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OLD_CURMUDGEON
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Platinum
Re: Inviting company response
OLD_CURMUDGEON   7/8/2013 11:53:25 AM
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AND, it's precisely because of the "bottom feeders" that you'll NEVER read a response from any current technology person in ANY corporation, either excusing or rationalizing a deficient design.  I'm sure that there's literally tons of designers reading these same pages as we are, who are currently employed by these suppliers, and IF they COULD, they WOULD, but they appreciate that paycheck far more than the satisfaction of "ratting out" a dumb design.

VAYA con DIOS!

TJ McDermott
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Inviting company response
TJ McDermott   7/8/2013 11:14:23 AM
NO RATINGS
Fauxscot, I did not mean to imply in ANY way that you were flinging.

My goal of the statement was that IF DN could convince a company to willingly sit in the hot seat to explain design intent with civil questions, we should be civil with our questions.  Otherwise we ourselves will look like monkeys in the zoo (...flinging).

There was NOTHING wrong with your post and I apologize for even coming close to inferring that.

TJ McDermott
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Inviting company response
TJ McDermott   7/8/2013 11:08:08 AM
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Old_C, all of your statements are on-point.  However, without having the manufacturer make them, they are suppositions on our part.

My primary suggestion was to expand the WILDLY popular Monkeys column.  DN has something pretty special here.

armorris
User Rank
Platinum
Re: More 'Inverter' Monkey Business
armorris   7/8/2013 10:32:17 AM
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mblazer,

My microwave oven also had a very narrow viewing amgle before I replaced the LEDs. The new generic LEDs are much brighter than the original ones, even though I didn't change the electrical design beyond replacing the transistor in the LED current regulator circuit with a more robust one. The display is so bright now that I can easily read it from almost any angle. From a really wide angle, the display appears to be just a yellow light. BTW, if this microwave didn't belong to somebody handy with electronics, it would probably be in a landfill right now. I wonder how many of this model are in landfills right now as a result of this defect.

I would also prefer the light to be on when I open the door, if I didn't have to leave the door open for an hour to air out after using it. As it is, I'm glad that the light does not stay on when the door is opened.

Other than the LED and the odor issue, it's been a good microwave. I've had it for about 9 years. It was manufactured in China in August of 2003.

fauxscot
User Rank
Silver
Re: Inviting company response
fauxscot   7/8/2013 10:30:51 AM
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Yup.  Just as likely was that since there were 50 other torx fasteners, mixing in one that was standard torx added cascading complexity.  

that's a very legit tradeoff. 

i've found in long experience that few decisions are perfect.  some are clever, others efficient, but engineering is almost all about tradeoffs when it comes to building more than one thing.  even when building one-off units (like test equipment) the over-riding tradeoff is the impact on NRE. 

not flinging poo here, just ruminating in general on a topic of personal interest. 

OLD_CURMUDGEON
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Inviting company response
OLD_CURMUDGEON   7/8/2013 10:29:30 AM
NO RATINGS
TJ!  While I really appreciate your tongue-in-cheek contribution mostly because it mimics my sarcastic attitudes towards much of current daily life, but I would offer something of more substance as a reason why the TORX screws are used.  I can sum it all up in two words: LITIGATION & GREED.

The LITIGATION aspect is from the corporate "bottom-feeders."  The lawyers deciced that in order to avoid any possible litigation, they'd insist on security hardware to preclude JOE, Saturday morning mechanic, from repairing his own unit.

The GREED aspect results in the corporate decision to attempt to garner as much of the after-sale service as possible, hoping that people will either return the unit to an "Authorized" service center, or will replace the unit. 

I often wonder how many subdivisions in the U.S. could be completely outfitted w/ perfectly working appliances, etal, IF ONLY a defective 10-cent part was replaced?  I'd be willing ot bet we'd all be astounded to read the results!!!! 

tekochip
User Rank
Platinum
A Matter of Economy
tekochip   7/8/2013 10:23:02 AM
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The LCD visibility is probably a matter of economy.  You can obtain a wider viewing angle with less multiplexing, or better yet, a static display, but more pins for less multiplexing means more money.  I've worked for a bunch of appliance manufacturers, even the huge stainless steel companies, and rarely is a decision made that favors performance over cost.  The conversation with Marketing and Engineering would sound something like a Dilbert script.
 
Marketing:  I can't see the display unless I'm looking right at it, my new smart TV doesn't do that.
 
Engineering:  We can widen the viewing angle with a different display and a micro with more pins.
 
Marketing:  You need pins to fix it?  Great, go get some more pins.
 
Engineering:  The new display and larger micro will cost an extra fifty cents on the Bill Of Materials.
 
Marketing:  Fifty cents for more pins?  Forget it, nobody will pay that much just to see the clock.
 


Battar
User Rank
Platinum
The lightbulb - do not replace
Battar   7/8/2013 9:35:39 AM
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The lightbulb one is simple maths. Total product lifetime = 10 years. Total daily usage < 20 min (if it's more than that, you should see a dietician and you should be eating more real food, not warmed up leftovers and TV dinners). Total lightbulb usage over product lifetime = 1000 hours . Lightbulb manufacturers data says lifetime = 2000 hours. So design engineer reckons that the lightbulb should never need replacing. (Thermal cycling is another parameter to consider, though).

TJ McDermott
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Inviting company response
TJ McDermott   7/8/2013 9:32:21 AM
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Fauxscot, I agree the breed weakness would never be willingly discussed, but the choice of fastener should be.

It may not even be a questionable feature - we may learn that the product is assembled soley with the one type (and size) of fastener, and that changing the fastener holding the light bulb cover to a different type would greatly increase the fastener assembly time, stocking, etc.

Maybe the designer did evauluate that security torx drivers are not all THAT difficult to acquire.  The combination of cost and consumer tool availability makes the design choice not quite so simianly sinister.

These are all my suppositions though, and we won't know unless some manufacturer steps up and tells us.  In the right forum (such as right here with Design News), civil questions may be asked and some new understanding gained.

Of course, we could be not so civil,  begin throwing the metaphorical poo, and then WE'D look like the monkeys.

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Re: More 'Inverter' Monkey Business
William K.   7/8/2013 9:24:29 AM
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The viewing angle of the display is controlled by the polarizing material in front of it, and I prefer the better visibility straight on to lower visibility at some angle. Of course, my Panasonic inverter oven is mounted so that the display is at almost eye level, whyich makes some difference.

If the light were to come on whenever the door were opened it would take more switching, and a bit of logic, since it is also on while cooking. My guess is that at least some of those applications use the light for a snubbing resistance while the magnitron is active, which would make having it on when not cooking even more complex. 

As for the lamp being hard to replace, my guess is that the intention is that the unit would be replaced by the time the lamp failed. That is quite common in small appliances currently. Besides that, Panasonic brand electronics has never been easy to work on or service. That goes all the way back to their early cassette recorder days. Those units did not seem to be built with the concept that they would ever be opened again. Som traditions are difficult to change.

See also my posting about the door latch problems on this same product line.

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