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Fake components - have you been caught?

Discussion in 'General Electronics Discussion' started by (*steve*), Mar 22, 2013.

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  1. (*steve*)

    (*steve*) ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd Moderator

    Jan 21, 2010
    I have :(

    Once I was sold a reel of components that, when they arrived, were marked as dummy components! (the person gave me a full refund).

    Another time I purchased some surface mount links that turned out to be TopLine components -- for those of you that are unaware, these are test components. In this case, whilst I again got a refund, it's a bit of a toss-up for me as to whether or not to use them as jumpers.

    A nastier case was a couple of tubes of LM337 TO-220 negative regulators. On receipt of these I pulled one out and tested it for basic operation. It worked as I expected. This component actually got used almost straight away and is still in use.

    The next one I pulled out gave me a lot of trouble. I looked at my circuit a bazzillion times (337's are polarity-wise upside-down and have a different pinout to 317's, so I really needed to check). I considered the unlikely option that I may have damaged it, so I pulled out another. Same result. They turned out to be something that kinda worked like an LM337, but did weird things at low voltages.

    One of them was good, but all the rest I've tested have been... fake? Whilst I've not looked at them recently (yeah, I kept them) I seem to recall that some had the printing not quite straight -- a dead giveaway.

    I really should pull out the good one sometime and compare what it looks like to the others.

    These were purchased from a seller in the US that was getting rid of stock at fire sale prices (cents in the dollar) during the height of the GFC. Everything else I tested and have used has been OK, and frankly I didn't lose a lot of $$$ on this deal. I wonder if they even knew.
  2. shrtrnd


    Jan 15, 2010
    My company now requires that we ONLY buy from vendors they approve.
    Worst one I got, was a tube of LM308's that had obviously been washed and remarked. I just threw them away without checking them. They might have worked,
    but for how long?
    Yeah, if you have any way to do it, you need to be careful anymore.
    Where I am, guys are telling me a Chinese lady comes in to electronic salvage yards
    in my area, and buys everything they have, then ships them to China.
    Google. I'm sure you already know the Chinese-linked sites have listings for almost
    any electronic part. They might be ok, they may be copies of trademarked products, or
    they might be salvaged parts from old U.S. boards, that the Chinese lady bought as
    scrap. (That might or might not be ok, and for how long?)
    When the price is unusually good, you really have to wonder anymore.
    It's embarrassing to 'repair' something, that fails soon afterward.
  3. Yoa01


    Jun 18, 2012
    I had something similar happen from Futurlec (which I suppose I should have guessed). Among other things, in their linear IC value pack I got a ton of knock-off 555's. Different pinout, different datasheet (they don't actually say 555 on them, but the datasheet pretty much describes a 555), and currently sitting in the same tube they came in. They scare me.
  4. CocaCola


    Apr 7, 2012
    There is a lot of this happening with Atmel AVR chips since they seem they have has supply problems for well over decade now... I have heard horror stories from many people that thought they lucked out and finally found a roll only to get a bunch of nothing... In fact I believe Sparkfun (or another similar site) was even selling off 'dummy' chips as souvenirs when they got duped...

    **EDIT** Here is a link to the Sparkfun incident, complet copper slugs no silicone inside...

    I have also recently heard a BUNCH of nightmare stories about flux out of China, it blows my mind but there is apparently a thriving counterfeit flux market in China, complete with closely copied labels and even fake holograms in many cases... The fact that many of the flux manufactures don't sell the 'pro grade' fluxes in small quantities for the hobbyist aggravates this situation...

    I think the only time I have really been duped is when I got some large format novelty LEDs, they were about 1" round big dome and were claimed to have 4 LEDs inside... 8 legs on the bottom as expected but I could never get any of the 4 units I purchased to light up...

    Overall I have purchases $1000s upon $1000s from overseas vendors and I have had nothing but good luck...
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2013
  5. (*steve*)

    (*steve*) ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd Moderator

    Jan 21, 2010
    Speaking of Futurlec...

    I ordered some smt CMOS chips from them. From memory they were magnitude comparators. I think I ordered 100 (or thereabouts) because the price break was good.

    I expected to get a strip from a reel, and indeed I did. But the strip contained only sixty-something chips. The other thirty-something (the number 37 seems to ring a bell) arrived with each chip individually packed on a small square of cardboard, wrapped in a piece of anti-static bag, and then a layer of adhesive tape.

    That particular project didn't go ahead, and I didn't even test the parts.

    This was the only obviously dodgy thing I have ever received from Futurlec.

    I now have a couple of sockets for surface mount chips, so I really should test a couple just to be sure. (and probably just for fun)
  6. Steve Johnson

    Steve Johnson

    Feb 10, 2012
    64 Gig thumb drive. Looked just like the real one from the manufacturer but it had no serial number and was only a 2 Gig. Got a refund and then blew them in to the Attorney General since they kept right on selling them.
  7. CocaCola


    Apr 7, 2012
    This is VERY common with cheap Mp3 players, there are entire websites dedicated to this, they hack the bios so that it says whatever gigs and then put in a small memory chip... Anything you write past that small memory chip is written into thin air...

    BTW I took advantage of this once to get a hands on look at what they were doing, so I won't call it a being scammed.. I picked an Ebay seller that was on the black list of one of the fake MP3 sites ordered a cheap video MP3 / MP4 player knowing full well the memory claim was false... After receiving it shot a letter to the seller about the issue, his reply was "Give me positive feedback, and I will refund you the entire amount" This is the scam they play, to keep selling... My reply was "Give me a refund in the next 24 hour or else I will leave negative feedback and file a Paypal dispute and get my money back as well, and I linked him to a website that had him blacklisted with internal pictures to prove he was a fraud" Needless to say they immediately refunded me the full amount, and I gave a neutral review explaining that the memory claims were false...

    The player I received had 4 places on the PC board for 2G memory chips, only one was populated the other three were left empty and it was a claimed 8G model, and the device reported 8G of memory... BTW the device works fine as long as you only load up 2G of stuff on it, load any more and it simply vanishes...
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