Troubleshooting and Repair Notes Introduction

Version 1.23

Copyright © 1994-2004
Samuel M. Goldwasser
--- All Rights Reserved ---

For contact info, please see the Sci.Electronics.Repair FAQ Email Links Page.

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Table of Contents

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    Introduction to the Introduction

    The most up-to-date public versions of these articles which constitute a major portion of the Sci Electronics Repair FAQ currently reside at the: Keep this in mind if you are reading this elsewhere as your versions may not be the latest. Major new releases come out every few months but minor corrections or additions may appear at any time.

  • Back to Introduction Table of Contents.

    Purpose of the "Notes"

    The "Notes on the Troubleshooting and Repair of..." series was developed to provide a resource for the hobbiest, tinkerer, engineer, weekend mechanic, housewife, dentist, and poet. For you, I am doing this because I would like to help provide information that is not always readily available. The sincere appreciation I receive via personal email is generally enough of a reward to retain my interest.

    The purpose of these articles is not only to help you repair your CD or VCR but more importantly, to educate. Therefore, they are not quite 'FAQs' but rather complete maintenance and repair guides. What this means is that you cannot depend on every problem to show up in the index. For example, if you have a problem with say, a breadmaker, but there is no entry for it in the guide for small appliance repair, think of what is inside such a device: power supply, controller, motor, heating element, etc. Then, find the sections on something similar. It is difficult enough to provide coverage for every type of device ever marketed in this sector of the galaxy let alone the more remote parts of the universe :-).

    If all you want is a quick fix, the various 'Tech Tips' databases may be better alternatives. They will likely list the most common problems and solutions for your equipment. However, these seem to deal mostly with TVs, VCRs, monitors, and microwave ovens. For anything else, you are largely on your own. A quick fix may be possible but you will not learn much that can be applied to other problems in the future. In addition, you may end up replacing many parts that are actually good since you will have done little or no testing.

    With the Notes, a quick fix may still be possible but you will have to do some leg work (or at lest finger and mouse work) on your own. How much you will benefit will be a direct consequence of how much effort you put in - but there should be a significant amplification or multiplication factor. Wherever possible, explanations of the equipment operating principles and likely causes of failures are provided. You will gain at least some understanding of 'what makes it tick' and be able to carry over general troubleshooting approaches from one brand to another and even one type of device to another.

    I realize that not everyone will have the capability - or desire - to actually apply the information in these Notes towards a repair. However, awareness of the likely causes and remedies for a particular problem goes a long way toward being able to make an informed decision with respect to repair or replacement options. If you do take the unit to a service center or repair shop, this knowledge will enable you to deal with the sales droid or technician from a position of strength.

    For those of you who are professional technicians in business for profit, much of the information contained in the Notes is no doubt familiar. However, if you are routinely referring to these documents, I expect that you consider them beneficial in some way. This probably means some combination of savings in terms of time and money - which translates to increased profits. I would hope you feel some minimal obligation to show your appreciation in some concrete way. I am not sure what form this should take but you must realize that maintaining this continuously evolving and expanding site is a very non-trivial and time consuming task for both Filip and myself. These Notes and other articles do not grow on trees or spontaneously sprout from the bowels of the Web server at this site!

  • Back to Introduction Table of Contents.

    Why do I do this?

    I am an electrical engineer by profession. I have spent significant time in both academia and industry teaching and designing in the areas of the architecture and implementation of digital systems. The development of one particular special purpose high performance image and graphics processor with three of my students led to the creation of a business plan. I have done the startup thing, been taken over by a big company, spent some time there, and become bored with corporate life.

    I also have always had a passion for fixing mechanical and electronic devices. As a kid, household appliances represented the beginning of my fascination with technology. It wasn't long before the workings of the TV were of more interest to me than the mostly stupid shows. Naturally, I had to see what was inside nearly everything. Mechanical clocks seemed to suffer the most at first but fairly soon I figured out that getting things back together again was generally not that much more difficult than disassembling them in the first place. This insatiable curiosity and unending search for challenges continues to this day.

    For several years the obsession with repair kept me out of trouble. I was an independent engineering consultant but spent much of my time helping others on the Internet newsgroups, writing these guides and other articles, providing free repairs for those who cannot afford professional service, going to garage and tag sales in search of interesting technology to repair or restore, and bicycling when weather and time permited. For a while, this was more fun and much more rewarding than a real job. But, phases of my life tend to run in six (6) year cycles (counting from when I discovered USENET newsgroups in 1994)....

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    What I'm doing now

    Since the last revision of this introduction, I've been spending an increasing percentage of my time developing Sam's Laser FAQ which is by far the largest collection of practical laser and optics information for experimenters and hobbyists in the entire Universe. I still maintain the repair FAQs including the "Notes" but my main emphasis is on lasers and I rarely get to do much fun repair anymore - only when something breaks and I have no choice!

    I have also joined the faculty of Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA) as a Research Professor at the Center for Microwave and Lightwave Engineering in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. So, now I can do real laser work in a university setting. Should you care, the research involves high performance mode-locked and chirped solid state microchip lasers for millimeter wave communications, lidar/radar, and biomedical imaging.

    I still do engineering consulting if the job seems like it will be fun and rewarding and I still spend a great deal of time developing Sam's Laser FAQ. The auction site, eBay, has largely replaced garage and tag sales but mostly for (usually junk) laser equipment and parts. I already have way too many CD players and VCRs in various states of health, rapidly decaying into obsolescence. :(

    Since I am not into repair on a daily basis, if you have specific comsumer electronics questions that aren't addressed in the FAQs, please ask them directly on the usenet newsgroup: This will save us both a lot of time and aggravation since I don't have many service manuals and schematics and will probably just direct you to newsgroup.


    --- sam

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