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No user serviceable parts inside!

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Dick Cappels shared a link on Face Book that sparked a conversation:

Not serviceable! In part because of the total lack of education about fixing or even making things.
In part because WE made manufacturing so efficient that it is much better to make another than to fix.
In part because the parts are so small....

As I look back, "WE" did a good job of "cost down", "size down", "function up" and "more cost down" to the point where it is not fixable.
I set here with a screw driver in my hand and there is no screw to turn.
"WE" did this and I am a little proud of it."

My first computer cost three months wages and took four trips to carry it to another room. My new computer fits in my hand. WE did this. Like it or not.
Comments welcome.


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Way back in the early 1970s, the first integrated circuit that I replaced as a maintenance technician was a 741.
It was used in an "in house" designed and built isolation amplifier system.

There I was sitting at my bench with this amplifier, built on a small piece of veroboard, it did not work, what could I do?
All there was, the 741, a few resistors, two potentiometers, maybe a couple of capacitors.
All that I could do was to change this 741, A WHOLE AMPLIFIER !

Up until that point I had prided myself in component level repair, both transistor based equipment and older stuff using valves (vacuum tubes).

I changed the 741, the amplifier worked, and I had a strange empty feeling that somehow my skills were devalued.

Fast forward 40+ years, working with a PIC, you make a bit of a mess of the power supplies, PIC goes pop. No problem, just pop in another one, job done.
And all of a sudden you have just changed the equivalent of a PDP11 !

I guess that is progress.



Active Member
As an automation engineer I think there are two sides to us. As some small things shrink OUT of a scale we can work on some big things shrink IN to a scale we can work on. I don't think it was long ago that a system that could automatically throttle control a helicopter to simplify handling couldn't actually be carried by a helicopter. Now a chip that can do it costs under a dollar and fits in a micro helicopter. When I was 12 I would look at electronic projects catalogs and wish I could buy the $1200 mobile robot kits, when I was 19 I was building programmable mobile robots with $30 worth of parts.

I've seen artists do things like putting a microcontroller in a panel with servos that could tilt tiles to and away from light to make the image received on a camera appear. Such a thing would have cost millions of dollars Xerox PARC back in the day (not sure what year I should say). I volunteer for FIRST tech challenge and kids can build RC robots that compete in robot-sports, they have thermal cameras and try to hit goals, they're remote control, they can climb. It's pretty amazing.


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Most Helpful Member
A funny aside.
My free Cen-Tech digital multimeter from Harbor Freight has a warning on the back that states:

This instrument contains no operator serviceable parts.
Screw Removal by qualified persons only

So to replace the 9V battery inside I have to find a qualified person. :rolleyes:
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