TL866CS and TL866A recovery mode

I was playing around with my TL866 programmer trying to refresh the firmware and needed to get to the recovery mode. However, it seems like the recovery mode info on is incorrect for 2014 design (the one I have). I tried the 240\Omega as recommended with a decade box and it doesn’t work .

Usually my guess that if somebody is going to set a recovery mode in a micro-controller to be enabled with some hardware path to the power supply rail with a small resistor, it’s just saying that he wants you to pull the pin high.

The said pin is a digital I/O line so I took it as a GPIO pin used for input (I might be wrong)

I measured the voltage of the said regulator with a decade box. Interesting that if I flip the resistance while the unit is on, it occasionally remembers the last state when I plug it in again! (EDIT: There is a Schmitt Trigger buffer in between. The buffer type says ST for RC1. Doh!)

Here are some of my measurements with a decade box:

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54855A/54854A Oscilloscope won’t power on

Recently I got a 54855A oscilloscope sent back to me for service under the 1 year warranty I underwrote for most of the unit I’ve sold direct. The unit would not turn in at all after sitting for a long time.

I looked up the forum and it turns out other people had this problem with a certain generation of Infiniiums and sometimes changing power supply or motherboard would disturb the setup a little bit and the unit might power on again. When I tried to do that, the unit does boot a quite few times but the problem randomly came back again. This is frustrating as it’s a heisenbug. I almost thought I was done when the unit worked consistently for a week then it comes back. It just looked like something component was acting borderline and disturbing the setup and got it to click.

In the past I had 54830s that’s ‘fixed’ by changing either one of the motherboard or power supply, but turns out that those were flukes, but I didn’t get lucky with 54850s this time.

The customer gave me time to troubleshoot deeper instead of just getting something to work as a fluke by just blindly changing modules which might break down again at a random time if it’s a gravitating aging problem (i.e. if you figured out a problem, it tends to be a wave of manufactured gears that’ll trip on the the same issue as they age). So I spent a whole month troubleshooting through reverse engineering the circuit and nailed down the cause and the fix.

There’s a lot of mixed info going on in the forum with different modes of failure, but those might not be the real cause, as replacing components disturbs a set up that wasn’t supposed to be in that state in the first place and the unit is prone to get trapped into a bad state when the unit ages. The real fix is to plug the path to the bad state in the first place instead of rocking the boat hoping the new combination doesn’t trigger the bad state.

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Tektronix’s TDS/DPO7000 series Mechanical (Chassis) Design is Evil

I thought the TDS500~800 series design is already frustrating to service. But TDS7140 (or DPO7000) takes the cake. Whoever the a**hole designed the chassis made it a f*cking lettuce wrap. It’s not even an onion that you can predictably guess how you’d approach it.

To get any meaningful access to the insides, you MUST first remove the plastic front panel bezel, which is a fragile part that if you didn’t get the plastic hooks right, you’ll break it when you try to force anything. The service manual is not helpful. Likely written by somebody with a ‘fuck it. somebody’ll figure it out’ attitude.

This can be seen by the service manual giving an exploded view diagram without a precise order-of-removal dependency graph, nor the decency of telling you where each hook is and which of them are slides that must not be pried open like hooks. This is basically is tricking people to break the front bezel because those who didn’t know this already won’t know until they shine a flashlight to investigate the geometry around the hooks before releasing the front bezel.

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All in 1 Mini Card Reader Manufacturing Flaw (Bad USB connector)

Recently, I’ve bought this CF card reader on eBay but it doesn’t detect at all.

Picture 4 of 7

I looked closely into the connector with a loupe and realized that the mini USB conductor was molded incorrectly. The center middle pin was pushed down because extra plastic was deposited above it:

The seller refunded in full but I figured that if the connector is malformed at the molding stage, buying it from another seller is not going to make it work, and the other form factors/connector configurations are inconvenient, so I tried my luck and see if there are exact matches for the connector they’ve used. Turns out it’s a 56 cents connector (price for 1 piece) available in Mouser (UJ2-MBH-1-SMT-TR):

In bulk, this connector can be bought for $0.22. For something that’s selling for $5/pc, the Red Chinese manufacturing had to go cheap to shave a few cents that ended up turning finished products into total trash. Most people are not electronics/troubleshooting savvy enough to figure out this shit, and the labor cracking the piece up and the SMD rework can easily buy 20pcs new. I just happened to have the tools (Metcal hot tweezers) so I can desolder the bad connector in seconds, but average users do not have that luxury so the neutered USB card readers go straight into trash.

We need more products NOT made in China!


Crack open wall wart (power brick): hot air method (READ or risk more damages!)

The power brick that came with my U1620A order has a rattling noise when I shook it. I suspected a piece of soldered cracked and was wandering inside so I chose not to power it on as it might short something. So I had to crack open the wall wart, which turns out many people have little luck open it up non-destructively.

Just prying it open by force with a screwdriver will ruin the plastics. I needed to somehow soften the glue first and work into it (like using a cutter) to dislodge/cut the glue. Rubbing alcohol doesn’t work that well. The glue is quite stuff so it’s not the easily dissolvable kind.

After some experimentation, I used my hot air station and set it to a temperature right below it melts the hard ABS plastic outside (143 deg C, max air flow), and carefully pried it after taking the heat away.

WARNING: Do not pry while the hot air is blowing as the ABS plastic might be slightly softened! The hot air might overshoot in its temperature feedback) so you might accidentally remold it. When working at the borderline temperature that barely soften the ABS plastic, the second you take the hot air away the plastic cools back (hardens) enough for you to pry.

Out of practicality, I heat up one edge at a time, then focus on 1/3 of the area at a time get an entry point prying one hook open at a time. It takes a lot of patience.

After I got all the 4 sides pried open for some reason I couldn’t release the case and it felt something was stuck in the middle. Turns out the wall wart I have happened to have a center screw hidden from plain sight under the label. The label quality was so good that just pressing it around with a pair of tweezers won’t find the screw hole (because of the tension). I used hot air (at the same 143 deg C) to probe with tweezers to locate the screw hole. I cut a hole in the label for the screw hole because it’d be a pain to use hot air to get the label off in one without ruining it and be able to put it back like new.

Bonus discovery: molded plastics have some memory!

I dented the ABS plastic case during prying (before I thought of using hot air), but I discovered this magical temperature (143 deg C) actually heals the plastic when I blow it in a direction that undoes the dent! The small (like 2mm) dents magically smooth itself out and went back to rough where it was before I screwed it up (pun intended)!

Yes, for molded plastics, small dents caused by prying and bumping, heating it up to the temperature right before it softens will return it to its near original shape without external forces!

Of course, do not go past the softening temperature (143 deg C). If you heat it to a melting temperature, the plastic will lose its memory so you need to apply external force to beat it to the shape you wanted (which is a pain in the butt and it requires a lot of post-processing to get it to look like original).