My dad always said life was like a box of gray market components; you never know what you’re going to get. Okay, he never said those exact words. But as someone who has worked a lifetime in the electronics industry, he has mentioned that counterfeit components are also an ongoing problem for the big players these days. Suppliers matter. Knowing what you are buying requires knowing from whom you are buying it, and even some of the big-name portals are becoming less reliable in policing inventory due to an increase in third-party seller accounts.
For this electronic exorcism, we started with an old power supply and a young power supply. The old unit was scrounged from a thrift store, but it could have appeared just as easily at a surplus hardware shop or an estate sale. The young device came from a US-based supplier on eBay but was obviously just one postal hop beyond a direct import scheme. One was manufactured before modern electrical safety standards. The other attempts to follow those standards but isn’t certified, and it shows on close inspection. And our finding was that neither can be used reliably without safety modifications. The lack of a correct grounding connector in both units was the most serious red flag, and could endanger the life of the user, even though the newer unit looked okay at first glance.
Conclusion? Either a buyer should plan on making necessary modifications before setting up this kind of equipment on their workbench, or they should dish out a bit more money and buy quality equipment from a reliable source. It can be tempting to take shortcuts when cheap options present themselves, but cheap high-voltage electrical design can be a shortcut to the wrong side of a mortuary. Money is only good to the living, so when a reasonable need arises, we encourage you to spend a bit more of it and stay safe in your hobbies.