LongRunner's Mini-review Collection

Everything goes... within reason!

A special Public Service Announcement!!!

Postby LongRunner » June 7th, 2018, 7:41 pm

I, reviewing the Projecta booster cables, wrote:I've really scraped the bottom of the barrel this time. :blush:

Or have I? :runaway:

Killer front.JPG
(The damage is from having to smash the casing open with a hammer; this monster was held together with the dreaded Tamperproof Torx Plus screws, featuring 5 points instead of the 6 of other Torx variants.)
Killer front.JPG (78.18 KiB) Viewed 2171 times
Killer back.JPG
Killer back.JPG (60.51 KiB) Viewed 2171 times
Here's the PCB out of a computer murderer. Unfortunately for my Mum's office, it wasn't labeled as such – it passed itself off as a "surge protector", and these have claimed at least two victims there (a Kyocera laser printer, and an internal HDD). :( And it wasn't a dirt-cheap Chinese import either – according to the text on the back of the case, it was actually made in Australia (albeit with imported components). Shame on our country, then. :-/

So, I'm sure you're already wondering: How the hell is such an abomination even legal? To which the answer, as is all-too-common, is pseudoscience.
Here's the schematic:
Killer schematic.png
(None of the "standard" symbols I know for thermal fuses looked particularly appealing to me, so I've just drawn it how it looks.)
Killer schematic.png (44.12 KiB) Viewed 2171 times
I don't even need to explain the basic problems myself, because Zero Surge has done the job for us.
(Also available explained in an alternative, list format, as "11 Myths of Surge Protection".)

The capacitors are the proper X2 and Y2 types – but functionally, with those nominal 680V MOVs (unfused, no less) between A—E and N—E, they might as well have used plain 2kV ceramic caps there (even though such caps themselves are illegal to use across mains isolation, and rightly so). :silly: :silly:
In any case, the X2 capacitor is only 47nF (that's tiny compared to those built into any complaint SMPS) and the Y2 capacitors are 4.7nF (still not especially large), so they're largely irrelevant anyway.

Breaker front.JPG
Breaker front.JPG (28.45 KiB) Viewed 2171 times
Breaker back.JPG
Breaker back.JPG (21.13 KiB) Viewed 2171 times
Breaker opened.JPG
Breaker opened.JPG (68.94 KiB) Viewed 2171 times
Reset plunger topside.JPG
Reset plunger topside.JPG (26.92 KiB) Viewed 2171 times
Reset plunger underside.JPG
Reset plunger underside.JPG (24.48 KiB) Viewed 2171 times
Even the circuit breaker was a piece of crap, some Taiwanese-made thing with no approval marks. :runaway: When I connected two 2.4kW loads (one fan heater + a 2L kettle), it took a full 3 minutes and 42 seconds to trip, getting painfully hot in the process – so hot, that its reset plunger faded and deformed!
(Any decent breaker should trip well within 1 minute, at double the rated load.)

Plunger burn attempt.JPG
(Yes, I broke it in the middle beforehand. But, no big deal there.)
Plunger burn attempt.JPG (5.44 KiB) Viewed 2171 times
After autopsying the breaker, I did some glow wire ignition tests on the plastic parts. The plunger was OK – it charred, but didn't catch alight.
First burn result.JPG
(Unfortunately for you, technical difficulties stopped me from photographing the flames prior to this. :-()
First burn result.JPG (23.04 KiB) Viewed 2171 times
Second burn going.JPG
Second burn going.JPG (23.26 KiB) Viewed 2171 times
(According to the timestamps, this was over a minute after the previous photo.)
BURN BABY BURN.JPG (24.33 KiB) Viewed 2171 times
Second burn result.JPG
Second burn result.JPG (19.65 KiB) Viewed 2171 times
Gratuitous extra ignition.JPG
Gratuitous extra ignition.JPG (116.73 KiB) Viewed 2171 times
Crispy.JPG (77.64 KiB) Viewed 2171 times
The casing, on the other hand, was awful – it ignited with ease, and kept burning merrily. :runaway: I doubt this complies with the relevant standards.
(But this is the horror you'll end up with, if you blindly trust components without seeking reputable approvals or testing them yourself. :silly:)

That makes up at least 3 problems, any one of which would be enough to warrant a recall (in my book). To recap:
  1. Being a computer murderer to start with (yes, I will recall them as a whole class… UPDATE: Here they are.)
  2. Circuit breaker trips too slowly, getting dangerously hot in the process
  3. Circuit breaker's casing doesn't self-extinguish as it should
The only positive things I can say about this unit are that it does have a thermal fuse on the main active—neutral MOV (the only one that belongs there, granted), and the workmanship is decent (you don't find single-sided epoxy-fibreglass PCBs in really cheap equipment); the plug pins were uninsulated so it can't be newer than 2005 (the date code appears to be 10th week of 2002, i.e. 2002-03-05 through 2002-03-11), and it has leaded solder accordingly.
(Though it still has nothing on the Seagate Barracuda ATA IV! I'm sure they would have been an infinitely better use of our money, had we known. :D)

But I'm not done yet: At least in these Australian versions, the neutral—earth MOV is rated to withstand the full mains voltage. In the USA (which probably has, in general, the least safe electrical system of any "first world" country), even that doesn't necessarily apply. This introduces two major further dangers:
  • If the neutral conductor breaks (or a plug just creeps loose) upstream of the power strip, then the load current will take a detour through the MOV to earth; if the circuit is on an RCD/GFCI that will trip immediately, but otherwise the result will be perilous: USA/Canadian power strips are rated for a total load up to 15A; the lowest nominal varistor voltage Panasonic offer is 18V (16V to 20V actual), but that's with only 1mA flowing through it. With 15A flowing through an ERZV14D180, it drops up to 38V (or thereabouts). Observe how hot my glow wire ignition tester gets with 50–60W, then try to imagine such a tiny MOV dissipating over 500W!!! :runaway: :runaway: :runaway: (That's enough power to warm my whole bedroom with… :eek:)
  • If you plug one into an outlet without an intact earth connection, whilst touching the casing of a Class I appliance (this definitely includes your desktop PC!) plugged into the computer murderer – and the active/hot pin makes contact before the neutral, and any appreciable load is switched on (one incandescent lamp or electric blanket is ample, never mind a space heater) – then you'll get electrocuted (or shocked at the very least). :eek: :eek:
In conclusion, I hereby grant this thing our very first Epic Fail award:
EpicFail-200px.png (14.19 KiB) Viewed 2171 times
It may have started as a joke among the staff here, but now it's come beyond a joke – these disasters are technically indefensible, and I have no hesitation in grading their pseudo-scientific marketing as being right down there with anti-vaccine propaganda. :@
(Even those trashy CCA booster cables at least work as described, although I would rather have 6mm² or even 4mm² copper wires.)

Between these, R-600a fridges, counterfeit cords, self-serving and/or badly programmed proprietary software, and of course all the appalling el-cheapo SMPS; this modern reality kinda makes many video game worlds look safer in comparison. :lol2:
(At least in video games, you know most of the hazards; and you also either get multiple lives, or else few things can kill your character in one hit.)
Last edited by LongRunner on June 11th, 2018, 11:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Added date clarification
Authoritarianism is for wimps.

Smart people don't buy "smart" devices without very carefully weighing up the risks and benefits beforehand.

My PC: Core i3 4130 on GA-H87M-D3H with GT640 OC 2GiB and 2 * 8GiB Kingston HyperX 1600MHz, 2 * WD3003FZEX-00Z4SA0, Pioneer BDR-209DBKS, Seasonic G-360, Chenbro PC31031, Windows 7 Pro (though I do want to build a second system with GNU/Linux).
Posts: 863
Joined: May 17th, 2013, 5:48 pm
Location: Albany, Western Australia

Laser PW-4ADAPT travel adapter set

Postby LongRunner » June 25th, 2019, 7:00 am

Pack front.JPG
(The US/Japan adapter is one of those types that only accepts 2-pin plugs.)
Pack front.JPG (317.32 KiB) Viewed 1268 times
Pack back.JPG
Pack back.JPG (440.86 KiB) Viewed 1268 times
Not something I'd normally buy, so I guess this is the first product I've bought just to criticize. :lol2: I saw it on sale in an EB Games store, and what caught my attention was the absence of any fuse in the adapter ("PW-T500") for BS 1363 outlets:
No fuse.JPG
If it tells us anything, the pins also have a slight magnetic attraction. (I don't notice that with the other adapters.)
No fuse.JPG (303.3 KiB) Viewed 1268 times
So much for this:
Compliance, allegedly.JPG
Either there's a serious oversight in the standards here, or this label is false.
Compliance, allegedly.JPG (180.02 KiB) Viewed 1268 times

Other flaws
Earth contacts sitting low.JPG
Who designs this junk? (For some reason, this is the only adapter of the set to be held together with Phillips screws; the others have tri-wing.)
Earth contacts sitting low.JPG (260.86 KiB) Viewed 1268 times
I also found that the earth contacts in the BS+NEMA to AS/NZS adapter ("PT-W800") sit 2~3mm below the active and neutral contacts, negating the safety aspect of the longer earth pin (or at least rendering it unreliable). :wtf: They look OK otherwise, made of 0.6mm phosphor-bronze (L+N) and brass (earth).

Pin pit.JPG
Pin pit.JPG (136.56 KiB) Viewed 1268 times
This might not necessarily be a problem, but still smacks of poor QC.

The pins on the Euro adapter ("PW-T600") are only about 4mm diameter, so contact in Schuko and French outlets might not be the best. (In combination with the absence of shutters on any of these, it can be abused with the British slots on the PT-W800 to create dangerous situations.)

Load test
As the whole set claims to carry up to 10A, I've used the KFH660 to test that. Here's the results:
  • Aust/GB/Aust: after 1 hour 4 minutes, cool to the touch
  • Aust/Euro (in the British slots :silly:)/Aust: after 1 hour 10 minutes, cool to the touch
  • Aust/US/Aust: (to facilitate this test, I improvised an Australian "cheater plug" by temporarily removing the earth contacts from an old double-adapter): after 1 hour 2 minutes, pins lukewarm
I suppose the rating is valid, then.

Fire test
Since they aren't exactly safe, I have no guilt in destroying them. So in with my red-hot NiCr coil, and used it to burn the "BS 1363" adapter; suffice to say that it took its time to self-extinguish, and a drip managed to ignite a tissue placed below, so I believe that meets UL94 V-2 at best (or whatever equivalents might apply elsewhere).

I think the plastic is ABS, judging by the thick sooty smoke given off when burned. It feels thick and solid enough.

In conclusion, while not quite death-dapters (at least the pin dimensions are mostly correct), they're bad enough for a recall.
Last edited by LongRunner on June 25th, 2019, 11:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: minor grammar fix
Authoritarianism is for wimps.

Smart people don't buy "smart" devices without very carefully weighing up the risks and benefits beforehand.

My PC: Core i3 4130 on GA-H87M-D3H with GT640 OC 2GiB and 2 * 8GiB Kingston HyperX 1600MHz, 2 * WD3003FZEX-00Z4SA0, Pioneer BDR-209DBKS, Seasonic G-360, Chenbro PC31031, Windows 7 Pro (though I do want to build a second system with GNU/Linux).
Posts: 863
Joined: May 17th, 2013, 5:48 pm
Location: Albany, Western Australia

KFH600 addendum (differences from KFH660)

Postby LongRunner » December 30th, 2019, 12:23 am

Since I got the opportunity to bring home a KFH600 (one of a pair bought by a friend last year, based on my advice; the other is still clean enough) for cleaning (and to straighten the plug pins, since they got bent earlier), here are the relevant differences from the KFH660 (beyond the obvious omitted features).

Mass: About 1.27kg excluding cord (I mention this mainly to enable a fairer comparison with cheapies which also lack an oscillating base)

Heater assembly terminal area.JPG
Heater assembly terminal area.JPG (111.55 KiB) Viewed 399 times
Fan connector.JPG
Fan connector.JPG (32.4 KiB) Viewed 399 times
One less cup connector is used than in the KFH660, as the fan's neutral connection is made with a piggyback receptacle plugged onto the heater common tab, and the neon lamp has a receptacle plugged onto the piggyback tab. Unfortunately, this particular piggyback receptacle is quite a poor design (looking something like a cross between the “Economy” and “Commercial” lines from TE), and was in rather loose contact (yet still took immense force to unplug); I squeezed it tighter with pliers to make an acceptable (just?) grip, but at the cost of also requiring pliers to plug it back on :silly:. The wire end was also solder-dipped before crimping, which I understand to not be a great practice either (how bad it will be depends on the hardness of whatever solder is used, but I'd prefer not to risk it with any type of solder here).
My KFH660 uses a decent piggyback receptacle in this location (the wire it's fitted to is identical in type, although it goes to a cup connector with the neon+fan wires), so I wonder if the poor one was selected by Shenzhen Zhaoli Motor (and not by Kambrook themselves)?
At least, since it's only in the low-current fan circuit, it's not a major hazard; if such a mistake was made in the heat circuit, I would seriously consider a recall.

Cord entrance area.JPG
Cord entrance area.JPG (133.1 KiB) Viewed 399 times
Cord clamp (used side).JPG
Cord clamp (used side).JPG (31.8 KiB) Viewed 399 times
Cord clamp (unused side).JPG
Maybe used in other appliances with a thinner (or flat) cord?
Cord clamp (unused side).JPG (31.81 KiB) Viewed 399 times
The tip-over switch is of course mounted differently, and has a shorter lever. The cord clamp used here is mounted with screws on each end, and has ridges so may be a bit more secure than the base-integral grip in the KFH660.

Safety pegs.JPG
Safety pegs.JPG (122.78 KiB) Viewed 399 times
Extra peg suggestion.JPG
Extra peg suggestion.JPG (121.44 KiB) Viewed 399 times
The only observable difference to the rear housing is the presence of a barrier (indicated by the overlaid red rectangle) to prevent finger access to live parts (this barrier is omitted from the KFH660 as there it would block the wires from getting to the base; the mounting posts for both of those aforementioned items, as well as the cord entry hole, are still present even though unused). (And yes, you can touch the tube surrounding the heater+fan proper, when lifting it off the floor. They did at least think to add three pegs to the rear housing to stop the tube from being pushed in at the bottom, although it's still possible to squeeze in the right-hand side; not a likely enough abuse scenario to be worth losing sleep over, but I would nonetheless suggest adding an extra peg if the design is to be revised.)

Three minor differences not justified by the model variants are:
  • The fan hub is cream-colored instead of black
  • The switch is less stiff, even though it's nominally the same (Changzhou Jinhe Electrics XK2 series, rated for 15A 250V/26A 125V per circuit).
  • The plug, although given the same model (and approval) number, now has a frame designed to support 3 pins, where previously a dedicated 2-pin frame was used. (The overall shape is unchanged, though, and I don't expect this to make any functional difference.)
These probably just changed at some date between that of my KFH660 (2017, week 10) and the KFH600 pair (2018, week 04), but if any of you find evidence otherwise, please reply with it.

Thermal cut-out tested and working (about 1 second to trip on high).
Last edited by LongRunner on December 31st, 2019, 6:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Added link back to KFH660 post
Authoritarianism is for wimps.

Smart people don't buy "smart" devices without very carefully weighing up the risks and benefits beforehand.

My PC: Core i3 4130 on GA-H87M-D3H with GT640 OC 2GiB and 2 * 8GiB Kingston HyperX 1600MHz, 2 * WD3003FZEX-00Z4SA0, Pioneer BDR-209DBKS, Seasonic G-360, Chenbro PC31031, Windows 7 Pro (though I do want to build a second system with GNU/Linux).
Posts: 863
Joined: May 17th, 2013, 5:48 pm
Location: Albany, Western Australia

Micro-reviews, round 1

Postby LongRunner » February 3rd, 2020, 4:14 pm

Since not everything is interesting or complex enough to make a whole post about (and to relax a bit), here I finally implement my "micro-review" idea floated in the initial post:

Electrical accessories (Australia/NZ specific)
  • HPM 100 series rewireable plugs and 7P trailing sockets: Not recommended, as in my past experience they either (in the case of clear covers) discolor heavily (some of which transfers to the cord insulation), or fail to grip the sheath of H05VV-F3G1.0 (or equivalent) flexible cord (which they're supposedly designed for!); I strongly recommend that AU/NZ people stick with the Clipsal counterparts (439 series plugs and 438 series trailing sockets). (Although, since the 438 uses "tunnel" terminals with a simple screw bearing down onto the wire, you should ideally crimp ferrules onto the wire ends beforehand; though ferrules with an insulation sleeve won't fit into the L&N positions, unless you cut their insulation off. The plugs use cage terminals which can be tightened onto the wire without appreciably damaging it.)
  • HPM D5M cordline switch: One of the few HPM products I still buy occasionally (since Clipsal don't make a real equivalent). Useful for repairing table lamps and the like, and with a 10A rating it should be far more robust than the factory-fitted types (usually rated for 2A); since it has an earth pass-through connector (although I prefer to leave the earth wire uninterrupted if it's in one piece to begin with), you can also insert it into an extension cord (if you don't fancy, or can't get, the ready-made version). Available in black or white.
    Note that the cord clamps, in the "round" orientation, will grip H05VV-F3G1.0 but nothing smaller (so not H05VV-F3G0.75, nor H05VV-F2X1.0), unless you "shim" the cord with heatshrink or similar. The earth connector is a "tunnel" type, so again ferrules should preferably be used (if you don't have the cord in one piece to start with).
  • Deta (Arlec) products: For the most part they're just borderline-passable as you'd expect from being a cheaper brand (sold at Bunnings), although their side-entry plug is still of some use (its included grommet is useful for gripping H03VVH2-F) and the trailing sockets I used from them did manage to grip the cords better than the HPM model. (Their cordline switch, on the other hand, has a worse grip.)
  • Clipsal C2015D4 (Awesome Foursome™): Apart from the infamous recall when the Chinese factory made a batch with the red and green color markers backwards :eek: (later repeated with the 413 surface socket), it's mostly solid enough; but the front cover yellows easily due to being made of a less stable plastic (ABS?) than polycarbonate (this also happens on some other Classic series accessories, and the competing HPM Excel range). Maybe someday I'll Retr0bright the cover and install it somewhere protected from (even indirect) sunlight…
  • Euroflex Monster SC3X1 steam cleaner: (unrelated to the fancy-cable marketeers) While it cleans quite well, the steam switch cable failed from fatigue last July, so I had to replace it (my replacement has 42/0.15 strands rather than 24/0.2, so hopefully it'll last longer). The membrane over the power button has also cracked (it's plastic stressed to the limit, not rubber; you can feel this just by pressing the buttons :facepalm:).
  • De'Longhi HCM2030: A convector heater (with no fan), as basic as it gets (it doesn't even have power lights, just red marks on the "on" side of the switches) but it works. The foot mounting arrangement is flimsy though, so I ended up modifying it to hold together. Like most of these simple convectors, it has no tip-over switch (your guess is as good as mine regarding why that still isn't compulsory for this type). Power is 700+1300W at 240V.
  • Vulcan 7343: An old (enough to be Australian made) oil-filled heater which someone recently left by the curb for anyone to take, so I checked it out: The switch was obviously broken (burned out and then bypassed in a previous repair attempt, from subsequent internal examination), but they're pretty standard so getting a compatible replacement shouldn't be a problem. The cord (made by Burton Australia, date coded April 1993) was obviously damaged near the entrance (the owner was lucky that it only exposed the earth wire), but again not a deal-breaker. One pair of castors broke before, so a wooden block was crafted to replace it (making it considerably harder to drag the thing home, but I managed).
    What broke the deal was that it has no thermal cut-out (apart from the normal thermostat which can easily weld closed), nor a convenient place to mount any; and the heating element (just one, so no lower power settings) has measurable leakage even on a normal DMM (the end piece also has a crack in it). I decided to salvage the internal (silicone insulated) wires, and recover the copper from the cord.
    For what it's worth, it's rated 2.0kW at 240V and has 14 fins; modern examples are usually 5 fins for 1.0kW, 7 fins for 1.5kW, or 11 fins for 2.4kW (a modern 2.0kW would likely have 9 fins), so this one presumably worked at a lower surface temperature.

  • Logitech F310 gamepad: Don't buy it at any price. :silly: Whoever thought it a good idea to implement permanent dead zones (of the axial type) in the analog sticks should be cursed to endure the jerkiness of playing games with them for the rest of their life.
Authoritarianism is for wimps.

Smart people don't buy "smart" devices without very carefully weighing up the risks and benefits beforehand.

My PC: Core i3 4130 on GA-H87M-D3H with GT640 OC 2GiB and 2 * 8GiB Kingston HyperX 1600MHz, 2 * WD3003FZEX-00Z4SA0, Pioneer BDR-209DBKS, Seasonic G-360, Chenbro PC31031, Windows 7 Pro (though I do want to build a second system with GNU/Linux).
Posts: 863
Joined: May 17th, 2013, 5:48 pm
Location: Albany, Western Australia


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