Global Chip Shortage Solution Or Maybe Not? | Voltlog #406

Welcome to a new Voltlog, In this video I’m gonna show you one potential solution if your design uses a part that you can’t source anymore due to the global chip shortage but also the pitfalls of using this method in the case of a dc-dc converter. Please keep in mind that actual price per unit or stock availability will vary between the point I started working on this video which is a couple of months ago, the actual time when I publish it or the time that you are watching it.

Let me start with providing you a bit of context here, this is the CanLite, an ESP32 based design that I sell on my Tindie store. It’s a CAN development board, it’s got a couple of high side switches, a CAN interface, a powerful processor with Wifi Capability and an automotive rated DC_DC converter to allow the user to power this from a car 12V system.

The DC-DC converter chip that I’m using is the Texas Instruments LMR14006 and I’ve been pretty happy with using dc-dc controllers from TI over the years because they generally perform really well and they have good documentation and design resources available.

Now as you all know the chip shortage has not been kind to us and as a result I can’t find this chip anymore. If we go to Octopart which is like a search engine for electronic components, we see there is no stock with any of the major distributors for the particular part number that I was using LMR14006XDDCR. And don’t get your hopes up with Winsource or Cytek, these guys just list stock for stuff that they don’t have and even if they have it, it’s not worth going through them unless you have a high volume.

A Rant on Bad Datasheets | Voltlog 381

Welcome to this short video where I’m gonna rant about the quality of Chinese electronic component datasheets because for me it’s already the second time I’ve had trouble because of missing or incorrectly presented information.

Silabs CP2104 No Activity on RX TX LEDs Bug – Voltlog #359

In Voltlog #357 I talked about a bug affecting the programming of ESP32 modules via Serial Bootloader, basically the issue was caused by an incorrect reset sequence regarding the EN and IO0 signals and I also showed a fix which involved adding a capacitor to delay the EN line.

Well, this week I’m gonna show you another bug which I encountered recently but this time with the CP2104 USB to serial converter chip from Silabs. So recently I designed this little board called VoltLink, it’s basically a usb to serial converter board but one that also integrates the auto-reset circuitry needed for programming Espressif modules like the ESP8266 & ESP32. I also have a 1mm pitch JST-SH connector with a standard pinout that I use in all of my designs and this helps with space savings on small circuit boards.

Well after assembling one of these boards, I connected it to my computer, the new virtual serial port was created and I thought everything was running fine, except it wasn’t. I quickly discovered that the status LEDs were not reacting when there was communication on the serial lines. I don’t know about you but I want my status LEDs to be functional, it helps me get a quick visual understanding of the communication happening on the serial lines. I don’t need anything specific, I just need to know that there is activity and if there is a lot of activity or less activity.

A fatal error occurred: Failed to connect to ESP32 – Voltlog #357

A fatal error occurred: Failed to connect to ESP32: Timed out waiting for packet header. This is an error on which I have spent long hours trying to figure out what’s causing it and how to fix it. If you are struggling with the same error on Windows, stick with me, I’ll show you how to fix it.

For example in my case, the issue manifests itself on a single windows computer out of 4 tested and it doesn’t really matter at which baud rate I’m trying to upload it can be 115K or 900K, it doesn’t matter if you are using Arduino IDE or PlatformIO, I still get the error because it’s not caused by the IDE. And also I’ve experienced this with both FTDI and Silabs chips. Sometimes the behavior can be random, meaning it might work 1 out of 10 tries which can get really frustrating, especially if it happens in the most inappropriate times as these problems tend to happen.

First I tried understanding the issue, this is clearly a problem with how the ESP32 resets, it doesn’t go into the correct bootloader mode for code upload. By looking at this repository which is managed by Espressif we get some info on the expected sequence, and we learn that the ESP32 should have GPIO0 pulled low during reset for it to go into serial bootloader mode. Reset is triggered by pulling the EN or Reset pin low. They don’t give us a clear timing diagram of what this should look like but I’m going to assume the state of GPIO0 is read while EN signal goes back high to release it from reset. So the logic thing was to put a scope on these signals and check it out.

Would I still recommend these products after using them? | Voltlog #343

In this video I’ll be going over some of the most important gear I have in my lab, this is stuff I have reviewed in previous videos but I want to share my thoughts after using the gear for extended periods of time. Sometimes you might discover stuff that you miss in the original review video.

Can The Coronavirus Travel With Packages Delivered From China?

Welcome to a new Voltlog and yes we are talking about the Coronavirus on this channel and you might think it’s completely unrelated but there is a connection as I will explain in a moment. You know I host a popular type of videos on my channel, that is the mailbag videos with electronic items that I get from China. I am ordering this stuff from Aliexpress, Ebay, Bangood but it doesn’t really matter which website we’re talking about, even on Amazon there are a bunch of shops that ship directly from China to the US or UK or whatever. 

Some of you might be asking is there a safety risk with the Coronavirus infection happening in China, is there a chance of that virus traveling with these products and infecting us the recipients of the packages? Well let’s look at the facts first.

Voltlog #279 – InTheMail Stats For 2019

Welcome to a new Voltlog, as you may remember last year I did a summary of all the orders placed in 2018, related to electronics items, the stuff that I show in my InTheMail segment. I did that video because I was interested in knowing the numbers and how they evolve over time but the viewers responded as well, they provided feedback with their own approximate stats so this year I’m doing it again. Same as last year, please let me know in the comments if you have any stats on your own purchases.

Voltlog #270 – 11.11 Shopping Festival Discounts Real or Fake?

Welcome to a new Voltlog, this will be just a short video, I want to talk about the prices and the discounts that we get on shopping festivals, because most of us think and myself included here, we think the price cuts we get for these shopping festivals are not actually true, we tend to think prices are inflated some time ahead only to be discounted on that day which makes them go back to roughly the same price they normally sell for.

Even in my past video with shopping suggestions Voltlog #269, I got such comments and I don’t blame people for thinking this, because like I said, I tend to think the same but I also want to find out the truth so what I did some time ago, beginning of September to be more precise, I save some screenshots of various items that I was interested in from A


Today it’s the 11th, the sale started so we’ll compare prices before and after, to see if the sellers actually raised their prices before the sale and are we really getting any discounts today.


Voltlog #264 – Passive Heatsink Cooling For The Raspberry Pi 4

Welcome to a new Voltlog, here is my raspberry pi 4 which I got a few months ago when they released it and if you have one you might have noticed it gets quite hot especially when it has to do some processing. This newer processor, will get hot quick and the board alone cannot cope with all of this heat so what does it do? Well when the CPU temperature reaches 80 degrees Celsius it will start throttling down the CPU as a way of protecting itself from overheating and this will result in a loss of performance.

The Raspberry Pi 4 has a 1.5GHz quad-core 64-bit Arm Cortex-A72 CPU, that’s roughly three times the performance of the raspberry pi 3 cpu. That inevitably generates more heat. In the original plastic case just sitting idle, connected to a network, doing pretty much nothing, the raspberry pi4 when compared to a raspberry pi3 runs about 12 degrees hotter.

Voltlog #234 – The Problems I Found With The KSGER T12 Soldering Station

In a previous Voltlog I reviewed this KSGER T12 soldering station, it was the first station I got my hands on from this manufacturer, it’s version 2.1S and I was pleasantly surprised by the features it has. If you haven’t seen that video I will link it on screen right now. Since then I’ve been using it as my main soldering station and I’ve been pretty happy with how it works but some of my viewers who have been using these for longer have pointed out a few things I missed in the video so this will be a quick update video to show the things I’ve missed previously.