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 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)? Got the DMM out, and measured the output, plenty of Volts, but still no indication on 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. 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 it really isn't his fault, he buys in a pallet load, one or two get put out for demonstration, and 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 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, on 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:

Steve, G1KQH, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from England. Contact him at [email protected].

10 Responses to “Quality control or lack of?”

  • steve M0ZZT:

    I think it pays to check out the item before all the hassle of sending it back plus keeps our hand in

  • Neil McGrath G7AQK:

    I had the same adaptor for my Baofeng and found that the wires in the plug had been cut too short. After a few operations, the solder connections detached and the adaptor stopped working. It was a pretty easy fix but does show that Chinese quality control is sometimes a bit lacking.

  • peter kg5wy:

    I guess we get what we pay for.
    More quality control will cost more.

  • David WB4ONA:

    “You get what you pay for” is mostly a fallacy in the case of these simple Chinese-made electronic goods…

    Reasonable levels of quality assurance costs little compared with the total cost of goods sold. But you cannot get reasonable levels of quality control from workers that just do not care about their job. The workers are paid barely enough to live, and are treated like machines.

    Welcome to the Progressive-Socialist Utopia comrade!

  • Hans (BX2ABT):

    @WB4ONA: Right…..workers who are barely paid because the price of what they make has to be low enough to satisfy the capitalist spenders who are not willing to pay an honest amount for it. Workers who know of the glut prevalent in the western world, where the “toys” they make won’t satisfy long and will be thrown out sooner than later. Workers who know that their bosses need a steady revenue stream and that by producing quality they will interrupt that. So yes, the new progressive-socialist utopia run by a handful of henchmen who feed their capitalist overlords in the west.

    Believe me, nobody in China wants the crappy stuff they make for the west. If they buy something it is quality, the rest is shipped abroad.

  • Roger G3XBM:

    Yes I agree that we get what we pay for and these are made at low cost as some corners will be cut . I very much doubt they did a full test of the assembled full PSU – so few fail so it becomes more cost effective to just replace those that fail.

  • David WB4ONA:

    @Hans (BX2ABT):

    Thank you for your thoughtful reply, but I think you missed the contradiction raised in my argument:

    A “Living Wage” is a cornerstone of Socialism. So why isn’t a living wage being paid in a self-professed Socialist country? A similar question is raised in the case where workers are being treated like machines. “Social Justice” is another tenet of Socialism. Mistreating workers is not practicing social justice.

    If Socialism was working as it claims it should, then the State would not allow the “Henchmen” (as you put it) who are doing these things to the workers to exist. Unfortunately, it seems the opposite is true!

    By comparison, in most cases Capitalist societies have gone a long way toward solving these problems. But yes, there is still more to be done.

    I will back-pedal a bit though and admit there is a higher price to pay for higher quality, but it is not the pivot-point of the problem, which is how the State is allowing the workers to be treated. And the higher price paid would be baseline across the board, not the purchaser’s choice.

    The “West” (again, as you put it) can survive increased prices for these products brought on by improved wages and working conditions – which will also result in higher quality. Better products, happier workers, and far less risk and waste brought on by failures. And I think you would be surprised how even a small increase improves quality. A win-win situation.

    Since these work-place standards should be State mandated and enforced across the board, then the motivation to cut costs competitively to the point below which the workers are mistreated and quality suffers is no longer wide-spread.

    This is what successful Capitalist societies strive to do; with (hopefully) minimum Government involvement strike a fair balance in minimum wage levels and enforce clean, safe work-place standards. All without Government corrupt practices. Ideologically this might be a called “Capitalism with a taste of Socialism”.

    Best 73’s, David

  • peter kg5wy:

    David. I am not your comrade.

  • Mark W4MMR:

    Quality control and China is an oxymoron.

    I source a lot of parts from China and based upon my experience, this is always and will be an issue. They will skimp to meet pricing, always, no matter what. Consider reading the book “Poorly Made in China” by Midler to see what I mean.

    You can get quality in some sectors in China but you have to look hard. Imagine 21st century technology with 19th century infrastructure in most manufacturing zones: oxcarts for moving parts to different processes, stacking large amounts of parts in piles, improper machining processes, no safety for employees. This is the norm for Chinese manufacturing and it is not like we see for the Apple iPhones of which is unique. There is also a very large annual turnover of trained people making stuff. They are indentured yearly and usually leave at the Chinese New Year. Those that speak English well, move from company to company to make more money. It is no wonder quality levels are low.


  • Hans (BX2ABT):

    David, as many Americans you mistake socialism with communism. China is politically a communist state, but nowadays economically a capitalist one. The henchmen are simply Chinese capitalist who exploit their workers for their own gain. In that respect China is no different from the USA where companies also exploit their workers and mistreat them by putting them below the poverty line in giving them a wage that is too low. Your statement that most capitalist countries have solved these problems is wrong, because they do enhance these problems. The gap between rich and poor has grown in the last couple of decades, not slunken. If, instead, you mean western countries like Germany or Norway then you mistake capitalism with socialism, because the afore mentioned countries are socialist in their ideologies, but use a capitalistic approach to their economies.

    I think the pivot-point -is- the price-quality level. Most people buy on price, not quality. If, as a manufacturer, you produce quality but the market won’t buy it then you will be out of business soon. Bad for you, bad for your workers. The market dictates, so if China’s biggest market (the USA) demands quality then the Chinese will produce it. If not, then low quality will be delivered at a price to the people who produce it. Both the governments in China as well as in the States won’t or don’t want to have too much influence in this. Either way, the greed that comes with capitalism will prevail and the balance between haves and have-nots will increase.

    What always strikes me as odd is that many Americans, like you, don’t want much governmental influence. But at the same time your solution is for state mandated and enforced work-place standards. I think once you put the right safeguards in place the only government that can achieve “Capitalism with a taste of Socialism” is a socialist one. Socialists work to better the lifes for all, not a selected few. This doesn’t mean equality at all levels, certainly not income wise. This doesn’t mean the state will control your entire life (what most Americans fear), but it will reign people in if excesses are encountered and will guarantee that everyone has equal opportunities in having a decent life.

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