So I buy broken iPhones, fix and sell them. I recently purchased a white 5S which was supposedly working fine except for a broken screen, NZ$71. The housing was dented quite badly near the sleep/wake button (to use the correct Apple terminology) and the touch ID didn’t work. I took the logic board out of the housing and tried straightening the housing, but despite being careful fractured the plastic link between the main housing and the top end. I always manage to do this! Actually I’d rather replace the housing than attempt to straighten it when it’s quite bent, sorry Louis Rossman. I hunted through my used housings and chose the best one, a vivid gold colour, transferred the components, reinstalled the OS – actually updated to iOS 11, d’oh! – and put it on Trademe. I noticed that it would be dead by morning, then it wouldn’t charge, so I bought a new battery and it charged fine. Meanwhile I sold it, and then noticed it was still running down completely after 4 hours. I told the guy all this when he came to collect it, he left it with me and I put my SIM in to test the phone out. I didn’t think the problem was symptomatic of U2 disease. It would charge properly, or so it seemed, but it kept going flat after 4 hours use, and it would last all night on standby but be at 5% by morning. I bought a black 5S with a broken screen, and rather than order a new screen I put the logic board into the gold housing, and the same thing happened. The phone would run completely flat after 4 hours of moderate use. I did all the turning off people recommend on the internet – background app refresh etc. – but no joy. The buyer passed on the trade after I gave him an update, and tonight I tried putting the black 5S logic board back in its original black housing. I was just reading something which talked about poor cellular reception contributing to battery drain, and my workshop is in an absolute black spot, so I’m wondering if that has anything to do with it. But I’m noticing the black 5S has been sitting on 72% for the last half hour and wondering if the housing can contribute to battery drain. I changed the charging flex in the gold housing because I’d read that a short in that can cause battery drain. I wonder if something like a burr on the interior of the housing or something like that can cause a short. I made sure all the connector foam pads were present (they weren’t) because somebody said that contributed to battery drain. So I’ve turned the place upside down trying to fix this. I guess there could be some component on the logic board causing drain, but the same thing happening with two different logic boards? The housing is the only thing in common – different boards, batteries and charging flexes. Or maybe it’s iOS11…watch this space!
So a couple of weeks have gone by, I put the original logic board into a new aftermarket housing and used the phone with a SIM installed for a couple of days. I’d get about 3 1/2 hours use before the battery was flat. I realised on Sunday that the housing wasn’t the only part I hadn’t changed, so swapped the front camera/proximity sensor/ambient light sensor/ear speaker flex, the ear speaker and the metal screen shield – and, lo and behold, the phone now lasts all night on standby, a solid 8-9 hours of use on a charge – amazing! It’s been sitting on around 94% for the last 4 hours, Wifi on, background app refresh off and no mail account installed. Which is not a lot of drain, but in the past the charge would have gone down like a cartoon cigarette. Amazing. It may now be saleable. I realise this isn’t on the same order of phone fault diagnosis as “short on VCC main” or “replace Tristar” but the proof of the pudding, as they say, is in the eating…I thought it was Tristar for a while, but it has none of the symptoms of Tristar fault, as far as I can make out – no fake charging, it will charge from a drained battery etc.
I’d bought this years ago, purchased a new housing from eBay and installed it then set the phone aside until recently. I sold it on Trademe THEN did some testing to make sure it was OK! It wouldn’t recognise SIM cards. The SIM tray had no missing contacts, so I removed the antenna cover at the base of the phone, noticed the cable wasn’t plugged in properly, there was a component next to the cable which had come loose at one end, and remembered I’d replaced one of the three connector ‘prongs’ on the motherboard with a piece of wire which REALLY wasn’t doing its job. I resoldered the component (microsoldering always stresses me out!), removed my wire connector and scavenged a replacement ‘prong’ from another phone board and soldered it in place. Phone back together, it now connects to the network but the microphone seems faulty – I’m almost inaudible in a call. One of the things I’ve had ZERO success with to date is replacing Nokia microphones. So it was with understandable trepidation that I removed the motherboard, set it up in a phone repair vise and got out the rework gun. I set it at 375 degrees and applied heat to the underside of the board just below the mic. It lifted off after a few seconds. I put fresh leaded solder on the board traces, added Amtech flux then positioned the new mic in place. Set the gun at 350 degrees, applied heat to the underside of the board once more. The mic was moving around a bit so I turned the air speed down and helped it stay in place with tweezers. After a few seconds I could see it settle as the solder melted. I turned off the gun, let the board cool down then cleaned it with isopropyl alcohol and toothbrush. I reassembled the phone, and, amazingly enough, the microphone worked! I called my flatmate Holly who had been putting up with test calls earlier, and she reported it sounded much clearer and louder! A win – and my first successful replacement of a Nokia microphone. Yay!
Friend Martin brought me his Pro-ject Debut (I’m not sure which iteration) because the platter had begun rotating counter-clockwise. We plugged it in and it spun clockwise, then I turned it off and on again and it spun anti-clockwise. Troubling! The only other turntable I’ve encountered this with was a Dual 505. The phase shift cap goes bad over time and this causes the reverse rotation. I didn’t think this would apply as it’s a recently produced turntable, but I had a look at what I assume is the phase shifter cap. It was marked 8.2uF, measured 12uF. ESR and voltage loss seemed OK. I replaced it, wondering if that would have any effect. But it didn’t – still rotating counter-clockwise. There’s a diagram on the motor explaining something – it took me a while to figure out what. There are four wires to the 16V AC motor: yellow; white; red; blue. The diagram depicts the two motor coils as resistors, and shows how the AC is connected to them: the yellow and white are ‘common’, the red and blue are ‘active’. In order to change rotation direction, the ‘active’ wire from the on/off switch can be connected to either the blue wire or the red wire. There’s also a 2.7nF ceramic cap, which I assume is for on/off switch spark suppression and is connected across the switch. Initially I’d just swapped the red and blue wires, this caused the rotation direction to change but created vibration (not good!). I swapped the wires back, then worked out what the diagram was driving at. I attached the ‘active’ AC wire to the blue wire’s lug and the motor began rotating clockwise. Strange that it had been wired the other way and had rotated clockwise until just recently. Problem solved…
Here’s the motor with wiring diagram…disturbing it took me so long to work out what it meant!
On Tuesday I heard a friend talking about Columbia’s maiden flight, and was prompted to look at John Young’s Wikipedia entry. I didn’t know he’d died in January. He’d had quite a life. He was a hero of mine, a deeply unflappable man with an endless sense of wonder at the universe. That seems like a good combination of personality traits.
I like the moment at 28:41 when he does the ‘hot damn!’ arm movement, on his walkaround of Columbia after the landing. I admire somebody who enjoys their day job that much. Godspeed, sir, on your final journey.
I don’t know much about computers, as this post will demonstrate…a while ago my friend Olivia gave me her nice HP Windows 10 laptop, because she was “sick of it”. She wanted a desktop computer instead, so I bought a Compaq 6000 all-in-one and gave it to her (seemed like a fair trade). She had it for a while, then told me it wouldn’t power up. Apparently she’d pulled the plug out of the wall accidentally when the computer was running, and now it wouldn’t start. I went over to her house and sure enough the computer would display a “Windows didn’t shut down properly” screen, and if I selected a start option would go to a black screen and hang there. In the BIOS I made sure the computer was booting from the hard drive, restarted it and Windows appeared and seemed to be working fine. The other day she told me the same thing had happened – she’d been vacuuming and knocked the plug out of the wall. I went over on Sunday and this time the same trick didn’t work. I ran a diagnostic from the BIOS and it couldn’t detect the hard drive – “replace hard drive” was the recommendation. Oops. I texted a friend who knows a good computer repairer and got their phone number. I was just about to leave and thought, “I wonder if doing what caused the problem might fix the problem?” (I know, this isn’t even sensible). The computer was displaying a “Windows didn’t shut down properly” screen and I yanked the plug out of the wall. Plugged it back in, pressed the start button – the computer booted up and Windows appeared. Amazing. The legal definition of ‘dumb luck’, methinks…
My friend Michael’s son’s birthday tomorrow, and Michael has given me his old Dual 505-2 to fix up as a birthday present. I’ve gone through it pretty thoroughly and it seems to be working well: I’ve cleaned and lubricated the mechanism, fitted and set up a new cartridge, lubricated the spindle, fitted a new belt, polished the dustcover and plinth etc. etc. One thing I noticed today was a clicking sound coming from near the sub-platter. I know the trip lever (for the lever that stops you changing speed when the platter isn’t revolving) can stick and click against the sub-platter spur that actuates it, and apparently the motor can click if dry (although I’ve never noticed this) but this time it was the sub-platter spur hitting the belt once (and sometimes twice) per revolution. This turntable has no pitch belt, so I had adjusted the pitch with a strobe disc and spanner, winding the nut down on top of the expanding pulley until the strobe markings stood still. So I assumed that part was at the right height. I put a slightly heavier oil on the spindle to see if that would make the sub-platter a little higher, but it didn’t. I remembered the motor has washers on the motor mount shafts, and that the washers are different thicknesses. I moved the thick washers next to the motor, and put the thin washers above the rubber motor mounts, effectively lowering the motor assembly by about 0.5mm. This was enough to stop the top edge of the belt fouling on the underside of the sub-platter spur. I haven’t seen anyone suggest this as a remedy for Dual 505 clicking, so here it is…
The PL-960 is a fairly plasticky P-Mount fully automatic Quartz-lock Direct Drive turntable from the ’80s. I bought it ages ago and did some cleaning and lubrication, gave it a new stylus then set it aside. It had a dustcover but only one hinge. I had a go at adapting another hinge to replace the missing one, then gave up. Got it out recently and realised it was a fairly decent-sounding turntable. Has an Audio Technica AT3472P cartridge or something like that. I cleaned the speed pots, then set the speed with a strobe. The arm was dropping like a brick, so I dismantled the turntable to get to the cueing reservoir. I removed the base and the automatic mechanism, desoldered the tonearm wires, undid the nuts holding the arm in place and lifted it out, first removing the bottom bearings and then catching the top bearings as they fell out. I cleaned the arm lifter and applied some 300,000 CST silicone oil and reassembled everything. It took a couple of goes to get the pressure correct on the bearings – first time the arm wouldn’t move at all! The arm was dropping nice and slowly, but after a few days of listening I noticed a ‘chirp’ at the end of each record. I’d slowed the arm a bit too much – the stylus wasn’t lifting off the record completely before the auto mechanism swung the arm back to the rest. Today I tried a different approach – I undid the vertical bearing screws at the base of the tonearm and was able to lift the arm enough to get the arm lifter out. I cleaned some of the silicone oil off – originally I’d completely filled the notch in the lifter piston – and just left a thin layer overall. Reassembled it all, again I had a bit of trial and error with the vertical bearings – first time the arm wouldn’t land fully! But removing the lock nut on the right and adjusting the ‘cone’ (I guess it’s like a bicycle wheel cone) until the arm swung up and down freely seemed to do the trick. Ideally I should have a tool with a notch in the middle, so I can insert a screwdriver to hold the ‘cone’ steady while I’m tightening the lock nut, but the ‘cone’ didn’t move when I replaced the lock nut so all good! I guess Blind Freddie could have told me that putting lots of silicone oil in the arm lifter would slow it down a lot, but I guess ‘live and learn’…I’ve listed and sold this on Trademe and the woman who bought it is collecting it in a few days. Glad I’ve sorted out this last part of the puzzle. Oh, I had a random dustcover that I polished up, transferred the metal Pioneer label to, and strategically fitted some rubber equipment feet to lift the cover clear of the tonearm. The lack of hinges is probably a bit inconvenient, but it will do the job. Quite proud of this!