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spamda

Broken floppy disk drives - planned obscolescence?

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Hey there. I don't have a problem to fix, I just think I might be on to something.

 

I've got a Mac SE with one floppy drive and i've got an external drive, but neither of them work. One has a constant motor noise as soon as its powered, the other is intermittent. I thought if i'm lucky I can swap the parts and get at least one working drive. But both of them, the motor gearbox had a broken gear - one snapped in half, the other, the teeth just fell off. But that one gear is made from a clearly inferior plastic to the others, for no seemingly good reason. Am I being paranoid here thinking it was designed to fail? Has anyone else noticed this?

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I wouldn't call it planned obsolescence as much as I'd call it cost cutting.

 

It's the same reason there are cheap capacitors on a relatively expensive computer like an SE/30 or Iici. When you're looking to squeeze profits, you'll use the lowest cost component possible as long as it performs for the then-and-now. Nobody may have known at the time that these gears could get brittle or that a capacitor may leak. In fact, I don't think anyone was really thinking about where we'd be with these computers come the year 2020. They were mostly focused on 1980-something, delivering a product that performed well, and made profits for the company.

 

I'd argue planned obsolescence would be seen more in low-end computers as a model. Consider the Classic. At $1500, you got a repackaged SE without the expansion slot, one fewer ADB port, no brightness knob, a weaker power supply, and a shorter shelf life. By 1993, the Classic would drive you nuts if you had System 7 and, say, Excel 4...and by 1994, you couldn't even run the current Word 6 on it. You'd be forced to go back to Apple to buy a newer computer, maybe a Performa 550. That, too, would be obsolete in a few years because of the PPC transition...so you'd replace it with a 5200...and then get rid of that once the internet got to be too much for it.

 

If you had bought the Iici in late 1990 instead, it would still be running smoothly until the PPC transition. Even then, it would have gone on longer than the Classic and offered more expandability/upgrade possibilities than either the Classic or 550. You would have gotten your money's worth, spending less on new computers in the process.

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I enjoyed reading Scott Baret's thoughtful response. 

 

As for the repair you are looking at. There are newly made replacement gears available at reasonable cost. There are models for 3d printers, and molded gears sold by eBay sellers and the like. 

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Maybe the gear was designed to be the first to break as sort of a "fuse"; if too much torque was applied or if something else went wrong, that particular gear would give way and spare all the other gears.  I'm probably giving too much benefit of the doubt or credit for being far-sighted but who knows.

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@spamda There are a couple of people who make replacement gears.  They're a bit pricey, but so is commercial 3D printing at the moment.

 

Just FYI, the head, head motor, eject motor, and optical sensor are interchangeable between the 800K and 1.4MB drives.  So it's worth collecting 800K drives, too, if only for spare parts.

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I think the orange gear is made from a different, softer material to reduce noise. You'll notice if you compare a working original eject mechanism with a unit with a replacement gear that the replacement is louder and a little rougher.

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On May 22, 2020 at 12:12 AM, Scott Baret said:

It's the same reason there are cheap capacitors on a relatively expensive computer like an SE/30 or Iici. When you're looking to squeeze profits, you'll use the lowest cost component possible as long as it performs for the then-and-now. Nobody may have known at the time that these gears could get brittle or that a capacitor may leak.

Plus, considering these machines lasted 10, 15, 20 years without problems (for the most part), the capacitors weren't so cheap after all.  

 

It's only frustrating for those of us now who want to keep using these older machines that we have to either develop advanced soldering skills or try to track down someone else who can replace capacitors and make any necessary repairs.

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19 hours ago, olePigeon said:

@spamda

Just FYI, the head, head motor, eject motor, and optical sensor are interchangeable between the 800K and 1.4MB drives.  So it's worth collecting 800K drives, too, if only for spare parts.

I take home PoS machines that are beat beyond belief just to get their disk drives. Spare parts are key.

 

Also, regarding the gear, more I’ve found are intact than not. I think one thing is that you should not run the drive when you get it. If it is seized, it’s the weakest link, hence why it breaks. I now remove all drives once I get a machine without firing it up first and relubricate prior to any attempt to have it read a disk or eject.

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11 hours ago, dcr said:

Plus, considering these machines lasted 10, 15, 20 years without problems (for the most part), the capacitors weren't so cheap after all. 

My IIci needed new caps in the mid 90s.   It was a (rare) topic on the News Groups (UseNet), but it was discussed, even back then.

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