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General => General Chat => Topic started by: james_s on March 04, 2020, 07:26:56 am

Title: WTF Mouser??
Post by: james_s on March 04, 2020, 07:26:56 am
So this happened again.

A few months ago I ordered a Dallas PowerCap from Mouser and it arrived packed in unusually conductive ESD foam with the battery completely dead :palm: I contacted them and they apologized, asked for a picture of the packaging and promptly sent me a replacement which was packaged properly. So this time I ordered 3 of them for another project and tonight I opened the package and was greeted by this sight, and while the batteries aren't completely flat they're all at 2.7V which is certainly less than fresh. Soooo here we go again, another delayed project and this is one somebody is paying me to do  |O

Seriously, who packs a battery in conductive foam?  :palm:

Is this common, or am I just incredibly unlucky to have experienced it twice?
Title: Re: WTF Mouser??
Post by: maginnovision on March 04, 2020, 07:36:07 am
I'm not terribly surprised. I typically avoid mouser unless they're the only place to get whatever it is. They also seem to LOVE their conductive foam and small boxes. I got some rotary encoders from them and 8/10 of them had broken knobs/housings because the tiny box was forced shut and taped to hold.
Title: Re: WTF Mouser??
Post by: Bud on March 04, 2020, 07:43:53 am
It is a nice foam though. It measures only a few kOhm with the meter probes spaced just an inch apart.
Title: Re: WTF Mouser??
Post by: james_s on March 04, 2020, 07:46:01 am
I've been ordering parts from them for years and never had any issues at all until recently, I guess I mostly order ICs and small passives though, whenever the particular batch of stuff I need is cheaper than Digikey or they have something in stock that DK doesn't. At around $10 each these are not particularly cheap either and inconvenience aside I hate the waste of having to throw away brand new parts to get a new package UPS'd to me.

And yes, it's lovely foam, the most conductive ESD foam I can ever recall encountering, these little boxes are great for packaging sensitive ICs. They're precisely NOT what you want to pack batteries in though.
Title: Re: WTF Mouser??
Post by: tom66 on March 04, 2020, 07:49:42 am
Unfortunately this is what happens when a product is marked as ESD-sensitive, someone packs it in an ESD-protective box...

It really seems the only distributor that is genuinely competent is Digi-Key.  They have never screwed up an order of mine, unlike Farnell, Arrow and occasionally Mouser.  Interestingly, of all the main electronics distributors, they seem to advertise the least.  Farnell are always pushing promotions and social media -- perhaps just get shipments right first?
Title: Re: WTF Mouser??
Post by: blueskull on March 04, 2020, 11:12:38 am
From time to time when I need ESD boxes I troll Mouser by buying one pop of each random cheap IC. A purposely bought ESD box from Mouser is more expensive then the free one they include with an IC.
Title: Re: WTF Mouser??
Post by: floobydust on March 06, 2020, 08:20:06 am
OP did you check if there is a passivation layer? They might actually be OK.
Some lithium battery chemistries are found under-voltaged from storage. Cell voltage comes up and stays up, after some load. Try load them with a resistor for a minute or so- see if the voltage rises or falls. I was using 500-1k ohm.
Title: Re: WTF Mouser??
Post by: james_s on March 06, 2020, 07:10:23 pm
They're dead, this is the second time this has happened, the first time I didn't open the package with the PowerCap in it for a week as I was waiting for the PCBs to arrive, that one was drained down to less than 0.6V. I noticed that after installing it and finding that the NVRAM wasn't holding its contents without power.

I measured the foam and the resistance is less than 100k across about 10mm between probe tips, it's the most conductive ESD foam I've ever encountered. The terminals on the PowerCap are only about 5mm apart and the bottom of the cell is also in contact with the foam and has considerable surface area so it puts a significant load on the battery. I wouldn't deliver parts to a customer that had experienced this even if the voltage looked ok, they've been at least partially drained, I can't present them as new.
Title: Re: WTF Mouser??
Post by: floobydust on March 06, 2020, 08:50:45 pm
Oh... I would say they're dead Jim.
I've had pc boards/RMA shipped in anti-static (conductive) bags which killed the on-board batteries, the black conductive bags are good for that.

It's weird the electronics industry has conductive and dissipative and Faraday-cage packaging. Three different types.
I'm not sure when the decision is to use what packaging.

Title: Re: WTF Mouser??
Post by: amyk on March 07, 2020, 01:33:13 am
Unfortunately this is what happens when a product is marked as ESD-sensitive, someone packs it in an ESD-protective box...
In other words, no actual thought was put into any of the process by whoever packed those batteries.

This reminds me of one time when I was with extended family, and upon asking for a set of AA batteries, was presented with a few dozen of them, neatly packed end-to-end and touching the sides of a metal biscuit tin. Needless to say, they were completely dead. When I asked why they were taken out of their original packaging and packed this way, the response was "but they fit perfectly!" :palm:
Title: Re: WTF Mouser??
Post by: mcovington on March 07, 2020, 03:08:48 pm
A few years ago I got a new battery put into a wristwatch at our local K-mart.  The young girl was startled that I objected to her handling the battery with metal tweezers.

Actually, a few seconds of that won't run down the battery as much as I thought, because the internal resistance is high, but I still didn't think I'd be getting what I paid for.
Title: Re: WTF Mouser??
Post by: Bark on March 07, 2020, 03:40:00 pm
I've been ordering parts from them for years and never had any issues at all until recently, I guess I mostly order ICs and small passives though, whenever the particular batch of stuff I need is cheaper than Digikey or they have something in stock that DK doesn't. At around $10 each these are not particularly cheap either and inconvenience aside I hate the waste of having to throw away brand new parts to get a new package UPS'd to me.

And yes, it's lovely foam, the most conductive ESD foam I can ever recall encountering, these little boxes are great for packaging sensitive ICs. They're precisely NOT what you want to pack batteries in though.

What were the date codes on the batteries?  It just occured to me that there should be a date code and an additional possibility could be that not only have they been improperly packaged while at Mouser, but they have also been in that state for a long time?  I believe those batteries are a low-volume item.
Title: Re: WTF Mouser??
Post by: Bud on March 07, 2020, 03:43:45 pm
Unfortunately this is what happens when a product is marked as ESD-sensitive, someone packs it in an ESD-protective box...

It really seems the only distributor that is genuinely competent is Digi-Key.  They have never screwed up an order of mine, unlike Farnell, Arrow and occasionally Mouser.  Interestingly, of all the main electronics distributors, they seem to advertise the least.  Farnell are always pushing promotions and social media -- perhaps just get shipments right first?
Meh..Digikey still owns a share of this. I stopped buying Cypress USB SOP-56 controllers from them because they send them in just ESD bags loose with no any hard backing or tube. Needless to say, the ICs legs arrive bent . I spoke to their agents at least two times about that, still no change.
Title: Re: WTF Mouser??
Post by: tooki on March 07, 2020, 05:34:44 pm
Unfortunately this is what happens when a product is marked as ESD-sensitive, someone packs it in an ESD-protective box...
In other words, no actual thought was put into any of the process by whoever packed those batteries.
Do you think it's even remotely reasonable to expect a shelf picker to be an expert in electronics components?!? Mouser literally has hundreds of thousands different products in stock. It's categorically impossible for any human alive to know the details (or even the basics!) of every single one of them. Do you honestly think that kind of a genius — or even just someone highly knowledgeable in electronics — would be happy working as a shelf picker?!?!  :palm:

The product in question does not look like a battery, it looks like a relay, film cap, or IC. Nothing about it hints that it's actually got a battery secreted inside. What Mouser needs to do is have the packer instructions expressly say which packaging to use for this item, with an express warning not to insert it into black ESD foam.


This reminds me of one time when I was with extended family, and upon asking for a set of AA batteries, was presented with a few dozen of them, neatly packed end-to-end and touching the sides of a metal biscuit tin. Needless to say, they were completely dead. When I asked why they were taken out of their original packaging and packed this way, the response was "but they fit perfectly!" :palm:
Again, why is it reasonable to expect non-electronics people to understand why that's a problem? Were you taught about these things in school?
Title: Re: WTF Mouser??
Post by: james_s on March 07, 2020, 05:59:01 pm
Again, why is it reasonable to expect non-electronics people to understand why that's a problem? Were you taught about these things in school?

I was, we had a unit on electricity when I was in maybe 2nd grade, and then in 7th grade tech ed was a required course where there was a lesson on electrical circuits. It doesn't take an expert to know that sources of electricity and conductive objects are not a good mix and that you don't want to short anything out. This is one of those things like tying one's shoes and not sticking your finger in a light socket that I'd just kind of expect people to know.

Regarding the PowerCaps, I would expect there to be a note on the rack stating specific packing instructions, surely they have all sorts of parts with special considerations and must have a process for handling that? Especially since this is the second time in just a few months that this has happened to me.
Title: Re: WTF Mouser??
Post by: exe on March 07, 2020, 08:07:25 pm
It's funny how little it takes to annoy people and make them ranting all over the Internet. Everyone presumes that "I'm not that stupid, I'd never do a mistake like this, so the person/company/whoever who made this mistake must be $%%^^". Many problems seem to be trivial aftermath, but hard to foresee without knowing all the details. Once people know about the problem, they think that people who don't know yet are idiots and "need to be educated". Of course in a very straight and offensive way. That's how justice warriors are born.

PS Just think what your plumber, or car mechanic thinks of you.
Title: Re: WTF Mouser??
Post by: rdl on March 07, 2020, 08:39:19 pm
Since not everything sold by Mouser (or Digi-key, etc.) is shipped in ESD protective packaging, there must be some procedure in place to determine when it is used and what type. I wonder how that is determined. Do the distributors take a "best guess"? I doubt it. Seems to me they would be following manufacturer recommendations. Something seems to have gone wrong in this case.
Title: Re: WTF Mouser??
Post by: james_s on March 07, 2020, 09:10:55 pm
It's funny how little it takes to annoy people and make them ranting all over the Internet. Everyone presumes that "I'm not that stupid, I'd never do a mistake like this, so the person/company/whoever who made this mistake must be $%%^^". Many problems seem to be trivial aftermath, but hard to foresee without knowing all the details. Once people know about the problem, they think that people who don't know yet are idiots and "need to be educated". Of course in a very straight and offensive way. That's how justice warriors are born.

PS Just think what your plumber, or car mechanic thinks of you.

I'm not going around ranting all over the internet, I posted once here in the chat section of this forum mostly curious if others had the same experience. I'm not saying don't buy from Mouser and I'm not going to stop buying from them myself. It's not *that* big of a deal, I don't want anyone fired, I'm not asking for their head on a stake, I'm not advocating for new laws, I'm not demanding compensation for wasted time or the fact that I'm unable to deliver to the customer on time, I mean whatever, stuff happens.  I was just annoyed and so I posted something to vent my frustration, it's as simple as that.

Yes I was a bit annoyed, I think if you went to a business twice within a month or two and twice they made the same dumb mistake you'd probably be annoyed too. I know very well what my plumber and car mechanic think of me because they are me. Yes like anyone I make mistakes, however it's rare that I make the same mistake twice.
Title: Re: WTF Mouser??
Post by: mcovington on March 08, 2020, 01:36:59 am
Exactly. You were pointing out something that can go wrong, which managers need to know about.  I wonder if the manufacturer of the vulnerable device needs to clue in the distributors.
Title: Re: WTF Mouser??
Post by: floobydust on March 08, 2020, 03:28:48 am
Could Maxim/Dallas be to blame?
The PowerCap datasheet has no packaging information, no formal name, it's not the "PCM".
Digikey says it comes in a tube of 19 pcs.
So how would the fulfillment workers know what to do? Usually you cut a tube to size- if you have extra.
Title: Re: WTF Mouser??
Post by: Munich on March 08, 2020, 04:04:23 am
I normally purchase a full tube and can confirm that they come in a clear plastic tube.  However, the date code is still important - I don't see any mention of this but these batteries do have a shelf life, and there was a batch, maybe five years ago, I purchased several tubes and ended up replacing a good number of those less than 2 years later.  Never looked further into this, but it did not seem right.  I didn't look at the date code before/after as I didn't realize how short lived they were until the end of the year.  Math said they should have been good for more than five years in the application. 
Title: Re: WTF Mouser??
Post by: james_s on March 08, 2020, 04:10:20 am
I assume the date code is one of those numbers printed on them, I don't know how to decode them but the picture shows the actual units in question.

The thing I like about these PowerCap things is that the battery is not potted and could be easily replaced. I'm surprised even expired ones were only good for 2 years, I've had some of these Dallas parts that still worked when they were 20 years old.
Title: Re: WTF Mouser??
Post by: Munich on March 08, 2020, 04:23:34 am
I just looked back and those are the exact part number that I had fail early... What are the chances?  However, mine arrived in tubes.  I should have pulled the coin cell to see who made it, I realize the packaging could very likely be the cause, but you never know...  I've had numerous counterfeit coin cell problems in the past few years...

I believe that date code is the 35th week of 2018 so they shouldn't be past shelf life.   :-//
Title: Re: WTF Mouser??
Post by: james_s on March 08, 2020, 04:29:40 am
Well I can open one of these up to look at the battery, they come apart pretty easily. I was looking at one earlier and noticed there's foam bits stuck in the seam around the perimeter of the battery, they've probably drained even further since I unpacked them.
Title: Re: WTF Mouser??
Post by: Munich on March 08, 2020, 04:42:04 am
What is the resistance between two points(of same distance of those battery terminals) on that foam?  You could calculate approximate charge loss over time and come up with an idea of how much is missing.

It really interests me that you had failure on this same part number as I did a while back.  As I recall, they weren't cheap, and I love free replacements  ;D
Title: Re: WTF Mouser??
Post by: james_s on March 08, 2020, 04:46:55 am
The resistance depends on pressure and surface area, but just touching probe tips a few mm apart results in less than 100k. The battery has a much larger surface area and with the package closed the pressure is reasonably firm.

The first time I ordered one of these I didn't open the package for a week because I was waiting for PCBs to arrive and in that case the battery was down below 0.6V.
Title: Re: WTF Mouser??
Post by: LivelyLlama on March 08, 2020, 05:03:13 am
That is significant, but it doesn't seem like nearly enough to discharge the battery that far unless they were on that foam for thousands of hours.

Mouser has a process where they pre-pack some items in common denominations, for instance, thru hole resistors packed by the hundred.  I wonder if they are removing these batteries from the tube and storing them elsewhere?  The best thing to do would be to contact the warehouse where they were delivered from, they should give you e-mail contact for this if you call them.  My experience is that they've always been receptive to feedback in the past.
Title: Re: WTF Mouser??
Post by: amyk on March 08, 2020, 05:11:26 am
Again, why is it reasonable to expect non-electronics people to understand why that's a problem? Were you taught about these things in school?
...yes.  :palm:

Could Maxim/Dallas be to blame?
The PowerCap datasheet has no packaging information, no formal name, it's not the "PCM".
Digikey says it comes in a tube of 19 pcs.
So how would the fulfillment workers know what to do? Usually you cut a tube to size- if you have extra.
It's right there in the datasheet (https://datasheets.maximintegrated.com/en/ds/DS9034I-PCX-DS9034PCX.pdf):
Quote
ATTENTION: BATTERY COMPONENT
The DS9034PCX contains a lithium battery. Do not short, ground, or apply external voltages to the electrical portions of this device. Do not expose to temperatures over +85°C. Do not subject this device to any type of cleaning process. Store only in nonconductive containers. Failure to observe these precautions may result in battery discharge or decreased battery life.
Title: Re: WTF Mouser??
Post by: Red Squirrel on March 08, 2020, 06:05:27 am
That's an interesting thing, I can kinda see how it could happen.  A stand alone component with a battery built in that can be shorted by shorting the pins of the product is probably a rather rare thing and whoever is packaging these things is probably following some instructions like "if it says ESD sensitive use this material".  Perhaps there needs to be some kind of flag for these items to make sure they don't actually use conductive packaging.

I wonder if this is an issue with other stores as well.  Maybe the product itself could have a tiny switch or something that you need to turn on to connect the battery internally.  Of course that is an extra cost and an extra point of failure... probably not worth simply for shipping reasons.

Actually this reminds me of a time I make a gag "satellite" using a pop can and foil and bunch of wires and stuff, it was for an april fools thing where I was announcing that I'm launching a satellite so just throw some stuff together for a couple pictures.  Without thinking, I took a battery holder with two fresh AAs and shoved it on the can as part of the gag.  Well... the pins were shorting the battery right on the can!  Yeah that got pretty hot lol.  Good thing it was not 18650s.  Total goof moment there that could have gone horribly wrong just for a silly joke.
Title: Re: WTF Mouser??
Post by: OwO on March 08, 2020, 07:45:37 am
So basically it's a component that is both ESD sensitive (crystal) and can not be stored in ESD foam. I don't get the point of this product at all, why would you combine a battery and a watch crystal (which you can get in tiny smd package for really cheap)? And finally of course it's priced sky-high  ::)
Title: Re: WTF Mouser??
Post by: blueskull on March 08, 2020, 07:49:42 am
So basically it's a component that is both ESD sensitive (crystal) and can not be stored in ESD foam. I don't get the point of this product at all, why would you combine a battery and a watch crystal (which you can get in tiny smd package for really cheap)? And finally of course it's priced sky-high  ::)

I think the reason has to be related to aging. Crystals do age in time, and if it is used to keep an accurate time, it has to be replaced every a few years, just like the battery.
And yes, it is stupidly expensive, but if you are building $1000+ small volume industrial gears that are supposed to last, spending a few bucks on an elegant user-replaceable battery+crystal solution might be cheaper than engineering your own.

Setting up an injection mold for the replaceable assembly, setting up a custom crystal binning and aging rig, and sourcing safety rated and certified batteries, all of them in a Western country can cost easily $10000+, so if you are only after say 1000 units, you'd better pay a few bucks to get it done with a prepackaged solution.
Title: Re: WTF Mouser??
Post by: james_s on March 08, 2020, 04:45:25 pm
So basically it's a component that is both ESD sensitive (crystal) and can not be stored in ESD foam. I don't get the point of this product at all, why would you combine a battery and a watch crystal (which you can get in tiny smd package for really cheap)? And finally of course it's priced sky-high  ::)

If you read the datasheet it tells you. It's because it is for a surface mount assembly, so you can solder the thing on the board without exposing the crystal or the battery to high temperature. I chose these because I can replace the battery later and not have to carve the battery out of obsolete epoxy potted bricks as is the case with the ones I'm replacing. Prices sky high? At $10 these are cheap, the potted assemblies are $60 and some types are no longer available at all. These are used in some still quite expensive test gear.

I don't think I've ever heard of a crystal being damaged by ESD, and I don't see any indications on the parts of them being ESD sensitive.
Title: Re: WTF Mouser??
Post by: SiliconWizard on March 08, 2020, 05:46:33 pm
Anyway. As annoying as it sounds (and I would have been annoyed too), occasional fuck-ups like this are bound to happen. Mouser probably have millions of references to deal with, and operators probably deal with packaging thousands a day... and given the sheer numbers here, they are not supposed to individually judge if each part should or should not be packaged with any particular care, they probably just follow strict procedures, and the type of packaging required is likely indicated in the database. We're not talking about a small shop here. Given that this part is a bit peculiar (needs ESD protection, but has pins some of which are powered from the inside), I'm not overly surprised this happened. Packaging information for this part was probably incorrect from the start, or at least not precise enough.

Hopefully Mouser's processes are decent, and your claim will trigger fixing packaging information for this part, that's pretty much all we can hope for. Mistakes happen, not taking action to correct them once identified is bad practice.
Title: Re: WTF Mouser??
Post by: amyk on March 08, 2020, 09:44:34 pm
I wonder if this is an issue with other stores as well.  Maybe the product itself could have a tiny switch or something that you need to turn on to connect the battery internally.  Of course that is an extra cost and an extra point of failure... probably not worth simply for shipping reasons.
Or just cover the contacts with a thin piece of "remove before use" plastic tape...
Title: Re: WTF Mouser??
Post by: SiliconWizard on March 09, 2020, 02:16:08 pm
Thing is, how do you safely protect the device from ESD during transport if internal protections are not sufficient and you can't short all pins together?

So yeah, here they could have used a foam with much lower conductivity to limit the discharge of the internal battery, but that would still discharge it a bit. That's a bit of a conundrum.
Title: Re: WTF Mouser??
Post by: tooki on March 09, 2020, 03:59:08 pm
How about the tubes that Dallas ships them in?
Title: Re: WTF Mouser??
Post by: SiliconWizard on March 09, 2020, 04:31:42 pm
They may have a reason for not directly using the original packaging. Sometimes it also depends on the quantities you order. We are just guessing at this point, they should just fix this and move on. ;D
Title: Re: WTF Mouser??
Post by: james_s on March 09, 2020, 05:26:59 pm
The last time they sent me a replacement for the one they packed in conductive foam, the replacement came in a cut down piece of tube. This batch of replacements is scheduled to arrive tomorrow at which point I'll report back with how they are packaged.
Title: Re: WTF Mouser??
Post by: amyk on March 10, 2020, 02:09:37 am
Thing is, how do you safely protect the device from ESD during transport if internal protections are not sufficient and you can't short all pins together?

So yeah, here they could have used a foam with much lower conductivity to limit the discharge of the internal battery, but that would still discharge it a bit. That's a bit of a conundrum.
It's a battery. How does it need to be protected from ESD...?
Title: Re: WTF Mouser??
Post by: GlennSprigg on March 10, 2020, 12:50:59 pm
It's funny how little it takes to annoy people and make them ranting all over the Internet. Everyone presumes that "I'm not that stupid, I'd never do a mistake like this, so the person/company/whoever who made this mistake must be $%%^^". Many problems seem to be trivial aftermath, but hard to foresee without knowing all the details. Once people know about the problem, they think that people who don't know yet are idiots and "need to be educated". Of course in a very straight and offensive way. That's how justice warriors are born.

PS Just think what your plumber, or car mechanic thinks of you.

I'm not going around ranting all over the internet, I posted once here in the chat section of this forum mostly curious if others had the same experience. I'm not saying don't buy from Mouser and I'm not going to stop buying from them myself. It's not *that* big of a deal, I don't want anyone fired, I'm not asking for their head on a stake, I'm not advocating for new laws, I'm not demanding compensation for wasted time or the fact that I'm unable to deliver to the customer on time, I mean whatever, stuff happens.  I was just annoyed and so I posted something to vent my frustration, it's as simple as that.

Yes I was a bit annoyed, I think if you went to a business twice within a month or two and twice they made the same dumb mistake you'd probably be annoyed too. I know very well what my plumber and car mechanic think of me because they are me. Yes like anyone I make mistakes, however it's rare that I make the same mistake twice.

Isn't it ironic, how the person 'complaining' (and a certain person who 'thanked' him  :P), always switch on their megaphones from their ivory towers to ridicule & put down someone for daring to pose a valid question!!??  They talk about grandiosing nothing just to make waves. However, they don't think about THEIR non-constructive replies, aimed purely at 'offending', due to their self proclaimed 'godliness'.  :o
Don't let them bury you in shit, mate!  Stand up to the Demi-Gods. You have a right like any other Human here...   8)