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February 21, 2016

Repair of a Food Saver model V845

I had a great time doing some interesting repairs at the Repair Cafe event in Campbell River yesterday. One of the most interesting and challenging repairs was that of a Food Saver plastic bag vacuum sealer, for which the heat sealing wasn’t functioning, but the vacuum function was apparently OK. In this case, the problem was not apparently common heat strip failure, but rather a failed vacuum activated switch. Here’s what I did to diagnose and repair it.

the patient

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November 14, 2015

Repair of a Traynor YGL3 Mark 3 Guitar Amplifier and Accusonic Reverb Tank

This post is about a fun, relatively easy repair/restoration project on a classic piece of electric guitar/music gear: a Traynor YGL3 Mark 3 amplifier. The YGL3 is a vacuum tube -based piece of rock/music history. This project grew out of the Repair Cafe event in the Campbell River Sportsplex last month that I was a volunteer repair person for. A new friend,¬†Joedy W, had brought this amp in to the Repair Cafe, but I didn’t have the time or the parts during that busy day to do the full repair. After I got back from some travels, we were able to re-connect yesterday and I could get to work on the amp. The whole repair/restore operation had four distinct elements to it. This was a pretty interesting project for me because I had never worked on a musical instrument amp before (that I can recall), but the repairs needed were fairly easy, requiring diagnosis mainly by observation with ears and eyes and ultimately just one test instrument, an ohmmeter.

Traynor YGL3 Mark 3 amplifier

The Patient: Traynor YGL3 Mark 3 amplifier

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September 13, 2015

Fixing a Hamilton-Beach Coffee Grinder

Our coffee grinder had stopped working. Now that for me is a near-emergency situation demanding repair. This is the grinder, brand “Hamilton Beach”

the dead grinder

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August 25, 2014

Granularity of Repair: fixing the volume control potentiometer in a Pioneer VSX-3800 receiver

Filed under: blog,electronics,environment,repair,Uncategorized — admin @ 5:14 pm

For several months, the primary audio system in Gimli’s media room (well, the couch is Gimli’s)¬† has had the annoying problem of an intermittent left channel due to a problematic volume control element, one part in a triple-ganged, motorized potentiometer in an otherwise great Pioneer VSX-3800 receiver . I’d tried the usual fixes such as a couple of “control cleaner” sprays, a few times, with only temporary success at best. So, based on previous similar experiences, this electronics doctor decided that it was time to operate on the patient. This time, I had no replacement part on hand, and it was looking impossible to get one shipped to me quickly. Here’s the procedure:
Pioneer VSX-3800 the problem pot (more…)

July 7, 2013

Dodge Caravan NipponDenso Starter Motor Contact Repair

I’ve now seen the same starter motor failure in three different vehicles, a 1996 Plymouth Vogager (same as Chrysler Town and Country or Dodge Caravan), 1988 Toyota van, and 1987 Toyota Tercel, over the past 15 years, in what looks to be the same model starter motor. The motor appears to be made by NipponDenso. Essentially, the copper contacts inside the high current switch that turns the motor on erode (possibly by spark erosion) to the point that contact across them is no longer made by a solenoid-driven plunger, and as a result the starter motor gets no power and won’t crank the engine. Typically, these contacts can be easily and cheaply replaced. Here’s how I did this repair in my 1996 Plymouth Grand Voyager LE (3.8L V6) (more…)

January 13, 2013

How to Replace the Serpentine Belt in a 1996 Dodge Caravan / Plymouth Vogager 3.8L V6

Recently I had to replace the serpentine belt in my 1996 Plymouth Grand Voyager LE. These belts used to be called “fan belts” in olden times when they used to mainly drive the fan, and sometimes are also called “accessory belts”. This same van. Pretty much the same vehicle as a Chrysler Town and Country or Dodge Grand Caravan of the same era. Mine has the 3.8L V6 engine. Belt replacement procedure is apparently similar to what is needed for the 3.0L but the 2.4L version will be different due to a different belt tensioner and different accessory pulley layout. “Serpentine” is a good adjective for the belt in the 3.8L since it takes a tortuous path around no less than 7 pulleys. And yes, the first three people aware of this repair all immediately thought of this great flick, re Serpentine! Serpentine!. (more…)

April 6, 2012

Modifying A Hamilton Beach Single-Cup Coffee Maker To Make Real Coffee

Hamilton Beach single cup coffee maker

Hamilton Beach single cup coffee maker

In my quest to make our coffee drinking more coffee-efficient, I recently purchased a single-cup coffee machine by manufacturer Hamilton Beach, when it was on sale for $49.95 at Canadian Tire. Unfortunately, after some testing, I found that this coffee maker made coffee far too weak for my taste, even using its “bold” setting. It was forcing water through the wire mesh filter system at too high a flow rate. Here’s the modification that I did to it to cause it to make better coffee.

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December 27, 2011

Avoiding WordPress login hackers

Filed under: blog,hacking,security,software,wordpress — Tags: , , — admin @ 3:44 pm

Lately in my server logs I’ve been seeing a lot of attempts to hack into WordPress. The hackers appear to have automated means of working well-known exploits such as to timThumb.php and phpMyadmin, but also I’ve seen persistent efforts to do brute force login attacks using a big password set. A lot has been written about the exploits and patches exist for them that you can find elsewhere, but the simple way I avoid the most common brute force login hackers out of the gate is to not even have the well-known wordpress login script wp-login.php visible. (more…)

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