Monday, 11 May 2009

Mother's Day for Engineers

So, in case you were wondering, when it's Mother's Day, engineers don't give gifts; they fix things!

In this case, we have a 5-CD changer that was starting to have problems. Now sure, you might say that a computer would be able to save all the music from those CDs and more. But if you know engineers (or at least, myself), then you know we'd never throw away something that can still be salvaged (or at least kept for parts).

The problem was that the audio seemed to cut out every once in a while. It turns out that something was wrong with the output jacks. I tried fiddling with them to make the connections tighter, but it didn't seem to work. Some of you may remember the troubles I had to go through to get cables to stay connected in such a way that the sound didn't cut out when you were over.

So, obviously, the best solution is to open it up and fix it! The circuit board with the jack is in the bottom left of the left image, with a closeup on the right. The other circuit board sure looks empty though.

With a little fiddling of the restraints, the connector board comes out pretty easily. A few minutes of desoldering later, and out come the jacks. If you recall, I made a post about Kycon recently. They sent me some nice red and white gold-plated RCA jacks, perfect for replacing these (not that that's a coincidence). Here we have the new and the old next to each other. Aren't the new ones all nice and shiny?

If you look closely, you'll notice that the plastic casing is shaped slightly differently in the new ones. The old had a little hook, while the new are just little stubs. Unfortunately, the gaps are also a little smaller. That required a little bit of sanding on the circuit board to fit.

Anyway, with a little elbow grease, and some more soldering, I had them right back in. The connection wasn't that great any more though (probably need to tone down the iron), so I added a couple jumper wires for the relevant paths. Fortunately, the sound quality did not suffer because of it (at least to my ears and with the sound system we have).

And that gives us this nice little board with shiny new gold-plated jacks. The plastic on the jumpers got a little melty, but that helped me to position them in a good place. Anyway, after putting it back together, I tried it out on the surround system and it sounded great. So, back upstairs it went, and that makes one nice present done.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Kycon, Inc

Just going to take a post to mention this company. In case you didn't know, some electronics suppliers like to send out samples for the "publicity", in the hopes that you'll remember their product and use it in your next big project.

Anyway, these guys were pretty great. I put in a request on Sunday for a couple connectors. To leave it cheap, I asked for regular ground shipping. But in Canada, they don't seem to offer that, so they automatically upgraded to some kind of two-night express shipping for free! So I got the parts in less than two days, and they seem pretty good quality. Yep, so this post is just my way to make some publicity for them.

Now, what did I get this for? Well, that's a different post...

Edit: I just noticed a couple connectors on our test boards are Kycon, too.