Brandt WTD8384SF

This washer-dryer from Brandt, made in France, can not really be recommended.

Already about 3 years ago, I had to open the beast to change the “courroie” that had fallen off, probably due to too high load.

Today, the coal brushes of the motors were gone. Which in itself is acceptable after about 6 years of heavy duty use. But what is not nice from the Brandt engineering team at all is to have hidden them on the other side of the motor in a way so that you have to unassembled the whole motor to change them. This is a true example of what French call “obsolescence programme”: Make a device so hard to repair that people are likely to not bother and just buy a new one. Can you imagine, just because of two coal brushes that are intended to not last for ever? I am angry with these engineers. This is not eco-friendly at all.

Good video on how to get the motor out and back in is here:

NAD 216 THX

My good old (I must have bought it in 1995 or so?) NAD 216 THX power amplifier had a strange problem for quite a while. When the balance was turned all the way to the right, the left speaker continued to play an audible signal. Not really what you’d expect from an “audiophile” Hi-Fi system of that price range.

Also, for a long time, I was thinking this whole combination of NAD216THX and NAD116 should really be completely remote-controllable from the Squeezebox Touch. The preamp can be put on standby already by the Squeezebox using the “IR blaster” solution, but not the power amp.

So…. loooong repair project started.

  1. Added a 5V relais to the power amps power switch circuit so that I can bridge it.
  2. Added plugs to both the preamp and poweramp mechanics.
  3. Identified the “green LED” signal on the preamp. And identified a place where I should be able to find 5V.
  4. Soldered a cable.
  5. Also… that “bridge mode” switch looked suspicious, it made bad contact and the LED was sometimes flickering. So… I removed it.

Then, I managed to find the problem with the crosstalk between the two channels. The fault was the protection chip TA7317P. Took me a while to identify it, but when I heard a dumb “click” when turning the poweramp off, my suspicion was awaken. Changed the chip, bingo! So here we are again, with the HiFi system ready for another decade hopefully.

The remote control isn’t quite finished yet, the 5V of the preamp isn’t sufficient to drive the relais board. So I’ll still have to solder a little power regulator. That’s a project for next month… hopefully !

This is where the “bridge mode” switch was.

Unfortunately, it was also when I realized that at 50y of age, I reallly needed a magnifying glass to solder even such relatively big contacts. Sigh.

DNS broken

When I started this blog, I decided to use the free DNS service by the guys from SecurePoint in Lueneburg.

However it suddently all stopped working. I contacted them and they said my IP address was identified for being a spam source. WTF.

So… I decided to spend a bit more money per year on a real domain name, now the site is under “loeffler.ovh”… Took just some time to migrate the f*ing docker containers and wordpress system to a new URL – really that is not straightforward as the whole proxy rewrite rules for the nginx didnt make it any longer. But now it should be OK again. Enjoy !

March 2020 – Siemens SN26T290EU/02 Dishwasher

My Dishwasher had strange issues for quite a while: Whenever I used the “VarioSpeed” function (to reduce the cleaning time from usually 2h20 to 1h30) while it cleaned very nicely, it was afterwards “blocked” with an error message E15 (which means “The dishwasher signals that water is in the floor tub.”) . After some googling, I found the recommendation to just tilt the whole machine by about 30deg to the side so as to empty the leaked water bassin in its bottom to the floor (and then to mop all that water up….) – or to wait for one or two days for it to dry. And indeed that worked.

So, this happened several times in the last 6 months. Then recently, things got worse, the differential fuse of the whole apartment triggered and left me in the black. This happened when the dishwasher started the cleaning phase after the initial (cold water) rinsing. And again … this happened after having used VarioSpeed.

So I first suspected that this might be some element of the electrical installation of the machine that got wet, maybe by water that leaked over the bassin?

Then yesterday it happened again, and when I then restarted the machine with a “reset” and launched a full program (after having tilted it and emptied the leaking water bassin) it did run the whole program – but this time the machine ended with “E:04” on the screen. And the dishes where all wet – and cold.

So now a new suspicion for the root cause emerged: The heating of the dishwasher must be involved.

Luckily, Bosch Siemens Hausgeräte (BSH) has an excellent website for spare parts. So using that website (after entering the model identifier) I found the explosive diagram of the machine and quickly was able to find the part number of the pump that heats the machine, the “Heizpumpe” (00654575). However, 134Eur for a pump? Come on guys. So…. typed the part number into amazon.de and found the same for 90 Eur. and with Amazon prime shipment two days later the part is delivered. Search for a Youtube video on how to replace it – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OekeUFFcIHg – and voila! Two days later, the piece is in the mailbox.

However, our friends at BSH have modified the pump design and in particular the connectors. Luckily the vendor on Amazon provides already a set of new adapter cables together with the pump. So, after certainly more than half an hour of cutting and recabling, I finally managed the put the new pump into the machine. And heurka, it’s cleaning and heating again. But…. it shows again Error 15 !

Stay tuned for the next episode 🙂

Turris MOX Wi-Fi Module

When I first heard about the Turris MOX project on IndieGogo I was immediately convinced this was the platform I wanted to have in my home. So I backed the Indiegogo campaign – back in 2018. Of course I had to go for the full fledged version with all types of extension modules you can think of. That old ASUS RT-N16 with Tomato firmware of mine should have its days counted.

Finally in Summer 2019 the device was shipped. But…. it didn’t really work well. In particular the WiFi 2.4 GHz module kept going on and off.

I then discovered the user forum. And that I was not at all the only person impacted by this bug. However, the team in the Czech republic seemed somehow overwhelmed by all the problems they had to solve, and were of little help. So I was thinking, heck, this is an open source router, I should be able to fix it on my own really.

Dismounted the device… and here is what I found (and how I was able to fix the hardware):

https://forum.turris.cz/t/sdio-wifi-card-is-causing-issues-to-sd-card/10675/7?u=dg1sek

May 2019 Repairs Log

Replaced the iRobot Roomba front wheel (which kept falling out of its mounting bracket) with a new one and cleaned the whole thing.

Replaced the pressure regulator in the Jura coffee machine that was leaking water and completely cleaned the machine.

Fixed the mechanism of jewelery chain.

Fixed a Yo-Yo.

Swapped the cylinder of the entrance door of the appartment.

Failed in swapping the battery of a Withings Activite Pop.

April 2019: Repairing Volkswagens Electronic Parking Brake

New cars come with lots of electronics. And of course an electronics engineer can’t just go to the mechanics workshop and have it repaired. So I spent some hours repairing the switch of the “electronic parking brake” that failed after a night in the rain. Interesting experience, documented here (sorry, in German) for others who forget to close their car’s roof 😉

https://www.sgaf.de/content/schalter-elektr-parkbremse-ausbauen-418244#comment-1132291

Looking back at 2018

Following the largely positive feedback I got on my “yearly update” email last year, I decided to repeat the exercise. But given I set up a new web presence meanwhile, I also decided to publish it here.

What has Siegfried done in 2018 … professionally?

One year ago I wrote in my “new years resolutions” that 2018 would be all about the transformation of Technicolor’s operating model with the then intended sale of the patent licensing operations. Here’s what happened. On 1st of March 2018 Technicolor announced that the patent licensing business was sold to Interdigital. It was also announced that, as part of this deal, we were entering a funded research cooperation agreement under which InterDigital Labs and Technicolor R&I Lab collaborate in the development of research programs in the areas of video coding, connected home and immersive technologies. We then spent most of the remainder of 2018 on filling that partnership with life. Lot’s of meetings, discussions, and mutual exploration between the two companies resulted in a great new project portfolio. At the MWC in Barcelona, some of the very first results are shown on the Interdigital booth (see this announcement). And now just a week ago we finally announced that Interdigital was also going to acquire the full R&I organisation of Technicolor. So much more change to come!

In 2018, I worked on connecting our research and innovation teams to the open innovation ecosystem around us via additional partnerships. As a German living in Paris, I am still amazed by all the creativity in the French Innovation ecosystem: There’s so much going on, in particular in the Paris and Rennes areas, where startups and public research are booming. It’s not only the startups, but also the whole innovation ecosystem around them that is extremely creative and fast moving.

For Technicolor R&I, we decided to join a consortium for building the first european AI platform: The AI4EU european research project is a huge consortium (79 partners!) to build a european platform for AI. This is so far the only major research initiative that the EU is funding in this domain which is so important for the future of european research, and is considered as ground layer for significant additional investments and developments of research&innovation are expected in the coming years. I’m eager to see how it will evolve. It was key to be part of the journey from the start.

AI is also definitely a key topic for innovations not only in the movie industry, where for example facial animation and natural language processing will in the future allow to provide translated versions of advertisements and movies where the correlation of lips/facial expressions and the translated speech will not look awkward any more. We also looked at AI in the field of connected home and even in manufacturing and operations management.

Besides that, for our industry, 2018 was the year that brought us the MLCC crisis. One year ago most of us didn’t know what an MLCC was (hint: it’s a multi-layer-ceramic-capacitor… you know these tiny black things that you find all over a PCB… costs almost nothing, but without them your circuit doesn’t work). in 2018 these made a big impact on the bottom line. Some big M&A happened around us too: Github was acquired by Microsoft, and Commscope bought Arris, the market leader in connected home just before Technicolor… 

… and beyond work ?

On the family side… our three girls are growing up fast, now 4, 6 and 8 years old. We were lucky to have two really nice vacation trips in 2018, first to Switzerland (Jaun) for one week of Ski, well, mainly one week of ski courses for the girls of course, then in summer one week of hiking in the southern alps near Briancon. We even did some real camping in a tent, which was a fun experience, with just the amount of rain required to make it authentic. 

I also could spend a bit more time on catching up with Technology.  I continued to develop my knowledge on IoT solutions. I learned how to use docker containers on embedded Linux devices, I integrated voice assistants into my connected home,  and I set up MQTT based solutions to interconnect all the wireless sensors and smart appliances, in particular some self-built lamps. It was both fun and amazing to see how much impact microservices architectures and containers have even on solutions that are really close to hardware and where you would not really have expected this. ( In my opinion, docker and kubernetes are major game changers to our industry, at least to the same extent as AI is. )

For some reason I (and honestly I still don’t understand them) 2018 was a year of stuff breaking. Therefore, 2018 was also a year in which I repaired a lot of things, which is really a great way to learn. Looking back and reflecting on the past year, I must say that it’s interesting to realise how many of the devices broke had a faulty battery charging logic/power supply issue: Kärcher Window cleaner, a Macbook, a Bosch Ixo screwdriver and an iRobot Roomba. Next time I will buy battery-free apparel whenever I can. But also many other things that broke down and which I could repair, like the Jura coffee machine (requires permanent babysitting), the oven, and the washing machine (which had lost its belt). Repairing so much of it wouldn’t have been possible without the amazing Aliexpress website, which provides solutions for even the strangest of spare part needs and for almost no money. Overall, a nice learning experience.

Besides repairing stuff, the new products and technologies I learned to master in 2018 ranged from small devices ( MQTT Sonoff switches and the ESP8266 platforms, Shelly smarthome, Google Assistant and Alexa, Raspberry Pi 3b plus and Pi Zero W, MotionEye ) over enabling mechanisms ( Docker, Kubernetes ) and communication solutions ( OpenVPN, OVH’s VPS platform, Nextcloud, iptables (sigh, that one is actually still painful)  and still waiting for the cool modular TurrisMOX modular open source router on which I am an early funder over Indiegogo ). Still ongoing is a project to control our (awful) electric heating system using OpenHAB and HomeAssistant, given that the Nest Thermostat we had in our own place can’t be used in such a decentralized deployment. I also decided that enough was enough and with Apple’s mobile phone prices exceeding 1000 Euro I really wanted to switch back to Android. 
Finally I also enjoyed doing some wood-work with the innovative Bosch AdvancedCut 50 nanoblade micro-chain-saw, which in my opinion should get a special award for the most “out of the box” innovation of 2018. I built a number of lamps in our apartment, including the long awaited electrification of some traditional lamps from Morocco that were thought to be equipped with candles than can now be switched on/off via voice control and presence detection 🙂

In December 2018, Technicolor moved offices. The new headquarter is now right in the middle of Paris, just next to “Hotel de Ville” and “Centre Pompidou”, in a prestigious building that has been completely transformed to adopt the needs of the company, in particular for it’s film, TV and advertisement production services businesses. The connected home team has moved to a dedicated site also in the heart of Paris. The nicest thing for me about this new office is to cross the center or Paris by foot in the morning: Walking through Cimetiere de Montparnasse, Luxembourg Gardens, Quartier Latin, Notre Dame and finally crossing the Seine river to arrive at Rue du Renard is almost like a “45 minute mini vacation” every morning. 

I will be happy to keep in touch with you in the coming months and would love to hear back from you on how you are doing.

Best regards,
Siegfried

NEW OFFICE ADDRESS: 8-10 Rue du Renard, 75004 Paris, France