More hardware hacking

One of the joys of this house is that the appliances are all more than 15 years old. That used to not be a problem, but appliances being what they are these days, it means that they’re starting to be just a little bit tempermental.

The oven part of the range failed before – the element went in a most sparkly and disturbing way. Thankfully that didn’t fry anything else, especially the controller. At the time I thought that the controller was an expensive part, probably about half as expensive as just replacing the whole range. But the only part required was the element, and it’s easily and cheaply available.

This morning, part of the controller broke. The up arrow button just didn’t trigger. Timer, useless. Temperature on the oven – good for less than 350.

So, I pulled it apart, looking for obvious signs of failure and a part number. There were many numbers on the part, but none of the turned up the right part on the google. Thankfully, the failure was obvious, and it was just the little plastic piece that connects the membrane to the button on the curcuit board. Just. The plastic button is part of a frame with all the other buttons, and that is part of the clock module. Which is only available (if that’s the word) as a unit from the factory. Which has stopped making them. In the day, they were about $300, maybe a little less than I had estimated a few years back. So, now, this bit of plastic is essentially the value of a new range.

This button presser is currently glued back into place along the hinge line to the frame. I’m skeptical about the long term durability here, since glue on a flex line is kind of iffy. But if that fails, there are other things that could do the job. A 3d printed piece might be able to snap into the hole that’s left, provide some springiness, and a post to press the button. It might even be an upgrade.

Someday, when parts like this go out of production, I hope that the 3d models will be vailable, so that people can print their own. It might take a good bit of time to do the whole face plate, but it wouldn’t be that bad. Materials might be tricky – this feels like ABS, not the standard thermoplastic. But that’s a detail. An individual button would be way faster, and probably just as effective.

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