E-STIM 2B tear down review

The most versatile and user friendly E-Stim control unit available today. If you want More Power, More Control, and more fun, then the 2B is the one you want.
Sub1000lon
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E-STIM 2B tear down review

Post by Sub1000lon » Mon Nov 02, 2015 10:27 am

Now, I know you're not meant to open the box to have a lookie see inside but, why not? Well we'll get to that later.
I don't know how long this post will stay on this forum, because the powers that be might not like what I have to say,
but this is only meant to be taken as constructive criticism.

The general look and feel of the 2B is okay but there is room for improvement, it does not rattle like some of the
competition but that is only down to a piece of foam to hold the battery in place, a quick mod on any other device
with a bit of foam and double sided tape.
The box itself is quite heavy for what it is, and heavy normally means quality right? Well no not in this case, the box
looks to be an off the shelf unit modified slightly to accommodate the 2B, and looks rather dated.
I found on my unit that the centre knob is off centre in the hole and I'm guessing other units are the same, and the
spindles on all three knobs have been crudely cut with what looks like side cutters, although you would not see this
in normal use it did not inspire confidence. The knobs themselves are what look and feel like cheap plastic but with
what looks to be a copper friction type fitting that does look rather nice, it's a shame they are hidden and it is also a
shame they are being used on those awful spindles.

On the inside, what did I expect to see? Well for the price you are paying for the 2B I was thinking some nice SMD
(surface mount devices for those that do not know) on a nice SMT circuit board (surface mount technology) but sadly
no. The only part that is SMT is the display but that is an off the shelf component at £5.67p plus vat each, if you buy
in quantity you could get them for as little as £4.16p plus vat each per 100 units.
The only other board in the unit is a double sided through hole design and I think E-STIM are paying more for this than
they need to. The whole board is etched leaving only the tracks between components, I think it would cheaper
to leave most of the copper on the board as a ground plain/heat sink as it would cost them less for the etching
process.
The soldering of the components looks fine with no dry joints that I could see and no large blobs of solder either but,
what I did find is flux and lots of it, maybe a little PCB cleaner would come in handy. Because of the weight (and cost)
of the 2B you would think there would be lots of goodies inside but again you will be sadly disappointed, two ic's, one
is an op amp, nothing special at 76 pence plus vat each and the other is the microcontroller at £3.45p plus vat, of course
you pay less for these if you buy in volume like most other electrical components. Other components on the board are
about half a dozen what look like tantalum capacitors, around nine suntan branded (suntan brand I'll get back to them)
electrolytic capacitors, about twenty to twenty five resistors one variable, around half a dozen transistors, one tactile
push button, the three control knobs, the on/off switch, the power supply input, the two output sockets along with the
input socket, the battery lead, two what look like pull up transformers and the display.

The 2B has clearly been built down to a price, the passive components I would not expect to pay more than £5 for,
and I would not expect to pay much more for the active components either. The knobs, switches and sockets would be
the most expensive though but I would still not expect to pay much more than £10-£15.
Suntan branded capacitors, not what I would call a premium brand, more like el cheapo, one hung lo China crap but I
guess they work for the limited time the 2B is used for. Another thing I found inside was a sticker stating calibration
void if broken, the only part that can be adjusted is the variable resistor and if you notice the hole drilled in the back
of the 2B, that hole sits directly above that variable resistor so what was - is the point of that sticker?
The knobs are soldered directly to the PCB so if the unit is dropped and it lands on a knob it is likely to break the PCB.

So what do you get for the RRP of £299? A box worth about £50! yes £50 is about all it costs for all of the components
to make this unit. So where does the other £249 go? well profit and of course the programming of the microcontroller
and the updates if you have the 2B digital link interface, but that costs a further £69 if you did not buy it with the 2B.

And that is another thing with the E-STIM 2B, updates, the last update 2.104 was released on or around the 08/04/2013
that is 19 months ago at the time of writing this, an update that a fair few people have stated is to spiky and have said
so for about 18 months and two weeks and I have to agree (more on this next), but still no update, 2.105 is still in
beta for those who wish to risk it not bricking their ic and is only available on the forum if you first know the forum
even exists and then only if you first make three posts (This is my first post and maybe my last if I get thrown off of
the forum) and you're either or wish to be a developer and you still have to ask, and I've just read 2.010 is available???
isn't that a backward step?

I haven't even turned the 2B on yet in his post so lets do that now.
Now everybody's sense of touch is different that is true, I for one find cold painful but heat even up to 400 degrees C
although still painful I can tolerate in places. Now it has been said by a fair few people that they find the 2B spiky, is
that just their perception or is it real? I find the 2B to be spiky as well especially when compared to other products
that are used for the same purpose like the Electrastim or a slendertone so I compared them, yes they felt different
but that could be put down to my perception of them and that was not good enough, but there is another way, a way
to take the human out of the loop so to speak, and that is to use an oscilloscope now you don't have to rely on a feeling
that changes over time, you now have a waveform that you can see, a waveform that you can repeat time and time again.

Now I don't know if I will ever be allowed to post on this forum again after this review but if I am and if I can post pictures
I will at some point write a post on the 2B with pictures showing the waveforms from not only the 2B but the Electrastim
and the slendertone as a comparison.
But for now I will only deal with the continuous mode setting but the other settings on the 2B also show the spiky waveform,
someone on this forum (insert name here) stated that continuous did not feel continuous and I would have to agree, and the
waveform on the oscilloscope also shows this, the waveform fluctuates randomly, both on the battery and on the power
adaptor. The spiky feeling is also random and fluctuating and even changing the adjust knob by just one click changes the
waveform wildly. the spiky feeling is present throughout the adjustment range from the lowest setting all of the way through
to the highest,. Although at the highest 10-15% of the range the frequency of the spikes is seen to decrease for the other
85-90% of the range there is very little change, the only change is in the waveform, the frequency and amplitude remain
almost the same with only maybe a few milliseconds difference on the timing.
And I can confirm as someone (insert name here) on the forum stated on some modes there is no output until about 40%
even with the oscilloscope turned down to measure 20mv I was not able to see any output until about 38%.

The E-STIM 2B is let down by the 2.104 update as a result. The frequency and amplitude of the spikes should increase or
decrease in a linear fashion from no spikes at the lowest setting to very spiky at the highest, also the power setting should
increase in the same way, to have some settings giving an output from one but others only giving an output from power level
38 means it is only a matter of time until you forget or your master or mistress forgets and you get a very painful jolt to your
most intimate area. It might be easier said than done though given the microcontrollers limited memory of 32k flash, 16384
#single word instructions with 1536 bytes of SRAM and 256 bytes of EEPROM. (Yes sad I know, I read the data sheet).

The E-STIM 2B could be so much better, the use of better plastics is one area, the knobs and switches could be a better design,
easy for master or mistress to adjust but hard for the sub. A cable retainer on the back to stop the cables from being pulled
loose when the sub is struggling, the unit itself could be made much smaller, even with the existing components it could be
made about half its size, having a belt clip built in is not an expensive option and maybe using a better battery like a li-on or
li-po to give a longer run time.

I know it is like comparing oranges with apples but look at what a Gopro hero 4 black gives you for about the same price,
4K video at 30 frames a seconds, 12MP camera at 30 Fps, glass lens (not plastic), better plastics, waterproof housing, Wi-Fi
and Bluetooth plus software and updates. And yes they do cater for a much larger market but it is only an example of what
about £300 of electronics looks like.

Maybe E-STIM should talk to me about product design.



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Re: E-STIM 2B tear down review

Post by admin » Mon Nov 02, 2015 8:40 pm

Sub1000lon wrote:Now, I know you're not meant to open the box to have a lookie see inside but, why not? Well we'll get to that later.
I don't know how long this post will stay on this forum, because the powers that be might not like what I have to say,
but this is only meant to be taken as constructive criticism.
The powers that have decided to allow the post, but we do of course have the right to replay to any criticism, and of course it works both ways. Some of the questions you have raised do warrant a reply and are interesting to some people hence the rather long winded reply. You will forgive me if I paraphrase from time to time, but I do want to go home tonight.
The general look and feel of the 2B is okay but there is room for improvement……
I agree. We are always looking on how to improve our products.
The box itself is quite heavy for what it is, and heavy normally means quality right?
Maybe in the 1990s’ possibly, I don’t think that is the case anymore….. All the laptops, iPads and mobile phones I have had in the last 5 years or so all push their lightness… so I disagree with your statement.
the box looks to be an off the shelf unit modified slightly to accommodate the 2B, and looks rather dated.
Yes it was an off the shelf when we first used in for the Series 1 back in 2004, case, and is the same case we have been using for the last 11 years on 4 of our units. It has proved itself to be robust and sturdy and its no different to the off the shelf cases used by ErosTek (all their units), PES, Folsom and the Sensavox EM140. If you want curvy units, then they tend to be mass produced in China, something we don’t do.
Dated? possibly yes? but it does work for us and many of our customers.
I found on my unit that the centre knob is off centre in the hole and I'm guessing other units are the same, and the
spindles on all three knobs have been crudely cut with what looks like side cutters, although you would not see this
in normal use it did not inspire confidence.
Confidence in exactly what? you have taken something apart, something that doesn't come apart in normal use and then complained that a knob has been cut with a pair of side cutters. Unfortunately the company that makes the spindles said they were not prepared to supply shorter spindles, unless of course we were purchasing over 100,000 units a month. How else could we cut the spindles down?
…..shame they are being used on those awful spindles.
Pity. I wish they (the knobs) were cheap. You would be shocked as to how much a decent collet knob costs, even when purchasing 1000s. We were offered a cheaper alternative, but rejected it as it was too flimsy. If you want to see the copper bit, then you could remove the cap?
On the inside, what did I expect to see? Well for the price you are paying for the 2B I was thinking some nice SMD
(surface mount devices for those that do not know) on a nice SMT circuit board (surface mount technology) but sadly
no. The only part that is SMT is the display but that is an off the shelf component at £5.67p plus vat each, if you buy
in quantity you could get them for as little as £4.16p plus vat each per 100 units.
Yup. Great little display, that I first used in a design in 1989. It works.

As to SMT, I have a 2B Mk2 sitting on my desk and that is SMT..but functionally it is exactly the same as the unit you have. SMT is coming to the 2B, but since through hole components have been around for quite a while, are easier for us to test and fix and SMT is more setup for bulk production it has taken us a whole to get to SMT. We started making one offs back in 2004 and gradually our production runs increased until the number we make now justifes moving over to SMT technology.
The only other board in the unit is a double sided through hole design and I think E-STIM are paying more for this than
they need to. The whole board is etched leaving only the tracks between components, I think it would cheaper
to leave most of the copper on the board as a ground plain/heat sink as it would cost them less for the etching
process.
PCB manufacturers don't charge based on the amount of copper etched, they tend to charge on holes drilled, different hole sizes (drill changes), number of layers, number of bias and area of the PCB. And since you have no idea what we pay for PCB's they I find it had to understand your comment? And further down you are offering negative comments the on cost of components, but now you suggest we purchase cheaper?
The soldering of the components looks fine with no dry joints that I could see and no large blobs of solder either but,
what I did find is flux and lots of it, maybe a little PCB cleaner would come in handy.
You might not know but modern soldering processes use non corrosive fluxes which can and are left on the board. Board cleaning needs an additional process, and uses nasty cleaning materials that then have to be disposed of.
Because of the weight (and cost) of the 2B you would think there would be lots of goodies inside ….
What kind of goodies were you expecting? you referred to SMT before but there is no functional difference between a through hole IC and a SMT IC, so if you are thinking that SMT is the ‘beez kneez’ they I would suggest you are mistaken.
The 2B has clearly been built down to a price...
And what product isn’t??? We have to make a product, sell a product and the profit then pays for the staff, the building the heating, the websites and of course my 32 year old land rover. If people didn’t like the price then we wouldn’t be able to sell as many as we do. I would point out that part of our product is a lifetime guarantee so we are quite happy to support the longevity of our products - something that no other E-Stim company appears to offer.
the passive components I would not expect to pay more than £5 for, …
So you have calculated the cost of the components in a 2B. I’m a little confused as to the benefit or how this is designed to helps us. I know how much the components cost (I should I designed it). I also know how much it costs to pay someone to solder it all together, to then test it and then assemble it in the case. I also know how much it costs to pay someone to deal with your order, package it and then give it to the shippers to post.And how much it costs to provide the building, the heading and the desks they all use - and the component cost is the lowest cost of production.
calibration void if broken, the only part that can be adjusted is the variable resistor and if you notice the hole drilled in the back
of the 2B, that hole sits directly above that variable resistor so what was - is the point of that sticker?
Its there to ensure the contents have not been ‘fixed’ by a customer when a unit is returned for repair. In line with many other companies, breaking the void label will invalidate your guarantee.The variable resistor that is accessible through the hole is to adjust the contrast of the LCD. (We do mention that in the manual - did you read it before taking the unit apart???)
The knobs are soldered directly to the PCB so if the unit is dropped and it lands on a knob it is likely to break the PCB.
Well in the last 5 years I have had not one PCB fail due to the fact that some has dropped the unit on a knob and damaged the PCB. And if it did? they we would offer a repair.
So what do you get for the RRP of £299?……
Well don’t forget in the UK we have VAT, so 20% of that total goes to Mr Government. As to what else do you get for your money? You get A made for play powerboat that is designed to do exactly what is says. It comes with a lifetime guarantee, is upgradeable, has an active development team and quite a few thousand happy users. I would also mention that we are a company that has a good reputation for innovation. You want a cheaper unit? Well you could always make you own?
And that is another thing with the E-STIM 2B, updates, the last update 2.104 was released on or around the 08/04/2013
that is 19 months ago at the time of writing this, an update that a fair few people have stated is to spiky and have said
so for about 18 months and two weeks and I have to agree (more on this next),
Yes 2.104 came out around 18 months ago. It takes time to develop new firmware, when you also have to deal with other products, and of course the day to day nature of running a company. And looking at the forum posts, and the number of 2Bs in circulation with 2.104, I have to suggest you are only looking at a very very small percentage easily who find 2.104 not to their liking. I would also point out a number of people complained about 2.104 when they hadn’t actually used 2.09…. but that is another story. I also find it interesting that you are commenting on something that no other company you mention offers - or did I miss the last slendertone update?

2.105 is still in beta for those who wish to risk it not bricking their ic and is only available on the forum if you first know the forum
even exists and then only if you first make three posts (This is my first post and maybe my last if I get thrown off of
the forum) and you're either or wish to be a developer and you still have to ask, and I've just read 2.010 is available???
isn't that a backward step?
1) The forum is mentioned on the upgrade pages, the pages for Commander, the pages for the 2B and of course in the manual. You can also find it quite easily for you google for ‘E-Stim Developers Forum’ - we come up as top on the list.

2) I have had no reported cases of users upgrading from 2.104 to any of the new betas and 'bricking' their box. 2.104 was designed to be robust in that respect.

3) Might I suggest that you go and read the post again? the latatest BETA is 2B.010.
I haven't even turned the 2B on yet in his post so lets do that now.
Are the constructive comments coming????
Now everybody's sense of touch is different that is true, I for one find cold painful but heat even up to 400 degrees C
although still painful I can tolerate in places. Now it has been said by a fair few people that they find the 2B spiky, is
that just their perception or is it real? I find the 2B to be spiky as well especially when compared to other products
that are used for the same purpose like the Electrastim or a slendertone so I compared them, .
Could you provide me with links to the teardown for the items you mention? I would be interested in seeing your unbiased comments on those products???

But back to you first point, what you are saying is peoples perception and feelings are different? Yes they are. Numerous people have posted on this and other forums that they like the feel of the 2B, and also numerous people again have commented that they are not an oscilloscope. There is a big difference between a visual representation of a voltage waveform and the feel created by current flow.
Now I don't know if I will ever be allowed to post on this forum again after this review
why? do you consider what you are doing to be somwhat antagonistic? Or does this come into the technical areas of ‘trolling’?
but if I am and if I can post pictures I will at some point write a post on the 2B with pictures showing the waveforms from not only the 2B but the Electrastim and the slendertone as a comparison.
Please don’t bother. most people don’t understand what they are seeing and without details of the loads the traces are next to meaningless. I would be interested in a similar teardown of the other products you mention.
But for now I will only deal with the continuous mode setting but the other settings on the 2B also show the spiky waveform,
someone on this forum (insert name here) stated that continuous did not feel continuous and I would have to agree, and the
waveform on the oscilloscope also shows this, the waveform fluctuates randomly, both on the battery and on the power
adaptor.
And what load were you using?
The spiky feeling is also random and fluctuating and even changing the adjust knob by just one click changes the
waveform wildly. And I can confirm as someone (insert name here) on the forum stated on some modes there is no output until about 40%
even with the oscilloscope turned down to measure 20mv I was not able to see any output until about 38%.
38%???? you oscilloscope needs calibrating. I personally can feel something around 20%, so I am clearly more sensitive that some. But the people who can feel a difference at 40% 60% and 80% are they wrong? Or is it the fact that the human body represents a different load to the 2B that is dependent on the waveform used, and everyone feels things differently?

The E-STIM 2B is let down by the 2.104 update as a result.
I disagree. Yes we can improve on 2.104, this has been proved by the response to the beta.
It might be easier said than done though given the microcontrollers limited memory of 32k flash, 16384
#single word instructions with 1536 bytes of SRAM and 256 bytes of EEPROM. (Yes sad I know, I read the data sheet).
And you point is? I have many years in development with the processor we use.It works. Its fast. It does exactly what we need. And does it all in around 5mA. If NASA can send a probe with less memory to the outer solar system I can write code to run a 2B in less that 32K - and we do!!
The E-STIM 2B could be so much better, the use of better plastics is one area,
I agree with your first statement, I am always looking how we can improve, but improvement does take time to get it right. I am curious as to your statement in relation to use of better plastics?????… an example would be useful, then you can provide us with the development skills to product a custom made injection moulded case, without having to pay thousands for moulds and thousands more for stock... or do you know a company that will make small runs of custom moulded cases in the 'quality' plastics you desire?
the knobs and switches could be a better design, easy for master or mistress to adjust but hard for the sub.
They already are... its called the Master or mistress holds the box, the sub gets to feel what it is like on the other end. You don’t want them to touch the control? move away from them
A cable retainer on the back to stop the cables from being pulled
loose when the sub is struggling,
The cables are designed to pull away. otherwise you have a struggling sub being zapped at high power while the master is scrabbling around on the floor trying to find the box the sub has pulled out of their hands.
the unit itself could be made much smaller, even with the existing components it could be
made about half its size, having a belt clip built in is not an expensive option and maybe using a better battery like a li-on or
li-po to give a longer run time.
Yes the 2B could be smaller. But then the display would be hard to read, the knobs harder to control, and as to using a li-ion… what happens when they go flat? you have to stop and wait for them to be re-charged.

I know it is like comparing oranges with apples
exactly - so why try?
but look at what a Gopro hero 4 black gives you for about the same price,
4K video at 30 frames a seconds, 12MP camera at 30 Fps, glass lens (not plastic), better plastics, waterproof housing, Wi-Fi
and Bluetooth plus software and updates. And yes they do cater for a much larger market but it is only an example of what
about £300 of electronics looks like.
Well I have a GroPro and its great for video, but naff when it comes to electroplay It just doesn’t work. I also have a £300 apple watch and that also is very good at telling the time, but fails to get me hard. Both products are similar MRPs but their the similarity ends - I know for a fact that apple has a higher margin that us and certainly a bigger development budget, and they sell a few more toys than we do - but do you think we are the next apple???
Maybe E-STIM should talk to me about product design.
Why? do you have experience in product design? could you give me some examples as to products you have designed?

Thanks for the feedback

Si
E-Stim Systems Ltd

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Re: E-STIM 2B tear down review

Post by hardmasteruk » Tue Nov 03, 2015 11:30 am

WTF!!!!!

So let me get this right, you spend £300 on a box and then take it apart, complain about the fact that estim don’t use surface mount (after 30 years in the electronics industry I can understand why they don’t) and then you complain about the knobs????

I had a look inside my Erostek ET312 when I had to replace the battery and saw similar parts, except they grind the top off the microprocessor so numties who can read a data sheet cannot identify the IC used. The ET312 is heavier than a 2B yes, but that is because there is a lead acid (think car battery) inside. The fact my 2B runs off a battery that I can buy at the corner store is EXACTLY what I want, as I can carry a spare. I bought an electrastim Flick Duo, and sent it back after a week as its crap. nice case, but fails to hold a charge after a week. and it was underpowered compared with my series 1.

At the end of the day I don't care what is inside the box, I just care the fact that it works for me and my sub, an I can confirm after 5 years they still do!

HM
Owner of a Series 1, remote and 2B
"Pain and Pleasure in equal Measure"

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Re: E-STIM 2B tear down review

Post by birdburdy » Tue Nov 03, 2015 5:50 pm

@hardmasteruk - did you see any reason why the 2b audio-mode doesn't respond to certain types of sound? E.g. a piezoelectric buzzer has no effect.
Unofficial Python API for the E-Stim 2B: https://github.com/fredhatt/estim2bapi
Generating sounds in Python: https://github.com/fredhatt/estimsoundsynth

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Re: E-STIM 2B tear down review

Post by hardmasteruk » Tue Nov 03, 2015 10:00 pm

I haven't looked inside my 2B, I like the guarantee, but you wouldn't see much as I believe the audio response is mainly software derived, and you might get a different response to the microphone as to the audio input, as you have to also consider the audio response of the microphone. A piezo sounder generally runs at a very narrow defined frequency, depending on how you drive it, and depending on its resonant frequency, so its likely that either the 2b filters it out if its too high. I have read somewhere that the 2b responses to frequencies up to around 6khz, which would assume the sampling rate is at least 12khz. What frequency does you piezo operate at?

HM
"Pain and Pleasure in equal Measure"

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Re: E-STIM 2B tear down review

Post by birdburdy » Wed Nov 04, 2015 12:12 pm

Unofficial Python API for the E-Stim 2B: https://github.com/fredhatt/estim2bapi
Generating sounds in Python: https://github.com/fredhatt/estimsoundsynth

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Re: E-STIM 2B tear down review

Post by admin » Wed Nov 04, 2015 6:14 pm

The 2B has a frequency response of up to around 5-6Khz, which is based on the limit to which the human body will feel. Using the high tech methods of a FFT on my mobile phone, listening to your video, the tone of your piezo is around 5-6Khz, which is hitting the top end of any response from the 2B. couple that with the fact that the 2B's frequency response is designed to tail off towards the higher frequencies would mean that the 2B simply doesn't hear it, and if it did you wouldn't feel it.

Try a buzzer with a much lower tone.

Si
E-Stim Systems Ltd

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Re: E-STIM 2B tear down review

Post by birdburdy » Wed Nov 04, 2015 9:42 pm

So from 5kHz to 6kHz? Is that not quite a narrow range?

So if I buy a buzzer that sounds at about 5kHz it should work?
Unofficial Python API for the E-Stim 2B: https://github.com/fredhatt/estim2bapi
Generating sounds in Python: https://github.com/fredhatt/estimsoundsynth

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Re: E-STIM 2B tear down review

Post by admin » Thu Nov 05, 2015 9:44 am

No the frequency response range for a 2B is from around 30Hz to 5-6Khz. Try something more in the 2-3Khz range and you should get a better response, although lower would be even better.

Si
E-Stim Systems Ltd

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Re: E-STIM 2B tear down review

Post by aurornova25 » Sat Jan 30, 2016 8:31 pm

Can i just say that the fact you didn't censor his post and fully responded to it, is the best thing ever. It fills me with confidence in a product when i see it rigorously argued and defended. Nice work.

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