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Servicemans Log

There is a famous line in the "Yes Minister" series where Sir Humphrey is attempting to block the minister's latest scheme. "But minister", he vehemently protests, "I foresee all sorts of unforeseen consequences".

Items Covered This Month

• Ill-thought e-waste legislation

• Another Porsche CDI

• Faulty Holden VP ABS sensor

• Shorted HT rotor

• Automotive LED lighting

Actually, it’s a bit like that with the recent decision by some local councils in my area to start charging hefty fees for electronic waste disposal. We all know that e-waste is a problem and we all want to deal with it responsibly. But the decision by our local council to charge $40 an item from January to dump e-waste into landfill is going to have unforeseen consequences.

Click for larger image

First, by charging such a high fee, it’s certain that the amount of dumping of e-waste by the roadside and in pristine places like national parks will become an epidemic. Imagine the cost of cleaning up sets that are dumped in this manner.

Instead of charging at the end of a product’s life, a better approach would be a prepaid disposal tax when the item is purchased new. You would then get a rebate if you do the right thing when it comes to that product’s eventual disposal, somewhat similar to the recycling of soft-drink bottles in South Australia.

The second problem is that repairers will be less likely to take on equipment for repair. Having an electronic item repaired slows down the process to landfill, so repairers should have dispensation in disposing of e-waste. In our case, it will force us to insist on an up-front fee for a quote. That way, we are at least compensated for the disposal fee if the set is subsequently dumped on us if the quote isn’t accepted.

In fact, it’s quite common for customers to simply dump a set on the repairer in this way.

We also often get calls from people trying to sell us late-model LCDs with smashed screens for spare parts. We would be prepared to do this if it wasn’t for the fact that the lifespan of a particular model is very short. Having a good stock of modules is fraught with difficulty unless you specialise in a particular brand and model.

Unless the government acts fast, many independent service centres will simply cease operation and many people will refuse to dispose of e-waste responsibly.

Another Porsche CDI

As repairs to TV sets dry up to a mere trickle, we have had to turn our hand to repairing other types of electronic equipment. And as often as not, that now involves repairs to car electronics.

Back in May, I described how I repaired a Bosch CDI for a Porsche. At the time, I cursed at having to trace out the circuit diagram from the PC board – a task that took far too long to make the job profitable.

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