EEVblog #147 – $12000 Smoke

What does $12000 magic smoke smell like?
Murphy ensures that Dave always gets the outliers on the production bell curve for review!


We have determined that a short on our LAN/VGA module is what caused the EEVblog unit to stop working. The short caused a resister on the acquisition board to fail, bringing down our 3.3V supply path and causing the unit to no longer boot. After further investigation, it was determined that a small run of early production LAN/VGA modules were susceptible to this short. Although the issue is relegated to this small initial run of LAN/VGA modules, we are replacing all LAN/VGA modules in customer hands and have implemented additional testing procedures on our LAN/VGA manufacturing line to eliminate this issue from happening again.

Thanks to everyone at Agilent for taking this issue very seriously, investigating ASAP, taking preventative correction measures, and getting back to us! That’s what sets good companies apart!

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  1. It is possible to give Dave the benefit of the doubt; he may have decided not to include the blowup in his formal review, but then tossed it up as an aside. He can probably see now how that has confused people, but if he was truly trying to misdirect responsibility he could easily have reshot his teardown as a diagnostic session rather than as a review. Occam’s razor should apply.

  2. Having read some hardware review sites over the years, it’s not all that uncommon for there to be issues. Infact there has been accusations of companies using reviewers as free test/QA. They sent the thing knowing it’ll be taken apart and any issues could be made public so IMO it doesn’t really matter if it blew before or after teardown.

    Also I suspect the biggest cost is in the logistics rather than the fix given it’s a new product and they’re setup to quickly deal with possible issues not just from one reviewer. Of course publishing this “smoke story” could cost something to the company image if the product has shipped to more than just reviewers so it might’ve been more fair to determine the cause first and ask what the company is doing about this rather than leave an information vacuum.

  3. Hmm, this site has become nothing more than a product review site, and littered with ads.

  4. Oh FFS, don’t be a dickhead.
    The damn thing blew on my bench just as I was starting to set up for the review shoot, it had NOT been opened, that’s what happened. Because to be honest it’s an expensive scope and I thought I’d better review it first before the teardown just in the remote case something did go wrong, even though I already had experience with the 2000 teardown.
    If you don’t want to believe that then quite frankly I don’t give a shit, that’s what happened. I could show the file dates of the videos.
    I know Agilent wouldn’t have cared if it failed it before or after I opened it.
    And what idiot would immediately go and tweet it to the world if it was their fault?

    I didn’t mention the smoke in the teardown because I wanted it to just be a standalone teardown video. If I found something on the teardown then I was going to shoot it and include it separately in the failure video, but I didn’t find anything.
    I had the scope for the weekend so figured I might as well get the teardown video while I still had it.


  5. I’m sure that Agilent will have to investigate fully now to save face on their new product line, perhaps you should have spoken to them before uploading the videos. You know yourself that once the case is popped, it probably been screwdrivered, opened before or after the event is a mute point.

  6. A remarkable conclusion given that there has only been TWO reviews in the last THIRTY episodes.
    The ads haven’t increased in many months now, in fact they have decreased.

  7. I had no idea the loony imaginations would run riot.
    But yes, I can now see how it could possibly have confused some people.
    Hang on, I just realised the outside temp is displayed in the teardown video. The nutters can probably go look up the temp records and time/date and compare to my tweets. Go for it. Gotta be some evidence to catch me out there, surely! 😛

  8. That’s not my style. You send me an instrument for review and it’s fair game, their risk.
    It’s easier to seek forgiveness than to ask permission…
    They hardly have to “save face” IMO, these kind of things happen, they were just very unlucky. I doubt it’s a systemic problem. I’m of the understanding it was a pilot run unit.

  9. BTW, this isn’t the first product I’ve got for review that has failed:
    Gossen Metrahit World
    Extech EX505
    Extech RC100
    Global Specialties

  10. Furthermore, this thing is an OSCILLOSCOPE! The target market is precisely those people who are going to take the thing apart. I wonder if there’s any oscilloscope in the world over a year or two old that hasn’t had its case opened up. If so, I’ve never seen it.

    Sure, it’s too much to expect Agilent to make the product foolproof, because fools are so ingenious. But it ought to stand up to having a trained competent person with experience in electronics who uses reasonable care open up the case, have a look, and button the thing back up.

  11. Of course it should, and that’s what it does.
    Assembled PCBs are (and should be) generally speaking pretty robust in terms of ESD, and I usually deliberately DON’T take ESD precautions when tearing down stuff for review. As the majority of people who would do that would not take full ESD precautions, so that’s all part of the test…
    The entire backyard computer assembly industry is practically built on lack of ESD protection for example!
    I took basic precautions with the Agilent scopes because, well, it was pretty darn expensive and fairly rare at that point.

  12. Dave, keep doing what you’re doing. Understand that these people so quick to take a stab at your credibility are simply a vocal minority.

    As a side-note, I recently completed a BSEE and have been looking for work in the states for the last two months, it’s been more difficult than I expected. I love the advice on job-hunting/career-building.

    Anyways Dave, forget ‘the nutters’. Kudos on the PCB design guide and your blog in general.

  13. I believe you Dave. Such things happen.
    Thanks for not putting it directly back in the box.
    The teardown was interesting and i would not want to have missed it due to some warranty-sticker-shit.

  14. Quite clearly all the negative comments have missed the point completely. Dave could have simply said nothing and waited for the replacement unit. But he choose to share the experience instead. Now if something was not right don’t you think he would have just not mentioned it?.
    As you said Dave, don’t give a shit.

  15. Infant Mortality, people. Give Dave a break.

  16. … in the 2000 series videos, you even break your own rule of “Don’t turn it on, take it apart”, and on a even more expensive scope, I would probaly have done the same…

  17. Your trouble, Dave, is with the success of your blog you’re attracting more internet know-it-alls than before. 18 year old Guys sitting in their mom’s basement passing judgement over the opinions of those much older & (sometimes!) wiser.

    So people, I think that anyone who has seen a lot of Dave’s video blog entries would have to admit that if he’d stuffed up he’d almost certainly have confessed to it and had a bit of a laugh at his own expense. Companies like Agilent send stuff to guys like Dave to see if it *does* break. Why the hell WOULD he cover it up?

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