In addition to the lack of serious service data, and the el-cheapo cables and such, the electronics is just about impossible for anyone - even an EE - to repair. Micro-miniature surface-mount componects do allow for massive power in our PCs and ever-increasing functionality in something the size of a cell phone, but trying to replace a part - particularly one of those zillion-leaded ICs - on an SMT board is difficult-to-impossible without a whole stable of expensive rework equipment. Fortunately, in most cases the circuit board - if properly designed - is not the item that fails (or when it does, it's often turned to slag by a nearby lightning strike or power supply failure).
Has anyone noticed, that power cords these days seem to be made of some plastic that takes a set (the way it was wrapped at the factory) and then is just about impossible to straighten out? And when you drape the cord over the back of the desk or bench, it doesn't hang in a nice loop, but retains that original lumpy set? I have tried using the heat gun, or soaking the cord in boiling water, which helps somewhat, but not perfect.
Back when, cords were made with rubber, or PVC that had reasonable amounts of plasticizer. Now, everyone is scared that some child is going to chew on the cord and get plasticizer poisoning. And rubber (today mostly neoprene) tends to be available only in the highest-end industrial applications. The tendancy to use conductors with fewer strands of heavier wire doesn't help either.
As I understand it, I think Europe did just that, due to the amount of electronics that were winding up in landfills, which led to most manufacturers accepting recycled computers. Although, would that kill the used market? I buy so much stuff off of Craigslist these days, but would someone be willing to sell me a lawn tractor for $50 (true story) if they could get $100 for sending it back to a manufacturer?
However, that having been said, I completely agree with you. There's a reason everyone says "they don't make 'em like they used to," and it drives me nuts that most consumer goods are made to be thrown away. When something breaks my first instinct is to either Google a fix or get out the screwdrivers. Sometimes my wife is pleasantly surprised, other times can be best described as disaster, but I always make a diligent effort, and I hope to pass the instinct on to my children.
Here you go - this will bring back memories and if you scroll down far enough you can see the shooting gallery and the rifle - we also had the original Odyssey. We figured out pretty quick that you could point the rifle at a light bulb and score which worked great for bets with little sister distracting the competition...
Early 1973, I believe it was, when my dear friend got one of the early Odyssey sytems, and Pong was about the only game we could get (oh, it might have still been called PingPong).
You're right about the auto-play, but did you leave it run long enough for quantum errors to break it out of the loop (sometimes it would take 20 or 30 minutes)?
We didn't have the cool rifle...now I'm jealous.
I actually got one of the Odyssey systems (much later DOM) last summer to refurb for the collector market. Maybe I'll get to it this winter n my ample free time, after all, all I do between 4 and 7 AM is sleep anyway...
Like most of the microsoft diagnostics, they were correct but worthless. It is very frusrating to discover that the technical suport for many products is aimed at folks with the IQ of a small stone, or less. The standard directive ius to discard it and buy a new one, which does produce the greatest corporate profits. Unfortunately many things are hard to service because they are designed to be cheap to assemble ONCE, and no consideration is given to making them serviceable in the future. We see it repeatedly in articles about "design for assembly", that tout the wondefulness of snap fits, with no way to unsnap them to replace the internal protective fuse or the failed rechargable battery. We also see products with a very short warranty assembled with access proof screws, clearly intended to make the product very hard to service.
My solution would be a large surcharge on nonrepairable electronics, perhaps a $100 additionasl charge tacked onto the purchase price, and payable to the federal government. Not a deposit like pop cans, but a charge intended to damage the sales of the product and make the nonrepairable items much less competitive. A similar charge, except that it would be a recycling deposit, could be added to repairable items. At the end of life they would be returned to the manufacturer and the deposit would be refunded. That would remove a lot of electronics from the waste stream in a hurry. The ten cent deposit has reduced litter a lot in Michigan, surely the $100 deposit could keep a whole lot of electronics out of the waste stream. And it might possibly lead toward making some products more repairable.
The very last line of your reply was the biggest frustration for me, why I wrote the article. That, and the fact that even though it was only a $5 part that went bad, I was expected to just chuck the thing and get a new one. Is it any surprise that I recently got a notice that PA is adopting a WEEE-like regulation (disposal of computer waste is going to be illegal)?
It has indeed been that long. I got my start with Super Mario Bros. for NES back in '87, at the tender age of 2. I still remember the event, because it was supposed to be my dad's Nintendo, and while he and I still game together when we get the chance, the gaming was quickly overtaken by me. I partially fault that event for why I became an EE.
Yeah, the problem with those kind of cables is the fact that there are 2 wire strip operations and 2 crimp operations per wire. Lots of places for things to go wrong! Why they decided to use that cable is anybody's guess but I'm sure the almighty buck had something to do with the decision.
You are correct. The cable that went bad was for the optical drive within the unit (Image here). If you look at the image, there's nothing particularly special about the cable, it just reverses the position of each wire in the jumper (i.e. pin 1 on the motherboard is pin 12 on the drive). You might also note that the wires aren't jacketed as a bundle, which I think would go a long way toward relieving the strain on individual wires. Additionally, the drive's data interface is a standard SATA port, so I'm not sure what made them decide that they couldn't use standard SATA power, as the cables are low-profile (if they were concerned about heat) and flexible.
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.