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Cheap Plastic Scale: No Serviceable Parts

Posted By Beth Terry On March 22, 2010 @ 9:39 am In Electronics,Fixing things | 28 Comments

Thinner digital scale“No Serviceable Parts.” That’s what is says on the back of my digital scale. The one I use to measure ingredients for my homemade cat food [1]. The one I use to measure the weight of my collected plastic [2] each month. So, when it broke, it wasn’t like I could just do without it. And I didn’t really want to find a used scale because I wasn’t sure a used one would measure precisely enough. Plus, I couldn’t find one on Craigslist or Freecycle.

Thinner digital scale

But first, I did everything I could to figure out how to get it repaired instead of running out and automatically buying a new one. First I called the company from which I bought the scale. I won’t tell you which company it was, because it’s a small business that doesn’t even sell scales anymore. When I called, I got the actual owner who said something like, “These freaking environmentalists have really done a snow job on you. There is absolutely no problem with tossing this thing in the landfill.”


So I tried to find the company that makes Thinner digital scales. Unfortunately, they had sold that portion of the business to Conair, which doesn’t make these scales anymore. No luck there.

Undaunted, I used Craigslist to try and find someone to fix it. Wouldn’t it be great, I thought, if someone could actually repair this scale with “No Serviceable Parts.” This piece of electronic equipment, like so many of our electronics these days, that is meant to be simply thrown away instead of fixed.

And I DID find a guy who thought he could fix it! Chuck Cotner took it home with him and worked diligently on it. In fact, he wrote me a comprehensive explanation of all the steps he took to test it and repair it. He also made a valiant effort to contact Conair for help, to no avail. I don’t understand most of what he wrote. Maybe you do.

battery’s good, mechanics (transducer – “strain gage” – assembly) is intact, and signal exists on the properly-connected wiring. Inquiry about controller, with putative “inheritor” (NOT Conair) yields no response yet.

And then,

Efforts @ refurb’ing the controller have changed the response but not reversed the failure, & componentry is sandwiched under/over ea other on the assembly. Controller replacement is dictated – I’ve been angling for response fm Measurement-ltd.com, who, according to our mfg. has taken over the line; all efforts @ contact (email, phone) have been unproductive thus far . .


I’ve taken maintenance-type efforts (cleaning) one layer beyond my last description – down to the epoxy-encapsulated controller ASIC (special-purpose integrated circuit), with no further change in behavior – power-on 1st lights up all display segments, then apparently “tares”, yet is unresponsive to any weight applied, finally shuts off after a few sec. This with NO appreciable drop (20 mV – display test) in battery voltage. (‘scuze me fer talkin’ tech . . )

My phone efforts have just led back to Conair/Cuisinart, where I am given nothing of substance (one staffer offered only to take my contact for “someone” to get back to me) . .

So, despite the admirability of your (our?) motives, I don’t see getting this functional again.

So that’s it. I didn’t think I could go much further, so after getting it back from Chuck (all put back together nicely but still not working) I took it apart again myself and put the plastic pieces into my plastic collection for March.

Thinner digital scale

The screws I can reuse. No sure what to do with the battery since apparently it’s still good. Or the board and metal pieces. I’ll have to figure it out.

And so I bought a new scale. Perhaps it can be repaired if/when it breaks. I do know that the battery, at least, can be replaced. This one is an Escali. And I chose it, in part, because it had the least plastic package. And the top is stainless steel.

Escali digital scale

Just another example of a product meant to be wasted. It’s the Story of Stuff [3], isn’t it?

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URL to article: http://myplasticfreelife.com/2010/03/cheap-plastic-scale-no-serviceable-parts/

URLs in this post:

[1] homemade cat food: http://myplasticfreelife.com/2008/10/less-impact-cats-eat-homemade-food/

[2] collected plastic: http://myplasticfreelife.com/category/beths-weeklymonthly-plastic-tallies/monthly-results-2010/

[3] Story of Stuff: http://www.storyofstuff.com

[4] Image: https://plus.google.com/+BethTerry

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