Dissecting an underwhelming dog bark controller

Meet Lexie, our three-year-old female Collie:            

She’s very pretty (IMHO)…in stark contrast to that ugly dude looming behind her. She’s unfortunately also a barker. Around 1.5 years ago, I had the bright idea to pick up an ultrasonic bark deterrent device, with a claimed 50-foot maximum bark-detection range. It didn’t go well.

When used indoors, her barking (supposedly) resulted in ultrasound bombardment of not only her but also her poor (see how sad he looks?) well-behaved, innocent older brother, Rocky:

Not that I could discern any reaction from either of them, mind you.

So, I tried using it outdoors in the dog run instead. Did I mention that the across-the-street neighbor’s dog is also a barker? Every time the neighbor’s dog sounded off (along with, I suspect, other similar-frequency-range sonic sources such as vehicles driving by, aircraft passing overhead, and so on) the device seemingly also activated. Although, it didn’t discourage the neighbor dog’s vocalizations either. Something was apparently happening though, and it was happening often—the device chewed through 9V batteries like crazy.

What is this mysterious, seemingly ineffective widget? The model number is CSB19, and it’s currently sold under multiple company names on Amazon and elsewhere, such as STUNICK and UANAX. Here is a stock picture:

And here’s an image overviewing its various operating modes:

Now for my unit which, if you haven’t already figured out, I’ve given up on and am now turning into a teardown victim. As usual, I’ll start with some box images. I think “Derer” means “Deter” (although I admittedly think of “derriere” every time I see it). I’m also particularly fond of the “Decorative Touch” verbiage; I leave it to you to discern whether that snippet of the black-plastic exterior description aligns with your particular ornamental tastes:

Look how serene those dogs are! One of them is even being snuggled by a kitten. And no, I have no idea what the guinea pig is doing in the lineup either:

Crack open the box and the first thing you’ll see are two pieces of literature:

The one on the right is interesting, albeit from a non-technical standpoint. The gist of what it’s saying is this: “Post nice things about us and our product on Amazon and we’ll sent you $20!” (No, I didn’t take them up on their offer.) At least some of you may already be aware of the “great purge” that Amazon did at the beginning last summer of companies (many of them China-based) who were engaging in such behavior.

To wit, the specific CSB19 product variant that I purchased in late October 2020 from a vendor named “Wanlimaoyi,” is no longer listed as being available for purchase…nor is anything else previously sold by “Wanlimaoyi” for that matter. Fortunately, my order invoice is still visible in my account: I paid $18.80 ($29.99 minus a $12.00 promotional credit plus $0.81 in tax). And from the invoice, I also have a record of the original product listing title. Take a deep breath before reading this aloud: “Anti Barking Control Device, Ultrasonic Dog Bark Deterrent, Upgrade Mini Sonic Anti-bark Repellent 50 FT Range, Ultrasound Silencer No Bark Training Control Device Security for Dogs (Clear).” Phew!

And here’s our patient as seen from the top (the two plastic brackets are intended for wall mounting in conjunction with screws), as-usual accompanied by a 0.75″ (19.1 mm) diameter U.S. penny for size comparison purposes:

The front shows the multi-position switch for “off,” “test” and various sensitivity options. It also shows the microphone, the speaker and the LED that reports both battery charge level and (in “test” mode) whether the owner’s lame attempts at mimicking a dog’s bark are being detected:

Step 1: remove that battery cover:

Step 2: Remove the four screws, deep within the hole in each corner of the back panel. My usual go-to, iFixit’s 64-bit Driver Kit (now referred to as the Mako) wasn’t up to the task this time because the bits’ lengths were too short. Digging into my accumulated tool inventory, however, I found another set that did the trick:

Liftoff achieved!

To get the PCB completely out of the enclosure, to expose its front side to view, requires first removing that tiny screw you see at the top. But that wasn’t enough; I also had to pull away the aforementioned front panel multi-position switch. With that, separation was straightforwardly achieved:

Here’s a straight-on closeup of the front of the PCB:

At top are, left-to-right, the microphone and ultrasonic transducer (aka speaker). In the middle is the two-color LED. To its right is a D882 NPN transistor, sourced by many manufacturers (I can’t discern the supplier of this particular one). And to its right is a transformer (make and model number indefinite). Below, the LED is a ten-position rotary switch, a somewhat curious choice given that the front panel only exposes the functions of four of these position options. And to its right is a 680 µF capacitor.

Flipping the PCB back over…

The 14-lead IC in the middle of the right side of the PCB, labeled “U4,” is presumably the “brains” of the system but its identity is unknown to me. The only discernable marking on it is the squiggle, seemingly manually applied by an assembly or test employee using a marker. In the upper left corner is another IC site, labeled “U1,” but unpopulated. And in the lower left corner is one of many diodes on this side of the PCB, this particular one being an SS14.

Although this device didn’t deliver on its original promises, I’m glad I was still able to get something out of my investment in it. Let me know in the comments if you discern anything else interesting in the images and/or have any other thoughts!

Brian Dipert is Editor-in-Chief of the Edge AI and Vision Alliance, and a Senior Analyst at BDTI and Editor-in-Chief of InsideDSP, the company’s online newsletter.

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