The Joys of Soldering:

Or, How to Save a 200 USD Service Fee By Rewiring Your Renderbox’s Power Switch With a Similar Momentary Tactile Switch from Another Source, Namely, The Never Used Reset Button.


Srsly.  I just did that.  Came into the office this morning, a little late, I admit.  I was enjoying the lovely morning out in our courtyard here at RainyDay Studios.  I know, the name may not seem to make sense for people who dwell on a desert world, (okay, it’s not a separate world, but we wish it was like to pretend it is.) but if you’ve ever seen a monsoon season in the Desert SouthWest, you already understand.

Anyway, came into the office a little late, and while the temperature in the courtyard is a paradisical 28C, in the office it’s shivery at about 19C.  The power switch on my Renderbox, Tentaku-chan (an AMD OCTO-core) has been fluky for a while, especially on cold mornings, so I expected to have to make a long press on the button, massage it back and forth, wait for it to warm up, before getting any response.

THIS time though, it seemed to have just packed up and fallen right over.  DOA.  Wiped.  TPK. Ganked.  Totally PWNED!!!1111!1!!!


So, call around to a couple of tech shops I know of in the local area.  Most wanted to say “Hmmmm……Well, bring it in, we’ll put it on the bench and see what the problem is.”

Me:  “I know what the bloody problem is. The switch packed up, left town, and has joined my muse in shacking up with some drug-addled shyabakuze  strung-out on shabu in Osaka.  So how much to just replace the switch?”

Tech:  “Wellllll, it’s not really that simple, little lady…”

Me:  “I’ve got a response for that.  Four Words, and they are most definitely not “God Save The Queen!” click.”

When I could get an estimate it was for at least 200USD.  Plus parts.

I had one response to that.


So, after hanging up the phone and saying “GRUMP!” very loudly, (ok, there may have been other bad words in there too,) I opened up the front panel, undid the clips holding the button’s faceplate on, and press tested the switch itself.  Hai!  Faulty switch.  Like I thought.  If I had another one like this, I could just rewire the silly thing.  I could order one online.

Unfortunately, I need Tentaku-chan running today, not a week from now.  Maybe the parts bin where I keep spare electronics bits and bytes will have something.

Did I mention, I also build lightsabers?  So I’m quite used to dealing with small delicate wires and switches, and soldering of same, and have a parts bin containing all sorts of electronic goodness.  You’d think that this would also leave me with a bunch of switches of the needed size and variety.  Ie, gomen nasai.  It does not.

These happen to be a size I rarely use.  No joy there.  Where do I go to get a switch like that, with no cash, and no car, Waifu being off at her sarariwoman gig.  Then my eyes lit on the never used in the 4.5 years of Tentaku-chan’s life reset button.  It should be the same size, and configuration.  Investigation reveals, Hai!  So desu.  So desu ne!

Now to dismount this switch, pause to remove the polarised filter from over the Temp readout which surprisingly, still works even though the backlight packed up a year ago.  A polarising filter which now only serves to prevent me from reading the Temp indicator with the backlight non-functional, mind you.

…And with a couple of quick snips, the old switch is gone, and the new switch is free for transplant. Carefully, very carefully, strip the 30 gauge multi-strand wires.  They must be using this as a switch for a more robust relay down the line.  Trace wires; Ah, hai, they are. Good to know.

Deploy the helping hands wire vice, realise the alligator clips are going to chew up the wires something awful, slip some shrink tube on them first to prevent that, set up the soldering iron, wait five minutes for it to heat up.  Kuso.  Go have a cigarette while waiting another 10 minutes, pre-tin the tip of the iron, pre-tin the wires, solder them.  Release the clips, slip heat shrink into place, apply heat gun. As always, watch with fascination as the tubing shrinks into place.  Lather, rinse, repeat with other wire.  Nestle switch back into place, test switch.

Hai! Kanpekina shouri!

Reassemble faceplate, log in, start work.

In retrospect, this was a minor victory, but I am going to celebrate anyway.  I didn’t have to pay money I don’t have, to people I wouldn’t want to pay, for something I can do myself.

Moreover, I don’t have to put up with some condescending, patronising, authoritarian wannabe-alpha-male, who knows less about computers and electronics than I do, along with his poor customer service skills, and all of his mommy issues*.

That alone is priceless!

Shinseiko (who totally doesn’t know anything about computers or electronics!)

*あなたはあなたが誰であるかを知っている。 本当にあなたの名前の名前を付けたいですか?

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