate sensors.

    But the internals of the Garmin Vivoactive GPS smart watch (model: 04AWGD01, FCC ID: IPH-02472) looks to be an exact match.

  7. wendy says:

    Hello,
    Inspired by the project-Precursor you launched at crowdsupply.com.
    We want to start cooperative relationship with you, in the form of offering free PCB prototyping
    and special discount for large production and assembly.
    If you’re interested,please drop a message and we’d like to discuss more details with you.

  8. Christopher says:

    Hey Bunnie, been reading your blog a long time but never really commented, however just found a product that reminded me of a 2007 post – https://www.bunniestudios.com/blog/?p=201 where you said “you can’t assume anything about [chinese workers] subjective abilities to interpret specifications for a product. For example, you can tell a US engineer “I’d like a button on that panel”, and you’ll probably get something back pretty close to what you expected in terms of look and feel… However, if you did the same in China…”

    So I needed a lighting to 3.5mm adapter and came across some at work that totally sum up that comment. https://www.maplin.co.uk/maplin-apple-lightning-to-headphone-3-5mm-jack-adapter-5cm-white-5026686001334

    I was expecting your typical 3rd party lightning to 3.5mm adaptor, but clearly someone asked a factory for a lightning cable that outputs audio via a 3.5mm socket. Defo does that. Yet so not. It’s actually a tiny wireless bluetooth receiver, outputting to 3.5mm, but powered by a lightning plug. Effectively a wireless wired adaptor. Or wired wireless receiver. It does what it should, in a way you’d never dream of doing. Both completely pointless and totally amazing and weirdly useful at the same time. And a genius/odd/amazing/ridiculous way of getting round Apple’s licensing.

    I think it’s now my favourite product ever :)

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