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Nanoptix “Spill-Proof” Thermal Receipt Printer

Nanoptix Spill-Proof Thermal Printer
Nanoptix Spill-Proof Thermal Printer

I have yet another receipt printer, this one appears to be brand new. It’s possibly the smallest thermal 80mm printer I have at the moment, and has both USB & Serial interfaces.

Controller PCB
Controller PCB

There’s not much to these printers at all. Removing a single screw allows the case halves to separate, showing the guts. The controller is based around a Texas Instruments TMS320VC5509AFixed-Point DSP. It’s associated Flash ROM & RAM are to the right.
Power supply is dealt with in the top right of the PCB, with the interface ports further left.

Print Head
Print Head

Here’s the thermal mechanism itself, with the large print head. The stepper motor to drive the paper through the printer is just peeking out at top right. The paper present sensor is just under the left hand side of the print head.

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12v CFL Lamp Failure Analysis

On the boat I have installed custom LED lighting almost everywhere, but we still use CFL bulbs in a standing lamp since they have a wide light angle, and brightness for the size.

I bought a couple of 12v CFLs from China, and the first of these has been running for over a year pretty much constantly without issue. However, recently it stopped working altogether.

12v CFL
12v CFL

Here’s the lamp, exactly the same as the 240v mains versions, except for the design of the electronic ballast in the base. As can be seen here, the heat from the ballast has degraded the plastic of the base & it’s cracked. The tube itself is still perfectly fine, there are no dark spots around the ends caused by the electrodes sputtering over time.

Ballast
Ballast

Here’s the ballast inside the bottom of the lamp, a simple 2-transistor oscillator & transformer. The board has obviously got a bit warm, it’s very discoloured!

Failed Wiring
Failed Wiring

The failure mode in this case was cooked wiring to the screw base. The insulation is completely crispy!

Direct Supply
Direct Supply

On connection direct to a 12v supply, the lamp pops into life again! Current draw at 13.8v is 1.5A, giving a power consumption of 20.7W. Most of this energy is obviously being dissipated as heat in the ballast & the tube itself.

Ballast PCB
Ballast PCB

Here’s the ballast PCB removed from the case. It’s been getting very warm indeed, and the series capacitor on the left has actually cracked! It’s supposed to be 2.2nF, but it reads a bit high at 3nF. It’s a good thing there are no electrolytics in this unit, as they would have exploded long ago. There’s a choke on the DC input, probably to stop RFI, but it doesn’t have much effect.

Supply Waveform
Supply Waveform

Here’s the waveform coming from the supply, a pretty crusty sinewave at 71.4kHz. The voltage at the tube is much higher than I expected while running, at 428v.

RFI
RFI

Holding the scope probe a good 12″ away from the running bulb produces this trace, which is being emitted as RFI. There’s virtually no filtering or shielding in this bulb so this is inevitable.

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Simple Dishwasher Repair

Earlier today, one of my neighbours put their dishwasher out for the scrap man. After asking if I could appropriate it in the interest of recycling the Ham Way™, I was told it wasn’t draining. The engineer called out to fix it had claimed it was beyond economical repair.

A quick test showed that indeed the drain pump wasn’t operating correctly – very poor pumping capacity & a horrid grinding noise.

Drain Pump
Drain Pump

Here is the drain pump on the bottom of the machine. Strangely for a dishwasher, everything underneath is very clean & free from corrosion.

Pump Rotor
Pump Rotor

On removing the securing screw & unlatching the pump from it’s bayonet mount, the impeller instantly tried to make a break for freedom – it has come off the splines of the rotor shaft.

In the past I’ve tried to remove these rotors manually – and totally destroyed the pump in the process. They are usually so well secure that replacement is the only option. This particular one must have vibrated off the shaft somehow.

This repair was easy – removing the rotor from the main pump body & gently drifting the impeller back onto the splines.

Repaired Pump
Repaired Pump

Here the pump is reassembled & ready for reinstallation.

On test the pump sounds normal, & works as expected.

Engineer 1 : 0 Throwaway Society