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Right To Repair

Discussion in 'audio' started by Tony L, Dec 15, 2020.

  1. JensenHealey

    JensenHealey pfm Member

    Even back in the late 1970s when I was working on mainframe computers (for ICL) there was a tug between board and component level repair. In the interest of speed and uptime we would typically fix any device to board level. The bean counters of course knew that that system needed a huge and expensive set of boards. There were thousands. But there were many times fewer components.... in those days CPUS were not built on chips - the chipe we had had a few independent logic gates.

    BUT, against the idea of component level repair, it was very slow by comparison. It might take 20 minutes to identify a faulty board. It might take hours to probe with a high speed oscilloscope and a hand written looping machine code program to identify the faulty component. Then changing the component was not so easy - even in the 70s the boards were many layers and not easy to de-solder, especially on-site, rather than a workshop. And how much is the downtime of a large computer system worth? So we rapidly went back to swapping boards.

    On the general subject being discussed here, I think it is probably important for devices that are using specialised and programmed special chips--- it is not practical to provide spares for a 30-40-50 year life span. Better to design it to be easily recycled and elements of value recovered. A digital device for streaming (for arguments sake) does not need a 40 year life - the internet/streaming technology will have changed somewhat by then.
    Dowser likes this.
  2. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    For mainframes and other high-end corporate computing I’d expect a field board swap and the board to be fixed and returned to inventory. That’s certainly how IBM worked with mainframes etc, i.e. if the system failed the IBM engineer would turn up and fix it by swapping a board. There was no assumption the board was ‘new’, just that was a working one. By saying that IBM ran more of a leasing model in many respects. PCs were always different, but again you’d expect anything under a service agreement to be replaced, but not necessarily new for old.

    PS I know lots of people who used to work for ICL!
  3. RustyB

    RustyB Registered Ginga

    Tony, looking forward to the video post of you doing some SMD repair work. :)
  4. duckworp

    duckworp pfm Member

    robdeszan likes this.
  5. Jim Audiomisc

    Jim Audiomisc pfm Member

    Erm. If they last a long time now, then they aren't a part of the current problem we are discussing. However it seems clear that many other devices *are* a part of the problem.

    TBH TVs in my recent experience are also increasingly used as 'displays'. We certainly spend more time watching an AV file than we do 'live TV' on ours.
  6. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    I don’t have the kit to do it as the stuff I’m interested in myself pre-dates it. There is some SMD stuff in my DPA DAC, but the stuff likely to fail in there is thru-hole. I’m well equipped for working on the stuff I have, e.g. I’ve even got a nice Hakko desoldering gun so I can easily get chips out of old 8 bit micros or stuff with fragile boards like a Quad 303 without lifting tracks.

    By saying that I suspect with some investment the right tools I could do basic-level SMD recapping/future-proofing stuff easy enough. I’ve watched countless hours of videos on the subject and it really doesn’t seem anything like as hard as those unaware of the techniques seem to think. The key thing is knowing flux and surface tension is your friend, i.e. if you put the component close enough it actually floats into place with a hot air station. The annoying thing is the only component in my hi-fi I have that has elderly SMD caps is my Sony Walkman Pro, and that’s not really something I’d choose to learn on as it is just so cramped in there! I’ve had it in bits all over the floor to refurbish the transport, so I’ve a good idea how it works, but I’d still be worried about melting wires etc with a hot air station. Given it’s the only thing I have it’s not worth investing in the kit to do it, especially as nothing appears to have leaked yet. My hi-fi is 95% 1950s-80s technology and I can deal with future-proofing that even if I’d need to ask for help with some fault-diagnosis if stuff actually failed.

    PS Here’s a video from the excellent EEVBlog showing how to do SMD with a bog-standard soldering iron!

  7. say it as it is

    say it as it is pfm Member

    well at the risk of starting brexit related argument which i do not want to do! Things were getting better in some areas Candy for example a huge and I mean huge worldwide white goods maker has had to comply with EU regs and as such for last few years all appliances are made to serviceable, for example changing a drum is now a 20 minute job as they are designed for easy access for service than build. I know electronic manufactures are still a long way behind, but glimmer of hope if goods that were disposable are now made to be repaired. Scale of economy dictates this will become affordable in time.
  8. Plink

    Plink pfm Member

    Great topic. Haven’t gone through the thread. Buying vintage equipment in the past, always struck by the occasions where the seller included service manuals and schematics.

    Always appreciated David Berning for having schematics and quite specific information on parts prone to failure on his website...after all these years.
  9. David W Brown

    David W Brown pfm Member

    Heh, here in our little dark and damp dungeon, we're expected to support everything we've ever distributed (I had a Pro-Ject 0.5 back for a service and restoration last week).
    Not a problem really and I don't think we've ever been defeated.
    MF has proven a little tricky on the older stuff, but there are experts out there we are happy to recommend and steer people towards, and if we get something we think is going to consume to much of our time then we can ship it back to MF HQ.
    Schematics I think are tricky, especially if you've invested time and effort into designing a circuit, it's not something you're going to rush to release to the public domain for people to copy. MF are very strict on this, which we have had people complain about. Unfortunately it's out of our hands. It's not like you can't find much of the older stuff out there if you have google anyway !
    Anyhoos - Happy soldering people, whatever you do - do it safely ! One day to go then they unchain us give us our one day off a year ;):)
  10. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    Why? If it is pure self interest I’ll show you what that feels like by putting your Trade Account up to £500 next year! This site backs right to repair. Be part of it or not.
    Darmok likes this.
  11. David W Brown

    David W Brown pfm Member

    Glad to hear it.... one of my fave's in today, still reckon they look classy !!

  12. Jim Audiomisc

    Jim Audiomisc pfm Member

    Understood. But I'd then ask if you are willing to ensure the info become openly available at such time as you retire or fall off your perch?

    This comes to mind because although I've not been able to do much wrt the UKHHSoc recently, one of our purposes is to preserve for a future handon any material which *currently* needs to be kept restricted for one reason or another.

    NOT saying "send us a copy". Just flagging up the idea that it would be good for you to make provision for this in whatever way suits you. So that useful info is not lost.
    Nytechy and davidsrsb like this.
  13. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    FWIW I gave Jim absolutely everything I had acquired in audio literature since I started collecting information; the whole contents of the ‘audio’ folder on my hard drive aside from a few personal letters. It makes up a substantial part of the UKHHSoc site.

    PS It is amazing how self-serving and grasping some so called “socialists” are in reality! ;-)

    PPS If the UKHHSoc becomes a solid permanent resource I’ll happily leave it a lot of physical documentation in my will, I have a good collection of manuals, a complete run of Gramophone from 1954-78 etc etc.
    Bob McC and Nytechy like this.
  14. CJ14

    CJ14 Retired

    Well 40yrs on I am still fixing the old stuff I did and upgrading it with new parts with better spec.
    Also on the SECA forum I load up circuit diagrams for those with talent to fix and hopefully not bodge for there self.
    Darmok, NeilK and mega lord like this.
  15. Timcat

    Timcat pfm Member

    Fit for purpose depends upon the purpose. Many older Windows machines do not have the processor power, display resolution, graphics cards, RAM or HD space to run modern web pages effectively. Your MBP was a very high spec machine that cost many times the average PC at the time. Now, I agree wholeheartedly with your approach to computers - buy well made highly specified machines and expect them to last (I am typing this on an unmodified 2014 15" MBP running an 17 with 16GB of RAM), but the majority of users cannot afford the capital outlay this approach requires.

    I use my MBP for photographic post processing (Lightroom and Photoshop) and video editing (Final Cut Pro). With the advent of high resolution cameras with 40-50MP sensors and 4k video, my MBP is struggling to keep up, particularly with 4k, and will need replacing soon. The previous version would not have had sufficient screen resolution for this work. OK, I have a very high spec Mac Mini that I use for this work when back at base, so I can wait a little longer! The point being that computer users' requirements are continuously becoming more demanding of processor power etc. and older hardware simply cannot keep up beyond the usual upgrades to RAM and HDD space. 6-7 years for a well made machine seems to be the limit.

    High end and modular within a laptop footprint would likely be very expensive and, therefore, unlikely to be commercially viable. It is possible with desktops, though. Back in the 90s I used Dell machines for a while. I used to add more HDD space and RAM periodically, in order to keep them up to date. This did work, but eventually I came to the end of the road with each one (if the next step was replacing the processor and motherboard, I would usually call it a day - although I did this once). Dell also made some large heavy laptops that were modular to a degree (HDDs, RAM and optical drives were drop in replaceable), but they weight a ton!

    You're right about Catalina, it is a crock of Sh..! It is at least OK now with the last update though.
  16. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    It does still exist in the Panasonic Toughbook range, I actually have a couple of old ones knocking around (a proper military-grade W98 era machine and a W7 medical tablet). The range is always crazy expensive, which is fair enough given they are modular and you can literally drive a car over the military-grade ones, the problem is they are just not very good computers. An entry level M1 MacBook Air would kill the current £4k+ model in every single metric bar strength and service accessibility. If they were better actual computers with regard to CPU performance, screen, keyboard, trackpad etc etc I’d actually consider one as I don’t care about the weight and do love the serviceability. I’m now definitely of the mindset that I will pay more for good reliable long-lasting stuff. The annoyance is I have no use for a desktop these days, and that has always been a greener way if buying a computer as you can add and remove stuff at will. Until I went over to Apple I built my own desktop from parts.
  17. Jim Audiomisc

    Jim Audiomisc pfm Member

    Frustratingly, I *still* haven't been able to find any accredited University or Museum which has said it is willing to take all the material and ensure it remains presevered and available for study. :-/ If anyone else can find one, *please* let me know!

    BTW a key requirement is for an accredited museum or body who says they will 'accession' the material. This signifies that they can't simply decide shortly afterwards to bin some or all of it. Otherwise they may take it, shuffle though it, and then throw stuff away. :-/
  18. ex brickie

    ex brickie pfm Member

    I’ve only just taken my first read of this thread - mainly prompted by a failed Breville coffee grinder. I’m pretty hopeless with electronics (don’t give me a soldering iron!) but basic electrics isn’t a problem as are basic mechanical items. Hence I too have pulled apart vacuum cleaners, some parts of washing machines etc. My fridge freezer was a step too far a few weeks ago but as it is a Beko, the cost of parts are reasonable as was the fitting.

    The Breville coffee grinder was extremely frustrating. It has failed twice and I fixed it both times myself thanks to YouTube videos. But it is very difficult finding parts on line. What is infuriating is that on the first fix, the part that had failed was a fibre washer (not the hard fibre type but quite a soft almost sponge like washer). They are always going to fail at some point and yet Breville won’t give spares. Once I worked out what the problem was I bought some felt stick on pads - about £1 the set - and cut out my own ‘washer’. It took a few goes and at least 2-3 hours the first time. Around an hour the second time . The part cost less than 5p.
    I feel rather smug when I’ve fixed it. Any replacement machine would cost me £100+ (Which reminds me I must do a search on here for recommended high quality variable coffee grinders!)

    All power to your elbow Tony
  19. awkwardbydesign

    awkwardbydesign Officially Awesome
    I have the i-mini I-3 (an early version of the I-2) which I managed to get for £42 inc p&p on ebay. A total bargain, despite supposedly being not as good as the flat burr version. Once I got used to it (brushing out the remaining grounds from the grinder, etc) it is much better than the Rancilio Rocky I had. And the adjustment range is almost infinite.
    Mine is the polished alloy version, which matches the other stuff I have. Thoroughly recommended, especially if you can get a used one.
  20. darkstarcrashes

    darkstarcrashes pfm Member

    I'd recommend you try the Niche Zero - no retention whatsoever. £500 new (virtually never see s/h ones for sale). Mine replaced a Rancilio Rocky - night and day etc etc.

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