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Spotting Fake Parts
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Music Tech DIY Goto page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5  Next [all]
Author Spotting Fake Parts
Willzyx
Its rare and doesn't happen to offen but sooner or latter you will get some fake parts. Living out here in Taiwan I do see a lot of sketchy parts in the local shops which is why I buy all of my parts from Mouser or trusted sources. But there is always that rare part that can force you onto eBay. Well here is what a fake IC looks like. You need a magnifying glass to see it.



Here are some picts of a fake SSM2044-
Look at the to circular indentations. There should be no texture in them and they should be the same hight.



Here is picture of how a real IC look.

If you flip it around a fake part. You will notice how the circle dose not have a perfect lip and there is texture in it as well. The text will not be crisp.



For comparison here is what a real TL074 looks like.



Some parts are way easier to spot: woah
decaying.sine
Those are really great examples.

Do you know if the circle imperfections are due to sanding?
Muff Wiggler
awesome thread we're not worthy

thanks! any more tips are always greatly appreciated!
rosch
omg, there are even fake trimmers now
andrewF
does the trimmer actually work??
Willzyx
decaying.sine wrote:
Those are really great examples.

Do you know if the circle imperfections are due to sanding?


I think they coat them with a type of texture paint and stamp it when its still wet. I want to file off the new paint to see what the chip really is.

rosch wrote:
omg, there are even fake trimmers now


I have heard of fake resistors. waah

andrewF wrote:
does the trimmer actually work??

I am going to find out here in a little while, but not keeping my hopes up.
Willzyx
Is there a good resource on date codes? I am not too sure if the 0025 makes any since ether.

I am no expert in this stuff so if anyone knows any other tricks let us know.
ringstone
I'm confused, are the "Bochen" brand fake? They are available all over and seem quite indistinguishable in operation from any other trimmer of that form factor...

Blair
Willzyx
ringstone wrote:
I'm confused, are the "Bochen" brand fake? They are available all over and seem quite indistinguishable in operation from any other trimmer of that form factor...

Blair


They are not fake but they are really trying to look like bourns trimers, maybe knock offs are a better term.
gwaidan
The SSM2044 chips on eBay are pretty much all knockoffs, however most seem to work fine-most of them are datecoded 8730. Emu did recreate the SSM2044 when they reissued the SP1200 in the 90s so its possible that the schematic was leaked (or "retained") by a Chinese foundry. I've seen the "8730" chip in the photo of the Doepfer SSM filter module on their site.

I've seen Suntan brand trimmers with the 3296 designation-as it's a number there's nothing Bourns can do to protect it as IP so these are no more dodgy than Alpha sealed rotary switches copying Lorlin.
jupiter8
Willzyx wrote:

rosch wrote:
omg, there are even fake trimmers now


I have heard of fake resistors. waah

That's nothing,they're counterfeiting eggs FFS.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0US7JEfhsrA
Paradigm X
I am constantly worried about this, i have no idea. Maybe a 'good seller' thread would be helpful?

I bought some 2sa733ps recently whcih came stamped ksa but appeared to have the pinout of the 2sas, for a noob its really confusing and frustrating, not really money wise but time faffing around. Also got some pt2399s which i have not got round to trying yet.

Thanks
Tim Stinchcombe
The process is known as 'blacktopping', and Willzyx's first photo is one of the easier ways to spot it. Counterfeiters grind off the original marking, then apply a new coating (the blacktopping), and then re-etch markings into the device. I presume the coating is done by hand, and if the person doing it isn't very practiced, the molding holes can get filled, giving the tell-tale signs seen in the photo. Sometimes you can see the 'join' between the blacktopping and the original colour of the package sides, again depending on how well it has been done.

At work we went from being aware that counterfeiting exists to seeing three different examples in the space of just a few months. The first were FPGA chips, a large quad flat pack (QFP) package, which showed classic signs of blacktopping - most worked, so we can only assume they were old non-RoHS chips that had been re-date coded so they could be fobbed off as newer lead-free devices. The blacktopping also felt much, much rougher to the touch than the genuine article.

The second were EPROM chips, which we think were of smaller memory size than they should have been (and probably a different make) - these were confirmed as being 'bad' by the fact that we found three different type-faces for the etching on the chips, all with the same batch code (which seemed highly unlikely if the chips had been genuine)!

The third lot were some sort of CMOS logic chips, in a fairly common 14-pin SOIC package, again some showed signs of blacktopping, and since they simply didn't work, heavens knows what the chips actually were!

Apart from the annoyance of the cost (we had to scrap several hundred of the FPGAs, at over £5/chip), the biggest frustration is knowing that the counterfeiters simple get away with it scott-free, as there is no possible way to trace back how or where these chips entered the supply chain (most were bought on the 'grey market') - all one can do is learn how to spot them, and to remain vigilant. Another annoyance is that even though it is a massive problem for the industry, the sharing of data of chips known to have been counterfeited (chip type, date codes, batch nos. etc.) seems to be only available to those in the supply business, and not the rest of us, i.e. people buying the chips who are going to lose out if we get stung.

A few minutes Googling will generally bring up many hits of sites showing photos of bad chips and how to spot them.

Tim
Psychlist1972
From looking at these photos, the XR2206 chips I bought some time ago from ebay (seller polida2008 "Polida Electrical Limited") are almost certainly fakes.

I haven't had a chance to test them yet. I just pulled them out after stumbling across this thread.

But they have textured ejection pin marks as well as low-res laser etched markings.







The seller is still selling XR 2206 chips. Photos uploaded in case they help anyone else.

Pete
negativspace
I have a large (50+) batch of CA3080 that are plainly blacktopped but are 100% good. I tested every one vs. a known sample pulled from a Doepfer module as well as one from a batch of pulls I bought years ago. Makes me curious... why fake working chips? No ROHS shenanigans with those, so... seriously, i just don't get it
Psychlist1972
negativspace wrote:
I have a large (50+) batch of CA3080 that are plainly blacktopped but are 100% good. I tested every one vs. a known sample pulled from a Doepfer module as well as one from a batch of pulls I bought years ago. Makes me curious... why fake working chips? No ROHS shenanigans with those, so... seriously, i just don't get it


Probably factory rejects that failed one quality test or another. I'd be curious to know if they're 100% in spec, or if they just work.

Pete
negativspace
Well, all i have is in-circuit observation but they all performed indistinguishably from their genuine counterparts. I used a 258J oscillator as a testbed but have since used them in dozens of assorted modules to the same effect. Maybe typical synth circuits just don't put them through enough stress to bring out the bad behavior?

I did get 10 a couple years back that were bunk and i kept one for reference. It failed in the 258j completely.
mOBiTh
Perhaps at very high frequencies their behaviour is poor?

what about if they were incorrectly marked at the production stage, so therefore needed remarking?
Luap
Another give away is laser etching on parts that would have been produced long before laser etching even existed.
djs
I found this link very interesting and useful:
http://www.aeri.com/counterfeits.html

I got some 2n3904's in a shipment from an ebay seller where the datecode was the exact same on two parts in the same shipment, but the pinouts differ seriously, i just don't get it However, they tested out to be the right type of transistor, so I just marked the bag with a note "check pinout!", and will test each one again before use.

note- the seller was thaishine- Usually i buy only sockets and things like tl072s from them with no issues, so i'm not sure what the case is here. Since they still work and the cost was pretty cheap, I didn't bother to contact them on it.
valis
negativspace wrote:
I have a large (50+) batch of CA3080 that are plainly blacktopped but are 100% good. I tested every one vs. a known sample pulled from a Doepfer module as well as one from a batch of pulls I bought years ago. Makes me curious... why fake working chips? No ROHS shenanigans with those, so... seriously, i just don't get it


This is what I'm curious about too. Maybe it's the copyright infringement that makes it lucrative.
consumed
interesting. i recently purchased a discontinued AD chip from HK for a module. ill have to go have a close look at it.
Psychlist1972
djs wrote:

note- the seller was thaishine- Usually i buy only sockets and things like tl072s from them with no issues, so i'm not sure what the case is here. Since they still work and the cost was pretty cheap, I didn't bother to contact them on it.


thaishine is Tayda Electronics. I've bought a fair bit from them on their regular website. No issues so far. They claim to only purchase direct from the manufacturer.
http://www.taydaelectronics.com/

Pete
neil.johnson
I'm sure Tayda has superior quality control and vendor qualification than military electronics firms:
Fake chips from China sold to U.S. defense contractors

seriously, i just don't get it

Neil
Tim Stinchcombe
Necroing this thread rather than starting another - not specifically 'synth diy', but of possible general interest to the subject of counterfeiting.

In the couple of years since I last posted, we have continued to see more counterfeits at work, especially of several of the chips we use lots of that are now going obsolete. Thankfully we are getting better at spotting them, and most of the following are sample chips, which funnily enough we declined to buy!

First up they got sloppy with this one, and didn't abrade off the original engraving enough, so characters are still visible underneath - you can make out '3' or '5' 'G', under the '4C', and note also that the pin 1 dimple is quite matt, and not shiny as a real chip would be:


Sometimes curiosity gets the better of me, and you know you just have to try and find out what the chips really are. This is an example where on scraping off the blacktopping the original markings were plain enough to see, and also easy enough to get a snap through the microscope - the '0349' date code is the original; the '1135' is the remarked one, so these appear to be non-RoHS chips made to look like younger, RoHS ones:


Here's the recent photo I was pleased with, prompting me to make this post - whilst the chips were clearly blacktopped, they we also otherwise in pristine condition (they're a large 208-pin QFP package), prompting me to wonder why. On removing the topping, the answer appeared to be that they simply weren't the right chips, so presumably cheap ones made to look like ones that can command a higher price! The original engraving was very hard to make out, so an ordinary photo would have taken a lot of messing around to get the light right. So I rubbed a highlighter pen over it, and used a UV light - the result has made the original markings visible. Instead of the chips being 'XCS20XL', as now marked, underneath that you can make out that they are 'XC2S200E'- not even the same family of FPGA!:


And here is another easy spot - Glink DRAM samples. The font immediately looked different, and a simple 'ink permanency' test with some acetone just wiped the paint right off, along with a good deal of blacktopping, as the swab testifies! Top and bottom are bad, in the middle is a genuine chip (the acetone simply doesn't touch it!):


I might sift through a few more snaps depending on interest/as time allows.

Tim
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