The right to repair...

crutschow

Joined Mar 14, 2008
29,495
SMD has been around since about the 70s - I remember flatpack ICs on boards with square holes punched to accomodate the IC packages.

The main motivation was reduce size in computers with many stacks of boards, and probably the space program.
The also eliminate through many through holes in the PCB which makes them less expensive to manufacture.
 

wayneh

Joined Sep 9, 2010
17,166
The headlines and photos in that article slant the argument to imply mechanical repairs. It sounds to me the actual battleground is software.

If I'm building cars and part of the car is software, there's NO WAY I would want to allow modification of that software without a concurrent shift of liability for whatever problem that software might cause. My worst nightmare would be, for instance, letting someone go in and toggle a switch, leaving no trace of the change, that leads to a big accident. The liability might fall on me, despite the aftermarket change no one knows about. If my car sells with Ford software and someone changes it to Chevy, that's fine by me as long as Ford is no longer liable.
 

ian field

Joined Oct 27, 2012
6,536
I think there is a relatively clear line between, for example, major medical equipment and the owned family car. The former has evolved into a largely leased arrangement. The manufacturer maintains ownership, and the user pays lease and usage-based fees that include service. If you lease a car, maybe the same principle applies. But if you own a car, that is a different story. There are plenty of honest repair shops, but the refusal by auto manufacturers to allow access to all diagnostic codes and parts at a fair market price is anti-competitive.

Since medical supplies have been mentioned, let me give an anecdote from many years ago. In the early 1970's, a well known diagnostics company was pre-eminent in making instruments for doing hematocrits, hemoglobins, and basic blood counts. It sold the instruments, but then wanted to retain its hold on the reagent market. First it said that using reagents (e.g, saline) from other vendors voided all warranties, and it would not service the instruments. That approach did not do well in the courts. Then it tried changing the shape of its reagent packs and the instrument reagent compartments so only its packs would fit. Of course, it tried to copyright/patent the pack design. That approach didn't sit well with the courts either. That has been one of the major driving forces in medical instrumentation moving to leased arrangements.

I fail to see why the diagnostics company was subject to anti-competitive litigation, while the auto manufacturers seem to get by Scott free for cars they sell (i.e, doesn't retain ownership). Could it be the auto manufacturers have higher paid lobbyists?

John
On the radio station I listen to, nearly half the adverts are for leased cars.

Maybe the car manufacturers are trying to move in that direction.
 

ian field

Joined Oct 27, 2012
6,536
In the 1990's I was given a tune up add on off a Ford to try and crack.
It was potted so the first job was to dissolve the potting.
Inside was a ULA and an EPROM.
It turned out the ULA was just a couple of counters for reading the EPROM with increment address signal.
.

Everyone knows that "ULA" stands for Unobtainable Logic Array.
 

Tonyr1084

Joined Sep 24, 2015
6,866
otherwise-idle people (prisoners, for instance
I'm sure there are some very bright people in prison. However, the major population of prisoners must not be very bright if they have to resort to a life of crime to support themselves. Besides, I don't think I'd have a whole lot of faith in something that was repaired in a prison. What motivation would they have to do a "Good" job?

Other idle people? Well, why are they idle? I'm somewhat idle myself. Semi-retired. Not by choice either. I'd LOVE for someone to set up a repair shop and ask me to be a technician there. I could certainly handle the easy stuff. But more complicated circuits like AC & RF circuits - best to keep those out of MY hands. As for training? Well, I've been trying to learn but I have a poor math base to draw upon. I can figure some stuff out pretty brilliantly, but most 9th graders know more about algebra and trig than I do. Calculus too I'm SURE.

It would be nice to solve the worlds problems. But I suspect that extinction is the earth's way of ridding itself of parasites that consider themselves highly advanced and technologically superior. And we can't even build a single pyramid. The Egyptians did it. But we can't. And we have some pretty impressive tools.

I'll fix the obvious problems but leave the tough stuff to technicians. If all else fails, I'll scrap and replace. Works for me.
 

JoeJester

Joined Apr 26, 2005
4,390
I use to repair televisions. At 17 I was doing home service calls on televisions. At 19 I was working on 20 and 30 year old equipments in the military. At 21, I was restoring equipment that used vacuum tubes and semiconductors to be redeployed. I saw the mean time between failures increase so much with the miniaturization of the circuits that it became cost prohibitive to allow the individual units to repair the circuit boards. It became cheaper to stock the repair parts and repair them at a central location, cutting a major expense in inventory at individual units. This reduced the training requirements.
 

#12

Joined Nov 30, 2010
18,223
I could sure do a rant about this!
If they don't want people to mess with the software for the brakes, don't send the brake signals through a computer. If you don't want your nuclear power plant hacked, don't connect it to the Internet.

The last car I bought has about a dozen MPUs in it and all but 2 have obvious failures. Most of what I did to that car was to disable MPUs instead of paying hundreds of dollars to replace each one of them. The manufacturers want legislative protection to stop me from unplugging expensive devices that are only there for vanity purposes? "OMG! The car might crash if you unplug the lamps (which never turn off) in the sun visors! You must bring it to a Stealership and pay hundreds to have that computer replaced. It's a simple black box, plug&play repair, but you're too stupid to plug in a new vanity light controller.":eek:

Try to stop me!:mad:
Oh, wait...they are.:oops:
 

MrSoftware

Joined Oct 29, 2013
2,027
In the automotive industry, at least some of the "protectionism" built into the electronics is driven by the EPA. I'm involved with off road motorcycles and it has become common for bike manufacturers to sell 2 versions of the came exact bike. One is for closed-course operation only, the other is street legal. Mechanically they are identical, save for a few bolt-on emissions parts. Electrically they are also identical, EXCEPT for the software in the ECU. The street legal version has more emissions friendly settings to meet EPA requirements. Here's the catch. The bike manufactures sell tools that allow the end user to adjust the fuel and timing maps inside the ECU. These work fine on the off-road-only bikes, but the street legal bikes have "locked" ECU's where the end user cannot make adjustments. This is to guarantee that the bikes continue to meet EPA emissions requirements. The ECU on both bikes is physically identical, and it is technically possible for the dealer to "unlock" the ECU so that the end user can make adjustments to the fuel and timing maps for bikes that are converted to off-road-only status, but dealers face a whopper of an EPA fine if they're caught doing it for bikes that are still street legal so most won't touch it. Anyway, this locking of the electronics is clearly driven by fear of the EPA, and I'm sure this is similar in the car and truck market.

As for the lack of "good" repair guys; I think that's entirely driven by the pay scale. Around here (S. Florida) repair guys aren't paid a whole lot, and as a result the odds of the Sears repair guy being an experienced electrical engineer are extremely slim. If they start paying $150k/yr for a repair guy, then I think the quality of the pool of candidates for the job would improve greatly. But then a house visit would be $500 instead of $100 and no one would pay that.. we're victims of our own frugalness!
 

#12

Joined Nov 30, 2010
18,223
I think it's straight, "rip-off" tactics. I went to the Dealership to see about the price for a car battery. They wanted to charge me $90 to have a computer tell me the old battery had a bad cell, then offer to deduct the $90 diagnostic fee from the price of the battery which I could buy for $87 right down the street. Needless to say, I didn't pay them to tell me what I already knew.

On another occasion, I walked in and said something about, "All you have to do is check the stored values for injector timing" and the Service Manager said, "Duh".

WTF? You want to charge me for a computer diagnosis that you don't know how to read?

Yes.

Even a Dealership that has been in business since before I moved here in 1970 doesn't have the skills to read the computer screen.
They have had at least 50 years to learn how to use the tools!!!
All those, "Certified" mechanics standing around charging for diagnostic programs they don't know how to read in order to charge me extra for, "I don't know".:mad:

If you can't read the f'n computer, don't tack on some extra hundred dollar charges for it!!!

Enter Forscan. A free download to check your Ford with your own PC.
It can't do everything, but it can get you out of 90+ percent of Ford diagnostic problems, and it's operated by a person who will bother to look up what the readouts mean... yourself.
 

MrAl

Joined Jun 17, 2014
8,868
Hi,

My 'theory' is what i call the "Grandfather-Father-Son" business degrading ethics evolution.

The Grandfather starts the business, and wants people to get quality for the price they pay. The Grandfather gets old, the Father takes over. The Father has less basic values than the Grandfather did, so the business ethics degrade. The Father then gets old, the Son takes over. The Son has exponentially decreasing values than the Father, so the business ethics degrade once again.
Viewing this process directly from the Grandfather to the Son, we see a marked decrease in the business ethics and quality, and of course always a price increase.
So as time goes on, we always get less for more money.

Of course this isnt just about related partners. It's about any business that hands the keys down to any younger manager. The younger manager somehow always has less appreciation for the original goals of the business.

We're probably in the third or fourth generation of this progression now, and new generations are trying to spring up.

On the issue of repairs, i used to fix all kinds of stuff and still do sometimes, but some things are just too hard to repair. Even the Arduino Due board with the Arm chip, trying to replace the Arm chip can be very hard to do with all the pins, and the new chip isnt that cheap anyway. That's partly due to part sales that sell large quantities much cheaper. Companies that manufacture boards can get chips for 1/2 price or less just because they buy thousands at a time. So whoever sells the parts has something to do with this already. They are automatically giving a break to the larger manufacturer which automatically makes it harder for the little guy.

It's like we are fighting for our 'independence' all over again.
 

#12

Joined Nov 30, 2010
18,223
My 'theory' is what i call the "Grandfather-Father-Son" business degrading ethics evolution.
My back yard neighbor is the owner of his father's auto repair business. I hired him to replace a fuel pump. When he got done, he cut the catalytic converter open to look inside it and failed to weld it back shut with his coat hanger welding skills.

I didn't hire him to destroy my catalytic converter! I didn't even hire him to diagnose it. I just wanted a fuel pump.:mad:

That was the first, last, and only job I hired him for.
 

wayneh

Joined Sep 9, 2010
17,166
I think he's too stupid for that, but it doesn't matter to me. State Inspections stopped a long time ago. That car died a long time ago.
His reputation lives on.
I'm with Max. I bet he stole your platinum knowing that you would not likely ever find out by failing an inspection. Even stupid people understand getting something by stealing it.
 

takao21203

Joined Apr 28, 2012
3,702
I've often thought a lot of value could be generated by having otherwise-idle people (prisoners, for instance, but also the chronically unemployed) learn to fix the stuff that's on its way to the dump for lack of a simple fix. It's a fact of life that a lot of "good stuff" will be thrown out by people too busy, rich or stupid to make those simple fixes. But it's also a fact that one man's trash is another's treasure.

The internet and sites like E-Bay and Craigslist have gone a long way to repurpose used junk. I think much more could be done at the local level. Put the idle to work. Give them useful training, a sense of purpose, and a share of the profits. It would start with a team that goes around in front of the trash trucks, to grab potential projects before the scrappers get there.
There is wrong understanding here.
There is no training how to repair or how to sell.

You need both talent and hard work to be able to do it and then youll find the lessons laughable.

Since even in a larger city with 1/2 million people there is not so much to repair, you almost need full international exposure to make a few 1000$ just in sales per month.

Oh I forget hourly wage that will be paid to unemployed straight away?

Reality is when you start to work from welfare, you will have less than welfare while you are working. Having some entitlements on paper doesnt mean they willl let people have them.

The gap between full unemployment on benefits and earning enough to pay rent and be fully independent is quite hudge. About 1:5 or so.
 

Tonyr1084

Joined Sep 24, 2015
6,866
The street legal version has more emissions friendly settings to meet EPA requirements. Here's the catch. The bike manufactures sell tools that allow the end user to adjust the fuel and timing maps inside the ECU. These work fine on the off-road-only bikes, but the street legal bikes have "locked" ECU's where the end user cannot make adjustments. This is to guarantee that the bikes continue to meet EPA emissions requirements.
While I don't know about bikes vs. racing bikes, I DO know there are after market kits you can buy and install on your - oh, lets look at diesel pickup trucks. When you see a truck (Dodge, Ford, Chevy - or any other diesel) belching black smoke out of the exhaust chances are good they've installed a "Tuner" (actually a DE-tuner) to gain more power. They dump more fuel through the system creating more power. The EXACT nature of how they work - I don't know. I DO know that the black smoke is unburnt fuel. And yes, they DO make more power, and spew more particulates into the air. Aside from the "Bike" example, yes, they DO make de-tuners that allow you to dial up the power at the cost of the environment. I wish they had legislation against such in my state (Utah), but it appears that IF they have it they don't enforce it.

The Grandfather starts the business, and wants people to get quality for the price they pay. The Grandfather gets old, the Father takes over. The Father has less basic values than the Grandfather did, so the business ethics degrade. The Father then gets old, the Son takes over. The Son has exponentially decreasing values than the Father, so the business ethics degrade once again.
Viewing this process directly from the Grandfather to the Son, we see a marked decrease in the business ethics and quality, and of course always a price increase.
So as time goes on, we always get less for more money.
The "G-father, Father, Son" example is best pointed out in Disney Land. I remember going there while Walt Disney was owner / operator of the park. It was a fun place to go, a bit expensive, but nothing like it is today. And the prices have skyrocketed. OK, over time the costs DO go up, but it appears the prices have outpaced inflation greatly.

I don't know what the G-father example has to do with this post - but there it is.

The "RIGHT" to repair? or the "ABILITY" to repair?! Ours is a "Throw-away" society. What a shame. Though, I will agree there are times when it's cheaper to toss something than to fix it; still, I enjoy the challenge of fixing something, even if it costs more time and capital than replacing it. More fun in MAKING something work again over BUYING new. Blah!
 
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