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My frustration as a technician..

Discussion in 'Troubleshooting and Repair' started by jpdesroc, May 10, 2013.

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  1. jpdesroc


    Dec 17, 2012
    Let me share with you something I stumbled on yesterday..

    A friend of mine own a TASCAM DR-2d portable digital audio recorder.
    This unit could run out of 2 x AA batteries OR a 5vdc TASCAM original supply.
    He had the bad idea to use a 'generic' adjustable
    wall wart power supply that was supposely at 4.5vdc hmmmm...
    Bad idea.. these suplies mostly comes unregulated.
    Too many volts ? bad polarity ? I'll never know.
    The result, the blown unit doesn't power up anymore.
    Ok. That's the start of the story.
    So I opened the unit to find that all the electronics
    were on 2 PCB's face to face, completely packed with
    VERY TINY surface mount parts on both sides of each boards.
    First I suspected a shorted protecting diode right
    next to the supply connector so I started looking around
    the surrounding parts.. oh man.. microscope job.. then I
    decided it would be a good idea to order the service manual
    to get the job done faster.
    TASCAM answered me the service manual was OUT OF PRINT
    but I could order it and get it by mail after a 2-3 weeks delay.
    They were not very clear about the cost and the way to pay
    for it. Finaly after around 6 emails TASCAM/TEAC California office gently emailed
    me a PDF version of the manual for free.
    So I was very anxious to check out the schematic and figure out
    where the problem could be in the circuitry.
    My reading was very short.. The service manual only contained
    - a brief list of error messages trouble shooting
    (worthless because the unit was dead)
    - parts Exploded view
    - parts list
    - small color prints of pcb's
    (both layers on top of each other so not readable)
    That's it !


    So the only thing that was left to me was to
    ask TASCAM the cost of each of the 2 main boards
    I cool swap for new ones to get the unit working.
    Here is the reply I received:
    Main board#1 $250.00US
    Main board#2 $140.00US
    Plus shipping.
    FYI a brand new unit in its box sells today for around $189.00US !!!
    So here is my frustration explained:
    For short, in the 70's in Canada (were I live) there was 2 types of electronics courses:
    - 1 year short course aimed for small home and cars appliances repairs
    - 3 years complete course (analog, digital, logic, software, development, etc..)
    this course was VERY CLOSE to the engineer's university course
    That's the one I chose to pickup.
    In the past 40 years (beside the elect. development I did)
    I always put my hands on repairable electronics.
    The stuff were made using tubes, transistors, IC's, etc..
    The degree I got out of my course brought me knowledge
    to analyse and fix blown circuits. I earned experience out
    of all my findings.
    Now I'm facing a world of BUY, USE THEN THROW AWAY (AFTER AROUND 5-6 YEARS OF USE).
    We came up to a point where a qualified tech is almost
    worthless. I talked to a repair store near Quebec City maybe they
    would have the TASCAM service manual on hand and the repairs man
    said to me:
    We almost stopped using service manuals on new stuff..
    The techs know what problem comes often on the electronic
    stuff we sell and they mostly replace complete boards
    without bothering what the blown part(s) were !!!!!
    Now, new stuff can be repaired (when not disposed)
    by 'REPLACE BOARDs' techs with small knowledge of electronics.
    In the next future, only:
    -repair shops that fix old repairable stuff (radios, music amps, keyboards, etc..)
    -R&D & electronic design houses
    will be the only place left for us techs who
    like to express our WIDE knowledge in our daily jobs.

    Just my 3 cents !!
    Quebec City, Canada
  2. shrtrnd


    Jan 15, 2010
    Get used to it buddy.
    We're dinosaurs, on the way to extinction.
    My daughter asked me the other day, if other people at my work knew how to fix
    electronic things like I do.
    She was surprised when I told here yes, but they were all my age.
    She doesn't know ANYONE her age, who can fix things.
    They're all in the (computer info) service industry, or college grads who wouldn't
    stoop to such a lowly occupation as doing hands-on work.
  3. Mongrel Shark

    Mongrel Shark

    Jun 6, 2012
    I'm 30 years old, and see the same stuff. I cant have a conversation about anything with working parts with anyone not 20 years my senior. I have hoards of people dropping broken stuff off at my door. Sadly most of it is cheaper to replace than repair, so it ends up being parts for the few things I do repair. Not just electronics either. I remember going with dad, to change washing machine belts etc. Now someone throws a belt, and get a new machine... Never mind that I already fixed it while they where pricing a new one. It failed once, might do it again, they want a new one. Good thing there are still people on Freecycle that want working stuff thats not brand new... I can hardly walk the street now, without little old lady's asking if I'm the man that can fix stuff.

    On the up side. I haven't paid for parts in a while :) Just drive around and look for some junk on the nature strip that has the parts I need.

    It is sad though. We have become an endangered species.
  4. shrtrnd


    Jan 15, 2010
    Heck, if the unit is more than a year-old, you can't even get the replacement broken
    plastic part. Yep, society here is geared for use and replace (instead of repair) when
    it breaks. And the 'service' industry is dying because of that.
    Considering the insides I see of some of the new things that get broke, it's inevitable.
    I just took apart a power supply for an HP Laptop to ID the fault. Half of the tightly-wrapped
    block was white thermal heat grease, and the other half was WHITE GLUE, and the
    printed circuit showed where to apply the grease, and where to apply the glue during assembly.
    I couldn't fit everything back into the plastic housing after repair if my life depended on it.
    It was obviously designed NOT to be repaired.
    If Hewlett Packard has given-up on designing their products for repair, you know we're done.
  5. mrmodify


    Feb 13, 2010
    Going Green? Right!

    Hello jpdesroc,

    I understand, The only schooling I had was from high school many years ago. I could do some repairs for family & friends and to some people who heard of me by word of mouth.

    I always had to know what part or parts were blown or bad on a piece of equipment I worked on. I aways found it to be a challenge and satisfying when I finished the repairs.

    Other than my own personal vintage equipment I quit repairing electronics years ago because of pretty much because of what you said in your post. Its sad.:(

    I thought we are suppose to be going "green". I don't get it. To me being green would be to repair a piece of equipment and keep it going. Not buy something then a year later throw it away and get something else.. :confused:

    I'm not bright but I don't get it!
    Last edited: May 14, 2013
  6. GreenGiant


    Feb 9, 2012
    you are indeed correct, but IF you can troubleshoot to component level then you can actually make money off of fixing things, even the new technologies.

    Nine times out of ten the manufacturers use generic low level parts (resistors, capacitors, transistors, etc) and they tend to fail (especially caps) and with people knowing that fixing the things costing more than replacing you will find people are quick to throw things out. My friend has pulled no less than 15 things from his local dump in the last year (2 PS3's, a 360, 3 TV's, 2 monitors, bluray player, and a few other things) all of which he was able to use/fix then use, in fact the TV that I now have in my bedroom (46" Samsung, 1080P, 120Hz, high contrast ratio, new price in 2009 $2,200.00) came from that same dump, I brought it back, didnt work right, opened her up and there was ONE ribbon cable that was not seated right... That was 6 months ago, its still working today, and looks BEAUTIFUL, but because the original owners assumed that it would cost an arm and a leg (rightly so most likely because people frequently overcharge for this stuff) they just tossed it and got a new one.
    Another friend of mine found a 55" LG on Craigslist (free section) that had caught fire, he went and picked it up, I took a look at it, and as it turns out, they miscalculated on the power connections from the power supply board to one of the other boards so it drew too much current and melted the connectors, put a larger gauge wire soldered to those pins and lo and behold he has a working one (he found another online of a similar model that had the screen cracked that he picked up for $50 as a parts piece), all said and done $50 for a 55" screen is pretty good.

    Yes there are things that are not worth fixing, but if you know what and where to look you can make a killing fixing things, to this day.
  7. shrtrnd


    Jan 15, 2010
    I believe that quite a few of us on this website prove GreenGiant's point on a daily basis. (It's how I pay MY rent, anyway). I think the point of the original post here, was
    that we're getting very little support from manufacturer's, or anybody else, in accomplishing that. Sure, if you know what you're doing, there's a market for you.
    There are probably a lot of us who remember a tube-tester in every five-and-dime store in town, with the most common tubes available underneath it.
    jpdesroc talked about the dwindling number of 'common' repair techs and support for our decreasing numbers. I was commenting on my observations of the situation.
    I figure there will always be some of us troubleshooters/repair people around; and if we
    can find an employer who can use that, we should be sitting pretty.
    But I also know techs these days don't generally get paid much, because all they're
    required to do, is ID the bad board, and replace it, noticed by jpdesroc.
  8. netdog


    Jun 3, 2013
    Sure I remember when stores had tube checkers and such, and radio shack sold components and real useful kits. But I also remember a TV set being so expensive each family only had one, and they kept it for 10+ years because it was so damn expensive.

    When manufacturing went to Asia, first to Japan in the late 60's early 70's, electronics gadgets started getting so cheap that folks could have a TV in every room, and now with chinese costs even lower, they are cheap enough to be disposable.

    I trained as a technician, but have never been employed as one. These days software programing is a better place to study, as everything has programmed software in it. The best hands on tech type jobs seem to be IT and network infrastructure jobs.

    I still repair some things mainly for myself and friends/family, just repaired an old heathkit signal generator that lost a voltage regulator IC, simple thing to fix. I signed up here today to see if I could get a more experienced opinion on a Kenwood receiver with a blown amp transistor chip. Dunno if I could make a living repairing things out in my rural location.
  9. NCC74656


    Jun 6, 2013
    i am 26 and the older i get the less and less i want to rely on anyone or any company to repair anything i own and the less i expect to ever find a product that actually meets my needs. it seems that we have just become satisfied with using what ever mass produced product we can find that sort of meets our needs. No one ever says "hey, i need a product that does exactly this", its always "well i wanted it to this but ill settle for it doing that as no one sells one that does what i want". I had a closet in my bedroom on my far wall and i wanted to add more space by moving my bed to that wall. so my idea was to buy a bed that was raised off the floor to walk under it. best thing i could find was at ikea and it was shorter than i wanted and also had a frame that did not meet my desired build goals, in addition to that the bed was 400.00... i spent 2 days and 45.00 at mendards building a custom bed that was stronger, cheaper, and better designed than ikea. I wanted to add a grill guard to my dodge ram, they cost 650-850.00 for a decent one and they are made of 1/8" aluminum and thin tube. sure they look good but one impact and there bent to all hell. i spent 120.00 at a scrap steel yard and built a 407Lbs 1/2" boxed steel guard that is many times stronger and more durable than anything i could buy at a store. took 5 days and a full spool of wire feed to build it along with a 24 ton pipe bender to manipulate the schedule 80 tube but the point is for less than 1/4 the price of a factory made product you can build a better product that meets what you need. why would anyone not do this?!?

    i do not understand why so many are willing to settle for the crap that is out there these days. My samsung tv went out last year and they wanted 400.00 to ship it, repair it, and ship it back. the tv is old now and not worth paying that much for a repair. i pulled it apart, replaced 2 blown caps and done. 75 cents and it was functional again. yet everyone seems to be afraid to experiment and learn how to repair there items. the price of new items and repair of old items is skyrocketing. i would expect the market for cheap repairs to go up with it but its not, its dieing.
  10. eKretz


    Apr 8, 2013
    A 400 pound bumper!! Wow, I hope you altered your truck's F/R weight ratio to compensate for that, or you could end up with some crazy handling dynamics, especially in the wet or snow, lol. Better hope you don't get in a wreck and kill someone too, the liability lawyers would have a field day with you.
  11. NCC74656


    Jun 6, 2013
    i actually rear ended a car the other day. was in teh fast lane merging into one lane over, i turned around to check my blind spot and the cars in-front of me stopped. i hit them doing about 44mph, put the suv on its side. my first accident on the road. i have not done any changes to the weight ratio, 400lbs is a relatively small amount of weight.

    the point is that we can make most anything better ourselves than what is already available out there in the consumer market.
  12. eKretz


    Apr 8, 2013
    I think if you checked, you might be surprised. Unless you're driving a semi, you significantly altered the ratio by adding that much weight, as it's cantilevered out way past the front wheels, so not only is it adding weight over the front wheels, but it's taking weight off of the back wheels. 400 cantilevered pounds is not insignificant in a 4-5,000 pound vehicle.
  13. NCC74656


    Jun 6, 2013
    the truck weighs 9,417Lbs last time it was on a scale. my tires weigh more than the grill guard. its not uncommon for me to hall 4-6K in the bed, from time to time i haul a trailer but its rare. buddy at work has some tractors he needs moved from time to time. not sure what the weight is but id guess its around a 30K lbs trailer.

    the truck does not feel any different with the grill-guard on or off.
  14. eKretz


    Apr 8, 2013
    That's not a truck, that's a beast! Lol, I was thinking it was a regular pickup truck. What is this thing exactly?
  15. NCC74656


    Jun 6, 2013
    i bought it a year ago, dodge ram 2500 quad cab, long bed, cummins turbo, 4X4 @ 415HP/922 ft/lbs torque. here is a picture of it:
    i have other pictures but that drive is not hooked up right now. the entire interior, axles, and transmission have been rebuilt.

  16. CDRIVE

    CDRIVE Hauling 10' pipe on a Trek Shift3

    May 8, 2012
    What is that white stuff??

  17. NCC74656


    Jun 6, 2013
    ha, funny. we had "that white stuff" in May, we got 6 inches the second week.
  18. CDRIVE

    CDRIVE Hauling 10' pipe on a Trek Shift3

    May 8, 2012
    Wow, snow in May! Yesterday, Tropical Storm Andrea passed over us. It was weird! My location only received sporadic wind gusts and a sh!t load of rain. In between the rain were long periods that I can only describe as what the Triassic must have felt like. The Sun would try to break though the muck and 90+% humidity but it felt repressive as hell. The wind felt like it came out of the mouth of a Dragon. I spent two years in SE. Asia, close to equator but I can't remember anything like this. Though, I was a heck of a lot younger then.

    Hey! Nice truck and even nicer Cow Catcher! It reminds me of Rick Simon's Power Wagon. ;)

  19. NCC74656


    Jun 6, 2013
    this truck has been my dream since i was 15. i spent 6 months last year searching for the exact version i wanted, all the factory extras - track loc rear, HD tcase, 4X4, over head console, ect. im 3/4 of the way thorough rebuilding every mechanical part. once i finish that i am repairing the body.

    i had a crazy idea to weld a new frame for her. was thinking of extending the truck by 2 feet, welding 2 beds together to bridge the gap and then id have room for my tool box and still retain 8 feet of space to slide wood and such. maybe one day...
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