Planned Obsolescence: A Practical Example

Planned Obsolescence: A Practical Example

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Preventing users from changing batteries means increasingplanned obsolescence. Here's how to replace them in a drill and extend its life.

Planned obsolescence it also means inserting barriers, by companies, to ordinary maintenance. And designing objects to make it difficult if not impossible to change batteries is one of them. Yet it is not complicated to do this. There are batteries that are standard and you just need to design an opening in the chassis of the device and you can change the battery. And that's no small thing, given the batteries last between three and five years, if all goes well and the objects even double. And changing the batteries that cause planned obsolescence is not complicated.

If you are really lacking any repair techniques, the first thing to do is go to the FixIt site where there are tens of thousands of tutorials to repair anything. The site is important to first check the difficulty of the operation, to check the tools we need and any spare parts. Good today I want to show you how to change the batteries in a drill, to reduce our rate of planned obsolescence. The drill in question is an old example from 1994 that was lying in a drawer, together with others, for over a decade precisely because of the batteries running out and the impossibility of replacing them easily.

But before leaving here is the list of necessary tools:

  • a medium-sized Phillips screwdriver
  • a medium-sized flat screwdriver
  • a tester for electrical checks
  • a small soldering iron with solder tin
  • three spare batteries
  • a small bowl to put the screws
  • thin electric wire to connect the batteries
  • a white cloth to spread on the table so as not to damage it and find pieces that could fall on the fly

Ready to defeat planned obsolescence

Well at this point you are ready. The first thing to do is to measure the operation of the power supply for recharging the batteries with the tester. This is necessary because if the power supply is broken it is not possible to recharge the batteries and check the operation of the drill. Insert the power supply into the socket and check the presence of voltage at the end of the plug with the two test leads. It is not important to find the right polarity, in the limit the instrument will return a negative reading. Is there power? Well if there is, you can continue.

If it is not there, you will need to equip yourself with a working power supply, perhaps coming from another device. But beware the pin may be different. You have no idea how much the imagination of electrical appliance manufacturers has been wild make the power supplies incompatible between different devices and also include planned obsolescence on this. To the point that it took a European directive to "force" smartphone manufacturers to use the same 5-volt power supply for everyone with the mini USB socket.

There are economic power supplies on the market, to charge the batteries of a drill you do not need a sophisticated power supply, with multiple plugs and adjustable voltage. Or you can "transplant" the plug of the faulty power supply to the one that works. Important if you do this four things:

  • the first is to check whether the power supply supplies direct or alternating current;
  • the second is, in the case of direct current, determine the polarities
  • the third is to understand the voltage, ie the voltage
  • the fourth is to know the amperage, ie the current intensity

Without wishing to go into detail, know that the first, second and third questions are essential and binding while the fourth thing can vary by 20-30%.

To explain us. If on the power supply we find the abbreviations, as in my case, Vc 3.6V 300 mA: Vc stands for direct current, 3.6 volts, 300 milliAmpere. The first two values ​​are binding while the third can vary between 200-400 mA and there will be no damage problems, you will simply have a battery recharge a little slower, or faster. My power supply worked without problems. I didn't have to replace it. Good one less waste and a few euros saved. The fight against planned obsolescence and zero waste go hand in hand. Always.

Open the drill

At this point you have to open the drill, in our case there were 6 screws simple enough to find, fortunately, which did not resist. The only thing to pay attention to is to place the device in a stable manner so as not to lose pieces when opening. Keep in mind that always due to planned obsolescence, objects are increasingly made to be assembled and not disassembled, because maintenance / repair is less and less provided. An example of this lies in the fact that more and more objects are assembled with glue, rather than with the classic and good screws. And if the object does not open after unscrewing all the visible screws, it means that there are some hidden. Often they are under labels or rubber pads, search carefully and check on FixIt or Google, perhaps in English with a phrase such as "repair name and initials of the object". For sure someone in the world has already faced the problem of the repair of your object. Personally I found in the web forums, especially the Anglo-Saxon ones, the instructions for repairing a couple of very little used professional microphones and an intercontinental radio from 1984. The community of self-repairing objects is much more widespread than is believed.

Once the drill is open, take a photo with your smartphone of what the interior looks like. This is the best way to remember how the internal components are arranged. It will come in handy for assembly once the repair is finished. Now identify the wires leading to the batteries, they are usually red for positive and black for negative - but if they are different, memorize their polarity - and unsolder them from the batteries with the soldering iron. If they are mechanically attached, cut the wire as close to the batteries as possible.

Replacement of batteries

Once the batteries have been removed, it is time to think about the replacement, first of all check the data on the batteries, or if there is only the abbreviation, use Google to find them. In the case of the drill, the data was directly on the casing: 1.2 Volts, 1.200 mA. This is excellent news. The voltage and amperage are quite common. The problem is having the tabs for soldering to each other these batteries are considered "professional" and have a high price of around 3 euros each. Now 9 euros to bring a drill back to life are still not a high expense, but with a little electrical knowledge you can save and improve. Let's see how. Normal AA batteries have a voltage of 1.2 Volts, what we need, and often a much higher amperage, all at a lower cost. On the market, in fact, there are 1.2 Volt, 2,400 mA AA batteries at a price of 1.6 euros each, 4.8 euros for all three. Half the cost and double the capacity, which means working 100% more on the same charge. Good. Then the only thing to do is to check if there is the physical space to contain them as, in my case, rechargeable AA batteries are thinner and longer. Having checked that they fit, we are ready to proceed.

These batteries were arranged in series, that is the positive pole, joined to the negative pole and so on until you get two opposite poles in and out, as if it were a single battery. With this configuration, the voltage adds up to 1.2 V by 3 equal to 3.6 V and the amperage remains the same 2,400 mA which is double the original ones. The only question is the absence of the tabs for soldering the batteries which, however, are easy to replace. In fact, it is sufficient to weld directly on the battery after removing a little of the chrome plating that is on the poles with sandpaper, revealing a little of the underlying copper. Copper and tin bond which is a marvel. Once this is done, you can proceed to join the batteries with small pieces of electric wire, perhaps extracted from an old faulty power supply, with a small section instead of the tabs.

And so even a few centimeters of electric wire are recycled. Once this is done, you can weld the new battery pack to the drill, house the batteries in their place, perhaps taping them together to prevent them from moving inside, since they have different dimensions, and close the drill. Pay attention to how the screws are tightened.

Turn them all until they start resisting and at this point try the drill. In fact, rechargeable batteries are usually sold already charged and this allows you to try everything. So go, press the button and if everything is okay your drill will be back to life. At this point, make the final tightening of the screws. Without exaggerating, however, so as not to risk breaking the plastic. And then you can put everything on charge and work after a few hours.

One last note. If the capacity is greater it will take longer to recharge, since the power supply is the original one. Usually, however, one night of charging is more than enough to allow you to work at full capacity for over an hour and maybe even two. With the awareness of having beaten, once again theplanned obsolescence.

Another small note, really the last this time. My drill had the words "Made in USA" in the corner, proof that it really belonged to another era since the same company now produces everything in China. In short, in addition to beating with your own handsplanned obsolescence, even pieces of history can be “saved”. Today I screw the screws looking at my revived drill with a different eye.

Planned obsolescence: the complete video tutorial by Sergio Ferraris with all the steps just described to bring a drill back to life

PS: in your operations use reuse materials as much as possible, electric wire, foam rubber, etc., but dispose of the old batteries properly. That is, in the appropriate containers.

Curated by Sergio Ferraris

Video: Planned Obsolescence. Quick Bites (August 2022).