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Thread: DIY repairs

  1. #1
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    DIY repairs

    I repair various bits of DME for a few non-profits (who then redistribute them to "less fortunate" individuals and third-world countries).

    "Mechanical" repairs tend to be relatively straight-forward -- often documented by the manufacturer (though chasing down those documents can be a chore).

    But, electrical and electronic repairs are largely treated as "no user-serviceable parts inside". That's where I come in.

    I've been transitioning out of this role; I've done it for far too many years and there are too few folks who benefit per hour of my (donated) time. As it's pro bono, I have a big say in how my time is spent (unlike employees)!

    I've been asked to do a "brain dump" to give the next person a cheat sheet to address the types of repairs I've made in the past. (Sadly, had I been keeping good notes/photos all along -- instead of relying on my memory -- this would have been a piece of cake! But, that would have taken even more time and, thus, resulted in fewer repairs) The "next guy" will have the benefit of being able to chase me down and pick my brain for any details/insights/advice that I may forget to document so this isn't strictly necessary.

    But, I'm wondering if I should, instead, prepare more detailed/verbose commentary and set up a web site/repository for that knowledge? OTOH, if there are scant few folks who have the skills, tools and motivation to do these sorts of repairs (e.g., can you service the SMT components found on modern circuit boards?), that's just a wasted effort on my part (I will "time/effort limit" this exercise so more detail means I'll address fewer problems/devices). I'm not particularly keen on making the job easier for folks who SELL that service!

    So, the questions here are:
    • to what extent do folks do their own repairs (vs. hiring that out)
    • how often would those repairs be "covered" (low/no out-of-pocket cost)
    • what sorts of types of repairs are people comfortable (and capable) with (swapping out batteries? replacing wheel bearings? repairing joystick control?)

  2. #2
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    You could set up a facebook group for this. Closed groups require permission to join from the moderator. That would be you and you can set it up so each new person must give you information about themselves before they are allowed to join. This would broaden the pool to include people who do their own repairs, but after awhile you will have a solid core of information about DIY repairs that can be downloaded, printed, whatever. You may not be able to exclude all those who do repairs for $, but quickly you get a feel for who is genuine and who is not.

    There have been a few websites run in the past by very knowledgeable folks who even build their own, but most have moved on, gotten older, shut down their sites. I think this is a great idea and hope you persue it.

  3. #3
    I do my own repairs when it is cost-effective. But it rarely is so I usually go through insurance.

  4. #4
    Firsf of all I do not see why you even care who has access to the information. Whether it is someone attempting to reoar their own chair, or a friend of someone that needs their chair repaired, or someone repairing chairs for a living. What's the difference? Ultimately if the person with a broken chair is able to get frompoint a to point b then the knowledge that you shared that made it possible will have benefitted the person with the broken chair!?!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tetracyclone View Post
    You could set up a facebook group for this. Closed groups require permission to join from the moderator. That would be you and you can set it up so each new person must give you information about themselves before they are allowed to join. This would broaden the pool to include people who do their own repairs, but after awhile you will have a solid core of information about DIY repairs that can be downloaded, printed, whatever.
    Actually, I was thinking of it as a "read only" sort of access. I wasn't entertaining the idea of interacting with "users" or fielding questions, etc. That would just increase the amount of my time that I had to spend sorting out other folks' problems: "Here's what I know. If you can use it, great. If not, you're no worse off than you were before you arrived at this web page!" (it's a lot easier to cajole a free STATIC page hosted from a friend/colleague than it is to set up a "forum" that has to be actively maintained.

    You may not be able to exclude all those who do repairs for $, but quickly you get a feel for who is genuine and who is not.
    I'm not bothered by folks who do it commercially. Rather, my concern is that if no one would benefit from it on a DIY basis, then I don't want to waste my time preparing this sort of documentation -- if it was just to make it easy for folks who do this for pay. Particularly as I won't be heeding the "no user serviceable parts inside" admonitions that "legitimate reps" SHOULD be honoring in their contracts with the manufacturers. Would you like it if a rep sold you a piece of kit that had been repaired and portrayed it as a "new replacement" (because you would have assumed it was a "factory replacement part")? Esp if HE hacked together the repair without the benefit of the manufacturer doing it and recertifying it?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by August West View Post
    I do my own repairs when it is cost-effective. But it rarely is so I usually go through insurance.
    What sorts of repairs (and costs) would you put in each of these categories? How much does insurance ease the pain? Are there limits on how many "claims" you can make and for what?

    E.g., I'm repairing a joystick control, presently. My cost will be a bit less than $5 (my time is free). My understanding is that these are a few hundred bucks to "replace" (which is why I'm repairing instead of replacing -- I can "donate" $5 of parts and some time but I'm not going to donate a few hundred dollars for someone to buy a new control!) What would it be if "insurance" handled it?

  7. #7
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    Well, I ran my notes by colleagues for the first of the repairs that I wanted to document for such a "brain dump". The overwhelming concensus was that few folks (not trained in the art) would be able to successfully complete such a repair. And, there was a fear that a good many folks would muck things up, in the process.

    So, I've abandoned this effort in favor of just dealing with my "local" successor's specific needs.

    Maybe DME suppliers will start considering user repairs in their designs instead of customers being at the mercy of middlemen...

  8. #8
    Senior Member pfcs49's Avatar
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    I haven't found many things I couldn't fix myself, usually better/faster than the professionals, except my spine!
    69yo male T12 complete since 1995
    NW NJ

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by pfcs49 View Post
    I haven't found many things I couldn't fix myself, usually better/faster than the professionals, except my spine!
    The comments (feedback) I received were more centered on the sorts of specialized equipment and level of visual acuity/digital dexterity required. Along with some of the solvents that are used.

    E.g., Most of the components are REALLY small (often the size of a pinhead but with LEGS that need to be aligned with foils on the circuit board)



    Anyone with aging eyesight (yours truly!) needs to work with a magnifying glass, at the very least, just to see what they're trying to accomplish. Many of us use these (below) as they afford true binocular vision (you can see depth instead of just a planar representation):



    (They are significant inve$tment$!)

    Removing ("desoldering") these tiny components is a challenge without tools designed to work on that scale.

    A colleague with Essential Tremor has long since given up any hope of this sort of fine manual control and now relies on friends (or service bureaus) to do that sort of work on his behalf.

    There are often films ("conformal coatings" -- like clear plastic paint) that protect the circuitry that must be removed/dissolved before a repair can be made. Then, to be pedantic, need to be reapplied (if it was there in the first place, there must be a reason for it's presence!) -- it's unlikely that most folks would have the solvents or coatings "on hand" unless they're already doing this sort of work.

    Finally, there are the mechanics involved in gaining access to many of these things. E.g., the motor controller on most chairs sits low -- under or behind the chair -- with short cables interconnecting it to the rest of the system (to minimize losses in the cables). Even the joystick control (located in a reasonably accessible place) is tedious to remove and disassemble (I had to drill out one of the allen-head screws because it had been "rounded" by a previous user/service). Consider that you may have to remove, service and then reinstall these items more than once to complete (and verify) a repair...

  10. #10
    Senior Member pfcs49's Avatar
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    virtually all chips are dead reliable. Failure is usually water intrusion or something dumb happened upstream like a slob with a DMM shorted a leg.
    Electronics at the microprocessor end are real reliable; power end of the board things get sketchy, mostly from problems not on the boards like failed wiring, switches, motors seizing/overloading.
    69yo male T12 complete since 1995
    NW NJ

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