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Inductive Hour Counter / Tachometer – Petrol Engines

As one of my current projects involves a small petrol engine – a Honda GX35 clone, I figured an hour counter would be very handy to keep an eye on service intervals. (More to come on the engine itself later on). I found a device that would suit my needs on good old eBay.

Inductive Engine Monitor
Inductive Engine Monitor

These engine monitors are pretty cheap, at about £4. The sensing is done by a single heat-resistant silicone wire, that wraps around the HT lead to the spark plug. The unit can be set for different firing intervals via the buttons. In the case of most single-cylinder 4-stroke engines, the spark plug fires on every revolution – wasted-spark ignition. This simplifies the ignition system greatly, by not requiring the timing signal be driven from 1/2 crankshaft speed. The second “wasted” spark fires into the exhaust stroke, so has no effect.

Internals
Internals

The back cover is lightly glued into place with a drop of cyanoacrylate in opposite corners, but easily pops off. The power is supplied by a soldered-in 3v Lithium cell. The main microcontroller has no number laser etched on to it at all – it appears it skipped the marking machine.

Input Filtering
Input Filtering

The input from the sensing wire comes in through a coupling capacitor & is amplified by a transistor. It’s then fed into a 74HC00D Quad 2-Input NAND gate, before being fed into the microcontroller.

Pickup
Pickup

The pickup wire is simply wound around the spark plug lead. I’ve held it in position here with some heatshrink tubing. Heat in this area shouldn’t be an issue as it’s directly in the airflow from the flywheel fan.

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6-Point Ignition Transformer

Ignition Transformer
Ignition Transformer

Here’s a quick teardown of an ignition transformer, used on gas fired ovens & hobs.  This unit takes mains 240v AC & uses a transformer to step the voltage to several kV, at a low current to ignite the burners.

Bottom
Bottom

The transformer section is completely potted in Epoxy resin for insulation, but the driver circuitry is exposed, with a pair of leads from the primary winding exposed

Driver PCB
Driver PCB

The drive is very simple. The incoming AC flows through a series resistor through a half-wave rectifier to charge up a 2.2µF film capacitor. Once the voltage on the capacitor reaches a certain level, a DIAC in series with the transformer primary fires, discharging the capacitor through the primary.
The current spike induces a very high voltage on the secondary winding, this then arcs across a gap in the gas flow to start ignition.

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General Electric A735 Digital Camera Teardown

Front
Front

This camera has now been retired after many years of heavy use. Exposure to a 3-year old has caused severe damage to the lens mechanism, which no longer functions correctly.

Rear Panel
Rear Panel

Pretty much standard interface for a digital camera, with a nice large LCD for it’s time.

Front Cover Removed
Front Cover Removed

With the front cover removed, the lens assembly & battery compartment is exposed.

Rear Cover Removed
Rear Cover Removed

Removing the rear cover exposes the LCD module & the main PCB, the interface tactile switches are on the right under a protective layer of Kapton tape.

Main Chipset
Main Chipset

Flipping the LCD out of it’s mounting bracket reveals the main camera chipset. The CPU is a NovaTek NT96432BG, no doubt a SoC of some kind, but I couldn’t find any information. Firmware & inbuilt storage is on a Hynix HY27US08561A 256MBit NAND Flash, with a Hynix HY5DU561622FTP-D43 256Mbit DRAM for system memory.
I couldn’t find any info on the other two chips on this side of the board, but one is probably a motor driver for the lens, while the other must be the front end for the CCD sensor input to the SoC.

Main PCB Reverse
Main PCB Reverse

The other side of the PCB handles the SD card slot & power management. All the required DC rails are provided for by a RT9917 7-Channel DC-DC converter from RichTek, an IC designed specifically for digital camera applications.
Top left above the SD card slot is the trigger circuitry for the Xenon flash tube & the RTC backup battery.

Main PCB Removed
Main PCB Removed

Once the main PCB is out of the frame, the back of the lens module with the CCD is accessible. Just to the left is the high-voltage photoflash capacitor, 110µF 330v. These can give quite the kick when charged! Luckily this camera has been off long enough for the charge to bleed off.

Sensor
Sensor

Finally, here’s the 7-Megapixel CCD sensor removed from the lens assembly, with it’s built in IR cut filter over the top. I couldn’t find any make or model numbers on this part, as the Aluminium mounting bracket behind is bonded to the back of the sensor with epoxy, blocking access to any part information.

Die images of the chipset to come once I get round to decapping them!