It is usually possible to remove just the touchpad and controller board to use as a stand-alone timer with a switched output. Be careful when disconnecting the touchpanel as the printed flex cable is fragile. With many models, the touchpanel (membrane touchpad) needs to be peeled off of the front plastic panel or the entire assembly can be removed intact. The output will control a 10-15 A AC load using its built in relay or triac (though these may be mounted separately in the oven). Note that power on a microwave oven is regulated by slow pulse width modulation - order of a 30 second cycle if this matters. If it uses a triac, the triac is NOT phase angle controlled - just switched on or off.
For heating a casserole, the 10 to 30 second cycle time typically used for microwave oven pulse width heat control is fine. However, for other purposes, this results in unsatisfactory results. This question was posed by someone who wanted to modify the circuitry to their microwave oven to provide continuous control and a constant heating rate. Just cycling faster (without any other modifications is not the answer). One problem is that the filament of the magnetron is turned on and off as well. This would result in a very non-linear relationship between on-time and power as the cycle became shorter and shorter. It should be possible to put a Variac (variable autotransformer) on the input to the high voltage transformer - between the controller and HV primary. The power to the filament will still be affected but there will be a range over which continuous control will be possible. However, there will be a lag as the filament heats and cools. Also, running for an extended period of time at reduced filament temperature may eventually damage the cathode coating. I do not know if this is likely. Where manual control is all that is needed, this approach may be the adequate. If the filament were put on its own transformer (with appropriate insulation ratings), then instantaneous control of power should be possible using a Variac on the HV transformer primary or a phase control scheme using a triac - a high power light dimmer or motor speed control might even work. Alternatively, a triac or solid state relay can be turned on and off at the peaks of the AC (to minimize inrush) similar to the pulse width modulation that is normally used for the oven - but at a much higher frequency. This could easily be computer controlled with feedback from a temperature sensor. In any case, you want everything else - including cooling fans - to be on the full line voltage not affected by any power control scheme or timer.
Don't you just hate it when your kitchen appliances have the highest IQ in the household? What more could you want? Maybe, a microwave with a robot arm to retrieve the food from your fridge or freezer! (From: Dave Marulli (email@example.com)). We bought a Sharp unit with the Interactive Display feature. There is a list of common items that you might Defrost, Cook, or Reheat. You pick one of those tasks, choose a number from the list, enter the 'quantity', hit start and it picks the time and power level. There is even an 'on-line' help feature. A typical session goes like this: Button Pressed Screen Output ---------------- ------------------------------ CompuCook Enter Food Category 1 Baked Potato, Enter Quantity 4 Press Start Unit turns on and starts cooking. If the little word HELP lights up, you press the HELP button and it gives you little hints like, DO NOT COVER, or CUT IN HALF, etc. For things like CompuDefrost, you tell it what you are defrosting, how many pounds, and hit start. It will turn on for a while, then beep at you and tell you to break the pieces apart, cover the edges, etc. You do as you are told, close the door hit start and it continues until it's time for you to do some thing else. Same idea for CompuReHeat: Tell it how many slices of pizza or bowls of pasta you want to reheat, and it sets itself up and takes off. It even has the obligatory POPCORN button! Another neat feature is that you can hold the start button on without setting any time and it will stay on for as long as you hold the button. This is great for melting cheese, softening butter or chocolate, etc. But, does it run Lotus??? :-) --- sam. (From: Steve Dropkin (firstname.lastname@example.org)). The one we bought has an LCD screen that's maybe three inches square, takes you step-by-step through anything the oven can do, and includes 600 recipes (!). While that sounds like overkill, the attraction for me was that the menu-driven interface actually seemed simpler and more inviting than the ovens with timing buttons and 24 others marked "popcorn," "baked potato," "hot dog," "frozen dinner," "beverage," "sandwich," "waffles," etc. They looked just way too busy. (Same argument I have against a lot of mainstream HiFi equipment these days. I just want to listen to the music, not reengineer the sound source ...) (From: Andrew Webber (email@example.com)). Our microwave has a button for popcorn. As far as I can tell, all it does is automatically set 5 minutes. The manual says to monitor the popcorn anyway since it varies based on bag size, etc. So on principal I choose 5 minutes on high and stop it at 1:45 (why not set for 3:15? because the one time I tried it the popcorn was burnt!). I can choose 5 minutes with two presses (QUICK, 5) and popcorn with two presses (POPCORN, START). But that popcorn button sure is a good selling point! :)
Occasionally, people ask questions about the use of a microwave oven to do things other than heating food. In general, these have to be taken on a case-by-case basis. Obviously, softening sticks of Dynamite is probably not to be recommended! (There actually is a reason for this - a microwave can develop hot spots - heating is not as uniform as with normal ovens. Do your dynamite softening in a normal oven). Special kilns that will fit inside a microwave oven are apparently available to achieve really high temperatures. They consist of a ceramic (expanded alumina or something similar) insulating cylinder lined with a microwave susceptor - possibly a ferrite material. Temperatures exceeding 1000 degrees C (yellow-white heat) are possible after a few minutes on high. If any modifications are made to the oven that would compromise the integrity of the door seals or provide other places where microwave radiation could escape, then special tests MUST be done to assure the safety of the users of the equipment. The following is one such case in point: "My Dad and I are using a microwave oven to heat oak strips by passing them through the microwave field of a 1000W oven. We cut out squares (4"x 4") in the glass front and metal back of the oven to allow these strips to pass through the field. I am concerned about potential microwave leakage of a harmful nature." Geez!!! You guys are out of your collective mind. Sorry, having said that I feel much better :-(. My first recommendation (though this is too weak a term) would to not do this. My second (and up to N where N is a very large number) recommendation would be not to do this. However, if you insist, use a good conductive sheet metal such as copper or aluminum to reduce the size of the opening as close to the material as possible. The wood stock will tend to reduce leakage while it is in place but the opening will leak like crazy when there is nothing in the hole. The sheet metal must be in electrical contact with the mesh in the door and the metal back. The smaller the opening, the less will be the leakage. Also, make sure there is always a load in the oven (a cup of water, for example) to keep the magnetron happy. Next, borrow an accurate microwave leakage detector. A large appliance repair shop or electronics store may rent you one if you are persistent enough. Use this to identify the safe limits front and back. Label these and don't go closer while the oven is in operation. The operators may have to remain further away or some additional shields may needed if these distances are not satisfactory. The leakage detector or microwave field strength meter should come with information on acceptable power limits. It is something like 2 mW per square cm a foot or so from the oven - check it out. However, there is no assurance that even this limit is safe. CAUTION (In addition to the loony nature of this entire project!): Since the leakage you encounter may be orders of magnitude greater than what is typical of even a misaligned microwave oven, start with the probe at a distance of a few feet and slowly move it closer while watching the meter or readout. Don't set it next the opening as you hit START! This will prevent the possibility of damage to the expensive leakage tester (which could be costly) and exposure risk to you as well. The only known confirmed danger from microwave radiation is from internal heating effects. The eye is particularly sensitive to this and it doesn't take much of an increase in temperature to denature the tissue of the central nervous system (i.e., scramble your brain). The human body does not have an adequate warning system since nerve endings sensitive to heat are somewhat sparse. Thus, while the dangers may be overstated, it doesn't make sense to take chances. What is wrong with radiant heat??? (From Barry Collins (firstname.lastname@example.org)). You did the right thing to discourage people from breaching the integrity of a microwave oven, because there are so many factors involved that one has to assume personal (or property) injury (or damage) may result from such actions. I personally don't feel uncomfortable with what the person was doing, provided they had taken reasonable precautions (too numerous to list). Power does fall off with the square of the distance and microwaves, barring any reflective surface, are very directional by nature. Just don't stand in front of the source. (I met one of the Japanese engineers who had unintentionally placed his head in a test oven that was working. He reported warmth, but no lasting damage, aside from the resulting joke.) Field density and exposure time is a large factor. One tends to remove one's hand when one senses heat. I think the story goes that this was how the heating affect was originally discovered. The number one precaution I've always held near and dear to me is to protect one's eyes. The Narda manual has multiple warning in it about this. The aqueous membranes of the eyes are perfect absorption material for stray microwaves. This can happen much faster than with fleshy parts of the body and don't heal anywhere near the way a flesh injury does. It is this that you might want to point out in your FAQ's.
(From: Charles Godard (email@example.com)). Everything depends on "Air Flow". If the stirrer does not turn, you will always get a "Hot! spot" on the left bottom of the door. In addition the stirrer bearing will sometimes arc and may melt at the spots where it arcs. If your blower is running up to speed, remove the cover and replace the foam gasket material. This forces air over the stirrer when the cover is replaced. If stirrer still does not turn, remove the grease shield and check the stirrer for burns that are causing it to stick. If this is ok or you correct it and stirrer still does not turn, then replace the grease shield with a later model that looks almost the same as the original, but has one small modification which you will see when you compare the two. Never let one go out of the shop unless the stirrer is turning. It will soon be back unless all they do is heat coffee. Next time it may be a cavity or magnetron overload that has opened due to the stirrer not turning. It's good work on a quality product. I wish I had a hundred restaurant customers using them. The older Amana's power stays near 1500 watts forever. Retail customers are junking them because of $100 - to $125 repair bills. What a waste!
If the solutions to your problems have not been covered in this document, you still have some options other than surrendering your microwave to the local service center or the dumpster. Unlike most other types of consumer electronic equipment, a service manual is rarely required. A sufficiently detailed schematic is nearly always pasted to the inside of the cover and includes all power components, interlocks, fuses, protectors, and wiring. This is entirely sufficient to deal with any problems in the microwave generator. No adjustments or alignment should even be required so detailed procedures for these are not needed. However, when tackling electronic faults in the controller, a service manual with schematics will prove essential. Whether these are available depends on the manufacturer. For legal reasons, some manufacturers are reluctant to sell service information or replacement parts for microwave ovens. They are concerned with litigation should an unqualified person be injured or killed.
I know of at least one book dealing specifically with microwave oven repair. It is very complete and includes many actual repair case histories. There is a good chance that your specific problem is covered. 1. Microwave Oven Repair, 2nd Edition Homer L. Davidson TAB Books, a division of McGraw Hill, Inc., 1991 Blue Ridge Summit, PA 17294-0850 ISBN 0-8306-6457-2 (hard), ISBN 0-8306-3457-6 (pbk.) This may be available at your public library (621.83 or 683.83 if your library is numbered that way) or from a technical bookstore.
Assuming you have located one or more bad components, the question is whether an oven that is a few years old is worth fixing. Typical parts cost for generic replacements: * HV diode: $2-5 (except for the bolt-on variety which can range up to $50. It should be possible to replace these with the $2 variety with wire leads); * Power fuse: $.40. * HV Capacitor: $10-20. * Magnetron: $30-100. Common generic replacements are $30-40. * Overtemperature thermostat (thermal protector): $4.50. * Interlock Switch: $2.50. * Triac: $12.00 (unless original replacement in which case you will need to take out a mortgage - try the generic variety). Parts suppliers like MCM Electronics can provide these components to fit the vast majority of microwave ovens. Touchpads and controller parts like the microprocessor chip are usually only available from the manufacturer of the oven. Prices are high - a touchpad may cost $30 or more. Sensors and other manufacturer specific parts will be expensive. While the HV transformers are fairly standard, they are not readily available from the common replacement parts sources. However, they do not fail that often, either. Here is one place that seems to stock some: AMI Parts, Eagle Grove, IA. Voice phone: 1-800-522-1264. However, they won't be cheap - expect to pay $50 or more!!! In addition, MCM Electronics now lists at least one Goldstar model replacement. With the prices of microwave ovens dropping almost as fast as PCs, a few year old oven may not be worth fixing if the problem is a bad magnetron or touchpad. However, except for a slight decrease in power output as the oven is used over the years and the magnetron ages, there is little to go bad or deteriorate. Therefore, you can expect a repaired oven to behave just about like new.
The question may arise: If I cannot obtain an exact replacement or if I have another microwave oven carcass gathering dust, can I substitute a part that is not a precise match? Sometimes, this is simply desired to confirm a diagnosis and avoid the risk of ordering an expensive replacement and/or having to wait until it arrives. For safety related items, the answer is generally NO - an exact replacement part is needed to maintain the specifications within acceptable limits with respect to line isolation, radiation emission, and to minimize fire hazards. For microwave ovens such parts include the power fuses, interlock switches, and anything else that could potentially lead to microwave radiation leakage - like a magnetron which did not fit the waveguide properly. Fortunately, while an exact match may be required, it doesn't have to be from the original manufacturer - most parts are interchangeable. Thus the organs from that carcass may be able to provide renewed vitality to your ailing microwave. Here are some guidelines: 1. Fuses - exact same current rating and at least equal voltage rating. This will probably be a ceramic 1-1/4" x 1/4" 15 or 20 A 250 V fast blow type. For the repair, use an exact replacement. For testing only, a similar type may be used. 2. Thermal protectors - same temperature and maximum current rating. You must be able to mount it securely and flush against the same surface as the old one. 3. Interlock switches - must have the same terminal configuration and at least equal current rating. Of course, a secure fit is very important as well for it to perform its safety function. Many of these are interchangeable. 4. HV capacitor - similar (within 5%) and at least equal working voltage. Note that the working voltage rating of these capacitors is not consistent with the way capacitors in other electronic equipment are specified and is usually the RMS voltage of the AC input from the HV transformer. There- fore, it is not possible to substitute something from your junkbox unless it is from a microwave oven. In addition, this is one situation where higher capacity (uF) is not better. The power output is related to capacitance. Thus, the value should be matched fairly closely or else other parts may be overloaded. However, a smaller one can be used for testing. 5. HV diode - most of these have similar electrical ratings so a substitution is possible if you can make it fit physically. This would be particularly desirable where your oven has one of those chassis mount $50 dollar varieties - it may be acceptable to use a $2.75 generic replacement. 6. Relays and triacs - substitutes will generally work as long as their specifications meet or exceed those of the original. Creative mounting may be required. 7. Magnetrons - a large number of microwave ovens use the same basic type but the mounting arrangement - holes vs. studs, orientation of the cooling fins, etc., differ. You can safely substitute a not exact match for testing purposes IF you can make it fit the waveguide securely without gaps. However, if the cooling fins end up being on the wrong side, it will heat up very quickly - 50% of the input power goes to heat - and will not be suitable as a permanent replacement. 8. HV transformer - same (within 5%) voltage and at least equal current rating. Mounting should not be a problem but don't just leave it loose - you could end up with a disaster. 9. Fans and motors - speed/power and direction must match and mounting must be possible. Speed isn't so critical for a turntable but for a magnetron cooling fan, inadequate air flow will result in overheating and shutdown or failure. Common shaded pole type motors may be interchangeable with other appliances or if a mounting arrangement can be cobbled together. 10. Mica waveguide cover - cut to match. 11. Turntable and mode mixer components - if they fit, use them. 12. Light bulb - similar ratings and base. 13, Temperature sensors, thermistors, etc. - depends on the particular model. 14. Mechanical timers - compatible switching and mounting arrangement. 15. Cordsets - must be 3 wire heavy duty grounded type. Make sure the replacement has at least as high a current rating as the original. Observe the color code! 16. Controller and touchpad - small parts like resistors, diodes, capacitors, and so forth can often be substituted. Forget about the controller ICs or display. The touchpad is likely to be custom both electrically and physically as well unless you have a similar model microwave to cannibalize.
It is not always possible or convenient to obtain an exact replacement high voltage capacitor. What will the effects be of using one that is a slightly different value? First, the voltage rating must be at least equat to that of the original. It can be higher but never never lower or you will probably be replacing it again in the very near future. Now for the uF rating: Unlike a conventional power supply filter capacitor, the capacitor in a microwave is in a voltage doubler and effectively in series with the load (magnetron). Therefore, its value **does** have an impact on output power. A larger capacitor will slightly increase the output power - as well as heat dissipation in the magnetron. Too small a capacitor and the doubler will not produce full output. As an example, the impedance of a 1 uF capacitor at 60 Hz is about 2.5 K ohms. The cap is in effect in series with the magnetron. A 1 KW magnetron running on just over 3 KV RMS is about 10 K ohms. These are really really rough calculations. Thus the power difference is not a straight percent for percent change - I estimate that it is about a 1:4 change - increase the capacitor's uF rating by 10 percent and the power will go up by 2.5% (assuming the relationship is linear right around the nominal value). I have not confirmed this, however. Therefore, I would say that using a capacitor with up to a 10-15% difference (either way) in uF rating is probably acceptable but a closer match is better.
For general electronic components like resistors and capacitors, most electronics distributors will have a sufficient variety at reasonable cost. Even Radio Shack can be considered in a pinch. However, places like Digikey, Allied, and Newark do not have the specialized parts like magnetrons, HV capacitors and diodes, interlock switches, thermal protectors, etc., needed for microwave oven repair. Your local appliance distributor or repair parts outlet may be able to obtain an exact replacement or something that is an ecceptable substitute. However, the cost will be higher than for generic parts from the places listed below if they carry what you need. Going direct to the manufacturer is a possibility but expect to pay more than might be charged for generic replacement parts by an independent company. Also, some places like Sears, may refuse to sell you anything microwave oven related due to safety concerns - unless they are convinced you are a certified repair technician, whatever that might mean. Their prices are inflated as well. Another alternative is to determine who actually made your oven. This is obvious with name brands like Panasonic and Sharp. However, Sears doesn't manufacture their own appliances, but an inspection inside may reveal the actual manufacturer. Then, go direct to the horse's mouth. Many companies will be happy to sell service parts but availability may be a problem on older ovens. I had to give up on a Sharp microwave/convection oven that was 15 years old because specialized replacement parts were no longer available from Sharp.
The following are good sources for consumer electronics replacement parts including common microwave oven parts: * MCM Electronics (VCR parts, Japanese semiconductors, U.S. Voice: 1-800-543-4330. tools, test equipment, audio, consumer U.S. Fax: 1-513-434-6959. electronics including microwave oven parts and electric range elements, etc.) Web: http://www.mcmelectronics.com/ * Dalbani (Excellent Japanese semiconductor source, U.S. Voice: 1-800-325-2264. VCR parts, other consumer electronics, U.S. Fax: 1-305-594-6588. car stereo, CATV). Int. Voice: 1-305-716-0947. Int. Fax: 1-305-716-9719. Web: http://www.dalbani.com/ * Premium Parts (Very complete VCR parts, some tools, U.S. Voice: 1-800-558-9572. adapter cables, other replacement parts.) U.S. Fax: 1-800-887-2727. The following suppliers have web sites with on-line catalogs and list a very extensive selection of microwave oven parts. There is a chance that they may not want to sell to the general public. I suppose this may be due to several factors including the potential liability issues, complaints/attempts to return parts when a repair doesn't work, and the small quantities involved. However, it is definitely worth checking as the public web sites implie a desire to deal with the entire Internet community. * Global/MPI/All Appliance Parts (Their web site includes a very extensive Phone: 1-800-325-8488 selection of microwave oven parts. For http://www.allapplianceparts.com example, nearly 50 different magnetrons are listed along with little photos of each!) * AMI (Appliance Maintenance) (Distributor of major appliance replacement International parts. Extensive on-line catalog of U.S. Phone: 1-800-522-1264 microwave oven parts with web pages for U.S. Fax: 1-800-442-3601 other major appliance parts under Int. Phone: 1-515-448-5311 construction. On-line parts lookup and Int. Fax: 1-515-448-3601 ordering.) email: firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.netins.net/showcase/microwav Here is another one: * Electronix, Corporation (Magnetrons, interlock switches, lamps, http://www.electronix.com/ glass trays, diodes, thermal fuses, (also: Techweb, $6/month) couplers, latches, rivets, stirrers, fans, waveguides, more...) The following company will definitely not sell you anything but should be able to provide the name of a local appliance parts distributor. * QB Products (Master distributor, they sell only to Phone: 1-800-323-6856 appliance and electronics parts distributors like Marcone, Tritronics, Johnstone, etc. You can call them to find the nearest distributor.)There is no Next. THE END
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