Archive for category Home Ec
One of the wireless numeric keypads I’ve been using with the streaming radio players developed some intermittent key switch failures resisting all the usual blandishments. Eventually it hard-failed, but I was unwilling to scrap the tediously printed keycap labels:
Hard to believe, but I’ve been using the white keypad for plain old numeric entry with the keypad-less Kinesis Freestyle 2 keyboard.
I swapped the Frankenpad + receiver to the least-conspicuous streamer and, someday, I’ll update all the labels on all the keypads to match the current streams. Until then, the white keycaps shall remain in the same bag as the defunct black keypad, tucked into the Big Box o’ USB mice & suchlike.
While washing our ancient electric crock pot (“slow cooker”), I wondered how corroded the inside of the steel shell had become. A simple nut secured the base plate and unscrewed easily enough, whereupon what I thought was a stud vanished inside the shell.
The shell wasn’t rusty enough to worry about, but the stud turned out to be a crudely chopped-off thumbscrew on a springy rod pulling the base toward the ceramic pot:
Evidently, they pulled the thumbscrew through the base, tightened the nut, then cut off the thumbscrew flush with the nut.
I desperately wanted to drill a hole in a new thumbscrew and repeat the process, but I no longer have a small drawer full of assorted thumbscrews. So I must either lengthen the existing thread just enough to complete the mission or build a screw from scratch.
The thumbscrew is threaded 10-24, I have a bunch of 10-32 threaded inserts, so pretend they have the same thread diameter and tap one end to 10-24:
Jam the new threads on the thumbscrew and jam a 10-32 setscrew into the un-wrecked end:
You can see the surface rust in there, right?
Make a Delrin bushing to fit around the insert poking through the base:
Reassemble the internal bits with permanent Loctite, top with a nyloc nut, and it’s only a little taller than the original nut:
The setscrew let me hold the new “stud” in place while torquing the nut, plus it looks spiffy.
Memo to Self: If it ain’t broke, don’t look inside. Hah!
Surprisingly, both Amazon and eBay lack useful thumbscrew assortments …
For the last year or so, the oven temperature control on our Kenmore gas stove has been decreasingly stable, sometimes varying by 100 °F from the setpoint before settling down somewhere close to what it should be. Spotting a replacement control board for a bit over $100, I decided the board used an absolute rotary encoder of the open-frame variety, so I took the thing apart:
The encoder was, indeed, an open frame:
The red droplet is DeoxIT, the rest of which went inside, just ahead of the contact fingers, and got vigorously massaged across the switch contacts on the wafer by spinning the shaft.
Some time ago, the membrane over the TIMER ON/OFF switch cracked and I applied a small square of Kapton tape. Having the entire controller in hand, I replaced the square with a strip of 2 inch Kapton, carefully aligned with the bezel marks embossed on the membrane, and now it’s smooth all over:
The MIN(ute) ^ switch required a much firmer than usual push, so I tucked a shim cut from a polypropylene clamshell between the membrane and the pin actuating the switch.
Reassembled, it works perfectly once more.
Gotta love a zero-dollar appliance repair!
After another two months:
The trend is definitely not uniformly downward, perhaps due to my increasing ability to accelerate (small) masses against the local gravity vector and, definitely, garden harvest season. My pants still fit fine, if that’s any indication.
I’ll add a skin-fold caliper dot to the weekly record after I can get repeatable measurements, perhaps by marking the test spot with a Sharpie.
For reasons not relevant here, we recently decontaminated a second lift chair, this one in bariatric size (so it doesn’t suffer from fuzz-shaving struts) with a six-switch control pod:
The green LED-lit buttons were so bright I took it apart to see what could be done; the picture shows the considerably dimmed result.
Start by prying outward on the tab at the USB charging port:
Done right, you can then release the latches along the sides:
It’s impossible to photograph the PCB with the LEDs active, but here’s what it looks like without power:
The eight (!) SMD LEDs align with light pipes around the switch openings:
The black dots come from Sharpie ink daubed in the shallow recesses intended to nestle around the LEDs. Note that the four switch caps have unique keying, so you can’t put them back incorrectly without some effort.
While we’re inside, here’s a closer look at the cable entry point, just in case I must replace the industrial-strength coily cord:
Unfortunately, it has a five-conductor cable, so a cheap phone coily cord (remember when phones had coily cords?) won’t suffice.
The PCB sports a pair of PICs, one of which seems to handle the buttons. I betcha the cable dates back to the days of hard-wired power switches, with the PIC now handling the intricate logic of deciding which motors to actuate for each function, then controlling MOSFETs as fake switch contacts.
The other PIC snuggles against the USB interface, which the manual describes as a charging-only port. It might also serve as a programming interface for the main PIC; admittedly the notion of a firmware upgrade for a lift chair seems far-fetched.
Reassembly is in reverse order with a resounding snap at the conclusion. It works fine and you (well, I) can now look at the control pod without sunglasses.
Apparently, “porcelain chip fix” epoxy survives about a year in a bathroom sink:
It came loose from the drain rim while I was cleaning the sink; I wasn’t doing anything particularly vigorous.
The stain in the lower right goes all the way around the epoxy:
For what should be obvious reasons, I was loathe to scuff up the sink surface to give the epoxy a better grip, so it couldn’t make a watertight seal all the way around.
A closer look at the stain:
I’m reasonably sure that’s iron bacteria colony, rather than actual rust, as there’s no iron to be found anywhere nearby.
For lack of anything smarter, I’ll apply another dose of the same epoxy, although this time I won’t be expecting a long-term fix.
The 4 inch column on the rear patio holds a bracket, probably intended for a welcoming sign or some such, which keeps the suet feeder mostly out of reach. It desperately wanted a coat of black paint to match the railing, so I stripped the old paint and applied Evapo-Rust:
One could, of course, simply buy new eye screws & nuts, but we’re deep into historical preservation around here.
An hour of soaking and a few minutes of wire-wheeling got everything down to bare metal, ready for some rattle-can primer and black paint action:
It’s a version of what Eks calls a “used car finish”: high shine over deep pits.
Discussion of why one should not paint threaded parts will be unavailing; in this case, paint serves as permanent threadlock. I re-spritzed the eyescrews & nuts after getting everything aligned, so as to produce a lovely two-coat over-all finish.