Mon, 19 Apr 2010

Edgeless // at 14:00

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Another wonderful example of built-in obsolescence. My current GPS, a Garmin Edge 705 bought in January 2009 stopped working last Friday. As with most consumer electronics, it came with a 12 month warranty. As with a suspiciously large number of consumer electronics, it failed shortly after the warranty had expired.

  Product name: Edge® 705
  Registration date: Jan 20, 2009
  Serial number: 192078322
  Unit Id: 3510640141

The power switch had been getting more and more indeterminate over the last few months — but never enough to make me realise and send it off to Garmin for repair while it still had a warranty. Then on Friday it wouldn't turn on and it was obvious from the lack of resistance that the switch had vanished from under the rubber waterproof cap. I've read a few reports of the switches in the Edge 305s and 705s being prone to failure and it seems mine decided to join them. Pretty bloody annoying that I have a couple of almost ten year old $30 bike computers that still work, but a $600 GPS is built to fall apart in twelve months as soon as the warranty runs out.

Over the weekend I discovered a strange workaround that would let me continue to use the Edge; plugging in to the USB charger would turn it on, then disconnecting from the charger left it on so I could take it outside and use it. Plugging it in to the USB cable on the laptop also turning it on if it was off, or had no effect if it was already on, however, unplugging it from the laptop made it turn itself off!

Lunchtime today saw me hunting madly around for a sufficiently tiny torx driver, after ransacking all the repair kits we could find we ended using a tiny flat-blade jewellers screwdriver that fit perfectly.

Once the screws were undone and the back removed problem became obvious: Garmin Edge 705 with broken power switch - seems to be a common problem

The on/off switch and the four other switches are all mounted directly onto the circuit board, the solder connections also provide the physical strength to hold them on. Switching it on and off by pressing on the button results in the switch being ripped off the circuit board — hardly a robust design, but probably a nice little earner for Garmin, who charge $US110 to repair (i.e. replace) out-of-warranty units in the states, or $AU186 here in Australia.

After twenty minutes on the phone on hold Garmin technical support told me to parcel it all up, quote the repair number they gave me, post it off to their repair shop in Sydney and they would then examine it and ring me back to let me know if it was to be repaired under the recently-expired warranty or if it would cost $186. No guarantees one way or the other. Garmin Edge 705 power switch broken off the PCB under normal use

A couple of phone calls found me a friend of a friend with adequate surface-mount soldering skills, and half an hour later he'd soldered the switch back on the board and the Edge is back in operation.

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