Friday 17 February 2017

More fakes

Here are some fake 2SK1058 & 2SJ162 MOSFETs I just bought from ebay. These came from an American seller. Different 2SJ162s:

In each case I've put a real 2SJ162 next to the fake. In all photos the fake is on the left and the real deal is on the right.

The real transistor is the most modern version of the 2SJ162, made after Hitachi spun their semiconductor foundry off as it's own entity under the "Renesas" brand. Note the absence of Hitachi markings, or indeed Renesas. Note also that the real thing has it's marking done with a printing process, whereas the fake has markings done by laser, in a raster pattern.

Lots of transistors are marked by laser now - indeed it's the standard way for product to be identified these last fifteen years or so. However that's after Hitachi became Renesas. Note the real Renesas product (perhaps twelve years old) still hasn't got laser markings.

The other tell-tale is that the date code on the two wildly different 2SJ162 packages is identical. Fabs do change their packaging from time to time, but not with the same date code.

Note further that the raster pattern isn't just where the markings are, but extends all the way across the package. I'm hypothesising that this is how they obliterate the original markings without resorting to sanding.

And their counterfeit complementary pairs, 2SK1058s:

Again, real deal on the right, fakes on the left. Same thing with the laser markings, but this time the raster pattern is only where the text is. Perhaps they got a pile of transistors that were unmarked so there was no erasing needed?

This is incredibly frustrating. I'm a seasoned professional engineer with decades of experience. If I didn't have some known-good stock of these transistors, and if I hadn't been alerted to the possibility of trouble by the two different 2SJ162s with the same date code, then I'd have chucked them in a circuit and wondered why it didn't work. How's a fifteen year old enthusiastic kid going to cope? She'll build her amp, wonder why it vanishes in a cloud of smoke, and give up.

A very easy test can be done with a multimeter. Cgs on the real parts is ~0.8nF, and Cgd around 0.6nF for the 1058, and 1.1nF for the 162. For the fakes I didn't measure valid capacitances for most of the 2SJ162s (so they probably aren't even MOSFETs), and the remainder all measured ~5nF Cgd, so they're likely DMOS parts rather than lateral MOSFETs.

So the last photo shows a cotton bud soaked in isopropyl alcohol, having scrubbed the surface of the transistor:

Black scunge comes off, and the raster pattern is more obvious. I'm wondering if they paint the transistors with something where they've had to remove markings to blacken them up before remarking. I didn't get any black scunge off the "2SK1058" variety - I'm thinking this is because no remarking was needed for these ones.

I'll see how the seller goes with a refund.

Edit: The seller refunded immediately, and said "Hello I sold many of this item, without any complaint", which is I guess exactly my concern. So lots of people have bought these, put them into amps, found they don't work, then blamed either their own assembly skills or else the amp design, when the problem is that the actual parts are fakes. It's really unconscionable behaviour.

Finally, a quick disassembly. From left to right we have both the flavours of "2SJ162" then the "2SK1058":

The dies are all different sizes - 4.2mm square for the first "2SJ162", 4.1mm for the second, and 4.5 for the "2SK1058". They made rather a mess mounting the die, which is a little surprising and makes me wonder if perhaps these are specifically built to be fakes - ie that they buy die and package them, then put bogus labels on them.


Unknown said...

Ciao, il tuo articolo è molto utile, per questo ti ringrazio, dopo aver visto le immagini credo di avere in laboratorio una coppia di 2sj162 falsa acquistata circa 10 anni fa, oggi sto riprendendo un vecchio progetto per cui erano destinati questi due falsi, ma preventivamente avevo messo nella lista della spesa 1 coppia di 2sj162 e una coppia di sk1058 della Renesas acquistati su Reichelt distributore Tedesco, al prezzo di Euro 4,65 per ciascuno, credo che se avessi montato quelli falsi come dici tu avrei attribuito il problema alle mia capacità, ma dopo aver letto il tuo avvertimento il pericolo è scongiurato.

Teodule said...

Thanks for this article and evidence of faked transistors. It is really a shame. I came across your blog when searching a replacement for these transistors for my power amp. I'll try to get original ones from the power amplifier manufacturer (PAS Audio) to avoid surprises with far East products sold in eBay. I had so far a bad experience with a fake 128Gb SD Card. The seller had sold many and no one complained....

CSA803A said...

Why on earth a seasoned professional buys power transistors from eBay?

Unless you are specifically looking for fakes, of course.

I have bought a few M8030 Ublox ICs from Alibaba just to see if it is still true to its roots and wasn't let down - they were epoxy and copper (if that) - no silicon or bond wires inside. Eventually PayPal refunded but I can't say I was surprised at the least that I got slugs in the first place...

Suzy said...

I buy things from eBay for the same reason anyone does, because more trustworthy sources have dried up. These transistors aren’t made any more, so the only source is to buy from vendors that have been hoarding. This stuff generally gets sold on eBay.

The good news for this is that the episode forced me to find compatible replacements. The Exicon ECX10N20 and 10P20 are drop in for my amps and perform slightly better than the Hitachi parts, with better SOA and, interestingly, a more pronounced negative tempco, so their bias is more stable at low bias currents.

Teodule said...

Thank you Suzy, you are taking words out if my mouth. 10 years ago we had here plenty of suppliers down town Munich with professional competence. All the places have been replaced by telephone shops and table dance bars... Obviously the demand is nowadays different. I am not specially fond of eBay. But this is a good source of parts in small quantities and NOS.