It’s worth a Try – Repairing and Making Stuff

Hi everyone, Benedict here once again. I apologize for the lack of posts recently. I was in the midst of completing my third year of study in Singapore Polytechnic (SP). I finished my exams at the end of February.

Alongside my studies, I have also continued to find more discarded electronics and computers and attempt to repair them. It is true that some thing are thrown out because they cannot work anymore, as was the case I faced about half the time.

As for the other half, they were either still working or could be repaired with minor fixes. You can read about how these fixes were carried out below.

photo-435 photo-1068

The first example in the pictures above is regarding portable chargers. Due to the nature of us inserting and removing the USB cable from the charging port all too often (sometimes with a strong push or pull), it can often result in the pins of the socket getting broken off the circuit board, preventing the charger from charging anything.

As you can see from the picture above on the right, the joints at the pins of the USB port were broken and just needed a touch of some precise soldering to join them back together again. (I have circled the repaired joint in red, please enlarge the image to see it. The problem was solved. I managed to save a couple more portable chargers this way.

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The second example was a little more challenging for me. I salvaged a laptop which had its hard drive removed. No issue, I know it is important to properly destroy sensitive information and I do it too.

Normally when I run into a case like this, I would simply swap in a replacement hard drive and get it running again. But this time there was an exception. I believe that the previous owner did not know how to properly remove the hard drive, and just yanked it out, breaking away the leading edge of the laptop motherboard and connector. It just left a bunch of pins sticking out from the board.

Look carefully at those thin sliver lines in the center of the image. What I did to attempt to resolve the issue was to solder the broken pins directly to the socket pins on the replacement hard drive I installed. This way of fixing the issue isn’t quite what most repair technicians would do or advise. Just like in the first example, the soldering had to be extremely precise.

To my surprise, it works without issue. I was expecting there to be some trouble, but there wasn’t any. I was able to install a Linux operating system and it works just fine.

Repairing aside, I have also managed to extract and use components from discarded machines such as bridge rectifiers and stepper motors. Below is one example of such a use: A hand cranked flashlight.

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I pulled the stepper motor from a printer and soldered a Light Emitting Diode (LED) onto each coil of the motor. You will first need to do some testing to determine which pair of pins on the motor belong to which coil. That’s it. It works right away. I also observed a few differences using a stepper motor compared to a traditional Direct Current (DC) Motor.

  • Although LEDs are a direct current components because the stepper motor produces alternating current, the LEDs function like a half wave rectifier and light up whichever way the shaft is turned. A DC motor only lights up the LED when it is turned in one direction and not the other.
  • You don’t need as much force to turn the shaft to get the LED to light up, unlike in a DC motor where you would have to get the shaft to spin very quickly.

That’s the gist of what I’ve been up to for now. I hope this will inspire you to get working and do some technical stuff with your hands. Thanks for taking the time to read this, and I sincerely hope it helps you one way or another.

Until next time, take care and don’t forget to back up your data.

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