HOME  |  NEWS  |  BLOGS  |  MESSAGES  |  FEATURES  |  VIDEOS  |  WEBINARS  |  INDUSTRIES  |  FOCUS ON FUNDAMENTALS
  |  REGISTER  |  LOGIN  |  HELP
Comments
View Comments: Threaded|Newest First|Oldest First
naperlou
User Rank
Blogger
Feel good factor
naperlou   8/9/2012 9:04:13 AM
NO RATINGS
Nancy, I think you hit the nail on the head!  When you write that smacking it made you feel good, I thought, yes, that is why we do it.  Sometimes we just want to get back at "it".  Of course, most of the time I find myself rationalizing the smacking as something that makes sense in a technical way. 

Nancy Golden
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Feel good factor
Nancy Golden   8/9/2012 10:32:54 AM
NO RATINGS
I agree, naperlou. I remember telling one of my fellow engineers that I was about to get out my "troubleshooting hammer." While that particular tool didn't actually exist - it felt good to think about using it when a problem was particularly troublesome and it made it sound "technical!"

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Feel good factor
Rob Spiegel   8/9/2012 11:57:45 AM
NO RATINGS
Naperlou, I can't tell you how many times smacking something did make a technical difference. I has a TV who picture would go out of whack color-wise until you smacked the TV on its right side. Then it would straighten out until the next time it was turned on. Everyone in the family learned how, where, and how hard to smack it. That went on for a couple years.

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Feel good factor
Ann R. Thryft   8/9/2012 12:11:18 PM
NO RATINGS
Thanks, Nancy, this story gave me a good laugh. I can't count the times smacking an appliance has made it work better. I remember this approach as the first step in tech support back in the day when you hesitated to call the TV repair guy because it cost so much.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Feel good factor
Rob Spiegel   8/9/2012 12:30:27 PM
NO RATINGS
I remember those days, too, Ann. That's when the TV and the stereo were considered pieces of furnature. Then came the age when you carried your TV or stereo to the repair shop. Now we're in the age when we throw them away when they quit working.

Nancy Golden
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Feel good factor
Nancy Golden   8/9/2012 6:13:09 PM
NO RATINGS
And it still is today, Ann - I had lunch with a friend today and when he got in his car to leave and turned it on, the AC blower was not working. He nonchalantly got out of the car, popped the hood - and gave it a good wack. When he got back in, it was working!

Nancy Golden
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Feel good factor
Nancy Golden   8/9/2012 6:14:24 PM
NO RATINGS
Rob, I think I must have bought your T.V. in a garage sale...we had one just like it.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Feel good factor
Rob Spiegel   8/9/2012 7:09:23 PM
NO RATINGS
Yes, Nancy, you probabloy did. I was surprised by how consistently effective the smack was. It was also interesting to see how well the kids adapted to the reality of the smack -- and how to do it just right. I guess it's a matter of motivation.

TomT
User Rank
Iron
Re: Feel good factor
TomT   8/10/2012 10:18:49 AM
NO RATINGS
I can relate to the "hit it with a hammer" solution. I worked for a large telecommunications company. We used to have carrier systems that used quartz filters. Sometimes the filters would grow "whiskers" that would short and fail a carrier channel.  The Labs guys recommended a procedure that removed the filter, place it on a 45 degree plane made of plywood, allow it to slide down the plane. The controlled impact would break the whiskers and make ithe filter operational. This was documented with drawings and detailed instructions.

The procedure followed the law of entropy as it was passed down by word of mouth. One technician found he could tap the installed filter with a rubber mallet and get the same result. It went further to the point of my finding a new junior tech standing on a ladder with a 22 oz ball peen hammer poundin on a bent steel frame "fixing a filter". He would up nearly destroying a complete bank of a dozen filters.

Everything goes downhill.....

 

Tom T.

Nancy Golden
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Feel good factor
Nancy Golden   8/10/2012 10:41:48 AM
NO RATINGS
TomT, that sounds like that game where everyone gets in a circle and the first person whispers something in the ear of the person next to them and so on. Once the message gets all the way around - it is completely different from the original. I guess that shows the importance of documentation, although you did mention an "official" procedure had already been documented. Any engineer worth his/her salt should be able to transfer the idea of a documented solution into another method if it makes sense, but it looks like junior wasn't grasping the concept - he was merely doing what he thought he had been told...

wbswenberg
User Rank
Gold
Re: Feel good factor
wbswenberg   8/10/2012 11:07:28 AM
NO RATINGS
My job at a local aerospace manufacturer included repooling mecury wetted relays.  Just had to smack it on the bench in the right direction.  Most times it worked.  If not then it was time to replace one of the relays.  Also repsitioning or resequencing the boards would help to identify just which one was bad.  The other thing I did was vacuum the ATE to the tune of $35/ hr.  What a job!

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
User Rank
Blogger
Its not the Engineering as much as it IS the Market
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   8/9/2012 1:15:52 PM
NO RATINGS
The problem is not so much with the camcorder as it is with the market & industry mentality to continually cost-reduce.  You can bet the first working model units, engineering had working flawlessly; but market pressure to drive down cost results in an age-old, known adage ,,,,"You get what you pay for."

Its not hard to understand, but its really sad. The point of sale is the happiest moment a customer will ever see in the life of cost-reduced electronic device.  How many really awesome product technologies can you remember in the last 15 years that have become nearly obsolete, not for the lack of capability of the technology, but for the mismanagement of the technology; either by bad management decisions, or indirectly, by a market of cost-driven consumers. Here are a few off the top of my head: PDAs,  Flip-Phones, Folding Keyboards, Projection Displays ,,,, Can you add to the list-?

Nancy Golden
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Its not the Engineering as much as it IS the Market
Nancy Golden   8/9/2012 6:18:00 PM
NO RATINGS
JimT, I agree completely in that frequently we have sacrificed quality for cost reduction. I used to buy a printer with the expectation that it would last five years or more because they actually used to. When I purchased one that crashed after two years and commented to the salesperson how surprised I was, they responded that 2-3 years was the normal life expectancy. We now live in a throw-away society and that is a shame.

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Its not the Engineering as much as it IS the Market
Ann R. Thryft   8/10/2012 12:06:27 PM
NO RATINGS
Nancy, I think all TVs were like that in the 50s and 60s, and so were stereo systems (but not the record player!). Like you, I've been surprised, and disappointed, to see just how short consumer electronics lifecycles have become. The throwaway society does not encourage good consumer product or machine design, among other things.

Nancy Golden
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Its not the Engineering as much as it IS the Market
Nancy Golden   8/10/2012 12:11:11 PM
NO RATINGS
I agree Ann, and it is a shame. A telling point is that our teenage kids do not expect longevity in products - for them, throw-away is the norm and they are the next generation...

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Its not the Engineering as much as it IS the Market
Ann R. Thryft   8/10/2012 12:27:35 PM
NO RATINGS
Nancy, I'm with you on that thought. Some of them get it and see the need for recycling, etc., but I think the whole concept of throwaway products is what they're used to, so it's a fish-in-water thing.

Nancy Golden
User Rank
Platinum
Another Smacking Tip
Nancy Golden   8/9/2012 7:17:42 PM
NO RATINGS
Hubby just told me about another smacking trick. If your car won't start, smack the starter with a hammer or a piece of wood - there is a good chance that it will reseat the brushes (its a DC motor) if the starter is bad and your car will start (maybe) (once)...worth a try...

BobDJr
User Rank
Gold
Re: Another Smacking Tip
BobDJr   8/10/2012 9:51:02 AM
NO RATINGS
Nancy, the starter thing comes up occasionally on Car Talk, and Tom & Ray give the same advice as your husband.  Then they usually tell the caller to go get it replaced.

(Years ago I was getting *so* frustrated trying to load a program from cassette onto my 48K 6502 computer (wink) that I picked it up about 2 feet & slammed it on the desk.  IIRC I had to replace 7 (socketed TTL) chips, so now when I get *that* mad I spike whatever screwdriver is handy.)

Nancy Golden
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Another Smacking Tip
Nancy Golden   8/10/2012 10:31:31 AM
NO RATINGS
BobDJr, those were the days...I recall my TI99/4A with its "state of the art casette recorder"...at least the chips on yours were socketed and not surface mount like today :)

I'll just remember to be ready to "duck" if I see you getting frustrated - the trajectory of a "spiked" screwdriver can be unpredictably if not aimed well - I can say that from experience ;)

gafisher
User Rank
Gold
Know Where to Smack!
gafisher   8/10/2012 10:58:45 AM
As a former owner and Chief Engineer of a Sony Master Service Center I can assure you that the best procedure for dealing with a broken warrantied item is not taking it apart and trying to fix it yourself.  When something fails under warranty, don't smack the product -- go back to where you bought it and smack the salesperson's desk.

Nancy Golden
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Know Where to Smack!
Nancy Golden   8/10/2012 11:17:41 AM
NO RATINGS
gafisher - Smacking the salesperson's desk sounds pretty satisfying too...or the desk of the Sony rep who thought the problem was just an isolated incident...the problem is, these people are unreachable - the product was purchased at a Best Buy or some such store with an extended warranty added at the cash register.

gafisher
User Rank
Gold
Re: Know Where to Smack!
gafisher   8/10/2012 9:31:00 PM
NO RATINGS
"... the product was purchased at a Best Buy or some such store with an extended warranty added at the cash register."

Understood, Nancy, but a warranty is a legal contract -- either the manufacturer or the aftermarket warranty company is on the hook (during the warranty period) for a working unit or a refund.  Admittedly, most warranty service these days requires the customer to pack up the ailing device and ship it off to Guadalajara or some such place, but being noisily insistant at the Big Box Customer Service counter can often work wonders ... ;-)

Nancy Golden
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Know Where to Smack!
Nancy Golden   8/10/2012 9:39:35 PM
NO RATINGS
I appreciate your input gafisher - but my phone conversation with Sony was even more exasperating than the error message. I had the warranty papers in my name that showed store, date of purchase and serial number of the unit – yet they asked for a receipt, which I did not have since I had the warranty certificate. It took a week for them to research my warranty which puzzled me, until I found out why. Savvy consumer that I am, I had waited for this particular camcorder to go on sale. My warranty specified a replacement would be available if my unit became defective, which is why I purchased it. However, the fine print that I did not notice specified that the replacement value would be for the amount I paid for the unit, not the manufacturer's retail value like I had assumed. Of course they did not have a replacement unit available at the sale price so if you include the purchase of my warranty, by receiving my warranty refund (not the option I would have chosen) I got to pay $50.00 for a defective camcorder.

sysdesign
User Rank
Iron
tried and true repair technique
sysdesign   8/10/2012 11:57:17 AM
NO RATINGS
Use to call it percussive repair.  Got to know where to pound, kick or slap though.  Lately it seems that dislocated shoulders are using same technique;-).

Nancy Golden
User Rank
Platinum
Re: tried and true repair technique
Nancy Golden   8/10/2012 12:08:50 PM
NO RATINGS
Percussive repair using my troubleshooting hammer - I like it!

Droid
User Rank
Platinum
A smack fixed my Dell Power Supply
Droid   8/10/2012 4:37:14 PM
NO RATINGS
What can I say - A few months back the power supply for my Dell laptop died. Like any good DIY fixer, I gave it a few small bumps and noticed the little green light flicker.  Seeing some hope, I gave it a good forceful smack - and the thing came back to life.  Its still going.  

Sometime smacking can work for computers also.   I know a couple people at work who have used the smacking technique - or perhaps more accurately described as the pick-it-up-and-slam-it-down technique.  While this did not actually "fix" the computer, it successfully made it completely inoperable which meant that our computer tech friends had to finally quite fooling with the old PC and bring them a new one.

RICKZ28
User Rank
Platinum
Good Slap on old B/W TV
RICKZ28   8/10/2012 7:00:22 PM
NO RATINGS
When I was growing up, we only had one TV as was typical in those days...a knob-tuning black and white 19-inch tube TV.  From a very young age, I remember the standard family practice to get a better picture was to slap the top of the TV with an open hand...and it worked!  (My Dad was an EE.)  That old TV lasted forever though, so I was a teenager by the time we got a new-fangled color TV.


I haven't had to smack TV's since, except for when they broke after a few years.  The old TV's seem to last much longer.  I hope my new LCD HDTV's last a good few years, but I recently had to replace our first LCD TV at four years old.


The cost to repair electronics these days always seems to equal or exceed the cost of a new unit, so that means disposable consumer electronics.

Tim
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Good Slap on old B/W TV
Tim   8/10/2012 7:42:08 PM
NO RATINGS
Growing up, we had a TV from about 1970.  In the 90's, we bought a VCR and after a few years, the TV required a good smack on top of it every time we used the VCR to alleviate a wavy screen.  This worked for a few years until we got a new TV.  I do not know what the smack did, but it felt good and it worked.

Nancy Golden
User Rank
Platinum
Percussive Repair
Nancy Golden   8/10/2012 9:46:30 PM
NO RATINGS
Looks like we got a lot of fellow smackers out there - so if you smack something to fix it - make sure you explain it as a percussive repair. That makes it sound technical!

David12345
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Percussive Repair
David12345   8/13/2012 12:04:36 PM
NO RATINGS
Ironically, there are a number of ailments that truely can be temporarily repaired with "Percussion Repairs."  The scariest one I ever witnessed was on a commuter flight from Philadelphia to Harrisburg on an old Beechcraft 99.  As we taxied out to the runway, with the cockpit in full view of us passengers, we hit a bump and every idiot light lit and every gauge on the instrument panel pegged one direction or the other.  The pilot never missed a beat, punched the instrument panel and everything jumped back where it was supposed to be.  Clearly, a major open or short (most likely an open ground) that he temporarily repaired.  I was so shocked and impressed I didn't even think to insist I get off for another flight.

As mentioned in previous posts:

a)  a sticking car starter solenoid can be broken free, or if the starter is on a commutator arc dead spot the shock can move it to another spot or break the oxides enough to make contact and start. 

b) motor bearing "sticktion" can be broken by a quick jar.  In the case of the camcorder, it could adjust tape cassette alignments in the guide-track, or shift pinch rollers on their shaft. 

c) Silver or tin whisker growth shorts can be broken by the shock. 

d) Oxides on a "flakey" intermitant electrical contact, such as on a tin-lead plated connector contact, can be cracked allowing the current to tunnel through.

e) I have seen broken lightbulb filaments move and make contact . . . for awhile.  I suspect that broken elements in the old technology vacuum tubes could rearrange in much the same manner to make connection again for awhile.

I'm sure there are other ways in which this crude "fix" could legitamately affect the device to get it working again temporarily.  Clearly, if the root cause were designed-out, these temporary fixes would not be needed.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Percussive Repair
Rob Spiegel   8/14/2012 2:37:22 PM
NO RATINGS
Interesting story about your flight, David12345. That's a bit disturbing. Your list of what can be corrected with a good whack is a good one. I hadn't considered the tin whisker problem. Those whiskers are very thin and, you're right, they could be dislodged with a whack.

GlennA
User Rank
Gold
out of 'whack'
GlennA   8/14/2012 4:56:43 PM
NO RATINGS
Perhaps all of the 'whack' had leaked out of the unit, and the action of 'percussive repair' re-charged the 'whack' reservoir ?  Remember in Armageddon when the Cosmonaut charges $1 for hitting the unit with the wrench, and $99 for knowing where to hit it ?

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: out of 'whack'
Rob Spiegel   8/14/2012 5:28:22 PM
NO RATINGS
I don't remember that in Armegeddon, Glenn. But that sounds just about right. I've been surprised over the years how well this approach to faulty electronics works.

 

GlennA
User Rank
Gold
Re: out of 'whack'
GlennA   8/14/2012 7:52:14 PM
NO RATINGS
Rob Spiegel;  I may have the wrong movie title;  Bruce Willis and his team use the Space Shuttle to plant explosives on a comet.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: out of 'whack'
Rob Spiegel   8/15/2012 10:06:01 AM
NO RATINGS
Yes, Armegeddon was the Bruce Willis movie about the astroid headed for earth. It also featured Billy Bob Throton and Liv Tyler. Its featured song by Aerosmith, "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing," became a big hit.

Nancy Golden
User Rank
Platinum
Re: out of 'whack'
Nancy Golden   8/16/2012 11:32:23 AM
NO RATINGS
Great Flick - and I do recall that particular "percussive repair" in the movie!



Partner Zone
Latest Analysis
This Gadget Freak review looks at a cooler that is essentially a party on wheels with a built-in blender, Bluetooth speaker, and USB charger. We also look at a sustainable, rotating wireless smartphone charger.
Texas Instruments is rolling out a new microcontroller that could make the design of sensor networks and data logging systems simpler and less costly.
Made By Monkeys highlights products that somehow slipped by the QC cops.
From pitchers and forwards to quarterbacks and defensemen, we offer a peek at some of the more memorable engineers in sports history.
IBM announced it is dedicating $3 billion of funding over the next five years to research and development of new processor technologies.
More:Blogs|News
Design News Webinar Series
7/23/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
7/17/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
6/25/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
5/13/2014 10:00 a.m. California / 1:00 p.m. New York / 6:00 p.m. London
Quick Poll
The Continuing Education Center offers engineers an entirely new way to get the education they need to formulate next-generation solutions.
Jul 21 - 25, Design Products With Bluetooth Low Energy
SEMESTERS: 1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6


Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.
Next Class: August 12 - 14
Sponsored by igus
Learn More   |   Login   |   Archived Classes
Twitter Feed
Design News Twitter Feed
Like Us on Facebook

Sponsored Content

Technology Marketplace

Copyright © 2014 UBM Canon, A UBM company, All rights reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service