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First of all, apologies if this is a noobish question; I'm a tinkerer with no engineering background.

I bought a device with two buttons on it. After taking it apart, I saw that these are connected to a small PCB with 5 wires sticking out, which in turn are connected to the main PCB of said device.

I want to find out what exactly is happening inside of those five wires in response to pressing either of the buttons. How can I "listen in" to what happens inside of the wires?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ what is the device? \$\endgroup\$ – jsotola Jun 23 at 4:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ you can use the mic input on your computer as a crude oscilloscope .... zeitnitz.eu/Scope_en .... you can also use sound recording software such as Audacity audacityteam.org .... google soundcard oscilloscope \$\endgroup\$ – jsotola Jun 23 at 4:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ You could start following the paths on the small PCB, that connect the switches to the 5 wires. What kind of device? Can you post a photo? Can you draw a schematic? \$\endgroup\$ – mguima Jun 26 at 18:27
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You look at signals in an electronic device by using a tool called an oscilloscope. Obviously there is a twofold hurdle here. One is the acquisition cost and the other is the learning curve to understand and apply the oscilloscope correctly.

There is another type of tool called a logic analyzer that can also be used to capture and display circuit waveforms. When you are working with an unknown interface it is often necessary to deploy an oscilloscope first to zero in on the circuit characteristics and then determine if the logic analyzer can be used.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I bought a cheap oscilloscope kit you have to assemble for like $20 from an eBay-style site. So those exist. It's also soldering practice. (it uses a microcontroller with an ADC to read the signals and plot them on an LCD screen. Which is about the quality level you'd expect for $20). Not sure if I'd recommend one to someone who doesn't know how to use an oscilloscope, because it's probably easy to blow up too. \$\endgroup\$ – user253751 Jun 23 at 11:55
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That is what an oscilloscope does.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Hey @thephoton, is picture missing? \$\endgroup\$ – relayman357 Jun 23 at 4:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @relayman357 no. No picture of an oscilloscope is necessary. Someone interested in purchasing one will soon be confronted by pictures of many. Probably in fact everywhere they go on the Internet for the next week. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Stratton Jun 23 at 4:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ChrisStratton, that's nothing to how many ads you'll get for them the week after you buy one. After all, who can live with just one oscilloscope? \$\endgroup\$ – The Photon Jun 23 at 5:30

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