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What ever happened to service manuals?

Discussion in 'Electronic Components' started by Fred, Aug 8, 2004.

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  1. Fred

    Fred Guest

    Just wondering if anyone has had trouble getting service manuals for various
    electronics or appliances and how you got the info you needed to fix
    something.

    I remember years ago that all companies were required by law to sell a
    service manual or at least enough drawings and parts lists so that a
    technician could disassemble and work on their products. I was thinking it
    was 7 years? Sure seems like that law no longer being enforced.

    In my case, I have an Olympus C700 digital camera, 2-3 years old with a
    power drainage problem. This should be a simple matter to isolate but I'm
    finding only operator/user info available. None of the camera repair shops
    in the LA area even work on this model bcause they have no documentation
    from Olympus. I have taken the camera completely apart (yes, and back
    together) and it is very simple to do, but not seeing anything obvious, like
    burned points, bad contacts, etc., I can't do much else until I know the
    test points, etc.

    Any advice would be appreciated!

    If you don't want to post, just send me an email to


    Thanks!

    Fred
     
  2. Unfortunately, that is likely (not certain) to be a failure inside a
    custom-made IC. The other thing it could be is a leaky electrolytic
    capacitor.

    I've bought camera service manuals (for film cameras) from Olympus. Have
    you tried calling them?
     
  3. Kim

    Kim Guest

    I hate to say it.. this is probably THE most contentious issue on this, and
    other newsgroups. We are entering a "Brave Mew World" of electronic sales
    where $$$.$$ is the absolute bottom line.
    Its much cheaper, to have 1 or 2 repair depots fully equipped to send items
    to, then provide hundreds of repair depots with spare parts, and
    documentation. BUT its even cheaper to manufacture a item so cheaply, with a
    500% mark-up (as is the case with your camera) that its far cheaper to throw
    out the unit, and send the customer a brand new unit, as long as its under
    warranty.
    We can bitch , complain, flame our little hearts out, but that's the
    reality. As long as 90% of consumers decide on purchases strictly by how
    much it costs when initially purchased, then manufacturers simply cannot
    support a network of repair depots, along with the documentation to support
    those depots.
    What's even worse, is that with rebranding, most manufacturers don't even
    know what the hell is inside of the cabinets of what they sell.
    Yah Yah...I know...customer service...loyalty...if they fix it , Ill be a
    customer of their product for life......they'll make money in the long run,
    I swear!, costs more to get a new customer, then to keep a old one
    .....yadah...yadah.
    Well, manufacturers are realizing that a large percentage of the population
    are repurchasing items long before they die. In other words, the average
    cellphone, camera, computer, TV, is being replaced long before it dies,
    strictly because its not the current "IN" model, and its usually replaced by
    whatever is on sale that week, LONG before repair comes into the picture.
    Believe me, I have worked for MANY years in a large consumer electronics
    company, and if repair depots made even $1.00 on a repair they would
    probably do it. Considering a hour or two of US technician labour costs
    more than the manufacturing of the entire item overseas, than the technician
    is as dead as a Dodo, as far as most manufacturers are concerned.
    As well, believe it or not, lawyers also come into the equation as well. In
    our current litigious society, supplying a untrained customer with a
    schematic for a item, that they subsequently open, and fry themselves to
    death with, is also a problem.
    I actually have first hand experience with this. Believe it or not, a
    customer recently came to be begging for a easily-replaceable on off switch
    for a kitchen appliance. Although it was against company policy, I took pity
    on this guy that said that he could not afford to bring the unit it to be
    repaired, and besides, he assured me that he knew much about electronics
    (considering that all you had to do was replace 2 wires, it seemed like a
    safe bet), so I sold him the switch. The next time I saw the guy was in
    court. Somehow he screwed it up, shorted something out, the unit caught
    fire, and burned a large chunk of his kitchen.
    Long story short, our company was forced to pay a large chunk of money to
    fight a court case. Needless to say, from now on, NOBODY short of the Pope
    gets part, part listings, or manuals for ANY of our products ...PERIOD!.
    Kim
     
  4. I'm afraid we are going to have to face the fact that not everything is
    economically repairable. The bottom line is that in many cases, it costs
    much less (in labor and materials) to make a new camera (or whatever) than
    to repair an old one. This is not a malicious practice of evil business,
    it's just a fact of life.

    Back in 1950, when radio repair was in its heyday, the people who assembled
    radios at the factory used the same techniques as the repairman (soldering
    irons, pliers, screwdrivers, etc.). Repair was easy because manufacturing
    was not automated -- it used the same hand-tool techniques.

    In 1975, in the printed-circuit-board era, assembly was automated but hand
    repair was still relatively easy. Most of the individual components hadn't
    changed much since the hand-tool era.

    Today we're dealing with custom ICs (which you can't repair inside of) and
    extremely dense surface-mount circuit boards with tiny, unidentifiable
    components. Repair is difficult.

    Admittedly, we all feel sad when we encounter things that could have been
    repairable and aren't, but...

    Should a customer choose a $400 camera that is repairable over a $100 camera
    (with equal performance) that is not? I don't think so.

    And I certainly don't want the repair industry ganging up on the
    manufacturers and forcing them to do away with the $100 non-repairable
    camera, forcing everybody to pay the higher price.

    In my opinion, the repair industry got spoiled in the 1950s, when everybody
    had primitive TV sets that ate vacuum tubes at the rate of one every three
    or four weeks. Nowadays, a TV lasts maybe 8 years without repair, and when
    it fails, the cause of the failure is usually hard to find. This tells me
    that all the components are much more reliable, and they are also much
    better matched (to last the same length of time). This is supposed to be
    worse? Sorry -- when I indulge in nostalgia, I don't go *that* far.
     
  5. (Several points... some readers may wish to skip down...)

    Right... I see nothing wrong with that. Do things the most efficient way.
    I don't see how you can fault consumers for wanting a lower price. What
    should they be wanting?
    If this were "planned obsolescence" or just fashion, I'd be against it. But
    it's mostly genuinely rapid technological progress. HDTV is coming in.
    Cell phones are moving to different bands (my next one will be
    international). Digital cameras are getting tremendously better year by
    year.
    (or even in the US, with robotic assembly)
    Now *that* is sad.

    I am very much in favor of technological literacy, i.e., people should know
    what goes on in the machines that they rely on. I'm in favor of
    do-it-yourself repair when it's not unduly dangerous.
    Did your company win or lose the case? It sound like that dolt would have
    managed to burn his house down with or without the switch!
     
  6. Jerry G.

    Jerry G. Guest

    Because most of the new electronics are not serviced at the component level,
    there are no manuals published in detail. The service rep will service the
    camera at the board or module level only. The service departments don't even
    have a detailed schematic of the camera. They get the instructions about how
    to change the boards and modules, and how to do the base calibration of the
    camera using the dedicated factory tools.

    Service at the component level is very time consuming, and is expensive for
    them. Specialized tools and test gear is required to work on these at the
    component level is very costly, and then there is the added cost of the
    spare parts support network.

    Once the new board is installed, they have some calibration equipment to
    check the auto focus, and exposure tracking. They use a dedicated
    diagnostics to test the logic functions, and if all of it passes, the camera
    is shipped back to the customer. There are many functions in the camera that
    are self calibrating when under test with the factory calibrator for the
    particular model.

    If it is not a simple connector that is loose or an obvious cold solder
    connection, I doubt you will be able to service very much in these new
    cameras.

    --

    Jerry G.
    ==========================


    Just wondering if anyone has had trouble getting service manuals for various
    electronics or appliances and how you got the info you needed to fix
    something.

    I remember years ago that all companies were required by law to sell a
    service manual or at least enough drawings and parts lists so that a
    technician could disassemble and work on their products. I was thinking it
    was 7 years? Sure seems like that law no longer being enforced.

    In my case, I have an Olympus C700 digital camera, 2-3 years old with a
    power drainage problem. This should be a simple matter to isolate but I'm
    finding only operator/user info available. None of the camera repair shops
    in the LA area even work on this model bcause they have no documentation
    from Olympus. I have taken the camera completely apart (yes, and back
    together) and it is very simple to do, but not seeing anything obvious, like
    burned points, bad contacts, etc., I can't do much else until I know the
    test points, etc.

    Any advice would be appreciated!

    If you don't want to post, just send me an email to


    Thanks!

    Fred
     
  7. Fred

    Fred Guest

    economically repairable. The bottom line is that in many cases, it costs
    much less (in labor and materials) to make a new camera (or whatever) than
    to repair an old one. This is not a malicious practice of evil business,
    it's just a fact of life.

    True, but the owner (me) should have the chance to fix it and I don't charge
    myself $70/hour. I work for free!! B^)
     
  8. Fred

    Fred Guest

    Thanks to a few for their helpful comments, and to the majority for your
    pointless, boring academic commentary. %^)

    Typical internet discussion -- 5% helpful 95%.

    Regardless, I still can't fix my camera.
     
  9. Franc Zabkar

    Franc Zabkar Guest

    Yeah, that's what happens over here as well. It's about time the
    useless Greenies got off their backsides and pushed for legislation in
    this area. IMO, there should be no excuse for any manufacturer not to
    make service manuals available in paperless format via the Internet.
    And that means making them available to everybody, not just their
    business partners. I detest the condescending, patronising attitude of
    manufacturers who pretend that by withholding technical information
    they are protecting unqualified consumers from themselves. That should
    not be their choice, nor their responsibility, it should be mine.


    - Franc Zabkar
     
  10. Drainage problem isn't an adequate explanation. Some cameras are just
    battery hungry. Your best bet is to use Ni-MH rechargeables.
     
  11. Ray L. Volts

    Ray L. Volts Guest

    I recently built a new desktop pc and needed a new monitor to go with it.
    In shopping for a larger flat screen, I called the various manufacturers to
    see which ones would sell me a schematic -- I didn't tell them I had not
    already purchased their monitor.
    A few companies absolutely refused to sell or insisted they had no service
    manuals whatsoever. Some companies were willing to part with the service
    lit for a bar of gold -- you also have to stand on your head while you beg
    for it, then jump thru a few hoops. Though they didn't admit it, I suspect
    one might also have to recite a liability disclaimer -- probably while
    upside down, so all the blood rushes to your head and you don't really know
    what you're reading/signing. =D

    I ended up buying an NEC FP2141SB, for several reasons. I read lots of good
    reviews on it, it's $50 cheaper than its identical twin Mitsubishi, it's
    black to match the rest of my system (hey, aesthetics counts :) AND.. they
    will sell the schematic for it.

    I'm still kinda pissed they charge $50 for their manual, while Sony wants
    half that for their large monitor service lit.

    Apparently, $600+ is still considered a sufficient investment by most manu's
    to warrant service lit availability, at least where pc monitors are
    concerned.

    er, yes.. I know what I'm doing around HV equipment.. tv/stereo tech 20
    years, yadda yadda..
    That's not to say, however, that if it ever requires servicing I'll be able
    to get the parts from them. Hell, I hope it NEVER requires servicing. And
    it may not, but at least it's slightly refreshing to know I can get my hands
    on the schematic.
     
  12. Understood. That's what Sam Goldwasser is for :) :)

    The documentation that we wish for may simply not exist, because even at the
    factory, they don't do component-level repair.

    BTW, I know I'm "boring and academic." That's what they pay me for.


    Boring and academic signature:
     
  13. VERY GOOD POINT about it being a "green" (environmental) issue -- the best
    way to keep stuff out of landfills is to fix it! The manufacturers don't
    necessarily have service manuals, but they have *some* documentation, which
    could be made available. Something about clearing up the safety liability
    is another thing such legislation could accomplish.
     
  14. NEC monitors have always been built with a critical audience in mind. The
    original NEC Multisync was clearly built with the idea that all the rivals
    would examine it closely and envy it. (We used one of them something like
    10 years, from the CGA era until the end of the 640x480 VGA era.)

    A good reason for the lack of service manuals for *some* products is that
    the makers don't want us to see what corners they've cut!
     
  15. Fred

    Fred Guest

    Thanks. In this case battery, drainage or contacts are all OK. A new
    battery appears as if it were bad right away. First thing I checked was
    battery, contacts, easy things. My thought is it's an open or short in the
    power comparator circuit. Like a couple of folks said, a bad capacitor or
    diode maybe.
     
  16. Fred

    Fred Guest

    Ditto. I will never buy a Sanyo anything just for that reason. And their
    service documentation I've seen is full of errors. Same for Olympus (my
    current broken camera) -- will never buy another one because of the
    disposable attitude of theirs.
     
  17. Canada used to have a law that manufacturers were required to produce
    schematics on the request of the consumer or repair shop...I wonder if
    it is still in force - haven't thought of it for years....

    John :-#)#

    (Please post followups or tech enquires to the newsgroup)
    John's Jukes Ltd. 2343 Main St., Vancouver, BC, Canada V5T 3C9
    Call (604)872-5757 or Fax 872-2010 (Pinballs, Jukes, Video Games)
    www.flippers.com
    "Old pinballers never die, they just flip out."
     
  18. Zackly! Like the old Samsung b/w monitors back in the '80s, before
    anyone had heard of that Korean company. They used a few ohm resistor
    in the V supply line, instead of a fuse. Whenever the computer fed it
    the wrong horiz freq, the resistor would act just like a fuse, and a
    column of smoke would come out of it! I finally just ran a pair of
    wires off the PC board and put an inline fuse in each monitor. Worked
    just fine, and it was easily changed.

    In comparison, the old Ball Bros monitors would just sit there,
    screeching, without a trace of smoke. One thing, I have to admit, was
    that it got the people to turn it off when they saw the smoke! 'Cept if
    there was no one around...
     
  19. One thought about the latter. In some equipment, they put a rectifier
    diode across the battery with the cathode to positive, so that if the
    batteries are put in backwards, the diode will short them out and save
    the equipment from being damged. Well you may have such a diode, and
    the backwards batteries may hav damaged it so that it's drawing serious
    current and draining the batteries.

    Yesterday, one of the ladies at work came into the shop and asked me for
    an AA cell, needed for the new wall clock she had just bought. I gave
    her one, and what'd she do? Just shoved it into the holder on the back,
    not even watching which way it was supposed to go in. And of course she
    put it in backwards. Well, DUH, after she turned it around the right
    way, it started working. Murphy's Law applies. :p
     
  20. I feel the same way, but they are helping to ensure that they will be
    able to sell more products in the future by preventing the old ones from
    being repaired. I, also, want to have the schem and service manual for
    stuff I buy, but after all these years of trying to get them, I've found
    that sometimes it's just too difficult to sail against the prevailing
    winds, so I just stoop to the level of the average consumer and buy a
    new one instead of repairing the old one.

    And what really gets my undies in a knot is that the only thing that may
    be wrong with a VCR or TV, for example, is that the damn remote control
    is bad, and there's no way to get a replacement that has full
    functionality! Like you can buy a 'universal' remote, and it has the
    usual volume, channel, play and record buttons, but you can't configure
    the VCR because all that stuff was on the original remote, but not on
    the VCR itself! And if you can't use the original, you can't do SPIT!
    FURRFU!

    The first ten minute power failure that comes along, and you not only
    have to reset the date and time, but you have to re-enter all the
    channels, too. And without the original remote, you're out of luck!
     
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