[time-nuts] 10811 Alternatives

Bob Camp kb8tq at n1k.org
Mon Apr 13 19:58:07 EDT 2015


I guess it comes down to what you expect from each level of the process. Each of us
may expect something different. Toss in language barriers and things can get even more
confused. Watching the commercials on TV can easily lead you to expectations that may not
be met :)


These base stations get a “fork lift upgrade” and the fork lift drops the old one onto a truck. They
are hauled to a depot where they pile up. The objective it to get rid of them, not to take care of them.
They then get shipped by rail to a port and tossed on a ship. Once in China, they are broken down.
That breakdown process involves multiple levels of sorting and transfers from site to site. By the 
time the board gets it’s OCXO pulled, it may have passed through a dozen hands. That’s a tough 
process for an OCXO. 

I see *lots* of OCXO’s at auction that have damaged labels, dings in the cans, rust on
the cans and leads, scratches all over the place. I guess that they spent time under water or at 
least in the rain. I take this as verification that the scrap process was not very gentle. 


Once they get to this point, there’s really not much you can do to correct the problem. The process
has nuked them. It’s just a matter of who will sell them and who will buy them. 

Once any OCXO has been beaten up, it’s a suspect part. Nobody builds them with a brutal
scrap process in mind. Even with a very extensive test process, one can only *guess* at it’s
condition. I have zero expectation of any surplus dealer on the planet carrying out more than a simple
“power on, lights work, outputs on the right connectors” sort of test. 


When I see a sale for "100% tested”, I expect an OCXO will have some sort of output and the controller
will cut back and not run away. I don’t expect that somebody aged it or ran ADEV. I also expect that
the seller has *some* vague idea of what he’s selling. I also accept that he may or may not have
done the test himself. 

What I *do* expect from a seller is that a “guarantee, 14 days to return” means I have a way of getting my
money back.. Of course this involves *me*testing the gizmo as soon as I got it. It also involves *me* being 
set up to test what ever the gizmo was. After that I have to go through what ever process the return / refund


Some people have an expectation that a $15 board pull OCXO (that likely sold for > $200 a few years ago) 
can simply be plugged in and counted on to work 100% perfectly with no verification. In 50 years
of dealing with surplus gear, I can’t think of any time or any dealer from whom that’s ever been the case. 
The problem is not the dealer, it’s the expectation. 

There’s also an expectation that some dealer out there is “magic” in some way. Sorry, but they all get their
stuff in the same market. They all rely on information from “upstream” that may or may not be correct. They 
all are in business to sell what’s out there. Are some less honest than others - of course. Even the ones that
are totally honest are still limited (in this case) by the scrap process. 


What to do?

Don’t pay crazy prices for crazy claims. If the claim is to good to be true, it probably is. Plan on buying more
than one gizmo and sorting them out. This is surplus !!! Expect the worst and be happy when it goes better than that. 


> On Apr 13, 2015, at 1:28 PM, Charles Steinmetz <csteinmetz at yandex.com> wrote:
> Bob wrote:
>> I've always found that building in performance / reliability is a lot cheaper than testing it in...
> And if you are a surplus dealer, letting the customer test it for you is a lot cheaper than testing it yourself....
> One of the defective MV89s I received ("guaranteed 100% tested and working") came in a box the previous customer had used to return it, complete with that customer's name and address, the seller's real name and address (different from the name and address of the seller on file with ebay), and a note from the previous buyer listing the faults with the unit.  Nobody could possibly have tested that unit in even the most cursory way and deemed it to be "working."
> After 6 purchases from 6 different sellers (well, 6 different seller IDs -- I suspect 2 or 3 of them might have been the same person), I never once received an MV89 that came close to meeting spec.  I did open one up after ebay refunded me without requiring me to return it, and I was shocked at the crudeness of the construction and the poor build quality.  They may all leave the factory meeting spec, but it wouldn't surprise me to find that many of them never do.
> Best regards,
> Charles
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