This is only a preview of the February 2019 issue of Silicon Chip.
You can view 47 of the 112 pages in the full issue, including the advertisments.
Articles in this series:
Items relevant to "Versatile Trailing Edge Dimmer with Touch Plate & IR ":
Items relevant to "El Cheapo Modules 22: Stepper Motor Drivers":
Items relevant to "Motion-sensing 12V Power Switch":
Items relevant to "USB Mouse and Keyboard Interface for Micros":
Items relevant to "Build-it-yourself DAB+/FM/AM radio":
Purchase a printed copy of this issue for $10.00.
SILICON SILIC CHIP www.siliconchip.com.au Editor Emeritus Leo Simpson, B.Bus., FAICD Publisher/Editor Nicholas Vinen Technical Editor John Clarke, B.E.(Elec.) Technical Staff Jim Rowe, B.A., B.Sc Bao Smith, B.Sc Tim Blythman, B.E., B.Sc Technical Contributor Duraid Madina, B.Sc, M.Sc, PhD Art Director & Production Manager Ross Tester Reader Services Ann Morris Advertising Enquiries Glyn Smith Phone (02) 9939 3295 Mobile 0431 792 293 glyn<at>siliconchip.com.au Regular Contributors Dave Thompson David Maddison B.App.Sc. (Hons 1), PhD, Grad.Dip.Entr.Innov. Geoff Graham Associate Professor Graham Parslow Ian Batty M.Ed. Cartoonist Brendan Akhurst Silicon Chip is published 12 times a year by Silicon Chip Publications Pty Ltd. ACN 626 922 870. ABN 20 880 526 923. All material is copyright ©. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher. Subscription rates: $105.00 per year, post paid, in Australia. For overseas rates, see our website or email silicon<at>siliconchip.com.au Editorial office: Unit 1 (up ramp), 234 Harbord Rd, Brookvale, NSW 2100. Postal address: PO Box 139, Collaroy Beach, NSW 2097. Phone (02) 9939 3295. E-mail: silicon<at>siliconchip.com.au ISSN 1030-2662 * Recommended & maximum price only. Printing and Distribution: Editorial Viewpoint Beware of dodgy and counterfeit electronics It’s bad enough that we are bombarded with so many scam e-mails, phone calls and letters these days. But you also need to be on the lookout for dodgy products. Sometimes we order products from suppliers that we haven’t dealt with before, either because we can’t find them elsewhere or when there are delivery delays with our usual suppliers, only to receive either counterfeits or poorly-designed clones. Often, we pay the same for these dodgy parts as we would for the genuine articles. For example, we purchased some batches of 74HC595 logic chips for our LED Christmas Tree kits (which were resoundingly popular). We ordered batches from different suppliers in case some of them were delayed, as we needed to get them in customers’ hands well before Christmas, giving them time to build the trees. Many of the chips we received were fine. But a couple of batches were faulty. And I don’t just mean one or two chips; out of hundreds of chips, none of them worked. The dud chips came from at least two different suppliers but they all had the same date code etched in the top, along with a Texas Instruments logo. That certainly doesn’t guarantee they were actually made by TI, though! Their quality assurance (QA) process would have picked up a failed batch of chips and they would have been discarded. So either these chips were pilfered from the rubbish tip and sold to us, or they were counterfeits, brazenly etched with the TI logo. Why someone would bother producing fake chips that are so cheap is a mystery to me. Luckily, after complaints from customers over the first batch, we wised up and tested all the chips we received. And we were able to replace most of the first batch before they had been used. But it was still a huge hassle and we didn’t get our money back from all the suppliers either. So you really need to watch out for this sort of thing when you are buying electronic components from online marketplaces. Stick with the big-name suppliers where you can. You’ll get what you pay for and if you do have a problem, you can ask for a refund. You should also be aware that some of the “El Cheapo Modules” that we write about suffer from shady practices. When a module becomes very popular, clones are produced in large quantities and they are sold as if they are the genuine article. In many cases, the clones work fine but in others, they have design flaws or are poorly made. The CP2102-based USB/serial modules are a good example. Some of the clones don’t seem to have genuine CP2102 chips on them, as there is no etching on the top of the package. They work but the “3V3” output voltage is not correct, due to a PCB design flaw. There are also plenty of clones of the popular BMP180 temperature/humidity module. Some have a mounting hole that’s way too large but otherwise seem to work OK. It’s amazing what people will do to make a couple of dollars. You need to be vigilant when ordering from online marketplaces to make sure that you get what you pay for. Unfortunately, that’s the flip side of the coin of these handy little electronics modules being so cheap. And don’t get me started on the wildly optimistic mAh ratings of so many 18650 Li-ion cells, jumpstarter packs, and the impossibly high lumen ratings of some high-powered LEDs... Nicholas Vinen Derby Street, Silverwater, NSW 2148. 2 Silicon Chip Australia’s electronics magazine siliconchip.com.au