The Art of Electronics Repaired

May 27, 2016 | 07:00
My favorite repair tool: the oscilloscope
My favorite repair tool: the oscilloscope
A couple of weeks ago I used this space to encourage you all to finally Widlarize all them parts you’ve had for ages yet are uncertain about as far as 100% functionality and being up to spec are concerned. I hasten to add I was talking about devices you grab “Pavlov-style” from your parts drawer for sticking into a circuit you’ve just drawn. It might be that 6-volt bulb with a 10-digit type code and the strange fitting so you soldered wires to it. Is it really-really 6 volts? Or the trusty 555 (“National Semiconductor, what can be wrong with that?”). Hang on, is that a 7 before the 5? Didn’t it run hot last time?

If you are good at creating electronics circuitry hands-on, who knows, you may have a talent for a second skill that lies dormant. If the process of creating a circuit from scratch (one that will rock Indiegogo) can be considered as a continuum of eliminating errors and working in steps to a successful ending, i.e. a working “device”, well then repair work is by and large equally noble. I’m not talking about mending the neighbor’s electric kettle, but rather of getting to work again any equipment you always wanted but could not afford to buy. Just like coming up with the brand new Elektor Uno R4, the process of repairing a jewel from the past requires ingenuity, patience, social skills, smart moves, risk assessment, dexterity, parting with money, and a little good fortune. Google is your friend. And EBay, BAMA, forum dwellers, Dave Jones…

These days you don’t need to dumpster-dive to lay your hands on equipment that cost a fortune when it was hot, say ten years ago, but is now a mere number in the CFO’s spreadsheet of defectives or write-offs. Like all oscilloscopes, audio equipment, multimeters, and power supplies carrying “analog” stamp on them. In general, the more dust and the more complex the looks of the equipment dangerously close to the dumpster, the greater the CFO’s glee at giving — nay, donating — it to you. I said: dangerously close. Grab it, the “fault” in the equipment is silly in most cases and a good laugh compared to the damage from the bashing the equipment gets as it lands in the dumpster.

Elektor’s CFO and my colleagues in the sales department will hate me for it, but I say a circuit repaired in style yields as much satisfaction and education as one created from the ground up. And 6 dB more satisfaction compared to buying a new one. Tell me what equipment you managed to restore to life recently, and now has a place on your workbench. Also what parts you Widlarized.
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