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Exploring Electronics - What's inside your appliances?

 
pollinator
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I took an electrical techniques program last year at my local college. In it, I learned basic skills for being a good electrical apprentice. I also learned the basics of electricity and electrical components.

Today I dismantled a single cup coffee maker that went dead a few months ago. It had begun to leak and the grinder either would not turn on or the beans were not being fully ground, I forget which one. After pulling it apart I give it a repairability score of 3/10. Most of it was screwed together with philips screws...that's great! However to actually get to the important parts I needed to do some prying, which ended in fragile plastic snapping. This was more of an exploratory mission than a rescue one so I wasn't too stressed.

Also, what ground my gears was seeing one of these.

I call it the bullshit screw because that screw's only purpose is to stop the average consumer from opening the machine up. Did I bypass it? Yes. Was it kind of violent? Yeah, it took some prying. I'm sure I can either fabricate a proper bit or buy one, but the fact that I have to do either of those things in the first place is frustrating to me. I do understand the liability factor, but how about writing some stuff into the legalese to cover the company if someone injures or kills themselves opening up a machine? I will keep an eye out when purchasing stuff to see how it is put together. It is easy to dismantle without damaging? Are parts replaceable? Learning to repair is definitely making me more discerning in this area.

So what was inside that little coffee maker? Quite a bit actually! Here is what makes your coffee nice and toasty. On the intake side it had a one way valve that would let liquid in but not out. I tested this by blowing air through it.

Here are some relays. If I had to guess one of these would be activated depending on which button you pressed. The maker had two buttons. One that just brewed, and one that ground and then brewed. So one would activate only the element while the other would also activate the motor to grind the beans. I am just making this up though, so if anyone knows better feel free to correct me.


Here is the brains of the maker. We have a variety of capacitors as well as resistors, and some completely unknown (to me) items as well. Resistors slow the flow of electricity. They are often manufactured out of an insulating material. There are many types, but these little ceramic ones are very common, at least from what I've seen. Take a look at R5 and R79 that are sitting next to the large yellow rectangular components. If you look closely you'll see they have colored bands on them. They are yellow, purple, red and gold if looking from left to right. These little bands tell you a lot about the resistor. They give you the resistance in ohms, as well as the tolerance. Sooo how do you read it? The first two colors in a four band resistor count for numbers. For example brown is 1, red is 2, and so on. The third band is the multiplier. So R5 would have a 4 (yellow), 7 (violet) multiplied by 100 (red as multiplier). Finally, the fourth band determines the tolerance. R5 has a gold band, which stands for a 5% tolerance. This means that the resistance could actually be anywhere between 4465 and 4935 ohms. If this all sounds like gibberish, don't worry it did to me too last year. Take a look at this chart though, it should help out.

Let's do one more example. *Edit* Mike politely corrected me here. The green resistor looking thing is actually an inductor, not a resistor. See the top right corner of the circuit board. From wikipedia: "An inductor, also called a coil, choke, or reactor, is a passive two-terminal electrical component that stores energy in a magnetic field when electric current flows through it.[1] An inductor typically consists of an insulated wire wound into a coil." Inductance is measured in henrys...yeah really! 1 henry is the amount of inductance that causes a voltage of one volt at a rate of one ampere per second. Here is the chart Mike posted for inductor color coding https://www.basictables.com/electronics/inductor/inductor-color-code

Based on that we can say that this is an inductor with an inductance of 330 (orange, orange, brown, silver) micro henrys with a tolerance of 10%. I still cannot get over the name, it makes me think of 330 small men named Henry running around. Thanks Mike!Look up in the top right of the control board and you'll see a bigger green resistor. You'll see the bands are orange, orange, brown and silver. Take a peek at the chart and see if you can find out its resistance. Got it? 3 (orange), 3 (orange), multiplied by 10 (brown as multiplier) makes it a 330 ohm resistor. The silver band gives is a 10% tolerance, which makes its resistance range from 297 ohms to 363 ohms.

The little black cylinders at the top of the board are called capacitors. They are used to temporarily 'store' some electricity and then to release it when needed. They are similar to batteries, but not quite the same as they tend to release all the pent up electricity in an instant rather than over time. The ones in this circuit are wimpy, but some huge ones can be found in other appliances. Washing machines often have large capacitors to deliver the large amount of amperage needed to get the motor moving initially. My welder also has 3 capacitors about the size of a D battery! I think they would be for delivering the amperage to strike an arc more easily. Don't lick those like you would a 9 volt.

Anyways, hope you enjoyed and learned something. I like writing about this stuff!

 
pollinator
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Re the oddball screw: usually I can clamp onto these with small vise-grips and turn them out. My 2c.
 
Cam Haslehurst
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That is much smarter than my solution. Thanks!
 
pollinator
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Douglas Alpenstock wrote:Re the oddball screw: usually I can clamp onto these with small vise-grips and turn them out. My 2c.



While that's true, it does nothing to release the inner rage at finding it there in the first place.  I find that a carefully positioned crowbar edge, struck at the other end with a small sledge hammer often does, after a few blows, release the screw head from the screw and body of the appliance.  This tends to cause sufficient *cosmetic* damage to the item to alleviate some inner rage while rendering any *functional* damage non-apparent, additionally permitting access to the business-realm of the dead whirly-gig.  At any rate, as the OP noted, most appliances these days appear to made with the intent of being unfixable, so if I can piece back together the contraption at the end of the day in some operable form, I'm willing to look past the rolls of duct tape and wire twists it now requires to hold all of the pieces and panels in place...... :-/

Ever in the spirit of Red Green.....



Edited to add a complete non sequitur to the post:  Playing a World Cup qualifying soccer game against Mexico in Edmonton in mid-November gives new meaning to the phrase "Home court advantage"......Really, Canada!!?  
 
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Actually, the L1 marking by the green component indicates it is an inductor. Sometime called a coil. Here's the color code for those.  https://www.basictables.com/electronics/inductor/inductor-color-code

It looks like there are some diodes & a simple integrated circuit of some sort on that board too.  D9 is the diode & U4 is the IC.

T usually indicates a transformer but T6 doesn't appear to be a transformer. The manufacturer might be calling a coil a transformer there. Or it might be a misprint. It looks more like a diode but it doesn't have the cathode stripe.

CX might be some kind of proprietary component. That's not a standard designation. Is it ceramic? It kind of looks like a power resistor.

F1 is a fuse.

Capacitors are usually labeled with a C. Some of those are marked with E. For electrolytic? I guess ZhuHai does it their own way.

Another thing to note on this board is the RoHS label. That means restriction of hazardous substances. Specifically lead solder on circuit boards. Which means if it needs soldering use silver solder & the appropriate flux or the board will likely be destroyed trying to fix it.
 
Mike Barkley
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My welder also has 3 capacitors about the size of a D battery! I think they would be for delivering the amperage to strike an arc more easily. Don't lick those like you would a 9 volt.



If they are hooked together in parallel it increases the amperage & the capacitance. If they are hooked in series it is to increase the voltage. Either way ... don't lick them!!!
 
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My coffee pot stopped working.  It was just a standard coffee pot.  I couldn't see buying a new one... I took it apart, hard-wired the electric cord directly to the heating unit (same unit keeps the bottom of the pot warm and boils the water to put over the grounds)  Now, it runs when plugged in, unplug when done.
 
Cam Haslehurst
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Mike Barkley wrote:Actually, the L1 marking by the green component indicates it is an inductor. Sometime called a coil. Here's the color code for those.  https://www.basictables.com/electronics/inductor/inductor-color-code

It looks like there are some diodes & a simple integrated circuit of some sort on that board too.  D9 is the diode & U4 is the IC.

T usually indicates a transformer but T6 doesn't appear to be a transformer. The manufacturer might be calling a coil a transformer there. Or it might be a misprint. It looks more like a diode but it doesn't have the cathode stripe.

CX might be some kind of proprietary component. That's not a standard designation. Is it ceramic? It kind of looks like a power resistor.

F1 is a fuse.

Capacitors are usually labeled with a C. Some of those are marked with E. For electrolytic? I guess ZhuHai does it their own way.

Another thing to note on this board is the RoHS label. That means restriction of hazardous substances. Specifically lead solder on circuit boards. Which means if it needs soldering use silver solder & the appropriate flux or the board will likely be destroyed trying to fix it.



Wow thank you Mike for the correction and the additional info!! Lots to learn here. This reminds me of my post about tempering steel and getting politely corrected about the process. As long as I end up learning I am happy - and if folks reading this learn something that is even better.

Mike Barkley wrote:
If they are hooked together in parallel it increases the amperage & the capacitance. If they are hooked in series it is to increase the voltage. Either way ... don't lick them!!!



I couldn't quite see how they were connected as they were tucked away, but noted. One label said 200v and 1500 micro farads. Damn. I will not be licking them.

Thomas Dean wrote:
My coffee pot stopped working.  It was just a standard coffee pot.  I couldn't see buying a new one... I took it apart, hard-wired the electric cord directly to the heating unit (same unit keeps the bottom of the pot warm and boils the water to put over the grounds)  Now, it runs when plugged in, unplug when done.



Nice fix. As long as everyone remembers to unplug you are golden! I recently "repaired" a fan by cutting a hole in the cage that usually blocks the blade. It's so you can get your finger in there to get the blade moving initially. Obviously don't put it in once the fan is going, lol. It works great. Looks ugly but better than it being in the landfill!
 
Mike Barkley
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I recently "repaired" a fan by cutting a hole in the cage that usually blocks the blade. It's so you can get your finger in there to get the blade moving initially.



AC motors often have something called a shaded pole. It's a small piece of shielding inside the motor to cause a tiny bit of electromagnetic disturbance. If the motor magnets happens to stop in exactly a neutral position between the coil windings the electrical unbalance helps insure that the motor starts. Do you hear anything rattling inside the fan?
 
Cam Haslehurst
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Mike Barkley wrote:

I recently "repaired" a fan by cutting a hole in the cage that usually blocks the blade. It's so you can get your finger in there to get the blade moving initially.



AC motors often have something called a shaded pole. It's a small piece of shielding inside the motor to cause a tiny bit of electromagnetic disturbance. If the motor magnets happens to stop in exactly a neutral position between the coil windings the electrical unbalance helps insure that the motor starts. Do you hear anything rattling inside the fan?



That may be the issue exactly.  There was a slight rattle to the fan. The issue was upon start up the blades would be stuck. I'd hear the distinctive 'hum' of the motor trying to get started, but it wouldn't get going without a boost. I put a couple drops of lube on the shaft which seemed to help. Then the next day it was stuck again so I just cut the hole. Do you think the shaded pole got knocked loose or something? I never knew AC motors had something like that. It makes sense though, because they work through changing the poles or directions of electric current which forces the motor to turn...but if it happens to stop exactly in between how would it start.

Thanks for introducing me to that...I will have a google and see what they look like. Then I can take a peek inside the fan out of curiosity.
 
Mike Barkley
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Do you think the shaded pole got knocked loose or something?



Yes, a very good chance it did.
 
Cam Haslehurst
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Mike Barkley wrote:

Do you think the shaded pole got knocked loose or something?



Yes, a very good chance it did.



Thank you! I will check that out. I have also submitted an edit of my original post correcting the part about the second 'resistor' that is actually an inductor. That way folks will not have to scroll all the way down to see what is actually correct.
 
Mike Barkley
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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Henry
 
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Cam Haslehurst wrote:
Also, what ground my gears was seeing one of these.
Snips
Anyways, hope you enjoyed and learned something. I like writing about this stuff!



If your going to pursue this long term, search for "security bit set". Have a 100 piece set in a nice case that comes in handy from time to time. See almost the same with an added handle for $15 and a 214 piece set for $31. Actually bought it for tiny Torx and the smallest was too large, had to buy a smaller set of just Torx...

And yes I did! Both enjoy and learn.
Staff note (Mike Barkley) :

These folks probably have it   https://www.mcmaster.com/

 
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Any interest in kicking this up a notch with explanations of inductors & capacitors? How series & parallel components interact? Or something else along those lines?
 
Cam Haslehurst
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Mike Barkley wrote:Any interest in kicking this up a notch with explanations of inductors & capacitors? How series & parallel components interact? Or something else along those lines?



Oh heck yeah. If you think it'd be helpful I would gladly do some writing about that stuff!! I have plenty of free time as of now. In welding school which is great fun, but it is no where near the workload of university.

I could do a whole little mini series if that sounds good. It's good for me to really cement the concepts in my head and to teach some folks on here some of the basics of how stuff actually works. I remember before I learned about electricity I thought it was some sort of magic....flick the switch and light comes on. Or the microwave heats up some food. But HOW? That is where the real fun lies.

William Bagwell wrote:
If your going to pursue this long term, search for "security bit set". Have a 100 piece set in a nice case that comes in handy from time to time. See almost the same with an added handle for $15 and a 214 piece set for $31. Actually bought it for tiny Torx and the smallest was too large, had to buy a smaller set of just Torx...

And yes I did! Both enjoy and learn.



Now that I think of it I do own a set of those. Full of Torx bits and the security bits. Facepalm for not checking that set to deal with the stupid screw. I will take a peek in there to see if I have the proper bit. I told my mom tonight that no matter how hard the companies try to keep me out of their appliances, they will not succeed. I will create my own tool if that is what it takes. Of course getting the proper bit might be easier
 
Mike Barkley
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I could do a whole little mini series if that sounds good. It's good for me to really cement the concepts in my head and to teach some folks on here some of the basics of how stuff actually works.



Go for it!

I thought it was some sort of magic



It kind of is. Every component is filled with magic smoke. Once that escapes it doesn't work anymore:)
 
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John Weiland wrote:

Douglas Alpenstock wrote:Re the oddball screw: usually I can clamp onto these with small vise-grips and turn them out. My 2c.



While that's true, it does nothing to release the inner rage at finding it there in the first place.

I actually have a small silver crow bar that I use for other applications; on this one, I would have taken some silicone  lubricant and used an eyedropper to get past the rusted screw  into the  hole and waited about 15 minutes, gotten my  small needle nose pliers and  then worked that screw out.

 
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I had a deal with my kids when they were still kids.  If they found it, it was yours.  If you could fix it. You could keep it or you could sell it.  When my son was 12 or so he saw a clothes washer on the side of the road.  I made him go up and ask if it was trash.  It was and he was thrilled.  When he opened the back the belt had fallen off.  He put it on and put tension on the belt.   he pugged it in and it ran.   He sold it for $75; then he was really thrilled.
Now he owns his own business.  He makes the BIG BIG Fish tanks you see in hotels and restaurants.
 
Cam Haslehurst
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Stefanie Chandler wrote:I had a deal with my kids when they were still kids.  If they found it, it was yours.  If you could fix it. You could keep it or you could sell it.  When my son was 12 or so he saw a clothes washer on the side of the road.  I made him go up and ask if it was trash.  It was and he was thrilled.  When he opened the back the belt had fallen off.  He put it on and put tension on the belt.   he pugged it in and it ran.   He sold it for $75; then he was really thrilled.
Now he owns his own business.  He makes the BIG BIG Fish tanks you see in hotels and restaurants.



I missed this when you posted earlier. That is a sweet deal and one I know I would have loved. What a way to instill a 'fix it' attitude! You can help counteract the tendency to just toss stuff, while also getting some free stuff or even earning some cold hard cash!
 
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