Posts Tagged With: right to repair

Mend It Monday: Light Work

One not-very-light light

One not-very-light light

The Snail bought a couple of craft lamps from an online auction the other day, an auction of things that had been returned to catalogues or shops. These are those LED ones, with a magnifying glass built in. With these large online affairs, you can never be sure what you will actually get, there are no guarantees that the things will be fully functional.

Neither of the lamps that arrived worked on switch on, which seemed a bit odd, so I swung into action*.

I checked the power supplies that came with them – you’ll remember I had to replace the one for the Snail’s lamp (see here for the details) – and they both worked fine. It was time to open them up…


Not many bits to go wrong in fact

It would appear on the first one that the On/Off switch was only interested in the Off position. It was odd, though, because it really looked as if the two bits of metal are touching and making the circuit but they clearly don’t. I did a classic bit of finagling and bent both bits of the switch towards each other, just a tad, and tried it out. Success!


This is not on… literally

The second lamp had the identical problem.


Subtle, I know, but the switch is slightly modified

I wonder how many of these are not returned to the seller, but end up in land fill, all for the want of a bit of simple metal bending? This is probably a common fault with these, so we will be looking out for more of these returns!


Categories: repair, Sustainable Stuff | Tags: , , , | 7 Comments

ScrapHappy November 2021: O Brother, where art thy service manual?

He ain't heavy, he's my Brother - well, it is quite heavy and it isn't mine so...

He ain’t heavy, he’s my Brother – well, it is quite heavy and it isn’t mine so…

Last week (or about a thousand years ago if you are an archaeologist and have discovered and managed to figure out how to read the hard drive in the WordPress server), the Snail returned from a friend’s with a broken sewing machine. This is a slight role reversal (I have been known to return from friends with all sorts of scrap with a capital “C”), although this sewing machine did basically work, bar for one tiny annoying thing – the feeder dog* wouldn’t lift up properly. It sounded as if a bit had come loose or fallen off, so I decided that acquiring a service manual for the machine would be a good first step.

Well, it turns out, that Brother no longer appear to supply the service manual, not even as a download. There are sites that sell them for this machine, but they don’t actually have any (which is odd as some claimed it to available as a PDF download). Weird – and not very #righttorepair friendly, either.

Time to figure out how to take the case off…


Only a few tools needed (!)

The base plate needed to be removed in order to unclip the plastic tag on the actual case without snapping it. The base plate was then held, completely in the way of everything else, by a couple of cables, only one of which could be removed without the aid of either a) a lot of luck or b) a service manual. D’oh! Two screws were cunningly hidden behind the carrying handle so were the last to be removed, once all other possibilities for why the casing still wouldn’t come off were exhausted. In fact, there weren’t too many screws to undo, although they required three different screwdriver heads – yes, you can remove all of them but what’s wrong with one type? Three of them (on the base plate) used a star-shaped screwdriver head and there is no reason I can see for that nonsense.


What’s needed to screw it up properly

The mechanism seemed to be that a spring pushes the plastic gizmo back in place once the feeder dog has been lowered. That spring now seems to have about as much energy as me after lunch, so once the dog is lowered, it can’t be raised again (again, a bit like me after lunch). The mechanism makes no sense to me, it doesn’t appear to be missing a part and nothing looks broken, but the raise/lower switch isn’t permanently attached to the rest of the mechanism (hence the assumption that the spring does all the work).


Spring has not sprung

So, what makes this a ScrapHappy post rather than a Mend It Monday missive? It turns out that the owner of this machine doesn’t want to be able to lower the feeder dog – indeed, this may well be what has caused the problem, as the spring has been held in the same position for many years. So, what we want to do is effectively disable the control that would knock the mechanism out of place. Easy! The fix comes in the guise of a piece of sheathing from a scrapped piece of mains cabling. The sheathing is easy to cut and, in such a short length, is not compressible at all. Perfect!


Scrappy sheath

Now to fit the piece of sheathing into the mechanism…


In a jam (and not the yummy kind)

Eh, voila! Better put the machine back together again…

Everything seems to work, and they are no screws left so that’s a bonus. Hopefully the fix will remain in place for years to come.


* A thing that feeds the dog, er, fabric through. So I’m told…

Many other people contribute to Kate and Gun’s wonderful ScrapHappy every month – check out what they have been up to too!

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill,
Claire, JanMoira, SandraChrisAlys,
ClaireJeanJon, DawnJule,
Gwen, Bekki, Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue L,
Vera, NanetteAnn, Dawn 2, Bear,
Carol, Preeti, EdithDebbierose and Esther

Categories: repair, ScrapHappy, Sustainable Stuff | Tags: , | 25 Comments

ScrapHappy May 2021: Candle with Care


Lights out!

Lights out!

I am all for the right to repair, as my reader will know. Give me a broken thing and I will try to mend it. Give me a working thing and I’ll probably break it. Give me a decent single malt, and I’ll stop breaking stuff.

Sometimes though, things can’t be fixed because the manufacturer has inadvertently, or advertently, made them unfixable. And so it was with this pair of quite funky lamps from Mother-of-Snail. These lamps, when they worked, were touch sensitive so when you brushed them with your finger they giggled like a small child. Oh, wait, that’s me. You could cycle through “light off”, “light a bit on”, “light quite a bit on”, and “Ah! My eyes! My eyes! on”, just by touching the base. Then a power glitch one day meant you could only use the “light off” setting.

I took the pair of similarly-afflicted lamps to my workshop/office/lair/scrapheap and replaced the electronic component that was most likely to have been affected (it’s a thing called a triac, but you already knew that, didn’t you?). Sadly, that didn’t do the trick because the little custom-made silicon chip that controls the whole thing had also decided that the power glitch was a perfect excuse for a permanent holiday.

Nobody's bolt but mine

Nobody’s bolt but mine

I decided to de-evolve the lamps to candle holders. The threaded bolt that held the bulb holder into the body of the lamp was removable and so I glued a screw as shown to push the candle into. I was going to use something pointed but then realised how dangerous that might be for passing spaniels/terriers/Snails.


DIY candle holder

There are a few bits left over. There will be some electronic components that are still useable and the bulb holders are fine (although I have no use for them at all unless I build a lamp, which is unlikely). There are the little boxes that held the circuitry that might come in handy.

...and that's what lamps are made of.

…and that’s what lamps are made of.

I may add some extra support (possibly by melting wax) around the base of the candle at some point.

And now, by the light of two candles, I am off to finish some lovely single malt.

Another two, and we have the basis for a very funny sketch

Another two, and we have the basis for a very funny sketch



Many other people contribute to Kate and Gun’s wonderful ScrapHappy every month – check out what they have been up to too!


KateGun, EvaSue, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, 
Jill, Jan, Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys,
Claire, Jean, Jon, Dawn, Jule, Gwen,
Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue L, Vera,
Nanette, Ann, Dawn 2, Carol,
Preeti, Debbierose, Nóilin, Viv and Edi


Categories: recycling, repair, ScrapHappy | Tags: , , , | 28 Comments

Mend It Monday: The Joy of Stick


Spot the problem… there’s always one wire that comes off

I have started to sort my way through my electronics stash and came across this relic of computing – a cheap joystick. Being me, I wondered what the connections on the plug were and whether there was any damage/rust/icky stuff inside…

…and being me, I managed to break one of the wires when I took the bottom off*. Time to fire up the soldering iron! Fortunately, I was going to do some work on my next project (see September’s ScrapHappy for details, once it is, you know, September and actually written), so the iron was already warming.


Job done, a job that would have been done quicker if I hadn’t spent some time with the joystick attached to the desk, while I pretended to fly a spaceship. Simple things and all that… perhaps I’ll keep it!


* This is old enough to mean that whoever manufactured it didn’t care about it being opened up and fixed, even if it was the opening up that precipitated the requirement for fixing. Ah, #righttorepair!

Categories: repair, Sustainable Stuff | Tags: , | 6 Comments

Fixing the future

Annotation 2020-07-02 171153 2

Imagine, for a moment, a world run by corporations, not governments. A world where everyone is born an employee who is looked after as a company asset and, consequently, where there is no food or fuel poverty, no homelessness. All materials are recycled where possible, to the point that using new materials is reserved for special products. One downside? It is illegal to repair anything yourself or, indeed, make anything yourself. No knitting, no quilting, no soldering, no ScrapHappy. This kind of activity is deemed anti-corporation and is punishable by “credit history expungement”.*

We aren’t at this level of part dystopian, part idyllic (possibly, depending on your point of view) society yet. So far, this is just the world my newest creation, Nathan Xylophone, finds himself in as he is transported to 2088 after a bit of an accident (new novel on its way soon, honest!) .

But how close are we to not being allowed to mend things ourselves?

A few weeks ago, we moved a little closer to such a scenario as Apple won a landmark case in Norway against a repairer, Henrik Huseby, who dared to offer screen repairs for iPhones. His crime? He used imported refurbished Apple screens. He never once said he was using genuine spare parts, because once a screen has been refurbished by a third party, it is no longer considered to be a genuine Apple part, although it basically is, of course. Apple had sued in 2018, claiming an infringement of trademark, a case they lost. So they came at Henrik from a different angle – the screens, imported into Norway they claimed, were illegal copies.

In Norway’s Supreme Court, they won, leaving Henrik with a huge legal bill (one that repairers and supporters of the right to repair movement have rallied to help pay) and the potential for any and every company to prevent what they would see as “unauthorised” repairs. Apple already make their products almost impossible to fix without returning them – now they appear to have a mandate (at least in Norway) to continue that policy.

So, what is the solution? Apple say they reclaim some of the materials from their products and encourage people to return them when they upgrade, but they also render iPhones that are more than 3 or 4 years old useless by making the software run grindingly slowly – they are less than keen on keeping existing tech running!

Perhaps an answer might be to make it law that things have to be repaired at the manufacturers expense thus making the economics shift from throwaway to keep-forever. Or maybe, make things that are completely open source, and allow anyone to fix anything? What do you think? Should something that can be repaired have to be repaired?

As I write this (30/06/2020), apparently the Federal Congress of Mexico have approved the criminalisation of the right to repair or modify the hardware and software of devices, with penalties including ten years in jail. I haven’t found this on a newsfeed, just Twitter, so I can’t verify it – perhaps someone out there can?

Maybe Nathan Xylophone shouldn’t be too surprised what he finds in 2088!


* “I see this is not today’s software. Isn’t that treason or espionage or something?”

Although he did not look up from his work, Nathan could tell Jay Gee was grimacing, just a little. “Technically, it is both, with both punishable by removal of credit rating. Credit History Expungement, it’s called.”

“Sounds nasty. Can you get ointment for it?”

“After the expungement, no. You can’t get anything. You can’t buy, rent or indeed use anything that is less than two years old.”

“Wow, that’s harsh! Actually, what?”

“In this time, two years old is ancient history.”

“Even food? I mean, can you get food if you been ex, er, sponged then? Can you eat sponge cake?”

“You get the ‘C’ treatment. Charity. Worst thing a consumer can ask for. And you have to ask for it to. That or starve. Most choose the latter although we haven’t had any expungements for nearly five years, so recently people have been very good consumers indeed.”

“So, are you going to expunge yourself then, or in this joyless society, is that illegal too?”

“Ha ha. Joyless? We have none of the plagues that were raging across the planet in the twenty twenties, Nathan, not one of them. Poverty is all but gone, replaced by that most useless of things, fashion. But fashion that everyone has access to and can buy into. And everyone can buy into it…”

“Unless they’ve been expunged, of course.”

“Of course. But then, that’s their fault, isn’t it? With a great credit history comes great consumer responsibility.”

Categories: repair, Writing | Tags: , | 8 Comments

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