FAQ - Micro-controllers and micro-electronics

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Richard Hull
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FAQ - Micro-controllers and micro-electronics

Post by Richard Hull » Mon Nov 21, 2016 8:48 pm

Micro-controllers and micro electronics are taking over the world. Get used to it. This new electronics is a beautiful, gold plated, double-edge sword that cuts both ways.

The Good – Micro-controlled, micro-electronics can reduce the size, weight and cost of the same functioning electronics of yesteryear by as much a 3 or more orders of magnitude in some super mass produced items. These items can do more things, offer more versatility and connectability to our computerized society. In many cases, new items never dreamed of can only be delivered or realized via micro-controllers and associated micro-electronics.

Manufacturers can reduce production costs on mass produced electronics and pass this on to the customers.

The Bad – Manufacturers of specialized, very limited production and sales electronics can use microelectronics and micro-contolled items for all the reasons stated above. However, huge development costs and limited production force them to make their wonderous, modern masterpieces very, very expensive. (As they always have been)

Micro-controlled items are, by their very nature vastly complex and about 99% can not be serviced, saved via entire electronic board replacement, (99.99% of the throw away board components are 100% good and functional. (Boards are very expensive due to waste)

The Ugly- Those in need of service must send their defective item to the original factory or an authorized repair station. The cost of repairs, (usually very costly), must be weighed against the purchase of a complete replacement unit which might now be less expensive with its new warrantee and possible newer features included in the newest units.

There are no “shade tree mechanic” repairs possible to virtually even the most advanced electronics guru as the components are microscopic and effective troubleshooting is just not possible without a service manual, if one exists or is even obtainable. The exception is the larger power handling semiconductors contained within these devices. These can be replaced by an adroit hand with troubleshooting skills.

The result for the Fusioneer……..

In an experimental electrical-electronic environment, especially one with high voltages and pulse currents, ESD and EMD can kill hyper-sensitive modern electronics. Some manufacturers design for this possiblity, but it is ultimately the end user's job to make sure such delicate systems are protected.

Buying modern electronics, be it an instrument, a power supply or transducer, can be a major decision. Buying new is great if you can afford it as the manufacturer will stand by his product with a warrantee of some sort that will be honored.

The sticking point is buying used or surplus, relatively new electronics. Will the seller back his product? If he will not, do not buy! “Sold as is” is another word for it is broken.
“Unable to test, sold as is” is another code word for broken, not functional.

You need to realize that many of the bells and whistles in the newer micro-controlled electronics will block any attempt to bypass such control by the knowledgeable home electronics hacker. This is often by design! A design often crafted from the “get-go”, to keep out hackers, work-a-rounds and copy-cat manufacturers.

In short, buying the latest electronics, new or used, will most likely mean no path to self-repair and return to functionality of the defective device.

Older electronics in bulky gear from the 1950’s to the late 1980’s might be very repairable, given a good trouble shooting effort. I am not saying older is better. I am saying buying older might be better.

Buyer beware!

Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
Retired now...Doing only what I want and not what I should...every day is a saturday.

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