Winner, Name That Ware February 2011

April 3rd, 2011

The Ware for February 2011 is an Aaronia AG HF-60105 handheld spectrum analyzer. I didn’t think that so many people would recognize the analyzer solely from its blue housing; I should have been a little more selective about cropping the photo. I also noticed the chip with the scraped off top-markings near the RF shielded area, which is curious indeed. To the left of that chip is, I believe, the 0.5ppm TCXO timebase option, based upon the flux residue that would evidence removal of a standard crystal oscillator and the installation of the TCXO device next to it.

Picking a winner was very tough this month, as lots of people almost guessed the model number and type but nobody got it exactly right. I think I will go with Jonathan as the winner, since in addition to being very quick, he had shared a bit of analysis and insight as to his thought process. Congrats, email me to claim your prize!

Tiger Blood Intern…from China

March 28th, 2011

I don’t follow much pop culture, but I just got wind of a curious situation from a good friend of mine in China. My friend has an intern who is applying for his next internship…the “Tiger Blood Intern”. The intern applicant, Chris Jones, has made it to round 3 (a field narrowed to 250 out of 80,000 applicants). Round 3 tests the candidate’s ability to use social media to run a campaign.

Given that Chris currently lives behind the Great Firewall of China, where Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, etc. are blocked, he’s got the double-black diamond version of the challenge. With a little tech-savvy and persistence, though, all things are possible. He’s got a YouTube video up and he’s running his campaign. Give his campaign a little boost by watching his video!


March 15th, 2011

Katamari! <– play!

Na, na na na na na na na, na na katamari damashii~ <– listen!

Kudos to for a daft hack. Now to figure out how to get that song out of my head…

Name that Ware February 2011

March 9th, 2011

The Ware for February 2011 is shown below. Click on the image for a much larger version.

I was loathe to take this one apart, but finally curiosity got the better of me. Enjoy!

Winner, Name that Ware January 2011

February 7th, 2011

The Ware for January 2011 is a BluRay optical pick-up head. There aren’t too many good photos of these on the web, although I did find a fascinating tear-down of the unit used inside a Sony PS3 from 2007. This particular unit is from a Lite-On OEM module manufactured on October 15 2009, from an HP BD-2000 BluRay player. Below is a photo of the motherboard from the BD-2000 player.

One notable features of the pickup-head is that the entire optics assembly — the piece with two lenses on it molded out of white plastic — “floats” on six whiskers of wire. Three of the whiskers are visible in the front. The entire assembly is buttressed by a set of voice coils that manipulate the assembly’s position by pushing against adjacent fixed permanent magnets. If you take a pair of tweezers and poke the assembly it jiggles freely. The mechanical design ingenuity and manufacturing tolerance that goes into making this is impressive, especially for a low-cost mass-market item.

Back when I designed nanophotonic integrated circuits at Luxtera, we had a problem with aligning single-mode fibers to grating couplers on the surface of a wafer. The single mode fiber alignment problem typically requires expensive manufacturing equipment and highly trained operators to get the laser lined up in three dimensions to within a micron of the optimal launch spot, after which the whole assembly is glued in place. This is a bummer, because if the glue shifts during setting or the operator makes a mistake, a very expensive optical assembly is lost.

Thus, I find it amusing that this low-cost assembly can do that and more, on the fly. According to this white paper, an optics assembly like this can achieve a tracking error of 8 nanometers on an assembly that’s moving around, thus allowing dynamic tracking of the laser spot onto media with a track pitch of 320 nm, much smaller than the micron or so spot size of a single mode fiber.

As for the winner this month, it’s Felix. I actually learned quite a bit reading his entry; for example, I didn’t know that the circle segments on the PCB were for ESD management. Thanks for the detailed lesson. Congrats, email me for your prize!