[time-nuts] A look inside the DS3231

Pete Stephenson pete at heypete.com
Fri Jul 28 19:05:19 EDT 2017

On Thu, Jul 27, 2017, at 09:31 PM, Pete Stephenson wrote:
> Anyway, the photos are available at http://imgur.com/a/0zudj -- I will
> add more photos from the petrographic microscope tomorrow. I focused
> mainly on the markings on the die that indicated it was, in fact, a
> Maxim chip but if there's any other region of the chip that you'd like
> images of, please let me know and I'd be happy to take some more
> pictures.

Hi all,

Just a quick update: I was able to look at the DS3231 at work at the
quality of the (very expensive) Zeiss microscope is dramatically better
than my $20 USB microscope at home. No surprise.

Unfortunately, due to the ancient Canon camera attached to the
microscope not being compatible with Windows 7 or Linux, I was unable to
get any high-quality photos at this time. The camera is normally used in
tethered mode with no CF card, with the camera connected to the user's
laptop. Most of my colleagues use Macs, which evidently do work with it
but I wasn't able to ask any of them today before they all left. I've
ordered a CF-to-SD adapter that should allow me to take photos without
any issues, but it will be a few weeks until it arrives. Once it's
arrived, I'll take some more photos of the chip and let people know.

I've taken a few photos with my smartphone through the microscope's
eyepiece, but they turned out quite poorly as you can see below. When
viewed directly via the eyepiece, the appearance of the chip is quite

On a related note, the reflected differential interference contrast
(DIC) filters on the microscope make looking at multi-layer chips
dramatically more clear and interesting. Compare
http://imgur.com/7nuTooL , which was taken with with no optical
filtering using standard reflected light illumination and
http://imgur.com/P6HL9MB which was taken of a different area of the chip
using reflected DIC. The colors are different, of course, but the
contrast between elements of the chip is much improved.

If anyone has any chips they'd like me to examine under the microscope,
let me know and I'd be happy to do so.


Pete Stephenson

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