Consumer electronics "war stories"

On Friday, December 4, 2015 at 1:53:47 PM UTC-5, Ralph Mowery wrote:


Most of them have microchips (that you can't open up and repair). And they have software and wireless or hard wired connections to larger facilities elsewhere where techs can come in and review the software.
Many problems seem to be caused from malware or spyware (maybe some even from the government or other places) that intentionally interferes with the intended software provided by the company on the package's label.

Right now, I'm not even working. I'm just sitting around looking at space cartoons and video games.
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OK, we got one of those fancy energy-saving washing machines. After a few years, it started having trouble filling with water. I replaced the solenoid valve assembly twice over about 6 months, and then started invetigating deeper. The control board had a micro and about a dozen electeromechanical relays on it. The one for the cold water valve eventually developed contacts burned so bad that I was able to diagnose it. I replaced it with a solid state relay, and all has been good for several years. I gues the cold water valve gets cycled the most often, so that relay got burned up first. No problem yet with any of the others.
Jon
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On Saturday, December 5, 2015 at 2:44:26 PM UTC-5, Jon Elson wrote in rec.crafts.metalworking:

Yeah, obviously a current relay or just that kind of an interface or something. Tell 'em about it, so they can buy you a whole new one.
You can't get anything if you stay silent. (I learned that the hard way)
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

The only thing I'll get out of them is a $250 service call, and another control board with a short life. I assume everybody else that has this or a related model ends up replacing that board every 2-3 years. Geez, I'll bet that is the largest moneymaker they have in this business!
Jon
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wrote:

So, are you going to tell me that this is a coincidence, or are these thieving bastids designing this crap to fail quickly, then making an equal amount (to the sales profit) by servicing their dead crap? I'm strongly guessing the latter. <sigh>
Congrats on the troubleshooting.
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wrote:

The future is in DRM, no unauthorized repairs or aftermarket consumables. With wifi connected everything you will simply rent or lease all your appliances, easy monthly payments, no need to spend big bucks appliances. Lets not forget the monthly use tax that will be automaticly deducted from your bank account. Fridge, stove broken? no problem the manufacture will simply remove the broken one and replace it with a factory refurbished one of the same model. Missed a payment on your wifi connected car? no problem they will simply disable it when your in a high crime area.
Best Regards Tom.
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Larry Jaques wrote:

No, I think the evil bastards is pretty appropriate! On the other hand, it may have just been ONE crappy relay. I bought a bunch of parts to put arc suppressors on all the relays, but never did install them. So, there are still 11 relays of two different types perking along merrily for the last 3+ years! I was expecting the rest of the relays to start failing, but that hasn't happened.
Jon
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On Saturday, December 5, 2015 at 11:41:05 PM UTC-5, Jon Elson wrote:

it

c

3+

It may not have been a bad relay, but may have been that the one relay that went bad was being asked to do something out of spec.
It seems like there ought to be solid state replacements for common mechani cal relays. I've never had a failure of an SSR, and you can get them with b uilt in snubbers and zero-cross switching. One would think it would be chea per to mass produce SSRs vs mechanicals.
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rangerssuck wrote:

There are, I think, six identical relays that drive six identical solenoid valves. I can imagine the cold water valve gets used multiple times per wash cycle (it does a bunch of tricky stuff to weigh the load by partially filling the basket and then swiring it with the motor to measure inerta) so that valve probably is cycled 6 - 10 times per wash load. But, if all the valves and relays were identical, I would expect that additional failures would have started showing up by now.
There are some bigger relays that operate heavier loads, no problem with those so far.

Yes, you WOULD think. But, I'll guess that some factory that is cranking these things out can make them for a couple cents each. If properly selected, about the only thing that will kill an SSR is lightning or a shorted load.
Jon
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On Sun, 6 Dec 2015 07:37:11 -0800 (PST), rangerssuck

Life of a mechanical relay is typically only 50-100,000 operations at full rated load. Often even less for motor rated relays. That's completely specified, sometimes there is a curve showing typical life at lower than rated current, and you can easily test for that (at 2 seconds per operaton 100,000 operations takes a couple days, and you can test for 1,000,000 in a few weeks) . At only 10 operations per hour in a product, 24/7, a 100k operations relay will last less than 2 years.
Here's one that's rated for only 25,000 operations at rated current *resistive* load. https://www.omron.com/ecb/products/pdf/en-g5q.pdfhttps://www.omron.com/ecb/products/pdf/en-g5q.pdf
Now as an engineer working for an appliance manufacturer, do you recommend a $5 relay (longer life or heavily derated) instead of a 50 cent one to make it last 10-20 years rather than 5 average, knowing that will increase the retail price by $50+, or do you use the cheaper part? Do you make the same decision for all the **other** parts that have a definite life span, and if so will you still have a job- or will your product be affordable enough to sell in the required quantities. It's not really evil, just an economic decision.

I've seen lots of failures of solid state relays- they almost always fail 'on' and they do so more-or-less randomly rather than mechanical relays that have a definite life. They also produce a lot of heat requiring heat sinks, are more expensive and often less reliable in the bathtub part of the life curve. They have notoriously poor tolerance for overcurrent and overvoltage. There has been little improvement over the years in SSRs or mechanical relays, though both have gotten cheaper in real terms.
It's possible to make SSRs more robust by using much larger overrated semiconductors and special I^2T fuses, but there's those pesky economic trade-offs again..
--sp
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Spehro Pefhany
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On Mon, 07 Dec 2015 12:25:25 -0500, Spehro Pefhany

If you're a smart manufacturer, you offer one at each price point. Maytag vs Magic Chef brands from the same mfgr. The only problem is that they apparently stopped putting the good stuff in Maytags, too, but didn't drop the prices.
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On Monday, December 7, 2015 at 12:18:18 PM UTC-5, Spehro Pefhany wrote:

e
m
d, it

arc

are

ast 3+

hat

hat went bad was being asked to do something out of spec.

b/products/pdf/en-g5q.pdf

anical relays. I've never had a failure of an SSR, and you can get them wit h built in snubbers and zero-cross switching. One would think it would be c heaper to mass produce SSRs vs mechanicals.

Ease up, dude. Jon did NOT mention mechanical failure. He DID mention that the contacts were burned badly.
Now, as for the fifty-cent vs five-dollar decision, by the time the washer hits a retail store, the price difference might be $1,000 vs $1,020. I KNOW that given the choice, I'd spend the extra twenty bucks. Larry J. mentione d that in the next post.
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On Saturday, December 12, 2015 at 11:27:08 AM UTC-5, rangerssuck wrote:

That makes sense, but what if there are 6 such items . Then in the retail store the price difference might be $1000 vs $1120. Tougher choice.
Dan
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On Saturday, December 12, 2015 at 12:59:34 PM UTC-5, snipped-for-privacy@krl.org wrote:

her >hits a retail store, the price difference might be $1,000 vs $1,020. I KNOW

ned >that in the next post.

l store the price difference might be $1000 vs $1120. Tougher choice.

True, but then again, I doubt major manufacturers are paying anywhere near five bucks for solid state relays in the sizes and quantities they would co nsume. But still, a 10% or 15% premium for the appliance that's going to la st longer seems pretty reasonable.
A few years back, I bought 100 seagate barracuda drives. They started faili ng soon after installation, and at an alarming rate (I have since replaced every one of them), Several frustrating calls to Seagate got me no further than "they're under warranty, so return them and we'll ship you refurbs." I told them that I wasn't interested in a like-for-like replacement, as the new ones were just as likely to be bad as well. It's not the cost of the dr ive, it's the cost of travelling to the customer to replace it. let alone t he lost faith the customer has in my product. The best they could suggest w as buying enterprise level drives which had a longer warranty, but no promi se that they were less likely to fail during the warranty period. I would g ladly pay double, triple or even quadruple the price for had drives that ar e built to last. Seagate, Maxtor, Hitachi and Western Digital all told me t hat they don't have such a product because their marketing people didn't re cognize a need for them, and "If it dies under warranty, we'll ship you a r efurb." Feh.
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wrote:

True, but then again, I doubt major manufacturers are paying anywhere near five bucks for solid state relays in the sizes and quantities they would consume. But still, a 10% or 15% premium for the appliance that's going to last longer seems pretty reasonable.
============================ https://www.panasonic-electric-works.com/eu/compliance.htm "Relays with contacts that contain cadmium are still exempt from the RoHS directive. However, due to its general corporate policy, Panasonic no longer offers any relays whose contacts contain cadmium."
http://www.therelaycompany.com/materials.php "This contradicts earlier advice and is based on the switching qualities of AgCdO which cannot be matched by other materials. In some cases performance might otherwise be less than half that offered by this particular compound."
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On Sunday, December 13, 2015 at 6:29:17 AM UTC-8, rangerssuck wrote:

It could be worse. At least, their techs get the dead unit to analyze, and its flaws might inform the next generation hardware design.
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https://www.backblaze.com/blog/3tb-hard-drive-failure/
-jsw
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On Sunday, December 13, 2015 at 4:55:39 PM UTC-5, Jim Wilkins wrote:

Oh yeah, that story reads very similar to mine, except that I am a one (som etimes two or three) man shop, and my customers (and their drives) are spre ad out over the NY metropolitan area. When one of these drives fails, and I have to go to the friggin' Empire State Building to replace it, the warran ty coverage on a hundred dollar drive doesn't matter even a little bit.
I now only install systems in raidz3 configuration. That allows three drive s to fail before data is lost, and I get alarms when the first drive fails. Further, I buy from multiple sources to help avoid having drives in a sing le unit from the same manufacturing run.
It aint perfect, it never will be, but it's as close as I can reasonably ge t.
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Oh yeah, that story reads very similar to mine, except that I am a one (sometimes two or three) man shop, and my customers (and their drives) are spread out over the NY metropolitan area. When one of these drives fails, and I have to go to the friggin' Empire State Building to replace it, the warranty coverage on a hundred dollar drive doesn't matter even a little bit.
I now only install systems in raidz3 configuration. That allows three drives to fail before data is lost, and I get alarms when the first drive fails. Further, I buy from multiple sources to help avoid having drives in a single unit from the same manufacturing run.
It aint perfect, it never will be, but it's as close as I can reasonably get.
============ They say the 4, 5, 6 and 8GB Seagates are looking good so far: http://www.myce.com/news/backblaze-releases-hard-drive-reliability-stats-for-q3-2015-77560/ "Seagate has gotten some bad press in the past from these reports, but the final graph shown at the BackBlaze site tells us that as they replace the older drives and put in newer, higher capacity ones, the Seagate performance has risen above Western Digital slightly. Backblaze is particularly pleased with their 6TB Seagate drives."
-jsw
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wrote:

I might expect one relay for each water temp, one for motor start, and maybe one for switching into spin mode, but 12? What the hell does your washer DO, besides wash clothes? Iron, fold, and stack, too?
I think you're right, the cold water relay/solenoid is the most heavily accessed one on the washer.
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