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Sherlock Ohms

Pinpoint Accuracy Used to Fix Projector

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williamlweaver
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Undocumented Feature
williamlweaver   4/27/2012 7:51:55 AM
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So was the resettable overload switch added to the build after the original design was sent to the manufacturing line to assemble some prototypes for testing? I suspect this is an "after the deadline" modification that was added either after review of initial tests, after a few failures in the field, or just as possibly, added for distribution in the US in order to comply with U.S. electronic device certification. If it was not part of the original design, it is possible that this little feature was added after the original manual was sent to the translators to generate the English version...

 

Nancy Golden
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Re: Undocumented Feature
Nancy Golden   4/27/2012 9:35:19 AM
It sounds like the documentation was poor to begin with. I am also wondering how many other features for servicing are generally hidden from the public. I have noticed on other products that have a reset function available through a small hole that is placed unobtrusively somewhere that it is not always documented. An older computer comes to mind where the CD drive would not eject. A phone tech support guy directed me to the fix. I agree that an after-design add on for all the reasons you stated is very possible for this scenario - how hard would it have been to add it to the accompanying documentation as an insert and institute a documentation revision? Poor planning at its best...that church is certainly blessed to have a savvy engineer!

jmiller
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Re: Undocumented Feature
jmiller   4/27/2012 9:49:23 AM
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Sometimes I wonder in cases like this if the company isn't banking a little bit on service dollars.  So they don't want it to be fixed by someone at home.  kind of annoying, really.  I'm glad that the service line you called gave you the little hint to help you out.  But that doesn't always happen.

Charles Murray
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Re: Undocumented Feature
Charles Murray   4/27/2012 5:54:04 PM
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I agree, jmiller. In all of the comments here, everyone seems to be scratching their heads. You have to wonder if this is just a matter of carelessness or intent.  

gsmith120
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Re: Undocumented Feature
gsmith120   4/28/2012 7:21:39 PM
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Nancy, don't get me started about poor technical documentation.  I must admit I'm a stereotypical engineer and don't like documenting but it is a necessary evil.  Getting my masters in systems engineering really trained me in creating good documents as well as taught me how to proof them.  Creating good documentation is very difficult, time consuming and really hard to get a lot of engineers to do.  Believe it or not most of my clients do a really really poor job and most of the time it isn't even on the list of important things to do.  So the fact that the reset switch wasn't documented isn't a surprise.  In some cases companies do this intentionally so the customer is required to return the product so they can be charged a fee. On the other hand, companies don't find it important enough to have documents reviewed and/or the reviewers don't take the necessary time to ensure the appropriate information is in the specific document. 

 

Nancy Golden
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Re: Undocumented Feature
Nancy Golden   4/28/2012 7:51:50 PM
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I agree with your assessment about documentation gsmith120. It pervades all aspects of industry. One of the secrets to my success as a test engineer was that I documented my code (lots of comments). Whenever I needed to troubleshoot or upgrade a system I had built three years prior - I could very quickly determine how to accomplish the task. Documentation is very painful up front but it sure can solve a lot of potential problems in the future!

gsmith120
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Re: Undocumented Feature
gsmith120   4/29/2012 9:01:21 AM
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I love hearing you comment your code.  I was a design engineer for many years; some of the work I did involved writing VHDL for FPGAs.  As I became more senior I was involved with overseeing other designers as well as reviewing design code.  Kind of a funny story made short which involved me overseeing 32 poorly structured VHDL design files owned by foreign division of the company where I was currently employed.  Whenever the engineers made changes they would comment ALL the old code and insert new code and very rarely many any comments of importance.  I'm like do they really understand the concept of commenting your code?  So they is why when I teach a class on FPGA using VHDL at the university I always stress the importance of GOOD Comments.  Just as you said Nancy you may have to come back to this code at a later date.  Also, good comments make it easier for you if you ever have to modify someone else's code. 

Nancy Golden
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Re: Undocumented Feature
Nancy Golden   4/29/2012 2:21:44 PM
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Funny you said, "Also, good comments make it easier for you if you ever have to modify someone else's code" because I always thought so too, which is another reason why I commented mine - for anyone else down the road or for test sets that were moved to our plant in Mexico (which made it easier for them and prevented me from having to travel there to fix things). But I knew some engineers who wouldn't comment their code on purpose - they viewed it as job security. They figured that they would have to be called in to troubleshoot any problems because no one else would be able to figure out what the code was doing. A very bad attitude but when you are working in an industry where lay offs are common place, I could see how it would evolve.  


gsmith120
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Re: Undocumented Feature
gsmith120   4/29/2012 3:00:03 PM
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I know these people.  Job security went out many years ago.  I find that type of attitude can work against them because they may be viewed as difficult to work with and may be on the layoff list because of it.  They need to realize there is always someone else who can do the same work as them.  While it may be hard for the company to recover but not impossible.  So while they make it difficult for Company X, they may be burning their bridges with Company X and potentially other companies as well.  Just like you said layoffs are common and person at Company X today may later be your interviewer at Company Z tomorrow. 

 

rdelaplaza
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Re: Undocumented Feature
rdelaplaza   4/30/2012 5:00:20 PM
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Could you disclose brand name and model of this projector, so all his conversation becomes useful; otherwise the whole exercise is pointless, even dishonest if you will, some sort of pointless, theoretical, made up execise with no useful purpose.

wawaus
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Re: Undocumented Feature
wawaus   4/30/2012 7:11:02 PM
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Hi redlaplaza,

It is a Sanyo, but I can't remember the model at the moment

jmiller
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Re: Undocumented Feature
jmiller   4/27/2012 9:48:12 AM
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You could be right.  Something added after everything was set to go to market.  However, a little sheet of paper could have been added in the back of the manuel to help out savvy tech-EEz like this gentlemen.

ricardo
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Silver
Murphy's Law
ricardo   4/30/2012 6:15:16 PM
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Murphy's Law.  An important corollary of this immutable Law of Nature is that a device that has been designed to be easy to service, will never need servicing.

This is how you get Murphy to work for you instead of against.

May not be true in all cases but I have plenty of evidence in my field, Consumer Electronics.

Of course, it is possible to overdesign for Serviceability such that the basic reliability of the  product suffers.  This is well illustrated by connectors.

90% of electronic faults are caused by connectors.


On the subject of the Secret Reset Circuit Breaker, it is likely that Safety Regulations won't allow the manufacturer to mention it to the customer.


But for Service Manuals ... <deleted 12 page rant>

 

warren@fourward.com
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Re: Murphy's Law
warren@fourward.com   5/1/2012 9:49:56 AM
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12 page rant?  Why did you stop there?

Tim
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Engineering
Tim   4/27/2012 9:52:07 PM
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The differnece between an engineer and a non-engineer is the phrase "I decided to disassemble the unit."  That is a big step the others would not take.  Good job in doing what needed done.

jmiller
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Re: Engineering
jmiller   4/28/2012 8:56:22 AM
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I think the difference is the fact that the engineer could put it back together.  Also interesting that taking something apart often is exactly what voids the warranty.  Still neat to see it get put back together and working.

gsmith120
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Re: Engineering
gsmith120   4/28/2012 7:27:01 PM
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Maybe some of those void if opened stickers are hiding that kind of "reset switch send it back to us so we can charge you" secret.

Nancy Golden
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Re: Engineering
Nancy Golden   4/28/2012 7:53:29 PM
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I bet you are right! Every time I see one of those I want to open the thing to see what warrants it...

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
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Re: Engineering and the RESET button
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   4/29/2012 8:17:57 PM
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'course on the other hand, if the reset button was at all visible, a natural curiosity might have simply pushed it PRIOR to disassembling the unit.  As a young child, I remember how IMPRESSED I was with my mother when she simply pushed the little red button on the bottom surface of the In-Sink-Erator, and the darn thing roared back to life!  How simple to reset a garbage disposal !! – Often, development EE's request the same reset button on the pre-production prototypes I've helped create.

wawaus
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Silver
Re: Engineering
wawaus   4/30/2012 7:17:05 PM
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Hi Jmiller andTim,

Both dismantling it and re-assembling were a challenge!

It appeared to be designed neither for serviceability or ease of assembly during manufacture - I concluded that it was designed to be assembled by 'VERY' cheap labour ....

Mydesign
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Re: Engineering
Mydesign   5/1/2012 5:20:09 AM
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1 saves
I think for all sorts of repair and refix, first we have to check about the power supply system and the internal saftey fuse. A simple multimeter can be used for these purposes.

warren@fourward.com
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Re: Engineering
warren@fourward.com   5/1/2012 9:46:28 AM
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I agree.  First things, first.  And first, besides checking the fuse, plugging it in, and turning it on, is to check the power supply output.  No power, no nothing else.

But it is a bit deceitful to place the reset button in such a way.  But clever, also.  You sell twice as many in repeat customers who have built a wooden case around it to have it look good.  You have to find the same one to fit your enclosure.  Clever...

wawaus
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Silver
Re: Engineering
wawaus   5/1/2012 6:57:50 PM
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Tracing the power to see where it stopped was my first port of call ..... it simply took a lot of dismantling to do so...

bdcst
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Platinum
Re: Engineering
bdcst   5/3/2012 4:09:16 PM
Product liability!

The likely reason the circuit breaker and reset hole were not mentioned in the owners manual was for safety reasons.  The manufacturer might have assumed that a fault big enough to pop the breaker required the unit to be inspected and likely repaired to avoid further damage or risk of fire.  This is why some devices have hidden internal fuses, some soldered in place.

 

GreatBigDog
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Iron
Re: Engineering
GreatBigDog   5/4/2012 8:24:31 AM
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Hello Tim!  Not an engineer here at all.  No formal training in the subject, but I am an avid tinkerer.  From washing machines, to automobiles to microwave ovens, I have disassembled more things than you can imagine, and repaired them.

One of my favorites was my father in laws old Telefunken table top radio he had brought with him from Poland.  It died on him after several years and he tossed it in the trash.  I pulled it out as I loved its wonderful, full, rich sound.  I "disassembled" it and started looking around.  I found a smoked resistor.  After removing it I took it to Radio Shack to find a replacement.  They had none and there were no markings.  Using an ohm meter and poking around at the remains of the resistor, I managed to get some kind of reading.  I then returned to Radio Shack and purchased an adjustable resistor in the range of the one I had removed.

I soldered the adjustable piece in place, fired up the radio and began to tune the resistor until the radio came to life.

That radio has now been on my desk at work for more than 20 years now.  It is a constant reminder of how some people will toss something while others will fix it.  It's also a little piece of my father in law I have nearby now that he's passed on.

Mydesign
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Fuse Unit and power supply
Mydesign   4/30/2012 6:04:01 AM
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I think in power supply issue, it's always better to check the saftey fuse unit also. In most of the power supply issues, what I had seen is the fuse unit got damaged and blocks further power supply.

DB_Wilson
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Gold
Safety Issue
DB_Wilson   4/30/2012 9:59:02 AM
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The undocumented circuit breaker (likely a "Supplimental Protector") may have been the result of a failed safety agency test.  When the abnormal tests and fault tests were performed, an unacceptable result may have been addressed by adding the reset device.  The resetable device may have had too much variation for the application or not have been up to the handling or operation requirements of the end product.  As for the instructions, the omission may have been to prevent a user from constantly resetting the device and causing the protector to fail with the contacts closed and create the hazard presented by having no device.

OLD_CURMUDGEON
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Platinum
That DARN hidden cutout, etal!!!
OLD_CURMUDGEON   4/30/2012 10:23:19 AM
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The blogger who suggested that this "safety cutout" was an afterthought to clear the U.S. / Canada safety agencies was probably dead nuts on target!  However, IF they became aware of the need for such a safety overload protector, and had to add it to the BOM, there's no reason why they could not have also added a small stick-on label indicating its presence.  To not do so IS, in my opinion, a demonstration of complete unethical behaviour!

The folks who commented about "commenting" their code, no matter what language or environment ARE also dead nuts on target.  When I started out many decades ago, the first "languages" I learned were AUTOCODER, RPG & FORTRAN on I-B-M 1401 & 1130 computers using Hollerith cards to input the code & data.  Practically EVERY single card of the "program deck" had pencil comments on the back side of it.  I've been profusely commenting ALL my code to this very day, regardless whether it is ASSEMBLER, BASIC, C, PASCAL, or LADDER!  I KNOW that I am replaceable, and have never been of a mind that what I've done cannot be diagnosed by someone else.  Any engineer, programmer, etc. who has that mentality is a disturbed person. 

uniquity@uniquitypsych.com
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Re: That DARN hidden cutout, etal!!!
uniquity@uniquitypsych.com   4/30/2012 2:18:19 PM
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How do you tell lazy, dumb, and greed apart?  I have had major problems with the manuals that came with several Kenmore appliances.  They don't tell you very much, and what they do tell you is not clomplete or clear.  There are also no aftermarket repair manuals around any more. 

I had a freezer stop working, and the troubleshooting section of the manual did not describe the error code on the digital display. I finally got help by looking at several websites and made some sense of what I found.  The Kenmore manual said that some models had a 9v barrery.  However, it did not say where the battery was located.  The website said it was at the bottom, front of the unit.  Changing the battery solved everything.

This was not an add-on item.  I have no idea as to why the manual did not have clear information about this.  Did Sears want me to have to make a service call?Did the person who wrote the manual know anything about the freezer?  Did anyone who knew about the freezer proof read the manual?

Charles Murray
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Blogger
Re: That DARN hidden cutout, etal!!!
Charles Murray   4/30/2012 6:08:13 PM
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Uniquity: I've always believed that there's a great business opportunity in the area of appliance manuals. Some of them are atrociously written and impossible to follow. The problem with that business idea, though, is that any company that would publish some of these useless manuals obviously doesn't care in the first place.  

kenish
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Re: That DARN hidden cutout, etal!!!
kenish   4/30/2012 8:34:11 PM
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@Charles- Your idea brought up memories of Sam's Photofacts and Quickfact. Back in the day, they knew more about a TV or radio than the manufacturer did.  So, I did a google search to see if there was a nostalgia website.  To my amazement Sam's is very much alive:  https://www.samswebsite.com/

 

Rob Spiegel
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Blogger
Re: That DARN hidden cutout, etal!!!
Rob Spiegel   5/1/2012 3:46:55 PM
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Actually, Chuck, I believe the Internet is functioning pretty well in this area. If you run into a problem with a product, chances are, your best solution is to see if others have had the same problem. In recent years, I've found forums are often the best place to do the troubleshooting.

uniquity@uniquitypsych.com
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Gold
Re: That DARN hidden cutout, etal!!!
uniquity@uniquitypsych.com   4/30/2012 2:18:26 PM
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How do you tell lazy, dumb, and greed apart?  I have had major problems with the manuals that came with several Kenmore appliances.  They don't tell you very much, and what they do tell you is not clomplete or clear.  There are also no aftermarket repair manuals around any more. 

I had a freezer stop working, and the troubleshooting section of the manual did not describe the error code on the digital display. I finally got help by looking at several websites and made some sense of what I found.  The Kenmore manual said that some models had a 9v barrery.  However, it did not say where the battery was located.  The website said it was at the bottom, front of the unit.  Changing the battery solved everything.

This was not an add-on item.  I have no idea as to why the manual did not have clear information about this.  Did Sears want me to have to make a service call?Did the person who wrote the manual know anything about the freezer?  Did anyone who knew about the freezer proof read the manual?

kenish
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Re: That DARN hidden cutout, etal!!!
kenish   4/30/2012 2:28:20 PM
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<However, IF they became aware of the need for such a safety overload protector, and had to add it to the BOM, there's no reason why they could not have also added a small stick-on label indicating its presence.  To not do so IS, in my opinion, a demonstration of complete unethical behaviour! >

======================

I agree it sounds like the device was added for the US/Canada market.  Possibly the original product  was designed for 240V markets and 120V required a different type or rating for the protective device.

I don't regard it "unethical" to not label the presence of a resettable device. Line-connected products that can be disassembled must be labeled "No user serviceable parts inside", "Trained service personnel only", etc.  Any labeling encouraging disassembly would be a big "Fail" at the testing agency.

A "reset hole" could be provided but that's another big hurdle to approvals.  The best technical solution would be to hard-mount the protector so the button is user-accessible.  But that probably fails from a cost perspective, especially if most "trips" are caused by actual internal faults that can't be permanently fixed by pushing the button.

OLD_CURMUDGEON
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Re: That DARN hidden cutout, etal!!!
OLD_CURMUDGEON   4/30/2012 2:50:25 PM
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Spoken like an engineer who also has a law degree!!!!  And, since the European version (IF there is one!) would no doubt run @ 240 v (nominal), there's all the more reason to label it, so that people don't decide to "investigate" the internals.  Getting "bit" by 240 hurts a lot more than 120, of that I can attest.

IF the hole has been included, then NOT indicating its usage is just plain sneaky.  In this day & age where we're being pushed into "green" everything, then having to make a trip to the repair center, or similar is wasting precious gasoline.  So, my attitude has not changed...... IF you're gonna put a hole in the bottom pan to reset this device, then put a label on it too.  That's the proper thing to do, never mind the argument about keeping satisfied customers, etc. 

 

kenish
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Re: That DARN hidden cutout, etal!!!
kenish   4/30/2012 3:16:01 PM
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@Curmudgeon- No law degree (fortunately).  I missed the fact that the projector had a "reset hole" in the housing.  So, I now agree with your original comment...if they bothered to provide a hole it should have been identified...or covered over and not identifed.  One or the other.

But law degree or not, a successful design project requires taking into account DFx requirements from the beginning.  Meeting legal and regulatory requirements for all of the product's market countries often drives design choices.

(I've been "bit" by 240V too....and 115V / 400Hz has an even nastier bite !)

wawaus
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Silver
Re: That DARN hidden cutout, etal!!!
wawaus   4/30/2012 7:46:52 PM
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Gents,

This is a 240V unit in a 240V country - Australia. There is no fuse, there is an input power filter - discrete - designed for the unit designed to fit in a small available space inside the back cover, the IEC power plug is simply a plug without extra features. the the power wires snake from the input filter through some other components without connecting to anything until they reach the reset switch which is mounted in the middle of the base. From there the 240V wiring goes to the power supply where is connects via a plug which is inside the power supply enclosure, hower the wire length is so short that it is almost impossible to extract the power supply far enough to partially dismantle it to be able to unplug the input connector. Until you remove the power supply it is not possible to see the reset switch which is buried under it. Of course it is not possibleto get to the power supply until the main PCB is removed - it sits across the top of everything with a multitude of small connectors - single in line, dual in line and FPC - fortunately the connectors all appear to be differentwhich made finding where they re-connected a little easier however remembering where the different cables needed to be routed was a different story ........ not to mention the protective plastic cover over the input filter....

Tool_maker
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Platinum
Access Hole.
Tool_maker   5/3/2012 4:46:56 PM
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 I think everyone is overthinking this problem. If there was a hole in the bottom of the part it had to be included in the design stage, otherwise the tooling, whether plastic mold or sheet metal stamping, would not have included the hole through which you could reach the reset switch. Assume this is a mass produced part, the switch would have to have some sort of mount, a wire path etc. etc.

  That stuff would not just magically appear. There would have been a revision so the shop people would have known where to put the hole and on and on through all the steps of production. This is an example of sloppy paper work and not some sinister plot. I am sure we have all followed up on job where someone up the line made an alteration without documenting it properly. That is very common today where management does not see the need for a project engineer to baby sit the product through developement.

 The writer of the manual probably never even saw one of these devices in operation and could very well have been minimum wage worker sitting in an off shore sweat shop somewhere with an English language dictionary trying to find appropriate words for a problem he/she knew nothing about.

Think
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Why Did the Breaker Trip?
Think   5/4/2012 6:54:32 PM
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Did the device trip because of an electrical or thermal overload?  Understanding what this safety device does would provide valuable information as to why it is undocumented to the casual user.  And while the owner's manual did not contain any reference to the device, the service manual probably has information on why the device is there and what may cause it to trip.

Since this is a projector, most likely with a high wattage light source, there is a high likelihood this is a thermal breaker set to open when an over-temperature condition is sensed.  The service manual may contain a troubleshooting process that includes checking for blockage of the cooling vents including external clearances, proper fan operation and proper ambient operating conditions.  After these conditions are assured, the breaker can then be reset.

 If a non-technical user was to know about this reset but didn't know the reasons for it tripping, a potential scenario is that debris such as dust and lint collected inside the device could cause a fire.  By requiring at least a look at the service manual, the cleaning, installation and operating environment would be considered before re-energizing the unit.

 I've been involved in the design, manufacture and service of both commercial and consumer products for many years and know of a number of situations where certain "features" were not described to the end user out of safety concerns.  We always went by the assumption that the end user would toss the manuals aside with the packaging materials and only consult them in the case of a setup problem – operating and maintenance specifications would never be followed.  And while we always tried to design the products to be as safe as possible, we could never anticipate the ingenuity customers displayed in abusing our products.

Finally, a true engineer always wants to know the root cause of a failure and not just the fix -- that way you know the fix is truly solving the problem.



William K.
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Platinum
Pinpoint accuracy fixing projector.
William K.   5/4/2012 10:20:08 PM
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Most of the time, when a product is totally dead, an inspection of the power inlet system is the first diagnostic step. I have had a few instances in which the power cord has failed, either at the item itself, or near the AC line plug. 

I have also come across those circuit breakers and other protection devices that are made with the same cheap labor and loose tolerances so that they will indeed trip for no valid reson. Of course, there is usually a reason, such as somebody brewing a second cup immediately after the previous one, or the AC power spking up to 128 volts or so, or a momentary drop in the line voltage. 

I have also come across items like the Seagate external hard drive assembled with those quite difficult to remove 5-lobe-spline security screws, when the internal exposed power is 5 volts and 12 volts. 

It does look like there is a very high level of fear related to steps taken to prevent folks from getting into consumer electronics. Of course it may also be a serious effort to assure that the products are not repaired, but rather replaced. 

But for the projector, it was most likely a momentary AC line interruption due to a faulty extension cord connection. Consider that if one part on a circuit board had failed, resetting the breaker would not raise the cost of repairs, since they would consist of replacing the circuit board. 

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