I think I found an easy method to detect counterfeit Apple chargers, please help to confirm.

Discussion in 'Test & Measurement Forum' started by SoundBlaster, Feb 28, 2018.

  1. SoundBlaster

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jul 19, 2017
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    I got twelve 5W Apple A1265 and A1385 USB Cube Adapters which look real. No spelling errors or other obvious visual issues, but one weighted 23 gram instead of 25 gram.

    The one I used for reference was still the original sealed box bought at the Apple store, guaranteed to be 100% authentic.
    When I tested the resistance between the prongs of the original with a Fluke 87V it showed Open Loop (OL).

    From all others only one showed that same behavior, most others show a resistance starting at 0.7, 2.1, or 17.4 MegaOhm (MΩ) and crawling up.

    Other observations, the original was manufactured by Lite-On, the one that also tested OL has the mark Artesyn the rest in the MegaOhm range have the marks Artesyn, Salcomp or Flextronics. The 23 gram was the only one that started at 0.7 MegaOhm.

    Can you reproduce this test with some other real Apple Cube adapters?
    [​IMG]
     
  2. JohnInTX

    Moderator

    Jun 26, 2012
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    The one that came with my iPhone weighs 25g.
    Connecting a Fluke 787 across the tangs either way shows OL.

    When initially connected, it started at about 33Meg and climbed up to OL over about 1 minute. It hadn't been powered up in awhile but it might have been the meter stabilizing, too. It is consistently OL now.

    Interesting topic since there have been electrocutions due to cheap look-alike adapters not being isolated from the line.

    EDIT: oops, iPhone
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2018
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  3. wayneh

    Expert

    Sep 9, 2010
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    I just got a new iPhone - I'll check the AC adapter weight. - update: It's 25g with its thin, clear plastic protective wrapper still attached.

    I started a thread on a related topic a while back because, in the course of shopping for a new adapter, I became convinced that virtually all the adapters for sale on Amazon and elsewhere are fake. Many are admittedly not OEM, but I'm talking about the ones that pass themselves off as OEM but are clever fakes.

    I've even though of building a test rig for adapters as a business opportunity. You'd plug the tester into any adapter, and it would map out the current capacity before voltage falls, and also the noise. I'm thinking about the videos you can find online describing oscilloscope testing of genuine versus fake adapters. The differences were pretty clear and shouldn't be hard to identify with a simple test device.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2018
  4. BobaMosfet

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jul 1, 2009
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    They can fake a sticker, but it's worth checking anyway. If it doesn't have a UL sticker/screenprint/emboss, don't buy it. You can even go to UL's website and check to see if the item you have is UL listed.
     
  5. JohnInTX

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    Jun 26, 2012
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    Good advice. I once looked up the listing number for the power supply in a white-box computer - it was listed all right but according to UL, it was a Fedders air conditioner..
     
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  6. BobaMosfet

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jul 1, 2009
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    I haven't had that issue with anything I've looked up :p !!!

    It should be noted that in the USA it is not legal to plug devices into the power-grid that are not UL listed. This is for liability reasons. If you burn your house down because you plugged a USB charger in that is not UL listed... your insurance is not liable. You assumed the risk.
     
  7. RichardO

    Late Member

    May 4, 2013
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    I doubt that this is true. UL is not the only safety testing agency. In fact, contrary to common belief, UL is _not_ a government agency.
     
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  8. JohnInTX

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    It was not true back in the day when I did a lot of UL/CSA compliance work. Some local jurisdictions had compliance requirements for commercial/medical/university and other public installations - City of Los Angeles comes to mind - but it didn’t have to be UL. In practice, though, obtaining the suitable UL listing or ETL later satisfied the local requirements and easier than submitting lab tests for the various jurisdictions. It was common for the bit specs to say something had to meet UL standard xxxx but independent lab tests could be submitted on a case basis. Notably, Canada did require CSA on virtually everything sold there.

    As far as insurance, I know that some commercial policies required some sort of certification but I’m not aware of any general requirements for everyday homeowner’s policies. Mine doesn’t even though they are aware that I have a home shop and plug lots of stuff in...

    But if things have indeed changed, I be interested to know that, too.
     
  9. WBahn

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    Mar 31, 2012
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    Could you provide some references for this?

    There are multiple testing agencies, not just Underwriter's Laboratory.

    It is certainly not illegal for a hobbyist to build an electronic device and plug it into the power grid.

    My understanding (which could be wrong) is that if you are selling something and you do not have a certification from a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (of which UL is just one), then you may have a very hard time getting product liability insurance.

    But if you buy something that is not certified by an NRTL and your use causes a fire, your insurance company still has to honor the policy, but they can and likely will go after the manufacturer of the product (who, of course, doesn't have any product liability insurance) to recover their losses.
     
  10. WBahn

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    Mar 31, 2012
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    Me, too.

    Before I bought my first home I when I was looking for homeowners insurance I informed each of the companies I contacted that I did proof-of-concept electronics prototyping as a side business and would be doing so from home. This didn't phase them at all. The one thing that a couple companies asked about was how much customer foot traffic did I expect since this increased the potential for injury claims. When I told them that I doubted that I would have even a single customer visit in any given year, they were happy to write a policy that had no added premium for the presence of the business and said that claims would be honored even if they were related to the conduct of the business.
     
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  11. ebp

    Well-Known Member

    Feb 8, 2018
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    High input resistance that changes really only means that there is a capacitor across the input, which is a standard EMI/RFI countermeasure, but of course something that can be left out to save a few cents if the converter isn't going to be certified for compliance. Normally there is a fixed resistor across the cap to discharge it within a prescribed time to comply with safety regs.

    I will not buy any AC line operated product directly from China unless I'm prepared to rework it to make it safe, and for lots of power delivery devices that just isn't possible. I've seen all sorts of stuff that isn't safety agency certified because no agency anywhere would certify it. Amazon "fulfills" orders for a vast array of uncertified junk.
     
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  12. JohnInTX

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    Jun 26, 2012
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    Yeah.. I have to carry a business liability policy to keep the homeowner’s in force. They are less concerned about me burning the place down plugging in non-certified stuff than by some client tripping on the rug.

    But back to the topic..
    While weighing adapters, it might be interesting to know that UL et. al. are for-profit entities that provide a testing service to respected, known standards. They charge for the printed standard itself, the testing, periodic factory inspections and for each UL label, sticker, hologram or molded impression of their mark. Their contract provides for physical removal of the marks if an inspection reveals that you are not in compliance with the specific procedure that they generated for your particular product. Maintaining a listing requires some cost and effort so it’s not surprising to see counterfeits.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2018
  13. BobaMosfet

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jul 1, 2009
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    All-

    Well, it's not illegal. I checked. However, I am trying to find the source (it's been a number of years since I read it) that went into significant detail into how UL originally had almost a 'legal requirement' status. Be that as it may, it isn't illegal, so that may not matter. What does matter however, is what your HO-x policies say in your home-insurance policies for those that have it, and unless your policy specifically tells you they cover you if a non-certified appliance causes a fire that burns down your home, I'd talk to your insurance and get them to update your policy, perhaps with HO-3 to specifically cover that.

    It isn't enough for them to say, "Oh yeah, you're covered :: smiles ::" on the phone. It has to be written into your policy and either specifically included, or specifically excluded. Your insurance company is not there to pay claims, it's there to rake in money. And they will very easily tell you that (typical policy wording) "faulty wiring is not covered" and then by virtue of the non-certified status of the item you plug in, claim that the charger (or whatever appliance) has faulty wiring if it is not certified to meet existing safety standards. Obviously, faulty wiring should mean the outlet itself-- but few people know that every day words we use are interpreted and used very differently in legal contexts. And for one purpose- to avoid liability.

    If you make some fangled doohickey without adequate safety aspects in place and plug it into the wall and burn the house down or kill yourself... do you think the insurance company has to cover that? I'm not certain the would, and I'm not willing to put that to the test.

    Which reminds me-- How many of you are aware that _you_ are responsible for your lateral line? The sewer pipe that drains water from your plumbing into the city drainage out by the manhole? When was the last time you had a plumber run a camera down it to see if it's failing? It can be fixed relatively affordably before it becomes a problem, or you can be looking at $10K or so... Further, if you rent, or lease, make sure you're not liable for this. As an owner, I got hit with this last year, and insurance wouldn't cover it. No requirement for them to do so. Excluded in their policy under very general wording.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2018
  14. wayneh

    Expert

    Sep 9, 2010
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    The 'good' counterfeiters make a product that is virtually indistinguishable - by appearance - from a genuine adapter side-by-side. Testing or a tear-down quickly reveal the fake.
     
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  15. debe

    AAC Fanatic!

    Sep 21, 2010
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    Don't know whats in a genuine one but this is a copy one & whats inside. USB.1.JPG USB.2.JPG USB.3.JPG USB.4.JPG USB.6.JPG
     
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  16. ebp

    Well-Known Member

    Feb 8, 2018
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    shock hazard, fire hazard, probably lots of RFI
    - inadequate creepage and clearance
    - no fuse - not even a necked-down track on the PCB
    - no EMI/RFI countermeasures

    crude regulation based on zener; current limiting probably very sloppy
     
  17. wayneh

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  18. BobaMosfet

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jul 1, 2009
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    No argument there. It seems like an entire hemisphere of the planet is devoted to this 'art'... sadly.
     
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