Monday, April 25, 2016

U is for Unassembly Required #atozchallenge

Translation: Don't take this apart.
This story took place around 2003 but thought you’d appreciate it.  

My faithful Olympus C-4000 Zoom digital camera had been acting up.  When I turn it on it makes that grinding gears sound your grandparent’s entire bodies make when they get out of bed.  Kind of like a thousand heads of iceberg lettuce becoming salad all at once.  Since I'm handy I thought I'd give it a shot.  

TIP: When attempting to service expensive complicated electronic/mechanical devices, don’t.  Just pull yourself up by your fragile ego,  go in the kitchen, get a cookie and call it a day.

ACCESSORY TIP: If you choose to ignore the above solid advice, use pen and paper to label the ten thousand (give or take) little teeny tiny screws, where they came from and where they go back to.   It also helps to have fresh batteries in your forehead-mounted flashlight and nothing to do for the next eight to ten hours.  

Online, I found a detailed schematic so I set to work with the careful disassembly.  Two days later I got all the little teeny tiny screws out and disassembled all the major subassemblies without snapping off any tabs.  The forehead-mounted flashlight, or FHMFL or more simply;


gave  me a small square-shaped rash that itched and oozed.  I pulled out the label maker (which was functioning perfectly fine) and made a label for the periphery of the rash that read; Crime Scene Investigation: Do Not Tamper With and a smaller label that read Radioactive in the center. 

Everything was going well until I got to the lens assembly.  This was a cylinder within a cylinder wrapped in a cylinder.  Genius.  The cylinders rotated about each other on a series of tracks driven by a motor and gears.  Something was stuck in here somewhere and I was going to find it.  The trouble was, the schematic diagram I downloaded didn’t have the lens assembly contents illustrated so I had to guess.

TIP: When a schematic doesn’t list something, it probably means you shouldn’t take it apart.

So I took it apart – and heard the sing song sound of gears and springs and other unidentifiable metal parts bouncing from my workbench to the floor, rejoicing in their liberation never to be seen again. 
I collected the liberated parts and stuffed them where they seemed to belong and put the cylinder back together.  I plugged the circuit boards in  and turned it on.  The sound was akin to everybody’s grandparents getting out of bed, two thousand bowls of cereal with milk and every salad ever tossed in the history of mankind - all at once.  To top it all off  the outer cylinder fell off the camera and bounced across the room to a spin to a stop.   

RESULT: Camera, 1   Tommy, Zero.  

Anybody need ten thousand teeny tiny screws?

The next day I sat with the camera in a plastic bag on my work bench like a medical examiner sitting with the body after the autopsy. I stared at it for an hour wondering where I went wrong. I found an online source for a new lens assembly. I wondered if it could be so easy as to buy the new one and pop it in.  I neglected to mention the few parts that didn't have an apparent home. I reasoned that the manufacturer always adds a few extra parts for the home repair enthusiast to keep as souvenirs for the brave venture attempted at halftime.

IRONIC INTERRUPTION: As I sit and type this at my Sis In Law's place I am approached by the Sisters Grimm with a hair straightening iron which is malfunctioning. They would like me to "take a look" at it. I interrupt my story to take the thing apart and search for the culprit. I believe I know what's wrong. The good news; only four identical screws and some simple physical connections. The bad news; after 30 minutes I get it back together to find it does exactly the same thing.
Sedu Ionic Straightening Iron, 1.  Tommy, Zero.

BACK TO THE STORY: I decided to purchase the lens assembly, download the order form, attempt to print it - and nothing happens.

My printer decided to visit the soul of my camera, still departed. I try all manner of print initiation; the icon on the toolbar, the menu option on the file bar, the manual override on the printer itself, the Easy Button on those Staples commercials - nothing. I do some research online and discover that for this model printer suddenly not printing is common after about three years and that I can, if I had nothing better to do, attempt a fix myself.  I sit calmly back in my chair. I look heavenward as if there will be an answer in the form of the Maytag repairman with wings. I sob uncontrollably into my hands.

I compose myself and reach for the tools. After three hours I begin openly weeping.
Epson C-82; 1.  Tommy, Zero.

Post Script: Not knowing when enough is enough I decided to give the iron one more try. Never mind the details. Result; a loud pop, a muzzle flash the smell of burning electrical equipment and a small fire.

I used to be good at this. Really...

Final Tally of Destruction; One Olympus C-4000, one Epson C-82, one Sedu Straightening Iron, my reputation as an eccentric genius, my ego and my reputation as a Mr. Fixit chick magnet.



  1. LOL Clearly it wasn't you, it was the devices. They had it out for you. ;-)
    Carol at My Writer's Journal

    1. I'm often left feeling that way. And try as i may, something like that happens every time!