Those of us who can fix things (I'm a 64 year old ME with EE grad work) are lucky but one point not made above is the incredibly high cost of commercial repair shops. In most cases "paying" for the repair of a consumer product will exceed the cost of a newer (and possibly better)replacement. Plus most shops charge a fairly steep fee to provide an estimate: It might cost $95 to get them to tell you it will cost $300 to repair a TV that you can buy a newer (and better) version of for $299. So, you really can't fault the non-technical consumer for making the best decision for him. If I can't fix it I'm not going to pay someone else $95 to tell me it's not worth fixing.
By the way - for the TV that started this discussion - a good solution for someone who did not have the expertise to actually repair it would have been the addition of a sound bar. Most offer s/pdif input and most new TV's have s/pdif output (usually Toslink). Many are in the $100 to $150 range so less than a commercial repair would cost and the sound is an amazing improvement over most internal TV speakers. My company manufactures a s/pdif audio delay for lip-sync correction in home theater systems. The DD740 normally intercepts s/pdif audio between sources like DVD players, DVD's, etc. on the way to the receiver/amplifier but for customers who don't use a surround sound receiver we often recommend a low cost digital sound bar so we can intercept the TV tuner's audio. Otherwise it stays internal going directly to the TV's amplifier and speakers (where the capacitor failure caused the amplified noise).
Ah yes! The "early shutdown" problem! How many times over the last 20 years have you heard "my computer runs for about (fill in time) and then shuts down". Open the case and you'll see what looks like a brown wad of cotton where the processor fan should be... I have a stack of what were at one point very expensive machine servo amplifiers. I grabbed them from the trash figuring I could use the cases, transformers etc. in "something". I opened one and thought "this is an odd thing; they lined the case with felt". Once I started digging away at it I realized it was compacted dust! The heat-sink and fan, entire inside of the case was loaded with dust. If the guys doing PM had thought to clean the amps from time to time they would most likely still be in service today. A few years ago a neighbor said his garage door opener needed to be replaced; it was intermittent and the door company said the whole thing would have to go. Given the "it can't hurt to open it up" thinking I opened it up and pulled the main board. A CEM-1 PCB and all through hole parts. A quick look around and guess what? The main connector with the antenna wire dangling and connection for the button had cracks across it. The traces were barely hanging on. A bit of solder across the traces with some jumper wires and everything worked perfectly. Saved him $800.00 on that one (though I'm sure the garage door company didn't appreciate it).
LG flat panel TV goes into standby after running for 3-4 minutes. Repair man $70+ just to look at it dianosed as SMPS fault, beyond economic repair. Cure..remove back panel, clean fluff out of fans so they now actually rotate...and reassemble!
==== The sad reality is that some time back many companies decided to stop making products worth repairing. ====
I'm not sure if companies actually "decided" that. I think what actually happened is that the cost of buying a replacement part has dropped dramatically, due to efficiencies in product design, improved manufacturing methods, and of course, off-shoring. Just think about the complex consumer products that you can buy nowadays, in terms of your hourly salary, compared to similar products 20 or 30 years ago. The cost of many consumer products has dropped relative to inflation, while the cost of repairing anything (parts + labour) has increased with inflation.
The yardstick I use is the colour TV. When we bought our first one, in the late 1960's, the price was in the $700 range, and minimum wage was less than $1. These days, you can buy a 32" flast-screen LCD TV for $200-$250, and minimum wage is around $9 here in Canada. If TV prices had risen with inflation and minimum wage, the LCD TV would cost $6300, and for sure it would be worth repairing.
Everybody is certainly correct about the "replace it" mentality that has become embedded in so many people. The sad reality is that some time back many companies decided to stop making products worth repairing. The other problem, of course, which is much worse, is that so many individuals represent that they are capable, but they don't know anything except how to write "not repairable" on a tag, then sell a new appliance, or whatever. I have repaired about 20 dead VCRs by simply opening them and taking them apart far enough to clean the mechanism with a "Q" tip and alcohol, then putting them back together. That makes them work. Many folks find my repair technique amazing, but who can argue with a very high success rate. Of course, poor solder connections and hidden fuses also can be the source of many "unrepairable" evaluations.
I love hearing about other old guys like me who like to fix things instead of replacing them. I'm a yard sale junky; I've picked up numerous pieces of high end audio and video gear (not to mention tools and test equipment)for next to nothing. Usually there is nothing wrong that a little contact cleaner and/or WD40 won't fix. I got started in this industry repairing radios and TVs in the early '70s (when lots of stuff still had tubes in it) I learned how to spot and smell an over heated resistor or a bad capacitor. Too bad no one can make a living doing repair work anymore.
It's true, the younger generation has no clue; we had a kid work here who was a computer whiz, but had no clue that there were switches inside a computer mouse. I don't think he even understood the concept of a switch.
That sounds veeeery familiar to me... "Has to be quite easy to repair, because it worked fine. Just today it devided not to work, but used to work fine... so it has to be easy to repair..." :-)
The only difference between your friends and mine is that my friends want the gadgets back once repaired... bad luck for me!
And talking about capacitors... just for your info, Windows is not always guilty for the system hanging. Replace the capacitors and you'll restore many motherboards...
The physics department at my college had a problem. Their PA amp had failed a few hours before a prestigious physics guy was to talk. At least 3 graduate students had "worked on" the amp, the fuse, I was told, was replaced three times! I said, "you're out of fuses now, right?". Yes, they were. You are probably guessing what was going on. They had 5 amp fuses, (or at least had had them) but no one knew what "SB" on the fuse rating meant. But I did... Indeed, you can't replace a slow blow fuse with a fast-acting one and expect everything to just be ok, right?
This thread got me thinking about all the things I've fixed over the years. One was a Sankyo tuner/amplifier in the late 80's. A friend worked at a restaurant. One day he showed up with the amplifier and said "it worked the night before; we turned it on this morning and nothing It's yours if you want to mess with it". I made sure they didn't want it (they had already bought a new one). It came on, all lights but no sound. I said to him "at the end of the night you just turned it off and this morning "just" turned it on"? "Yup". You can see where I'm headed; first thing I thought was "they had it up loud at the end of the night, turned it off and this morning just turned it back on without turning down the volume - has to be a fuse in the output section". Sure enough, got the cover off and both output fuses were blown. A trip to Radio Shack and 79 cents later I had a new receiver. I took the front panel and knobs off and gave them a good scrubbing in the sink (restaurant guck). I used that receiver until I bought a 5.1 system in the late 90's. I also learned the lesson to ALWAYS turn an amp down before turning it on. I play guitar and have seen many amps taken out because of this as well.
It amazes me the mentality of consumers today. We've been programmed to believe that anything that is broken belongs in a landfill. Products only need to last the length of the warranty and then they are discarded. Luckily, I've convinced family and friends that this is not true. I routinely get items with the caveat, "I know it's broken but I figured you might want to look at it before I buy a new one".
Like Tombo, I have the attitude that you can't break it any more by opening up something that's already broken. I'm able to repair between 70% & 80% of all the items I receive. The remainder are usually damaged beyond economical repair.
Though I've never had buzzing from a bad cap, you can bet I'm filing that info for future use.
What are the engineering and design challenges in creating successful IoT devices? These devices are usually small, resource-constrained electronics designed to sense, collect, send, and/or interpret data. Some of the devices need to be smart enough to act upon data in real time, 24/7. Are the design challenges the same as with embedded systems, but with a little developer- and IT-skills added in? What do engineers need to know? Rick Merritt talks with two experts about the tools and best options for designing IoT devices in 2016. Specifically the guests will discuss sensors, security, and lessons from IoT deployments.