Grid Watch UK

Thursday 23 April 2015

Quality control or lack of?

Amateur Radio has taken a back seat over the last few weeks with various family problems.

However yesterday, I had a bit of spare time and I was all revved up for testing a Baofeng with its battery eliminator. This is the part that takes the place of the HT battery pack and slides on the back of the radio instead of, providing regulated power from the car battery cigar lighter socket, in essence you make yourself a cheap and cheerful mobile rig.

I needed to just test it all out and check that it worked before fitting, and the MP-304 power supply which I had recently bought was still sitting on the dining room table in its box, handy for a few Volts so I thought?

Switching on the MP-304, there was no deflection of the meter, (meter switch was in the correct Volts position)? I got the DMM out, and measured the output, plenty of Volts, but still no indication on the Power supply analogue meter?

Should I return it? No chance, with all the hassle of someone having to wait in for the courier to collect, it had got to be worth a look. Anyway, I used to test power supplies by the hundreds, when I worked in the industry, so I did have a good chance maybe?


Quick investigation required! Took off the top of the case and I was inside, no going back now. First I measured at the rear of the meter terminals with the DMM, no Volts, nothing on the rear of meter switch that changes between Amps or Volts either. This then leads us back to the plug that plugs into CN2 on the control PCB. Just as I was about to measure at this point, I could see the Blue wire (I have marked it with a small red arrow above) was raised, with its termination tag in the plug sticking out, I unplugged the whole skt from CN2, and the Blue terminal had not been pushed home in the plug in the factory, a smart push and it  clicked in place. Plugged it back into the PCB socket and switched on, and the meter then sprung into life!

It does make me wonder if the Chinese really test this stuff in the factory? Time and time again I have come across problems with Chinese equipment like this, which should really be sorted in the factory before shipping, I don't believe QA exists? The problem here is, the dealer gets a bad name, and really it isn't his fault, he buys in a pallet load, one or two get put out for demonstration, and then the rest are stored ready to be shipped out in the original sealed boxes they come in.

After fixing this, it did however give me the chance to have a good look inside and see what it was made of :

Build quality really wasn't too bad, a nice hefty transformer feeding a quality bridge rectifier, control board (which I have already mentioned), that sets up the limits and then drives the outputs. A good quality heatink blown at by a fan, which is triggered by a stat when the temp gets to a certain level.

Cased back up, I was then back to the point where I had started at a couple of hours earlier, testing the Baofeng:


Roger G3XBM said...

I suspect they cut corners and do NOT test (at least not on final test of the fully built unit) as few fail and it is cheaper to replace faulty units? I had similar poor quality control issues with different supplier last year over the poor quality of crimped joints on coax cables. Bought in from the Far East (?) but not checked. You would think the suppliers would want to be sure all was OK. "No, that would cost money and our profits would go down. If anyone complains just replace".

Roger G3XBM said...

Another matter.... yet another supplier was promising a 2 year guarantee on a 10m transceiver. I returned the slip to get a dealers stamp AND emailed the said supplier - NEVADA. What have I heard? NOTHING. Dealers are interested in our money only.

G1KQH said...

Perhaps we just expect too much these days for the money..

The Chinese are quick learners, I expect in another ten years or so they will be really at the top of the game and problems will be very few?

As for the dealer, I have always had a good relationship with Martin Lynch, and I know he would have replaced it if I had asked. I have had this chat with Martin before, he is only too aware of the shoddy standards of workmanship of some Chinese manufactures, I am sure if he gets too many rejects or bad feedback he makes it known at the other end, and if they don't pull up their socks then they are dumped from a great height.

Photon said...

It used to be the same with amateur astronomy equipment (which I sold back then.) It wasn't uncommon to find dirty great big fingerprints on optical surfaces that should have been essentially sterile and mounted in clean rooms.

But things did get better. Some Chinese makers do take feedback seriously - it's up to magazines, users, clubs etc to make their views known robustly. Others don't care.

In the end, the price is king, and we often hear resignation justifying the position "well, it only cost £40, so I can't complain." That's one reason why poor quality control goes unaddressed so often. I tend to have that view with cheap handhelds, but this works against the manufacturer when it comes to more expensive equipment - I just wouldn't buy it. So, if the Chinese want to make more money, they really will have to address QC issues in the longer term.