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.
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!"
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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...
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!
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-?
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.
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, 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.
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...
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.)
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.
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.
"... 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 ... ;-)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 ?
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.
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