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.
A colleague of mine brought this cool little DAB radio in to the workshop as it’s once crisp DAB tones were now no more and all life from the little device, had seemed to have ceased. It was, very much, a dead radio. When working, it picked up every station available, really clearly and seemed to out-perform the much more expensive devices my colleague also owned. However, after a few months in the hands of his son, the radio would no longer turn on when plugged in.
It was brought from Aldi for under £10, which seemed like a bit of a bargain to me. It’s amazing just how much DAB radios have fallen in price in the last 5 years or so.
The Bauhn UDABR-0197 (catchy name) is a compact, portable radio and is capable of being used with either a plug-in adaptor (supplied) or 4 x ‘AA’ batteries. When powering this radio using either plug-in adaptor or batteries, the little radio refused to do anything. Very sad.
I always start with the basics, so I checked the power from the plug-in adaptor first, which seemed to be delivering its 5.9VDC, pretty much spot-on. As a side note, I always check the condition of plug-in adaptor leads and plugs as they seem to almost always be made of the thinnest wire available in the Far East and prone to cracking causing poor connections. This one was fine.
Opening up the radio was really easy, just 4 cross-head screws and the two halves of the radio came apart without any major dramas.
The first thing you notice about (cheaper) small appliances like this, is the ‘lack’ of anything inside. The circuit boards in new small devices can sometimes be multi layered affairs, using micro components, making repair with normal workshop tools very difficult or impossible.
Luckily for this little radio, the designers have had the foresight to keep the power distribution board separate from the main ‘radio’ gubbins and this seemed to be of conventional construction.
FixItWorkshop, May’18, Aldi Bauhn Radio, in for repair, PCB repaired.
FixItWorkshop, May’18, Aldi Bauhn Radio, in for repair, PCB back in position after soldering.
FixItWorkshop, May’18, Aldi Bauhn Radio, in for repair, broken pins.
On closer inspection of the power distribution board, it revealed a break in two of the pins from the ‘power-in’ jack socket meaning that power would not get through to the main circuit board. The two pins were also shorting together, causing a local loop connection. This meant than neither mains adaptor supply nor battery would power the radio. Problem realised.
I was then able re-make the connection using a soldering iron on the board, reconnecting the pins to a spare section of copper detail on the power distribution printed circuit board. Very satisfying.
Once the radio was back together, all screws back in place, power supply connected, the radio burst in to life, just in time for me to listen to my favourite station. Happy days.
Cost of a new radio; £10. Cost of repair; A bit of soldering and a cuppa plus gingernut biscuit.
My in-laws have an ornament on their drive, in the shape of a 2001 MGF roadster. I say ornament because it’s fairly stationery, all of the time. Even so, it’s battery gets topped up once in a while and the engine turned over when the urge presents itself. Because the car isn’t used, the battery’s only means of charge is via a plug-in charger, my father-in-law occasionally hooks up.
The battery charger in question is an Ultimate Speed (Lidl brand) universal battery charger. They’ve been on sale in the UK for a number of years at the £15 (approx.) mark. They’re really good value as they allow ‘smart charging’ of car and motorcycle batteries without the risk of damage at a fraction of the price of the ‘big brands’ or a replacement battery.
However, this charger decided that it wasn’t playing anymore and refused to offer it’s charging services when recently connected to the MG’s flat battery. On it’s way to the great bin in the sky, I managed to divert the charger via the workshop.
Once connected to the mains, the standby light illuminated, indicating something was actually happening, but upon connecting the low voltage side to a battery, making a charge selection via the single push-button switch, nothing changed and the whole unit remained on standby. Pretty annoying.
Luckily, I have the triangular screwdriver required to undo the six screws that hold the (IP) ingress protected casing together. Triangular screw heads are annoying and pointless as they prevent, in my opinion, people with a basic tool set having a go at a repair like this. If you do fancy getting one of these tools, they are easily available on Amazon and eBay.
FixItWorkshop, March’18, Ultimate Speed (Lidl) Battery Charger, all components cleaned before reassembly.
On with the fix. With the casing opened up, my first port of call was with the switch itself. Past experience has taught me to 1; start with the easy stuff and 2; these push to make switches fail all the time. They’re in everything from door bells to cookers at the moment and when faulty, make the most expensive item and expensive paper weight in the blink of an eye.
To test the switch, I connected the charger to the mains and hooked up the low voltage end to a battery and simulated the button push switch by shorting out the switches connections on the circuit board. Hey presto, the charger worked perfectly, every time. The switch either needed repairing or replacing.
Because I’m a skin-flint, I opted to see what could be done with the present switch. With care, these switches can be prised apart, using a sharp knife and the insides cleaned. I took the switch apart which revealed nothing more than slightly corroded switch surfaces. I can only assume that the product’s bold IP rated claim is a little over exaggerated and that some damp had wriggled its way to the switch and mucked it up. With a cotton bud and switch cleaner, the switch surfaces scrubbed up like new and I re-assembled the switch lever and securing plat using a soldering iron to re-melt the plastic nubs holding the switch together. No one would ever know it had been in bits.
With the circuit board returned to the housing, all six screws done up, the charger was back to rude health once more and ready to tend to the stranded MGF.
When my wife isn’t looking after our daughter, she sings part-time in and around Sussex and uses a simple portable microphone and amplifier set for gigs. The amp and the rest of the kit lead a hard life, being transported between the car boot and venue and on one occasion, the microphone was dropped from a height. I guess things could have been worse, it could have been the amp!
The microphone now rattled badly and seemed to cut out when connected up, even when turned up to 11. Not a good sound when she was in the middle of ‘Moon River’.
The microphone actually came from a Lidl karaoke set and is made by Silvercrest, a Lidl brand. It’s a heavy, metal bodied microphone with a decent quality feel and metal grilled top.
The rattle seemed to coincide with the cutting out, so it seemed sensible to open up the mic. Three Phillips screws hold the casing together and upon opening it up, the problem quickly became apparent. The metal weight inside had come away from the inside of the casing and was occasionally ‘shorting’ the connections on the back of the on/off switch. Not good.
While in bits, I checked all the wiring for continuity, no problems there and decided to clean the switch with contact cleaner for good measure. Once all the electrical side of the mic was proved, I reassembled the casing with the parts, adding a little hot-melt glue to the metal weight to prevent it coming in to contact with the back of the on/off switch.
This wasn’t the end of the song (sorry).
Upon hooking the mic up to the amp, it now worked again without cutting out, but I couldn’t help but notice that the lead connecting to the base of the mic seemed to be causing a slight crackle. Not a nice sound effect.
Opening up the three-pin mic connector revealed a simple design, three poles soldered to the microphone’s wiring, one core and one screen. A quick cut, strip and re-solder and the lead was ready to roll once again. Before I did the cable crimp back up, I added another dab of hot melt glue between the cable outer and flex guard, to ensure the cable couldn’t twist, which might cause the connector to fail again.
Cost of a new microphone £20+. Cost of repair; Time plus soldering and a bit of glue.
‘My Fairlady’ sings again…
FixItWorkshop, Sep’17, Silvercrest SKS15A1, weight in situ.
FixItWorkshop, Sep’17, Silvercrest SKS15A1, broken wire, before soldering.
FixItWorkshop, SeFixItWorkshop, Sep’17, Silvercrest SKS15A1, inside the casing.p’17, Silvercrest SKS15A1
FixItWorkshop, Sep’17, Silvercrest SKS15A1, in bits.
This asthmatic car tyre pump came in to the workshop with little going for it. The owner had been very close to throwing it away when he came across my website.
This AirMan pump is designed to be plugged in to a car’s cigarette lighter socket and provide quick and convenient car tyre inflation. This one was dead.
On first inspection, the fuse was OK, the switch seemed to work and all connections seemed sound, when tested with a multi-meter.
Off with the cover…
When the motor was removed from the cam driving the piston, the bit that drives the pump, it spun freely when power was applied, using a battery in the workshop.
Seemingly, the centre spindle was protruding far beyond it’s specified reach, causing the pump connection rod to it it during rotation. Why? To be frank, I wasn’t sure. I can only surmise that the vibration and heat had caused the flywheel/ toothed drive to slide outside of specification.
There appeared to be room for a small washer to take up the excess space, so I fitted one I had lying around.
The washer, once fitted, allowed the flywheel/ toothed drive to sit ‘square’ in-line with the pump.
Once resembled, the pump ran freely and was ready to inflate, once more.
Cost of a new pump, circa £20. Cost of the washer, circa 5p.