Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Broken Patio Light Repair

I think a swung snow shovel is what did in this little solar-powered patio light earlier this year.

It really got whacked. It's a nasty, ragged, pulled-out break, but I was able to coax it to fit back together, like so.

That went well; all the edges of the break are mated with one another. Now I have a favourable situation for a good repair.

I'll apply fresh, runny[1] CA adhesive along all the break lines so it can wick in and adhere the pieces together. That should produce an effective, durable repair. (And when the adhesive I apply from the outside has cured, I'll reapply it from the inside to make certain that all the break lines are filled with adhesive.)

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While the adhesive is curing, I can check the condition of the lamp's energy cell contacts. Those tend to be a weak point in these lamps -- the contacts oxidize and foul. Here's a view of this lamp's positive contact.

That's fairly typical. The negative terminal is bright and clean, except for a wad of spider fluff lodged in it. I'll scrape away that oxidation from the positive terminal and put the cell back in with WD-40 applied to its contacts, and this light should be back in business.

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Not Quite

The cell was completely discharged, and it refuses to accept charge. Fortunately, I have a spare on hand. I put that in and it appears to be accepting charge.

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One More Thing

At one point, the light quit working. I think the little on/off slide switch may have been responsible for that. I opened up the light's innards to inspect them, and lubricate the switch with WD-40. If you've ever wondered what's inside these things, the answer is "not much". Here's a view of this light opened up.

The heart of it is a tiny four-terminal integrated circuit (IC), a 'JD1803'. I tried to find a datasheet for it and couldn't.

Anyway, it's working. I've put it out in the sunlight to charge. I'll try to get a decent photo of it doing its job when the sun goes down today.

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Update -- SUNDAY, MARCH 31, 2013

The light worked fine last night, but I couldn't get a good photograph -- all I could get was a splotch of brilliance in the midst of darkness. I'll have to learn how to photograph such things properly.

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[1] Fresh CA adhesive is extremely runny, which is exactly what's needed for a repair like this. Adhesive that's thickened might still work, but it wouldn't be nearly as effective.

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