Author Topic: Uni-Trend UTG9010C 10MHz Function Generator with her clothes removed ! Oh Dear.  (Read 14791 times)

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Online Fraser

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I received a Uni-Trend UTG9010C today after an impulse buy costing GBP55. The unit was described as possibly having an instability fault, but more of that later.

The unit arrived in it's original box with little or no signs of use, it even has it's screen protector still fitted. The units appearance is not displeasing to the eye in it's Ferrari Red and grey two tone colour scheme that all UNI-T kit wears.....but whats under the covers ?.....lets take a peek  ;)

Take a look at the attached pictures and all will be revealed.

The units case construction is acceptable, if a little tinny for my liking. The rear panel is fitted with an IEC socket but is otherwise pretty bare. All the action occurs at the front of the UTG9010C. The button action is good with a solid feel, whereas all the rotary controls except 'frequency' feel a little loose and fragile very much like those found on the Rigol DSO's. The displays are clear, but 7 segment LED's ... come on Uni-Trend ....get with the 21st Century and use LCD panels  ::)

Inside the unit, the story goes a little down hill  :(  On opening the case (4 screws) I was confronted with a small mains transformer clinging on for dear life to the rear panel. It looked quite pitiful ! The main PCB is a vast expanse of unused space. Obviously a standard PCB area needed to be filled so that's what they did by spreading things out. The control PCB is behind the front panel but the actual microprocessor (Atmel 89C52) is located on the main PCB and runs from a 24MHz crystal. The control PCB is fitted with the venerable ICL 7107 LED 40 pin DIL A/D converter used decades ago in panel meters. Again, this is very old tech (cheap?) but as it just does the A/D on the output voltage I will not whinge too much. The frequency display appears to be driven via four 74LS164 SIPO shift registers.

Now the important bit...quality of electronic construction and performance.....

The electronic construction is all elderly through hole stuff, and in many places poorly executed with components taking on the appearance that they are trying to escape the shame of being attached to the PCB ! There is no excuse for such bad component installation....sloppy, very sloppy  >:(

The soldering on the main PCB is OK but that of the control PCB looks hand done with lots of solder residue. Rework ? Not great to see.

There is, I am pleased to report, a safety earth connection to the rear metal panel.... BUT that safety earth does not extend to the metal case shell except through the screws which considering the case is painted, is unacceptable. No continuity between the earth and case shell was found  >:(

In use the unit appears to perform "OK". The output is as I would expect. there is a short settling period after initial switch on but the unit appears to be stable in terms of frequency and output level. Longer tests will need to be carried out. The settling/warm up period was a tad excessive as instability in frequency did exist for around 1 minute after it was switched on. These units are not DDS and are not that stable so the specified tolerances must be considered when talking about stability.

So to sum up....

For GBP55 I am pleased with my purchase. If I had paid full price, around GBP180 + postage, I would have been less so. Once again we see a sheep in wolfs clothing....all the bling with little real content. The unit is not as bad as the UT804, that I so hate, but it is all old tech and poorly implemented on the design front & production line. I am left wondering whether Uni-Trend have two separate areas of design and production... one for handheld devices and another for bench equipment. The handheld multimeter's are just so much better designed and built !

Hope you enjoyed the tour of this function generator..... I suggest GW Instek may be a better source of such an instrument at the budget end of the market.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2012, 12:23:37 am by Aurora »
 

Offline sdttn

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The inside of her looks like came from 90s.
 

Online amspire

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The inside of her looks like came from 90s.

It is very weird. It definitely looks like something designed in the late 80's or early 90's, but the date code on the Atmel chip looks to me like 2010! I suppose it is an old design that does the job, so they keep building it.

Uni-Trend has a current model, the UTG9010A, that looks like exactly the same function generator with an updated user interface.

Richard
 

Offline Armin_Balija

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I'm surprised they still use those big components instead of discrete resistors and caps. It would save them money to use SMD parts especially with a respectable name like UNI-T. They could even shrink the size of the PCB using the smaller components and in turn the size and weight of the actual unit saving them money by having to pay for the extra metal. I don't know, maybe I'm talking out of my ass.
 

Offline grenert

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The displays are clear, but 7 segment LED's ... come on Uni-Trend ....get with the 21st Century and use LCD panels  ::)

Thanks for sharing it with us!  I actually LIKE the LEDs   :D
 

Offline Zad

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1986 called, they want their design ideas back :D

Not only is the controller 2010, the ICL7107 display driver / ADC is from 2011. This is brand new cutting edge stuff. ;)

My guess is that it is outsourced to Won Lung Ho (the retired disabled prostitute) who are using ultra cheap components, mostly made internally. Some of which may even be in tolerance. I do love the jaunty angle the transformer is perched at, bracing itself for the next time it is dropped. I must admit, I like LEDs. The response time is faster than LCD and they are clearer, assuming you don't have it on the window ledge with the sun shining on it.

SMD may be cheaper on the normal market, but my bet is that internally in the Chinese markets, through-hole is still cheapest, purely because of the number of back-street places that can make them. Re-designing the PCB may incur a cost of a few hundred dollars, especially if you involve any certification (although that usually consists of firing up Photoshop) which is probably the years profits on this line.

Offline Armin_Balija

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SMD may be cheaper on the normal market, but my bet is that internally in the Chinese markets, through-hole is still cheapest, purely because of the number of back-street places that can make them. Re-designing the PCB may incur a cost of a few hundred dollars, especially if you involve any certification (although that usually consists of firing up Photoshop) which is probably the years profits on this line.

I see. That makes sense. I just don't see how they can consciously use shoddy back-alley parts knowing their reputation on the line  :-\.
 

Offline Bored@Work

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I just don't see how they can consciously use shoddy back-alley parts knowing their reputation on the line  :-\.

Because making a quick buck now is more important for them then their future reputation. From their point of view, the stuff sells, so why care about reputation? Only when the stuff no longer sells they'll consider doing something.
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Offline Bored@Work

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These units are not DDS

What do they actually use? An IC or all individual components? And what do they use as frequency reference? A crystal?
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Offline saturation

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Sad as it looks, how does it perform as a function generator?  Is it stable?  Are the waveforms distorted?
Best Wishes,

 Saturation
 

Offline jahonen

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Finishing touch is that "Amplitude" is spelled wrong on the front panel, quite embarrassing. :)

Regards,
Janne

 

Offline grenert

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Finishing touch is that "Amplitude" is spelled wrong on the front panel, quite embarrassing. :)

Ha ha, good catch!  Also, attenuation has become "attention."    :)
 

Online Fraser

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Flippin heck...I missed the misspellings ! That is absolutely appalling !

The Uni-T handbook places the UTD-9010C design at 2009, if the issue date can be believed. The unit is virtually new so the chip dates make sense. I suspect it is a customer return...possibly for bogus reasons due to disappointment with the general design ? That happens a lot when companies have a 'returns accepted' policy for faulty items only.

The unit appears to produce decent waveforms that are stable but I have yet to test it as other projects like my SMT workbench build are taking my time. I will do some tests later to see how well it performs.

The generation method of the waveforms is not known but I will look at this when I test it. There is lots of analogue discrete stuff on that main board and no MAX038 or DDS chips.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2012, 10:59:16 pm by Aurora »
 

Offline RCMR

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Because making a quick buck now is more important for them then their future reputation. From their point of view, the stuff sells, so why care about reputation? Only when the stuff no longer sells they'll consider doing something.
You are very right.

I've worked with a number of Chinese companies, attempting to help them introduce their products to Western markets.

The big and very consistent thing I've noticed is that they have no concept of brand-building and the importance of consistent quality in doing so.

If it falls off the end of the assembly line (ie: kitchen table) and will fit in the box, they ship it.

Also, with Chinese labour rates climbing at a rate which is around 26% per year in recent times, many of these companies are having to work hard (ie: cut more corners) to still make a profit without hiking their prices.

I review a lot of stuff out of China and now I find myself having to constantly monitor individual products because there's a strong trend for manufacturers to make covert changes to components or design without advising anyone.  The $10 kerfuffilator you bought last week which worked really well might have totally different internals when you buy the next batch -- because the manufacturer was able to save $0.01 per unit.  The result is often that the unannounced changes completely destroy the performance, reliability or functionality of what was previously a good product.

I also wonder if some manufacturers aren't using these old through-hole components because every day, hundreds of container-loads of used PCBs arrive in China for recycling.  These PCBs are stripped of components by very poorly paid workers in horrendous conditions and the salvaged components are then sold in bulk to bottom-end manufacturing enterprises (often the kitchen-table operators).

While "brand new" SMT components may be much cheaper than brand new through-hole ones, salvaged through-hole parts are virtually free and thus lower the costs to low-end manufacturers.

I've just spent the past week talking to a guy who spent 19 years managing Chinese-based manufacturing enterprises and the stories he tells would shock you.
 

Offline willd1971

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As an importer and trader of Uni-Trend and other far east brands I have some experience of variance in quality.  In particular I have sampled Uni-T oscilloscopes (which are great quality and value - never had a problem with any of them), Uni-T power supplies (which are OK but I have had some quality issues and DOA), Uni-T UTG9020A Siggens similar to those described in this thread - (3 out of 4 I rejected because the user interface flickered horribly, but the actual function was pretty good for the price), and top of their range UT805A bench multimeter (which I think is a fantastic bit of kit - well made and performs well).  As it happens I recently discussed quality issues with Uni-T and I was unsuprised to learn that oscilloscopes are made in a different factory from PSUs and Sig-gens.  The latter are manufactured by a 3rd party (don't know who).  Uni-T have discontinued their relationship with the manufacturer of PSUs (UTP370X) and Sig-gens (UTG90XXX) from September 2011 because of quality issues.  So once stocks are depleted you won't see red/grey PSUs or sig-gens offered for new!

Look out for a great new range of oscilloscopes coming soon from Uni-T it's the UTD2000CM range, with bandwidth offerings from 40MHz thru 100MHz, they are 2 channel 1GSPS, with deep memory of 16M points, but the real differentiator from UTD2000CE is the 800 x 480 colour LCD screen (I can't wait!).  The pricing from Labtronix is likely to be in the range of £300 for the 40MHz to £500 for the 100MHz.  If you don't enjoy the 320 x 240 experience usually on offer then these may well be worth a sniff.  I'm hoping to see first samples in March/April time.

William
www.labtronix.co.uk
 

Online Fraser

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Hi William,

Thanks for the excellent and most informative response to this discussion thread. I am pleased to hear that the UTG9010C is an out-sourced product as that explains why I have been so pleased with most of the multimeters, and have not heard of quality issues with the DSO's. It is also great news that UNI-T have ceased dealings with the third party factory for the PSUs and sig gens, as from looking at the UTG9010C it was a liability for their brand and international dealers who have to face the disappointed customers.

I have recently purchased a used UTD1025C in the hope of being able to repair it. It looks a very nicely designed and built unit and your comments provide me with re-assurrance that I have (hopefully) not bought another UTG91010C type disappointment  :)

I must also add that when I emailed UNI-T asking for assistance with a UTD1025C schematic for it's 'A' channel, a very nice response was received the next working day asking which country I was in so that local help could be provided. I wasn't sure I would even get a response to my message. Customer service so far appears OK.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2012, 12:17:02 am by Aurora »
 

Offline firewalker

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Did you remove the cable at photo number 6?

Alexander.
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Online Fraser

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Hi Alexander,

If you mean the 'spare' terminal on the rear  of the IEC connector...no it is deliberately not connected as it is the unfused side of the IEC connector. The 'Live' fused side is on the left of the picture.

 

Offline firewalker

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Ah, now it makes sense. Thanks.

Alexander.
Become a realist, stay a dreamer.

 

Offline Chris56000

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Hi!

The technology might be as old as the hills but at least you can still get hold of the bits, and whats more to the point, you can actually SEE whats in the thing to repair it!

(I'm 56 years old and I can (just about still!) see to repair some of this horrific pinhead-size surface-mount, but give me an aeon's old thro'-hole made bench instrument every time! Wait well you see the F.G. I've got!)

Chris Williams

PS!

Circuit-diagram to be had?
« Last Edit: October 24, 2017, 09:54:55 pm by Chris56000 »
It's an enigma that's what it is!! This thing's not fixed because it doesn't want to be fixed!!
 

Online Fraser

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Hiya,

There is nothing wrong with older technology or designs, provided they are decent designs and well implemented.
The problem with the reviewed unit was that, even if the design was sound, it was poorly implemented in terms of construction.

The capable MAX038 was a well known and common chip in some half decent function generators. I quite expected to find one in a UNI-T Function Generator from 2009. The MAX038 went obsolete and is no longer to be found in modern designs. DDS was brought in and is now commonplace in function Generators. Analogue signal generation can sometimes be a cleaner source than a cheap DDS though. As stated, there is nothing wrong with older technology, provided the design is sound and the build is of decent quality.

As you will have read here, the unit was an outsourced design and build. To my knowledge the schematics are not available. It is rare to find schematics for Unit-T equipment but some for their multimeters did get leaked a while back. The schematics are sometimes to be found under a completely different brand and model number as the OEM likely built units for other customers. Sadly it can be a needle in a haystack search to find the other branded units though. I often search using key unit parameters and look at the images in Google to see if I recognise the unit under another brand. If I find another model number or even the OEM, I search for schematics for that model or type. Sometimes you get lucky.

The good news is that, from memory, the unit is relatively simple so repair without a schematic is a definite possibility.

I sold my UTG9010c unit cheaply to someone who has hopefully had good use from it. Compared to the UNI-T handheld multimeters and DSO's it is a poor relation however. For the hobbyist it may be enough though  :-//

I am now 50 and converted to surface mount technology repair a while ago. The amount of through hole work I do these days is becoming less and less. My eyes are ageing and I have to use an OptiVisor and microscope, but surface mount technology is nothing to fear so long as you have some magnification, a decent hot air rework station and steady hands  :) The smallest passives I usually work with are 0402. Such rework on tiny components can be a challenge and requires the use of a microscope, but it is possible to hand solder 0402 size SMT.

Fraser
 

Online Mr. Scram

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I'm surprised they still use those big components instead of discrete resistors and caps. It would save them money to use SMD parts especially with a respectable name like UNI-T. They could even shrink the size of the PCB using the smaller components and in turn the size and weight of the actual unit saving them money by having to pay for the extra metal. I don't know, maybe I'm talking out of my ass.
UNI-T is a respectable name now? The multimeters seem half decent, but lack the input protection needed to be taken serious.
« Last Edit: October 24, 2017, 11:14:05 pm by Mr. Scram »
 

Offline shteii01

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I'm surprised they still use those big components instead of discrete resistors and caps. It would save them money to use SMD parts especially with a respectable name like UNI-T. They could even shrink the size of the PCB using the smaller components and in turn the size and weight of the actual unit saving them money by having to pay for the extra metal. I don't know, maybe I'm talking out of my ass.
Did you just use respectable and UNI-T in the same sentence?
 

Online Fraser

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Come on guys, the DSO's are decent enough :)

Fraser
 


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