My usual stance is to be nice to Itead, I’ve been dealing with them for some time and although I have absolutely no commercial or personal tie up with them, they do send product samples from time to time as do many others – and I usually end up writing decent reports about their products – especially Sonoff controllers which I think are miraculous given the price.
Well, there’s always an exception (but see the new note at the end)
Yesterday I received this neat little board and accompanying radio handset.
This is the kind of board that could end up all over a hobbyists house, turning lights and other devices on and off. And that’s what worries me as hobbyists aren’t necessarily experts in electronics and mains power use.
So – why would I have a problem with this.
Ok, take a look at the underside – which is clearly left-right reversed from the upper view. The clearances around the relays are fine for mains voltages and they’ve made up for track width with some heavy soldering – not pretty but functional. But here’s the rub – look at the two vertical tracks on the bottom right of the photo – that’s mains power coming in from the connector – to the little power supply.A close inspection at the power supply end shows that the gaps between pins are close – but in practice ok.. but here’s the rub… notice the light green nature of the bottom half of the board – that is ground plane flooding – most commendable – keeps electrical noise down – BUT – what the HELL is it doing right up next to the mains wires??
Those of you from the states might think this is bad but hey, not too bad.. but in countries using up to 250v (we have 250v here) – that is downright dangerous – the slightest damp or circuit board fault or solder beading and BANG. I am not one of these perfectionists – far from it – I could not tell you how many times I’ve electrocuted myself over my many years messing with electronics (around 50 years amazingly) – but I’m not going near that with 250v mains! So – apart from the fire risk there is also a risk of electrocution from messing with the on-board buttons.
Now – to be VERY fair, I did immediately contact Itead about this (as did Peter Oakes as he has one) and in very strong terms told them my views on this given the high quality of their other stuff. Well, it turns out that in fact that this product is a third party board simply using their little cute power supply left middle) – and they are going to contact the manufacturer. If you see these boards – I would check that you get a revised version – OR un-solder that power supply – swap the leftmost connector to the spare holes and feed it with 5v instead.
All this REALLY needs is the ground flooding removed from the area around those two tracks – maybe leaving 3mm all round.. and I’d be inclined not to solder the unused middle connector (but that’s just me). Clearly these are early production or even prototypes by the hand soldering – I’m hoping our comments will mean the final production will be useful, SAFE products.
As for the board ITSELF – there are 4 buttons for on and off – and a neat feature – a button to select one of several non-volatile modes – so, for example, the 4 buttons/remote/WIFI might turn individual outputs on or off, or allow only one of 4 to be on at any time, or monostable mode where delays close momentarily only etc. Very good!
Update December 2016: Now, I have to tell you that following on from comments that Peter Oakes and I passed back to Itead, they have, I believe, dropped this product and are working on their own version. I have to say, HATS OFF!