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naperlou
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Blogger
they don't have to last long
naperlou   12/10/2012 10:29:01 AM
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Your comment about lasting until the next generation of system comes along is interesting.  These devices don't really need to last long, do they?  Few people stick with an old system becuase the new ones are generally much more attractive in features and performance.  They also generally run the games from the last generation.  I have even found that there are emulators for old game systems for the PC.  If you have a powerful graphics processor on your PC, then this becomes feasible.  You can even use the controllers from the older systems on the PC.

Fixing the system by taking it apart is not very comonly done.  Many of the kids I know who are into this would do that, though.  I don't think they are a representive sample.  Probobaly all future engineers.

Cabe Atwell
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Blogger
Re: they don't have to last long
Cabe Atwell   12/10/2012 4:42:35 PM
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In troubleshooting, always start with the simplest solutions first. Checking the power cord is always first.

Good to know, just in case my XBOX happens to fall victim to the same issue.

But, I must admit, I don't use it much these days. It was almost exclusively a Netflix streaming device. Jokingly referred to as the NetflixBox. But for $60 a year for just that seemed crazy. So, I ended up just getting a used "Boxee" from a friend. Now I can watch Netflix for free, and stream movies off of a USB drive or SD card.

Just my opinion.

C

Charles Murray
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Blogger
Gaming for 25 years
Charles Murray   12/10/2012 7:10:48 PM
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The line from this story that shocked me was, I've been gaming for 25 years." Yikes, has it been around that long?

BobDJr
User Rank
Gold
Re: Gaming for 25 years
BobDJr   12/11/2012 9:48:52 AM
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@Charles: It has actually been longer than that. Space Invaders dates back to 1978, and of course there was Pong before that.

Nancy Golden
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Gaming for 25 years
Nancy Golden   12/11/2012 9:57:02 AM
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Woo Hoo! Pong! If you set the paddles just right it would play itself which was pretty funny when you speeded it up and it came with a cool plastic rifle too. We were the first kids on the block to get one and thought it was totally cool. That would be the 70's...

The Ticktock Man
User Rank
Iron
Re: Gaming for 25 years
The Ticktock Man   12/11/2012 8:57:18 PM
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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...

Nancy Golden
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Gaming for 25 years
Nancy Golden   12/11/2012 11:07:27 PM
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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...

http://www.pong-story.com/odyssey.htm

 

uagent
User Rank
Iron
Re: Gaming for 25 years
uagent   12/11/2012 3:40:26 PM
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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.

-R.J. Hill

TJ McDermott
User Rank
Blogger
Keyed hardware
TJ McDermott   12/11/2012 12:13:06 AM
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I don't like matched hardware in industrial equipment, and I don't like it in home equipment.  If Microsoft wishes to combat piracy, why is the darn thing modular in the first place?

Nancy Golden
User Rank
Platinum
strain relief not always considered in assembly
Nancy Golden   12/11/2012 9:54:06 AM
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Actually, I think your comment may be right on target, "I suspect it has to do with the lack of strain relief of the cords wound around each other." In the last year I have seen a blow dryer and a battery charger both fail due to lack of strain relief of the cords...its really frustrating to see such a simple but essential concept for longevity disregarded when it could so easily be fixed.

We don't even part swap anymore - we just throw away things when they quit working and don't think twice. I remember when my printer went out after only two years of light service - I couldn't believe it. My old faithful HP had lasted 5 years or more. When the sales person at Office Depot informed me that two years was about right - I wanted to say, "Beam me up Scotty - there's no intelligent life here!" It's a different world...I guess some folks would say three years on your XBox is stellar - great job finding a fix!

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: strain relief not always considered in assembly
Ann R. Thryft   12/11/2012 12:07:41 PM
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I've seen an increase in cord problems due to no built-in strain relief on a variety of consumer electronics devices, including some computer peripherals. It's really really annoying, since many of these cords are not wound around each other. They're just not lined up perfectly flat all day. It's also really really annoying since cords on all electric and electronic devices used to be a heck of lot sturdier.



Nancy Golden
User Rank
Platinum
Re: strain relief not always considered in assembly
Nancy Golden   12/11/2012 12:29:38 PM
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And did you know a common problem is that people put heavy objects on data cords - flattenning those zeros so they look like ones? Seems to me we could have better quality material to prevent that...Okay, I'm kidding...need more coffee LOL!

But seriously, I agree - strain relief is a real problem that is really so fixable...it is annoying! Used to be "check the cord first" was just not thought of - but now it is.

btlbcc
User Rank
Gold
Re: And then there's the power cords....
btlbcc   1/9/2013 6:16:53 PM
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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.

btlbcc
User Rank
Gold
Re: Repairability
btlbcc   1/9/2013 6:29:46 PM
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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).

BSmith_DATX
User Rank
Silver
Xbox 360 Gets $5 Fix
BSmith_DATX   12/11/2012 12:32:12 PM
Since trying to use a paper clip was mentioned I am assuming that the drive in question was the optical drive and therefore the power cable in question would be an internal power cable not an external power cord.  Power cable routing/XBox unit assembly and initial power cable assembly would be the most likley candiadtes for failure and there should be no need for strain relief.  Usually this type of failure can be traced down to incorrect cable assembly.

uagent
User Rank
Iron
Re: Xbox 360 Gets $5 Fix
uagent   12/11/2012 1:46:02 PM
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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.

BSmith_DATX
User Rank
Silver
Re: Xbox 360 Gets $5 Fix
BSmith_DATX   12/11/2012 1:54:22 PM
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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.

uagent
User Rank
Iron
Re: Xbox 360 Gets $5 Fix
uagent   12/11/2012 3:53:40 PM
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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)?

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
X-box and the $5 fix.
William K.   12/11/2012 8:28:52 PM
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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.

uagent
User Rank
Iron
Re: X-box and the $5 fix.
uagent   12/12/2012 9:45:13 AM
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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.

-RJ Hill



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