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.
Another Kenwood Chef A901 gets the Workshop treatment…
There’s been a steady flow of poorly Kenwood Chefs through the workshop of late and the new year started off with yet another. A customer got in touch with reports of smoke coming from her Chef A901, a machine which had given years of faithful service to her family. As a result, she was very keen to see what could be done.
As usual with Chefs of this age, the 5 machine feet had deteriorated and now resembled squashed dry Blu-Tac, so had to be replaced. I replace the feet to most Chefs that come in. Not only do the feet prevent the machine from moving all over the place when in use, they provide a gap for air to be drawn in to the motor for cooling, so it’s essential the feet are in good condition.
The feet are inexpensive and are easy to fit. If you decide to replace yours, consider coating the existing ones with something like WD-40, a few days before you try to extract the centre pin or you risk snapping it off in the machine base, as it will likely be ceased.
On with the repair. The speed control circuitry had failed, specifically a capacitor and resistor, a common problem on older machines, had gone pop. As usual, the correct repair kit was bought and fitted. With careful soldering and a dab of heat transfer gel on the new triac and the job was complete. Nice.
With any Kenwood Chef, I always check the motor end-float, the allowable spindle movement north and south. The end float in this case was a little lose and required adjustment. A small grub screw with Allen key head allows this adjustment and with a bit of trial and error, the end float was now spot-on. Poor end float on these machines usually makes the speed control ‘wobbly’, especially at lower speeds. With this one adjusted correctly, the motor now ran smoothly through all speeds.
Job done. The owner of the machine was so pleased with my work, she even bought me a new packet of Custard Creams. Fab.
Cost of replacement: £400 and up. Cost of repair: £11.24, plus my time and Custard Creams!
Another Kenwood Chef gets the treatment in the Workshop
How about another Kenwood Chef story? I know I’ve covered this machine a few times now, but I’ll try and make it as interesting as I can. I just LOVE Kenwood Chefs.
A customer got in touch with me via the FixItWorkshop ‘contact us’ link asking if I could fix his family’s much beloved Chef. While last in-use, it started smoking and smelling terminal. How could I refuse. I’m located in Worthing, but the customer was based in North London, quite a distance for a repair and would have been usually cost prohibitive using the Royal Mail. However, using local drop-off points, carriers such as Hermes and DPD offer (slightly slower) courier services for about £7.00 one way, which starts to make more fiscal sense. This is what we did.
I wish I’d taken a photo of the box the Chef came in, because the customer had clearly gone to a lot of effort to make sure it was well protected!
On with the repair.
The Chef has been in production many years and although they can often appear similar on the outside, they do vary on the inside, depending on the year of manufacture as small tweaks and improvements are made. Evolution, rather than revolution, usually the backbone of any successful design.
The A901E is different from the previous A901 as it features an electronic speed controller, rather than a centrifugal affair. While the later design is an improvement, it wouldn’t deter me from buying an earlier model; the improvement is small.
The A901E still features similar components to previous models which can and do fail, especially with age. The subject here is about 30 years old, give or take.
The motor on the A901E comes out quite easily; first remove the motor cover, remove the mains cable (disconnect first of course), remove the top cover, belt, then the four screws holding the motor in. The motor then pulls down from inside, out through the gap left by the hinge. Easy.
The motor circuit board showed traces of component catastrophe with dust and dirt left by exploding components. Nasty. Pre-empting the fault, I ordered a repair kit before I’d taken the machine apart, together with replacement feet as the ones on this machine were knackered. The kit includes capacitors, resistor and triac as these are the main components that tend to fail.
These kits are available on eBay and are worth the money as they are often cheaper than buying the components separately and they contain instructions for newbies. Here’s a little slide show showing the process.
With the kit fitted, the motor re-installed, mains reconnected, the Chef ran well again, this time without burning or smoking. However, all was not well as the speed control was a bit wobbly at lower speeds, which was just plain wrong. Having worked on a good few Chefs, this problem is usually down to excess end-float on the motor spindle. Working with the motor still in situ, the motor fan, which controls end-float could be adjusted with an Allen key. Sorted.
Just the replacement feet to fit and after a quick clean-up, the Chef was reassembled, ready to go home.
A top tip for you. If you intend to replace the feet on your machine and you probably should if they are old as they go hard or fall apart, then soak the area around the feet recesses with WD-40 or similar a day or so before as this will make getting the remnants of the old feet out, much easier.
Cost of a replacement: £400 up. Cost of repair: £12.65 plus my time and tea.
Who wouldn’t love a new DAB radio for your birthday? Well, that’s what I had this year and I was thrilled to receive this Pure Evoke H2. After choosing a suitable location on my desk, I quickly unpacked it, plugged it in and…nothing. Booooooo!
The display backlight appeared to glow a little, but that was it and I was missing Today on Radio 4.
To save a quite frankly dull story, the returns and replacement process offered by the company who supplied the radio was hopeless. But, after 2 months, I ended up with a replacement radio, in addition to the one I already had. The second radio worked, albeit with some fettling required to the speaker to make it sound ok (another story).
Time to dig out the screw drivers as I had nothing to lose.
Just 6 screws hold the back on and with these removed, the radio’s innards were exposed. Now, I’ve made radios from kits in the past using components I can hold with my fingers, but with this radio, the circuitry was teeny-weeny and I would have to have some luck to fix it.
I was in luck. The radio is made up like a sandwich. The front fascia is screwed to the cabinet and the back, that I’d removed, was screwed to the cabinet, from the other side. There are data-style cables between the two halves and one of them appeared to be loose. I carefully pushed the connector ‘home’ and then re-applied the power lead and wouldn’t you know it, the display lit up and it burst in to life. Now we’re talking.
Thinking I’d sussed it out, I screwed the radio back together and had about a week or two of unbroken service, until the screen froze and then nothing. Oh no.
Re-opening the back of the radio, I suspected that the tiny soldered pins on the back of the multi-way connectors on the data-style cables, had been dislodged. I have average sized hands for a bloke, but I needed tweezers to get the connectors on during assembly. I wonder how much it would have cost to add an inch or so to each cable, to make manufacture easy. As a consumer, I would have gladly paid the extra penny. I suspected that this is how the original fault came to be as it wouldn’t have taken much more than a shove in the wrong direction to break the delicate connectors, due to the short length of the internal cables.
Since this circuit board is a tiny stamped component affair, I had to be quick and neat with my re-soldering. Each pin to PCB connector re-soldered, cables re-attached, back screwed back on and the radio worked once more.
Pure have a reputation for easy to use, excellent sounding products. It’s just a shame they have seemingly penny-pinched on some of the internal gubbins on this model. If yours develops similar symptoms, don’t give up, take the back off and have a look.
Cost of a new radio: £40-90. Cost of repair: 5 mins tinker time, one cup of tea.
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.