Repair - DIY Style (Do It Yourself)   


Sometimes it is necessary to repair equipment. As you go through life you will have different values on whether you want to repair something, pay for somebody else to repair an item, or just chunk it. Your decision should be based on the over all expense of the item (new vs. replacement cost), how much it will cost to repair, and how long it will take to repair.


You might be surprised to know that there are lots of site to help you, including video tutorials on YouTube on how to fix just about anything.   -   3,745,745 Solutions to Everyday Product Problems


Over the years, I personally have modified, jerry-rigged things, and repaired a great many things. Just in the last few weeks, I repair an electric razor, cameras, gps, and am currently working on a TV that I picked up on the side of the road.


But, it should be noted that I have taken many things apart that have never gone back together. With today's depreciating cost of electronics, it is usually NOT cost effective to pay somebody else to repair an item. Consumer P&S Cameras are a good example. If a camera cost $200 initially in Dec 2009. And in March 2011 the camera stops working, since you are outside the warranty period, you will have to decide if you want to send it in and pay a typical flat rate repair of $150 that many manufactures charge.


A special note about replacement plans found at places like Best Buy. You should know that while Best Buy employees do not work on commission (Circuit City employees once did, Conns employees do currently, which means that they make money when the sell more), BB employees are given incentives for selling Product Replacement Plans and for selling accessories. They get bonuses, prices, trips, etc.


A few SUCCESSFUL repair stories.


Nikon L18

The motivation to create this page from a find of 114 Digital cameras and a dozen and half GPS units. ALL of the items were marked and appeared to be broken. On closer inspection, I discovered a couple of things. 1) That either the camera had a) broken lens or b) broken LCD display. In fact, it was determined that  almost half had one or the other, but not both. Only a few had both a broken lens AND a broken CD. In addition, a few of the camera have a broken battery door...more about this later.


The 2nd thing I found was that with very little effort, I was able remove a GOOD LCD from a camera with a BAD lens, and put it with a camera that had a BAD LCD. After it was all said and done, with the aid of a about 3 different students (Miguel, Kris, and Storm), we came up with over 40 working cameras. These cameras are DOUBLE the resolution of our CURRENT 1st year cameras available for check out, and I ended up with TWICE as many cameras I previous had as well, paving the way for future Photo 1 students to check out one of these cameras in the first part of the year. The camera is not quite as good in some ways when it comes to control, but so many improvements have been made since 2004 (when we bought 20 of the Canon A85s) vs 2008 (when the Nikon L18 was produced), such as improved ISO performance, better AF and image Auto Exposure Image Intelligence, built in image shape reduction for better low lighting hand held results.




Samsung 32" LCD - Repair in progress


A couple of days ago, I found a pretty nice TV (about $500 at Best Buy as of the time of the find) on the side of the road. As with any thing electric, I am careful about plugging anything. At the very least, I was pleased with a nice Samsung working remote and a unique right angle power cord. Looks like a $45 part will fix the TV.



Unfortunately, I have been unable to fix this neat find on the side of the road. I ordered a part, which turned out to be more defective than the original one. I got the money back for the defective part, and have recently learned that the actual LCD panel may be out. Either way, the price ofa  32" LCD is not around $150, so, pretty moot to even try to spend any more time on this project.




Dewalt Vacuum Cleaner, Battery Powered



I found this REALLY neat small shop vac, both battery and AC powered. About $150 value. The only thing that needed repair was the filter that somebody had soaked in paint which needed cleaning off and it needed a replacement hose. It worked, and the battery alone was a $40 value and matched other devices I have using the same battery.




Storm Door

This page isn't really about finding stuff on the side of the road, but I did find this unusually good find. It was a glass storm door, regularly $200 at Lowes. The hinge was torn on it, but only on the side of the hinge that could be removed. It just so happened that I had a storm door at my rent house that a previous tenant had busted. It was a perfect fit. $0 expenses, savings $200. Unfortunately, the NEXT tenant busted that door also. Finally, for the THIRD door, my wife came up with the idea to install a stop to keep the door from opening too wide.



So, what do you need to repair things?

Needle nose pliers

Screw drivers, including a set of jewelers or small screw drivers These can range from a couple of bucks (TOO CHEAP breaking easily) or very expensive (lasting a long time). The difference in price is $5 for TOO cheap breaking the first time you use them, or damaging your equipment. to $30 for a set that may last a life time.



Soldering iron and solder

Can be basic ($10)...or, if you plan to do electronics, a static and temperature controlled iron ($100)


Egg crate - The Styrofoam variety - to put small parts in. Number each of the 12 spots for the eggs. As you take apart items, log them on a sheet of paper with a description of where it camera from. Believe me, you WILL forget how to put it back together if any length of time passes, like you are waiting on parts to arrive in the mail. Want some other things to do with your empty crates:

Here are some shots from my tool room (it is a Pano...and not as wide as it appears):

My soldering iron:


Here is an interesting project:

The item is a Run Start Capacitor. It is what starts your AC up. It stores a LARGE amount of electricity, and when the thermostat in your house says, TURN ON, it sends power to this device until it has enough to jump start your AC compressor. When this $15 part goes out, you have to call the AC company. They charge about $150 to replace it, as long as you are willing to wait until a normal work day (not after 5 and not on the weekend). Well, with just about 10 minutes of diagnostic work, I was able to pull the old one, and replace it with a new one. WARNING!!! I spent MORE than 10 minutes consulting the internet for my first RSC replacement, as well as talking to a friend in the family who was an AC technician. He would have probably have done the job for me, but was unavailable for several days. So, I did this on my own. Do NOT attempt to do anything like this with out consulting some pretty good references.

Broken wires? No worries, solder them back together. Cat chew through your favorite pair of headphones, might be cheaper to replacement, or more fun to fix them.

Favorite center channel speaker loose it's sound? Check the speaker surrounds...the foam material around the speaker can replace it for the fraction of the cost.

Here is working on a K1000. One Pentaprism had gotten molding on one camera, another had a defective, non-repairable film transport. So, I moved parts from one to the other. Kind of like a heart transplant.