Thursday, November 24, 2005

"Pepsi™ Syndrome" Hits Home 

These new-fangled machines often confuse me. It took me six months to accept the idea of using the self-service bar-code scanners at the grocery store. Sometimes, the machines just get away from me altogether.
I gave my wife a combo TV/VCR unit for her birthday back in the mid-90's. It went into the master bedroom, where it functions as our alarm clock, as well as normal TV uses. Over the last 5-6 years, the remote control has become increasingly obstinate. We gradually developed special techniques to get the "timer set" and "menu" keys to operate. I took it apart at least once to see what could be done, and even thought of patching in some microswitches to bypass the critical keys. It has a molded rubber membrane keyboard with carbon buttons on the back, which contact carbon-like pads on the circuit board to close the key switches. The all-important "mute" button finally flexed the membrane once too often and fell out. I tried at least two programmable third-party remotes, with limited success.
Tonight, which is Thanksgiving in the U.S., I finally got desperate enough to open it up again, determined to try to patch in microswitches. When I pulled the rubber key membrane off the circuit board, I noticed resistance, and the kind of sound one hears when pulling adhesive tape off a surface. On closer inspection, I found a clear, syrupy goo spread over much of the circuitry, probably the remains of a forgotten 6-year-old soft drink spill. Needless to say, after scrubbing the mess out with soap and ethanol gel, all of the extant keys work like new. Anybody else need anything fixed...eventually?
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