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ENA Electronics Blog

Reverse Engineering | Industrial Electronics | Servo Repair

MOVING NOTICE

ENA Electronics is pleased to announce that our head office has officially relocated to:


1527 Upper Ottawa Street Unit 8, Hamilton


This conveniently places us directly across from our Electronics Laboratory.


Now almost double the size of our previous office, this move embodies the growth ENA has experienced over the last 5 years.


This leap forward/jump comes alongside some exciting developments at ENA. In particular, the expansion of our Reverse Engineering department + new opportunities for us in the Wind Energy sector.


The larger facility will allow us to better serve all our customers as we continue to expand. While staying in Hamilton, we can continue to help build the growth of the tech space here.


All contact information will remain unchanged.


For any questions or concerns, we would be happy to hear from you at: services@enaelectronics.ca

IMPROVING OR MODIFYING FIRMWARE

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Improving or modifying the existing firmware to add extra features is difficult without providing the source code (the original program in its original language), this is because, when a compiler compiles code for a programmed IC the compiled output is translated into machine code which is then downloaded into the IC. This machine code although not impossible to disassemble the machine code into assembly code + thus edit it, it is a process that is certainly not quick + can often result in limited results at best.

 

In situations where you need to edit or change the algorithm but you do not have the source code we recommend that you get in touch to see how we can help you rewrite your firmware.

 

We first start by reverse engineering your circuit board + finding out what inputs + outputs are connected to the programmed IC this allows us to make sure the functionality of the new firmware replicates the old. We then take these inputs + outputs + either replace the programmed IC with a modern equivalent or use the make + model of the original IC, buy a new one + then program it to have expanded functionality.

 

The benefits of redeveloping your firmware is that you will then be able to have backups of your new source file to use for future production + if your new programmed IC or microcontroller ever becomes obsolete you will have the source file allowing you to recompile the code for another microcontroller which is far quicker + faster than redevelopment.

 


Do you need firmware modifying or improving? If so get in touch to see what solutions we can offer you.

Servo Motor Repairs - Repair or Replace?

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Here at ENA we can repair various servo motor brands. Typically, and almost always a repair is less expensive than a replacement. Our Technicians undergo strict testing procedures that vary based upon the brand, model, features and firmware.

 

First, we assess and inspect for aesthetic damage. Photos are taken, and appropriate software is used to communicate with the hardware checking that the encoder/resolver is working properly.

 

After this the nameplate data and maintenance info is compiled by our techs for later reference if necessary. Next, the servo motor is meter tested for insulation and resistance, this allows us to prevent further damage to the parts, insulation and winding. The Servo Motor is then connected to our state of the art Mitchell System in order to check its electromagnetic frequency, encoder or resolver feedback and commutation alignment. We want to ensure everything is functioning correctly! We then perform a 100% component test including looking at to ensure there are no connection issues, magnet failures, or winding failures. Print outs of the test data can be given on request.

 

Once our technicians finish the repair, they reassemble the servo motor for cleaning and painting. Finally protection is added to the motor, this means that when you receive your motor you can be assured it has the ENA Electronics seal of approval.

 

Why not have a look at some of our previous servo motor work? As the GTA (Greater Toronto Areas) premium motor repair shop we are proud to offer free pickup and delivery with one of our authorised account managers, we've got you covered from Hamilton to Burlington, Oakville, Toronto and beyond.

Making Schematics from Printed Circuit Boards - Why We Love Reverse Engineering

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There are many reasons why a PCB must be reverse engineered for a client however it is worth asking the question why do we love to reverse engineering printed circuit boards?

 

One of the biggest reasons we love to reverse engineer circuit boards is that we can learn a lot from the way a circuit board has been manufactured. We love the challenge of taking a circuit that serves a purpose but is now unsupported working out how it was made + then making a replacement.

 

Sometimes we need to clone or copy a circuit board in a process that involves duplication. Everything down to the routing of the traces is copied + this means that no mistakes are made, this is especially important for those circuit boards that are EMC Seismic + EMI qualified, routing the traces exactly like the original leaves little room for extra noise or crosstalk on the signalling. It’s in reverse engineering circuit boards like this that we learn how to make replicas of technology that might be dated or have modern equivalents + we have the challenge of finding out where to source parts from, how to manufacture mechanical parts + how to assemble the product.

 

When it comes to feature upgrades or adding something new we love to reverse engineer a circuit board as we are allowed the creativity to make something great again or to add features that the client longed for but could never have, both situations give us great pleasure using our industry knowledge for your advantage.

 

Reverse Engineering can often feel like a complex + detailed painting however in reality often circuits are patterns + the more you study them the more you recognise the patterns + the easier it is to reverse engineer the circuit. Many circuits have standard layouts (often found in the application note or datasheet) these circuits help us to draw schematics + layouts of your design. The simplicity of this approach is yet another reason why we love electronic reverse engineering.

 

To see some of our past projects check out our reverse engineering projects page.

Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) Repair

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Recently we were working on a variable frequency drive and this repair was a hot rush - meaning that an entire line in a factory was down, the need to repair the drive quickly and efficiently was of utmost importance.

 

Once the drive was received into our repair laboratory we started working on it immediately by diagnosing the issues and ordering the parts.

 

Once the parts were installed the next thing to do was to power up the VFD (Variable Frequency Drive) to see if the new parts solved the issue. Once powered the bus was not charging, we determined that there must be something else wrong. After a full tear down of the drive our engineers drew schematics to work out how power was getting to the bus. We discovered the voltage was coming through a precharge resistor into the bus which once it was charged the SCRs (Silicon Controlled Rectifier) would fire and the voltage would be on the bus. The problem was we still had no voltage on the bus. Realizing that it was the precharge resistor that had blown we traced this back and found that although the connector looked functional in reality it was blown inside.

 


Once this was repaired the bus was charged. But then one of the bus capacitors blew which was probably the cause of the blown precharge resistor in the first place. After replacing this resistor from our large inventory of in house stocked components we were able to try running the low voltage portion of the drive the problem being it wasn't powering up.

 

After drawing further schematics we found it was through an 8k 70w resistor working as a potential divider that then fed the PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) chip on the SMPS (Switched Mode Power Supply). But the voltage was too low for the switch mode power supply to work. We needed to make a repair.

 

After disassembling the drive and reverse engineering the low voltage portion of the drive we were able to trace the PWM chip's voltage input to one of the input connectors and also off to what seemed to be a shut down optocoupler circuit from the control card. Investigating further we found a 400 ohm resistance across VCC and OV leading us to start pulling and investigating components. Surprisingly there was a SOT-23 SMD transistor that was not fully open or shorted across collector and emitter which was measuring 1.2k ohms. This was the culprit, after changing this part the voltage was restored and the low voltage portion of the drive was repaired.

 


It's hard to believe that a component (see right in the middle of the picture) the size of half a grain of rice could stop an entire factory from working! This is why you need ENA Electronics to be your Industrial Repair and Reverse Engineering company of choice, we go the extra mile and don't give up on those extra difficult repairs. For more information on the work we do head to our repair page, check out our catalog or get in touch for more information.

How To Clone (Snarf) A Secured IC

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Sometimes we get programmed ICs which cannot be duplicated by conventional means as the ICs have been secured at programming time which stops unauthorised copying. Unfortunately when a manufacturer goes out of business this proprietary code is lost + if the code was secured on the programmed IC then the only solution is to reverse engineer the functionality of the IC.

 

We have experience in external interface analysis (the black box approach) reverse engineering which is where an IC is probed on its inputs + outputs, inputting a signal onto one pin + detecting any changes on the output for this we use our custom black box tester which we developed just for this purpose.

 

If you really need we can even do silicon die analysis + work out how the chip is working through a microscope, this is a very time consuming process but can yield some interesting results.

 

In other situations when we are unable to probe inputs + outputs we have the necessary skills to either simulate the whole system + produce a working replacement (such as developing custom firmware). This process is generally involves re-developing the circuit or at least part of it.

 

Luckily at ENA Electronics we have the skill to recover your firmware! Get in touch with us for a free no obligation quote.

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