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103RS GPS Tracker Teardown

Rewire Security 103RS Tracker
Rewire Security 103RS Tracker

I thought it was time to add a bit of security to the gear I take camping, so this GPS tracker unit was sourced from eBay. This is a Rewire Security 103RS, a slightly customised version of the common Chinese TK103 GPS tracker.

Input Connections
Input Connections

The small module has all it’s power connections on one end of the unit, on a Molex multi-way block. The white connector is for a piezo-shock sensor – this interfaces with the alarm functionality of the unit. There’s an indicator LED for both the GPS & GSM status, and a switch for the backup battery.

Antenna Connections
Antenna Connections

The other end has the antenna connections, microphone connection for the monitor function, along with the SIM & SD card slots.

PCB Top
PCB Top

Once the end panel is removed, the PCB just slides out of the aluminium extruded casing. It’s pretty heavily packed with components in here. A switching regulator deals with the 12v input from the vehicle battery, and is protected by a polyfuse on the right. The GSM module is hiding under the Li-Po backup cell, unfortunately the sticky pad used to secure this wouldn’t come off without damaging something. The pigtails for both the GPS & GSM antennas are permanently soldered to the board here.

PCB Bottom
PCB Bottom

The bottom of the PCB has the GPS module, and mainly input protection & bypassing components. There is a FNK4421 Dual P-Channel MOSFET here as well, probably used for switching the external relay or alarm siren. The SIM socket for the GSM modem is located here in the corner.

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Topping NX1a Portable Headphone Amplifier

NX1a Amplifier
NX1a Amplifier

Time for another teardown! Here’s a pocket-sized headphone amplifier for use with mobile devices. This unit is powered by a built-in lithium cell, and can give some pretty impressive volume levels given it’s small size.

Audio Connections
Audio Connections

The 3.5mm audio input & output jacks are on the front of the unit, along with the relatively enormous volume knob & power switch. There’s a little blue LED under the switch that lets the user know when the power is on, but this is a very sedate LED, using very little power.

Gain & Charging
Gain & Charging

On the back is the High-Low gain switch, and the µUSB charging port. There’s another indicator LED to show that the internal cell is charging, in this case a red one.

PCB Top
PCB Top

Removing a couple of cap screws allows the internals to slide out of the extruded aluminium casing. Most of the internal space is taken up by the 1Ah lithium cell, here on the top of the PCB secured by some double-sided tape. The volume potentiometer is mounted on a small daughterboard at right angles to get it to fit into the small vertical space in the case.

PCB Rear
PCB Rear

The bottom of the PCB is equally as sparse – the only ICs being the main audio amp in the centre & the battery charger IC at the top.

Amplifier IC
Amplifier IC

The main audio amplifier is a TP9260, I couldn’t find a datasheet on this, so I’m unsure of what the specs are. The row of resistors above the IC are for the gain divider circuit. There’s also a pogo pin on the right that makes contact with the back panel of the case for grounding.

Battery Charger
Battery Charger

Battery charging is taken care of by a UN8HX 500mA linear charging IC, not much special here.

This little amplifier seems to be pretty well made, considering the price point. The only issue I’ve had so far is the audio cables act like antennas, and when in close proximity to a phone some signal gets picked up & blasted into the headphones as interference.

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Sony Xperia Z3 50% Battery Problems

Recently my phone decided it was going to die a battery-related death, and having not found much useful information on the Great Google, (all the information I could find, was hinting at many issues from firmware to a faulty motherboard, nobody seems to have actually done any investigation into similar issues), I decided to dig into the phone to try & repair the problem.

Broken Flex
Broken Flex

The phone would work correctly for a while, then with the slightest movement or knock, would spontaneously switch off, and not turn back on without being whacked on a hard surface.
This symptom pointed me at a power connection problem. After removing the back of the phone (glass & heavily glued in place, so an awkward process), This was what I was presented with on the cell flex PCB.
In the above photo, the positive connection to the flex is fractured just after the solder joint with the BMS board.

Flex Repair
Flex Repair

I managed to scrape some of the insulation off the flex PCB & solder a jumper on to restore power. Unfortunately, this repair generated another fault, where the battery level was always shown at 50%, and plugging into a USB supply wouldn’t charge the phone. The other two pins on the cell are for communication & temperature sensing, clearly one of these traces was also broken in the flex.
The above photo has a pair of very small wire tails as well, for connecting an external charger.

50% Battery
50% Battery

Here’s a screenshot of the phone with the original cell, even though it’s at about 4.15v (virtually fully charged). The battery management is having trouble talking to the phone, so for safety reasons, the charging logic refuses point-blank to charge the thing up.

Flex Cable
Flex Cable

The connector on the cell & phone motherboard is absolutely tiny, so I didn’t fancy attempting to solder on any bridge wires to try & bypass the broken flex.

Battery BMS
Battery BMS

The cell BMS has some intelligence on board, besides the usual over-current, over-charge & under-charge protection. The very small IC on the right has a Microchip logo, and the marking FT442, but I was unable to dig up any datasheets. The current sense resistor is directly connected to this IC, along with the main power FET to the left.

BMS Reverse
BMS Reverse

On the other side of the BMS board is another IC, again unidentifiable, and what looks like a bare-die, or CSP IC.

20160625_233656

At this stage I figured the only way forward was to buy a new battery, eBay turned one up for less than £5. Above is the new battery fitted to the phone, datestamped 2014, so definitely old stock.

100% Battery
100% Battery

Booting the phone with the new battery quickly lets me know the fix worked, with a 100% reading & the ability to again charge properly!