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Right To Repair

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

  1. russel

    russel ./_dazed_and_confused

    The pi is actually assembled in the Sony factory in Pencoed, PCB assembly is so automated I guess it doesn’t really matter where it’s made, I have actually seen factories in China and the ones I saw were OK, it’s the further down the food chain in the low value sector where things are bad, the worse places I have seen are the UK and that applies to colleagues too, somehow a lot of UK facilities seem to be designed by some perverted feng shui expert who makes the environment as depressing as possible.
    westsea likes this.
  2. shug4476

    shug4476 pfm Member

    This is a great thread.

    I found a decent priced Leema amp the other day and searched on PFM for info about service costs etc. I found a thread in which somebody had posted correspondence between themselves and whoever runs Leema and, frankly, the owner/engineer (whoever it was) sounded like an absolute idiot. Leema refused to service the amp. They would only send the schematic to an authorised service provider. And there are no authorised service providers. So basically they are just sitting on the schematic making it impossible to service the amp!

    I don't want to get into the specifics of my competence to speak on these subjects, but my view overall which I have expressed on other forums is that most of the UK HiFi manufacture and retail and distribution is run as a cartel. The vast majority of these practices are flagrantly illegal. I have been building up (for years) an evidence folder of correspondence of unlawful practice by the three (manufacturers, distributors, retailers). I will bring the case to the Competition Tribunal myself as soon as I have the time.

    Sitting on a schematic and controlling who can access it is clearly anti competitive practice.

    HiFi manufacturers (and retailers) in the UK seem to think they are beyond the law. There is ample evidence in this thread of "it's my company and I'll run it how I want". Actually, no you won't. You will run it lawfully and you can't "shaft" your consumers without consequence, as Denon and Marantz found when the European Commission prosecuted them and their distributor network.
    Nytechy likes this.
  3. Timcat

    Timcat pfm Member

    Not sure whether this will remain the case after Brexit. Just wait until Johnson and his chums get their hands on consumer protection law!
  4. westsea

    westsea Retirement present

    Having worked in engineering for some 50 years, I think that TonyL's Right to Repair is very laudable in some respects, however it seems problematic to structure legislation to avoid unfairness to companies with products incorporating details arising from many man hours of development. What level of information, including that included in schematics (for example) should be put into the public domain. Both Japan and Chinese companies trawl for information that gives insight to design and detail of new and existing products and processes; both of which I have experienced first hand ... not in Hi Fi , where I am a simple amateur.

    The case of Denon and Marantz, as stated, is that of a forming a Cartel, which has been illegal for many years in the UK. Interesting, in that they were caught by email evidence, which emphasizes the lesson ... never put into writing that which would not bear public scrutiny. Better still to avoid the infringement in the first place.
  5. shug4476

    shug4476 pfm Member

    Do you really think there is anything in a schematic that a Japanese or Chinese company could not learn simply by getting their hands on the product?
  6. Minio

    Minio ... take a walk on the mild side...

    It's a great idea Tony.
    We need the profit motive to become secondary to solid green thinking and placed at the heart of our political system.
    Sadly that seems a way away.

    I've just tried to repair a gtech hedge trimmer that's in good nick except it doesn't work.
    To take it apart I need some specific sized, star driver with a hole in the middle of a long shank.
    Nightmare trying to find one of those.

    They don't want me to get in it!
  7. Lancastrian

    Lancastrian Well-Known Member

    The only new piece of hi-fi kit I have bought in the last ten years is the M-DAC+, and then, only because my PT Ordinal finally gave up the ghost by killing the PCB tracks where some of the power caps were. My modified Meridian 602 transport is still working and the MF P170 has gone through a number of incarnations with modifications/repairs since I purchased it new from Doug Brady Hi-Fi back in 1990-something, and I hope Arkless would approve.

    In the past though, I have repaired a Nikon 50mm f1.8 manual lens, on a kitchen table whilst holidaying in Scotland, back in the 1980's but I certainly wouldn't consider doing that with modern lenses, especially when Nikon serviced my 24-70 f2.8 AF-S lens and charged about £110. This included replacing the mounting and some of the exterior body parts. It looked like new when it returned.

    When I replaced the main temperature sensor in my now 14 year old Zanussi by Electrolux oven, it took almost three hours to do, as virtually the whole carcass, and ceramic hob top-plate had to be removed. Not so much a trial, but certainly uphill. Suffice to say, the main element has now failed, but I'm loathe to go down the route of replacing it, as the plan is to install a new kitchen anyway at some point. At least with most white goods, there are spares available, and if you are competent, you can elicit a repair at minimal cost.

    Like others, I'm not one for having to purchase the latest all singing, all dancing latest fad product, I make considered purchases that I know will last a long time and give value for money. Going back to photographic equipment, I only "replaced" my Nikon D3 in 2018 with a D850, with the D3 giving 12 years of service, but still being used in addition to the new kid on the block. It's the same with the Gitzo tripod. Although there are newer models, I don't feel the need to buy one, as there is nothing wrong with the Gitzo, and it's the same with the LowePro camera bag. All 12 years old and still in good working order. What I would have liked with digital SLR cameras, is the option to upgrade sensors. It is possible with medium format, albeit for different reasons, but going back to 35mm film SLR's, for example, it was the film itself which was the upgrade as manufacturers like Kodak, Fuji and Ilford, improved emulsions, dyes, grain structure etc.

    Another hobby of mine is 0 Gauge railway modelling, and you should see some of the issues people have had with brand new ready to run items produced by Heljan. Gear-trains were splitting and cracking, and although replacement parts were available for a time from the UK distributor, Heljan eventually washed there hands of the problem. I believe it took almost two years for Heljan to admit there was a problem and changed the manufacturing process for their gear trains, but it left a sour taste for many. People who are now experiencing the same problem are having to source gears from a third party at extra cost. Although repairable, for some modellers, it is the additional cost of now having to repair a model less than 5 years old with after-market parts.

  8. Yank

    Yank Bulbous Also Tapered

    Every one of those "101 Bits For Your Hex Ratchet Drive" kits includes those.

    Minio and Dowser like this.
  9. westsea

    westsea Retirement present

    Probably not, reverse engineering is always possible, but requires not insignificant effort,s so why make it easy, we live in a highly competitive world. My point related to the possible legislation and the depth of detailed engineering to be published to satisfy the right to repair, and the range of products to be included. I know of products where the Chinese in particular have tried and failed to reverse engineer, would you legislate that schematics and manufacturing details be published? In the process probably destroying a well established British company employing a few hundred people
  10. shug4476

    shug4476 pfm Member

    People are not going to be designing their own silicone chips or OLED displays under right to repair. But with even modest guidance most people would be able to diagnose and fix a basic repair in a circuit board without assistance.

    It would be very easy to keep the IP protected and still allow a right to repair.

    What work of genius do you think lurks within an amplifier that a Japanese engineer could not reverse engineer? With the exception of something like a Lyngdorf or Devialet where, again, the IP could be protected.
  11. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    This isn’t the case. Schematics don’t contain firmware, chip architecture etc. They just show the layout of the circuit, component type and values, expected voltages etc. Countless products are upgradable via binary firmware files via USB or whatever and this can be done with no access to the source code, nor is the Right To Repair movement asking for it. This really is an important point to get across as it is routinely used by companies such as Apple, John Deere etc to shut down discussion and lock service into their corporate model.

    Access to schematics and spares is separate from intellectual property. You can very easily replace a dead firmware chip or whatever without knowing its contents. You just need to be able to buy the chip and if necessary flash it (secure binary data, not source code).
  12. David W Brown

    David W Brown pfm Member

    If this
    I see both sides of the argument.
    The amount of time and effort put into the creation of a new product, gerbers, schematics from very experienced engineers, does seem to fly in the face of the "they're only schematics" arguments, weeks if not months of work on layout, bug chasing, prototyping, modifications, factory visits, bouncing designs back and forth from the designers to the manufacturer. If you're paying an engineer good money to do that, who has experience in ecad / dev work / amplifier design / hsdd etc, why wouldn't you want to protect that investment.

    From the other side of the toasted sandwich, I'd also like to see it time limited, e.g. if a product has a warranty period, then the schematics become public domain after that warranty period [+n] expires.

    I don't know what I really want..... so I'll continue to do what I'm told ;-) I'm going to make a coffee.
  13. Zombie

    Zombie pfm Member

    And the right to mod. What are the vintage purists thinking about that? 60 yo dried out elcos are also an alteration...
  14. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    The whole point of Right To Repair is the right to fully own what you have bought. That is the right to do absolutely anything to it you like.

    I’m personally not a fan of modding as it devalues otherwise collectable equipment to such a huge degree, but that’s because I’ve spent the past 40+ years enjoying this hobby and I haven’t really spent any money doing so at all! I tend to buy very tidy used kit, restore where necessary, and eventually be able to sell for more than I paid in total. Effectively it is just a returnable investment, no cost beyond consumables such as valves and styli. If I cashed-out now I’d be well ahead over the whole 40+ year period!
  15. davidsrsb

    davidsrsb pfm Member

    That is a security bit, readily available were I am

    Why a hedge trimmer needs a security tool is a good question
  16. Minio

    Minio ... take a walk on the mild side...

    I'm not sure, but, the funny screws hold the casing to the Lithium batteries.

    I've since found that if I knock the motor it comes to life temporarily, so that looks like a blind alley.

    Dismantling the motor and combined gearbox is quite daunting.
    Easy to take to pieces. Not so easy to reassemble.
  17. westsea

    westsea Retirement present

    Tony L, I am a little concerned, are you sure this is a statement you should put in the public domain, some legal limits, both statutory and civil must apply?
    For example, in posts above is an exchange about dismantling a hedge trimmer; many are cabled directly from the 240V supply, and have multiple safety devices, the security screws are there to limit/prevent access. To me hazardous for the untrained or even incompetent, and not to be encouraged.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2021
  18. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    You have the right to change the brake pads on your car without formal training or qualification, and that is a one ton projectile travelling (legally) at anything up to 70 mph! Get that wrong and potentially kill a bus-load of people, even cause a train crash if the fail on a rail crossing! Similarly you are allowed to buy all manner of sharp knives, every one a potential murder weapon.

    Having the right does not imply everyone will do it themselves, though it does mean they have the ability to take their property to an independent repair tech of their choice rather than being locked-into a corporate system. Many people are naturally curious and enjoy learning. I enjoy fixing and future-proofing many well-documented items I own. I know my limits, but I am a very neat worker and can follow instructions. This is all I’m arguing, certainly not for any dangerous mods etc (e.g. bypassing fuses etc). Even then it is between that owner, their insurance company and the law. It is no different to tinkering with your car or motorcycle, which is a national pastime as far as I can tell.
    Old Shatterhand likes this.
  19. westsea

    westsea Retirement present

    I think we have different views of the world, I am not denying your personal care and competence, which is of a very high order. I would confidently buy equipment from you, as I would trust Arkless to repair my Hi Fi.
    The car analogy makes my point, from my view of the world few people are competent to to change brake pads, how many can change a 13 amp plug safely? To me there are no absolute rights without attendant responsibilities; the degree of competence (both training and experience) is critical in many areas of equipment repair. I just think this aspect should be given greater emphasis in posts, we have a duty of care in what we encourage.
    Nytechy likes this.
  20. John Phillips

    John Phillips pfm Member

    I suspect legal risk is behind not providing service information these days, rather more than the protection of intellectual property. The risk is that the incompetent repairer is harmed and blames the equipment maker for encouraging him/her to undertake the repair by supplying the information.

    My experience of professionally consulting lawyers is that they are quite naturally risk-averse. They will look at all possible risks and first of all advise not taking them. The best ones I consulted went further, to understand business objectives and advise on which risks are possible to mitigate and how to deal with consequences if the mitigation fails.

    However I suspect the average kit maker won't go beyond the initial "don't take the risk" advice.

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