Inside Electronic Components—“Open Circuits” Published

For the last several years, Eric Schlaepfer, who goes by the Twitter handle TubeTimeUS, has been teasing his Twitter followers with gorgeous cross-section photographs of a wide variety of electronic components, described as made for “a project he was collaborating on”. Now it can be told: Eric, along with Windell Oskay of Evil Mad Scientist, have published Open Circuits, a compendium of more than 130 magnificent photos of the insides of electronic components and assemblies, photographed in glorious colour with synthetic depth of field to avoid blurriness in photos of tiny devices. The book is available as a hardcover print edition and/or in PDF, Mobi, and EPUB electronic formats (all three included in one price) directly from the publisher, No Starch Press, at the Open Circuits page on their Web site. The book will also be available from Amazon on 2022-11-01 in both hardcover and Kindle editions. Amazon lists the Kindle edition at less than the publisher’s price, but you only get the Kindle version, not the PDF or EPUB which the publisher includes. Amazon lists the hardcover at the same price as the publisher, but does not include the electronic editions with the print book as does the publisher.

If you buy the electronic edition from the publisher, you may have trouble transferring it to your reading device. This book is full of high-resolution colour photos and the electronic book file are enormous.

178M Oct 11 15:36 OpenCircuits.epub
380M Oct 11 15:36
 92M Oct 11 15:36 OpenCircuits.pdf

If you’ve been E-mailing books to your Kindle address, you’re probably going to have trouble sending files this large. Gmail sends them as Google Drive attachments, which Amazon does not understand and rejects the E-mail transmission. You may have to find “other means”, which consumed almost an entire afternoon when I wanted to set up the book to read with the Kindle application on my Android tablet. If you have a Kindle device or application, I’d wait until November and buy from Amazon and let them worry about how to get it onto your device.

Here is a sample two page spread from the book, showing the innards of a humble HDMI cable.

The video reveals how the devices were sectioned. I was thinking maybe a water jet cutter or something involving plasma or lasers, but no—it’s sandpaper, lots of patience, and sometimes a diamond saw.


It’s a great coffee table book! I happened to be browsing the No Starch Press website a few weeks ago and pre-ordered it on first sight. The descriptions of components are clear enough for even kids to understand but pack plenty of depth, the pictures are great, and even common components are interesting in cross-section.

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Here is a picture from page 173 of the innards of a USB 3.1 SuperSpeed+ 10 Gbit/sec cable.


Wow! Who knew there was so much going on in there? There are eight individual coaxial cables, each only 1 mm in diameter, arranged in differential pairs to provide four data channels. The red and black wires in the centre are for power, and the green and white pair are the signal lines compatible with original USB. The four additional conductors near the periphery are more signal lines, with a shield around the entire bundle.

What may be even more amazing is that you can buy one of these cables, one metre long, with connectors, for CHF 12.95, VAT included.


Speaking of cables, I have a question. I was trying to troubleshoot a Router/Ethernet issue this weekend. We were splicing the connectors for new cables and I was wondering why the RJ45 uses a weird wiring layout.

White orange, orange, white green, blue

Why not white green, green to keep the pairs together? It certainly would make keeping the wires in the correct order easier. I was speculating that it maybe had something to do with interference, but maybe it is just how the standard was written. Does anyone know the answer?

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Looks a lot like beautiful Murano spun glass paperweights.


The super short answer is “backwards compatibility” … with - by now - ancient copper cabling color connections invented in the 50s.

The slightly longer answer is there are 4 pairs that are each color coded to one of the four colors. Each pair has a solid wire and a striped wire with the same color. It helps technicians tell them apart more easily.

And this is all standardized by the EIA/TIA - the famous 568A and 568B standards.

Check out Michael Toelle’s answer on this Quora page

[T]he usual Cat 5/5e/6/6a patch cable. Each cable contains four cable pairs. The color code helps to identify which pair that you are working with. The color code for the first pair is Blue/White, pair 2 is Orange/White, pair 3 is Green/White, and pair 4 is Brown/White. This particular color code is a subset of the PIC (PVC Insulated Cable) code developed in the late 1960s/early 1970s to identify pairs in larger telephone cables. The cable pairs in such a cable are identified in groups of 25. The colors for each pair begin as I have stated above. The 5th pair is Slate/White, and the second color changes every fifth pair. The color for pairs 6–10 is Red, pairs 11–15 is Black, pairs 16–20 is Yellow, and pairs 21–25 is Violet. Cables larger than 25 pairs use color binders that correspond to the same color code (i.e. pairs 1–25 are in the White/Blue binder group, pairs 26–50 are in the White/Orange binder group, all the up to the Violet/Brown binder for pairs 576–600)


Other interesting tidbits, along with a useful 8 minute long video on this page

  • RJ-45 sockets are designed to accommodate center mounted RJ-11 jacks for reverse/backward compatibility.
  • Europe, the Pacific, and the US government use TIA 568A, while most US installations use 568B

The photos shared by John are beautiful in their simplicity and neatness. They made me wonder whether a future civilization digging through the rubble centuries from now would be able to reverse engineer or figure out the complexity of the electronics involved… I think the answer is “no”. Moreover, it’s not clear that digging through the rubble is necessary - 50 years from now floppy disks or USB sticks may no longer be readable due to the readers disappearing.


I wired my house with B.

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