2021 International Repair Day

2021 International Repair Day logo
As a means of promoting the repair industry Ecotech Services is once again offering free repairs or evaluation to a wide range of faulty electrical, electronic and computer equipment on the 2021 International Repair Day.

The event will be held at our premises on Saturday the 16th of October between 8:30am and 5:00pm at 139A Wordsworth St in Sydenham, Christchurch.

The free repair offer does not include any parts that may be needed and if time is limited the repairs may not be completed. The repairs will be carried out by experienced technicians and where needed will be carried out by registered electrical workers.

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Recycling and life cycle analysis

I sent this reply to an email that we received from one of our customers.  Thought I would share it because there is a lot of good info here.

. . .
Some of the answers to your questions are on our recycling processes page.

At this stage the countries that Ecotech Services is directly involved with in is only Australia.  Our downstream recyclers would be sending processed e-waste to a number of countries.  Note that exporting e-waste is covered by the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal as well as a few other international agreements.  The countries that our downstream recyclers export to is documented on the EPA website.

We use reputable, well established organisations for downstream recycling and we expect that they comply with relevant legislation.  I have anecdotal evidence from about fifteen years ago that e-waste was likely to have been exported illegally.  I recently asked for auditing and compliance information from our downstream recyclers and the information was either not available or not forthcoming.

To answer your question as to where it all ends up is difficult to answer since the reverse supply chains for recycled materials is probably as long as those for the initial manufacturing of the items.  

The items we receive are either refurbished, stripped for parts, or stripped of recyclable material.  Items and recovered material are then sold with the waste going to landfill.

At present we do not have any external auditing of our processes.  It is too expensive, not required, and takes time and finances away for the actual task of minimising the environmental impact of e-waste.  See our  auditing and certification pages.

It is impossible to give a definitive and quantitative answer to your question.  To give an answer even approaching a worthwhile analysis would mean that we would have to either have a volume of e-waste that is simply not available to us at present (or indeed the whole industry) or we would have to charge our customers a ridiculously high price to recycle the e-waste

As you can see from the matters described above you simply cannot do an accurate full lifecycle analysis of your equipment.  In my opinion doing a full lifecycle analysis of e-waste in New Zealand at present is not a worthwhile exercise.

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St Martins Cubs learn about e-waste

Ecotech Services occasionally gives equipment to groups and individuals to dismantle to foster education about technology and the environment.  We recently gave some equipment to the St Martins Scout group.  Here is a report and photo from Alex Head, the St Martins Scout Group Cub Leader.

The St Martins Cubs group were excited to learn about electronics while disassembling electrical goods including speakers, computers, DVD drives and more. The cub group comprised of 50 children aged between 8-11 years of age, who over two separate nights, took apart and sorted the electronics and computers into five different components, cables, circuit boards, plastics and non ferrous and ferrous metals.

The children, under supervision by the St Martins Cub leaders loved the challenge of discovery, working together in their Sixers groups, they solved the puzzle of how to undo and take apart the goods, and delighted in the exploration of circuits boards and the gold and silver within.

The educational aspects included learning about the different metals, ferrous and non ferrous, where circuit boards go to be recycled and understanding the role we can all play in environmental protection by correctly repairing or repurposing and disposing of electrical goods.

Special thanks to Ecotech Services who provided over 50 broken electrical goods, enough for one item per child, and educated the Scout leaders to make this possible. I learned a lot and we certainly hope to be able to assist in future to help prevent many of these components from ending up as landfill.

Sorted items ready for dismantling.

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Television repairs

Due to the difficulties that are often encountered Ecotech Services no longer offers to repair televisions, with the exception of those that have a CRT display.

The difficulties are due to a number of factors including expensive or unavailable spare parts, delays in getting spare parts from abroad, the proliferation of cheap second hand units, and the high incidence of the commercially uneconomical repairs to units with backlight failures.

We still offer our television recycling service and still sell refurbished ones.

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Too far gone

I couldn’t save this calculator. It was too far gone!

The leaky battery corroded a lot of the PCB tracks.

Scrapped.

RIP.

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Conductive glue

Some manufacturers are just not learning from past manufacturing mistakes.  Or they just don’t care about how long the stuff they make will last.

One of the faults with some electronic equipment is a glue used in manufacturing that becomes conductive with age (or age and heat).  I first found out about it back in the 1990s when I was repairing CRT computer monitors at Phillips Electronics.  It caused all sorts of faults.

Fast forward to the 2020s and there is still problems with conductive glue.  Here is the insides of a Digistar DS-612T set top box.

Inside view of the Digistar DS-612T set top box showing the conductive glue.

Glenn is testing the faulty set top box.

The unit appeared dead but it eventually produced a display but that was about all.  There is conductive glue in the power supply and around a logic ic.  We got readings as low as about 1.5MΩ which will cause problems in any high impedance circuits.

We had to scrap the unit.  What a waste.

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Handy reference chart for plug pinouts

<humour>

This is a reference chart for plug pinouts.

A diagram showing giving humerous labels to some electronics connectors.

Save this image for future reference.
Image: xkcd

We can rely on xkcd to give us some good, reliable information.

</humour>

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A costly calculator repair

This MS-7LA calculator came in for recycling last year. It did not power on.

Casio MS-7LA
It is the holidays at present so I thought I would do some holiday hobby work (repairing things is one of my hobbies).

I undid the three screws on the back of the calculator and the back cover come off fairly easily. The leaky battery was easy to spot. I cleaned the circuit board and put in a new battery. Still no go!  On closer inspection the circuit board pad looked a bit tarnished. I then spotted the completely corroded PCB track that would have been where the interface between the anode and cathode of the leaky battery was positioned.

I removed the battery clip, cleaned the anode terminal, and added a wire link (the blue wire in the photo below) to fix the corroded track.

Inside view of the Casio MS-7LA With the battery back in the calculator was back in operation.

That all took me about 20 minutes.  At our current labour rates that would have cost a customer $26 for the labour alone and at our current minimum repair fee cost it would have been $35.  The battery costs $3.25 or $5.00 for one of good quality.

You can buy a roughly equivalent calculator of a well known brand for less than $4.00.  The current Casio equivalent sells for $20 but I can probably only get $5 for the one that I repaired.

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A waste of time

These brand new mains cables came in for recycling.

A collection of new power cables, some bagged and with test and tag labels.

Not only was it a waste of time test and tagging brand new cables but they ended up with us for recycling.

We get hundreds of these cables both new and second hand.

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Electrical tape and extension cords

This cable came in as part of a whole bunch of other stuff from an IT company.

Not sure why someone would want to make one of these.  A mains plug to IEC connector cable is pretty easy to get hold of.  We get them as new and used by the millions – well lots anyway.

The taped up joint is a bit dodgy!  The Electricity (Safety) Regulations 2010 says that cables are unsafe if they “are inadequately protected against the risk of damage by the nature of their covering or their method of installation”.  The AS/NZS 3760 In-service safety inspection and testing of electrical equipment standard says that tape should not be used, and I would agree on that point.

The wires were soldered and heatshrinked under the tape so it is not as bad as some of the others that I have seen.

 

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