I love a good radio. I used to collect them as a kid, working or not, do them up, get them working and I eventually ended up with, er… lots. I’ve since scaled my collection back a bit these days to around 10 or so, quite frankly more than is healthy really.
So when someone got in touch recently with a broken DAB radio to fix, I got quite excited.
These Bauhn DAB radios (available from Aldi or Lidl in the UK, I think) were on the market for about £10 and at that price they represent great value when compared to more expensive devices.
However, the one in the workshop appeared to have a problem power connector, which when wobbled, made the radio work intermittently. Suspicious.
Having already repaired a similar radio with a similar fault before, I decided to video the repair to encourage others to check theirs, if something similar happens. I hope you find it useful.
Cost of a new radio: £10. Cost of repair: One cuppa and a bit of tinker time.
My mum’s got an old electric Singer sewing machine which is about 40 odd years old. Singer sewing machines are well supported generally and parts are readily available, but I find it’s sometimes fun to try and find the cheapest way to fix something myself.
The foot pedal on this machine went pop and smelled horrible after. The machine then stopped working, oh dear.
The pedal is of high quality construction and easily better than any generic replacement on the market, so it was definately worth saving.
Opening up the pedal was just a few screws, which then exposed the whole mechanism. The mains resistor was in tact and seemed to test with resistance. A good start. The contacts were in good condition as was the rest of all the components, except for the mains input capacitor, which has spectactularly failed and split open, a common problem on older mains capacitors.
Repair kits are readily available for about £5, but that seemed expensive to me! Using the existing capacitor as a guide, I found a suitable component on eBay for £2.09 delivered. That’s more like it.
The capacitor I used was: Film Capacitor, 0.1 µF, 250 V, PET (Polyester), ± 5%, R60 Series (from eBay).
Here’s a little slide show that I hope will help others fix their pedal, should it fail.
With the old capacitor cut out and the new one soldered in, the pedal was ready to run again. Sorted.
Cost of a replacement: £15-30 for a generic part. Cost of repair, £2.09, 1 cup of tea.
A neighbour of mine is a talented musician in a local band and also teaches school children various instruments. Some of his students learn the drums, which is most parent’s nightmare as any notion of a peaceful evening is shattered. Luckily, electronic drum kits are an excellent way to learn with headphones, while keeping happy parents and neighbours.
This kit was missing several beats and was hampering learning, so time for a visit to the workshop. I’m no musical instrument repair specialist, but I thought that the drum kit must use electrical contacts, switches and rudimentary electrical components and I was right.
Two faults were reported; The kick/ foot pedal was intermittently not working and one of the drum pads was hardly working at all, unless you hit it with a sledge-hammer. Time to see what was going wrong.
First up was the faulty drum pad. Opening up the back of the pad was simplicity itself, just a few screws held the back to the pad. Sandwiched between two halves was a sensor, a bit like a piezo flat speaker, similar to the type found in many toys with sounds. I guess the principle here is that vibration detected by the piezo sensor is converted to analogue variable voltages by the drum kit’s circuitry. While apart, I noticed that some of the copper detail tracks on the printed circuit board which had a standard 3.5mm jack socket (to allow a connection back to the rest of the kit) had cracked. Looking again through my magnifying glass revealed quite a bit of damage, probably as a result of many Keith Moon wannabes. Testing these tracks with my meter confirmed an intermittent fault, so out with the soldering iron, to repair the connection. Plugging the pad back in, it was ready once again for more drum solos.
Next up was the dodgy kick/foot pedal. As the with the drum pad, the pedal would cut out intermittently. A few screws held the pedal together, so only basic tools required. See the slide show below for an idea of the construction.
The fault with the pedal was similar to the drum pad. Some of the copper detailing around the 3.5mm jack socket had failed and required some careful soldering. I say careful, as applying too much heat at once would, likely as not, melt the casing of the socket. One had to take care.
Once soldered, the pedal was much better. I didn’t get a full 10/10 repair with the pedal since I think there was wear on the kick sensor, but it was an improvement none the less.
Cost of replacement: £lots. Cost of repair, my time, two cups of tea and some solder.
It’s been a while since I wrote anything on my blog and for that I apologise. The lack of writing doesn’t mean that the workshop has been gathering dust, far from it.
Ages ago, a former colleage of mine asked me to look at a Concorde Child Seat, which seemed to be automatically adjusting to it’s maxmimum height setting, in an ‘ejector’ seat style. This kind of action is OK for 007, but no good for a family trip to the seaside.
Child seat repairs are not my usual thing, but since this one was unusable, what did I have to lose? These seats are normally well over £140.00 too, so it seemed like a good idea to have a go.
The Concord Transformer-T features a neat trick in that it can adjust it’s height to suit the growing child, with the touch of a button. This is especially handy when different children share the same seat. Up and down height settings are achieved by a ‘Transformer’ (the toys) style of action, controlled by a gas damped srump strut, similar to that used on hatch back tail gates.
This seat’s gas strut seemed to go to maximum height, without warning, extending seat in an ejector seat style. Time to dig out some tools.
The seat’s cover came off easily, thanks to to some hook and loops around the plastic backing. Lucky as the cover on this seat had some dubious stains.
Once off, several T20 Torx screws removed and a cable operated plunger to a button on a gas strut was revealed. This seemed like a good place to start. Despite the premium price tag, the inner workings of the seat seemed quite flimsy, I assume to minimise weight and to comply with safety standards. The moving headrest, back support and centre arms all moved on a scissor action mechanism, which seemed to working fine.
Disconnecting the cable/ button/ lever involved a T20 Torx screwdriver and 10mm spanner. Once removed, there was good access to the button on the end of the gas strut. It appeared that the button was working just fine and one could manually adjust the size of the seat with a finger. Interesting. Time to inspect the adjustment of the cable and lever mechanism. Luckily, there was adjustment on the cable and lever and after a little fetling, the mechanism was restored.
Price when new: £140.00ish. Cost to repair, 30 minutes tinker time, 1 cuppa and a ginger nut biscuit.
GHD hair straighteners are a premium product which retail for a minimum of £100 in the UK. However, over time they suffer from common annoying faults which cause owners to condemn the set they have.
This set of straighteners presented ‘as working’ when first switched on. After warming up, hair straightening temperature was reached within the normal time. However, after 5 minutes of use, the temperature reduced and failed to re-heat in a reasonable time. Leaving the straighteners to cool completely would effectively reset the problem, only for the cycle to repeat again.
GHD faults are well documented on YouTube and the fault turned out to be a faulty thermocouple or thermofuse, which should regulate the temperature and cut power in the event of a fault. They do however wear out and this set of straighteners was no exception.
After dismantling, the thermal fuse was replaced for £2.70. The whole job took half an hour and saved the owner nearly £100 on a replacement.
This Dyson presented with a pretty terminal case of ‘no go’. The owner had run this relatively new machine in to the ground with little maintenance so it was little wonder what happened next.
Whilst in use, the machine spectacularly went bang and tripped the main fuse board of the house. The noise and following smell was quite something I was told.
The owner had nearly rushed out and bought a new machine and was budgeting between £300 and £400 for a replacement.
I was glad I could help since I was fairly certain I knew what the problem was without seeing it. After giving the cable, switches and casing a visual inspection, it was time to delve deeper. The filters were in poor condition and the general smell of it indicated that overheating had been an issue, probably leading to premature wear on the motor.
With the motor out, the true extent of the damage became apparent. Both motor bushes had worn away to nothing and part of the brush holder had broken up inside the motor, probably while it was running, causing the noise.
I suspect that the owner had ignored the warning signs of burning smells and occasional cutting out (as the thermal overload circuitry performed its fail-safe role).
Being only a few years old, the owner had a couple of options; either replacing the faulty part with a genuine Dyson replacement (a very reasonable £40) or pattern motor kit with filter pack for under £25. The owner chose the latter on the basis of the machine’s age and the fact that both filters in the machine were also ruined.
The job took an hour, including testing before the machine was back performing its cleaning duties once more.
A note to all vacuum cleaner owners (that don’t take bags): Keep your filters cleaned every couple of months or so. Your machine will last much longer if you do.