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Rich Warren | The old can become new again | Scientific technology


Correct rather than give up.

Allow your old gear to refill your life rather than land in a fill.

The friendly employees of Mack’s Twin City Recycling, 2808 N. Lincoln Ave., U, will recycle most electronics, except televisions and monitors.

If you can’t wait for “official” city or county recycling events, Mack’s will take the load off you.

However, that is not the point of this column, which is to help you avoid recycling.

Granted, a lot of people accumulate a lot of junk that will never produce sound again, let alone spin a CD or LP.

Much of the equipment in your basement or garage may be destined for Mack’s.

Then again, that beloved tube amplifier or turntable could continue to provide you with years of enjoyment.

Maybe that stationary turntable just needs a belt or a new capacitor.

Recently, I visited the backstage service bench at Good Vibes in Champaign, warmly hosted by Carl Stanford, who has been resurrecting electronics for Good Vibes since 1984.

All the latest diagnostic and repair equipment filled the space, along with dozens of electronics awaiting his skills.

I have spied on old classic tube amplifiers and newer solid-state equipment as well as turntables, CD players, and cassette decks.

Basically, if Stanford can get the parts, or improvise a part, they can fix almost any piece of equipment.

He enjoys his job as Sherlock Holmes solving a case.

Likewise, Bill Hayden of Glenn Poor’s TV Service, 609 W. Springfield Ave., U, is reviving precious electronics and even contemporary televisions. He repaired my precious Technics SP-15 turntable several years ago, and it still runs like new.

Modern televisions consist of a few modules or circuit boards.

When you pay $ 1,000 for a television, most of the investment is in the display (screen).

The rest of the electronics costs $ 50 to $ 250 for each module or circuit board. Diagnosing the problem requires skill; the rest is just to order a new board and bolt it on.

This is not to minimize the skills sometimes required to remove and replace a failed card.

Manufacturers place electronics tightly behind the screen to maintain the slim profile of LCD and OLED TVs.

Infuriatingly, manufacturers only stock spare parts for a limited number of years, with the minimum being three years.

Gone are the days of base transistors, capacitors and resistors or even series integrated circuits. Exclusive parts include most products.

In contrast, I recently replaced the generic heating element of a 20 year old GE stove.

For example, I own a number of Bose products. Most work for a long time. But once a unit fails, it’s destined for Mack’s.

I absolutely loved our Lifestyle music system with its built-in DVD / CD player. The player failed after about a decade. Bose no longer even sold a unit with a built-in player.

The company told me to buy a new unit and plug in an external drive. Except that the goal of the Lifestyle system was the elegance and ease of a

integrated monobloc system.

Even more frustrating was the ease of repairing the system, as removing the failed drive and installing a new one would have taken 15 minutes, assuming Bose was stocking new, identical drives for repair.

We ended up buying a complete home theater system made up of separate, higher quality components.

Rich Warren, who lives in the

Champaign area, is a longtime consumer electronics critic. Email him at [email protected]

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