Here’s a nice little feature-packed USB power meter, the UM25C. This unit has USB-C along with the usual USB type A connectors, along with a bluetooth radio for remote monitoring of stats via a Windows or Android app. Construction is nice, it’s a stack of two PCBs, and polycarbonate cover plates, secured together with brass posts & screws.
The back cover has the legend for all the side connectors, along with the logo.
Down the sides are the user interface buttons, and here the Micro-B input connector. The 4-pin header is visible here that takes serial data down to the bluetooth section.
The other side has the remaining pair of buttons, and the USB-C I/O. I don’t yet own anything USB-C based, but this is good future proofing.
Removing the top plastic cover plate reveals the small 1″ TFT LCD module. This will be hot-bar soldered underneath the screen. There’s an unused footprint next to the USB input connector, judging by the pin layout it’s probably for a I²C EEPROM.
The underside of the top PCB has all the main components. The brains of the operation is a ST STM8S005C6T6 microcontroller. It’s at the basic end of the STM range, with a 16MHz clock, 32K flash, EEPROM, 10-bit ADC, SPI, UART & I²C. The main 0.010Ω current shunt is placed at the top left of the board in the negative rail. A couple of SOT-23 components in the centre of the board, I haven’t been able to identify properly, but I think they may be MOSFETs. The large electrolytic filter capacitor has a slot routed into the PCB to allow it to be laid flat. Providing the main power rail is a SOT-89 M5333B 3.3v LDO regulator.
The bottom board contains the bluetooth radio module, this is a BK3231 Bluetooth HID SoC. The only profile advertised by this unit is a serial port. There’s a local 3.3v LDO regulator & support components, along with an indicator LED.
This is a pair of modules that Maplin was selling some time back, to send stereo audio over a 2.4GHz radio link. The transmitter identifies as a USB sound card, I’ve personally used these units to transmit audio about 60ft. The transmitter, above, has a single button for pairing with the receiver below.
The receiver unit has a large external antenna, a link status LED & volume buttons, these directly control the volume level on the host PC via the sound card drivers.
Popping the case open on the receiver reveals a large PCB, holding the chipset, along with the audio output jacks & Mini-USB power input. The antenna Coax is soldered to the PCB.
The top of the board has the control buttons, and the status LED.
The chipset used here is a Nordic Semiconductor nRF20Z01 2.4GHz Stereo Audio Streamer, there’s a small microcontroller which does all the register magic on the RF transceiver. The RF chain is at the top of the photo, audio outputs on the top left, and the micro USB power input & voltage regulators at bottom left.
The transmitter PCB has a Sonix USB Audio Codec, to interface with the host PC. This is then fed into another Nordic Semi part on the opposite side of the board:
The bottom of the transmitter has the RF section, and another small control microcontroller.
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.
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.
The other end has the antenna connections, microphone connection for the monitor function, along with the SIM & SD card slots.
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.
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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