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EEVblog #1334 – Mystery Dumpster Teardown

Mystery dumpster teardown time! With the most amazing mechanical mains power switch you’ll ever see! ...


  1. Thanks for the teardown. I was expecting it to be more soviet style electronics, more similar to the calculator board.

  2. Nemanja Todorovic

    Iskra is the Slovenian company founded more than 50 years. She is a very strong company in the former Yugoslavia before 1990, while Yugoslavia’s break-up. Iskra producing everything from electrical and electronic equipment and appliances were all very good quality (drills, grinders, multimeters, appliances …). Every house in Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia still has at least one Iskra device.

    Sorry for my bad English.

    • Iskra was quite a name during the late 70s. I recall some of their products advertised on well known electronics magazines.

  3. Iskra means “spark”. 🙂 I laughed out-loud in office when you said “Manufacture? Just build it and ship it!”. Captures the YU mentality of the time completely.

  4. This piece of vintage electronics is just lovely, I just want to name it it and keep it as a pet “Oliver the multimeter”. It would be a shame to unsolder/cut it open in my opinion. The soldering is ugly but the fact that it mostly works more than 30 years after its built is impressive.

  5. “but the fact that it mostly works more than 30 years after its built is impressive”

    In fact is a shame that today engineers are paid to develop devices and products with reduced durability (as the last series of PIC32 and PIC24 with no more than 1000 erase/write cycles and with a lot of silicon bugs). And we are preparing to conquer the Mars…

    • @funlw65: Things today are better than before.

      This multimeter probably cost a lot of money back then, at least several hundred dollars today, if not thousands. Sure it’ll last decades, because people expected it to for the price.

      It’s just like everyone complaining TVs and such are crappy – well, that decades old one could easily cost over a year’s worth of disposable income, while today you can get them for a month’s worth of disposable income. Of course, you also were able to repair them because you couldn’t go out and buy a replacement without saving up for it. When they cost lots, repair was worth it – now just doing a diagnostic will cost more than its worth fixed (and it’s only good if you don’t value your time and can spend hours fixing it – for fun or a hobby).

      You can find quality stuff these days still, but like years gone by, you’ll have to ante up for it. It’s just that these days, instead of heavily overengineering the stuff, people decided making it more accessible by making it cheaper was better.

      And PICs with flash have always had 1000 write/erase cycles – I saw them going way back. It’s mostly because of the processes used – usually the big guys like Samsung etc., have special lines for making flash memory (and DRAM), and other lines for generic CMOS logic. While they’re similar, the specialized line is able to make better quality transistors to give better endurance and capability. The generic line can manufacture them as well, but not as good. Microchip and others do the same thing – you work with the existing process, and the quality generally isn’t as good as it would be if you used a separate chip.

  6. Hi Dave.
    As far as i know, the “drop” tantalums are absolutely reliable ! What is absolutely reliable also is the fact they explode on the slightest overload, so i think you encountered cases of bad design around these things 🙂

  7. (1 year old, yeah, i don’t care.)

    He didn’t imply that stuff these days is crappier but that their lifespan is voluntarily reduced.

    What he was talking about is obviously consumer level electronics and the “programmed obsolescence” problem we are facing. Dave mentioned this too (well, it was quick) in an old teardown/repair video of a display with bad caps. And, well, as an example, everybody knows nowadays that caps are always the first thing to die in a display because they are either cheap crappy ones or purposely placed near the heat-sinks where they can die even faster.

    It’s funny that you call “overengineering” such simple things that can potentially make products safer and increase their life span… That’s bullshit and you know it. Also, it’s not like you have more time, tools and information nowadays than before to design electronics or the overall device or did people loose common sense ? So yeah, put that on either lazy engineers, hand waved tests or marketing.
    As another example, the plastic handle of my 600$ dishwasher broke because it was unable to sustain the force required to pull the door after a couple of months use. Yeah, that’s not electronics, but it’s the same crap that could have been avoided if it was well designed.
    Hopefully, (at least in France), we have a few electronics shops where people can bring their faulty hardware to have the caps replaced after the waranty went off.
    Anyway, i’m pretty sure most of today’s electronics will still work in 30 years. That’s not a problem, just remember to keep one and wait to test, then come back here to report. ; )

    I don’t know anything about max write/erase cycles on PICs but it’s probably just a maximum threshold so you don’t go sue the factory because your PIC is dead after that X’th time. I believe you can actually burn a PIC at least half as much. Just like any CD-RW. Would be a nice little test for Dave although a bit too much time consuming… X )

  8. This is very old, but I can’t help but comment. I believe Janez was reminiscent of the good old times. When beer was colder, appliances were built (not manufactured) and everyone was quite happy with each other (if somewhat flamboyant) . Mostly everyone has nice memories of the 80s in Yugoslavia, so if you found war in Janez’s post I can assure you it is you who are the actual source.

  9. I for one was very glad you didn’t tear the two boards apart. Old ones that stood the test of time should be treated with respect. I was rather disappointed though as I was hoping for a duel with your old multimeter in terms of accuracy. Or with any other device its age for that matter. Well I’ll just have to stick to my convictions I guess. Iskra after all is hands down the best there was : )

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  11. EEVblog #482 – Retro Iskra Multimeter Teardown – EEVblog
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