NNTP-Posting-Date: Fri, 17 Jan 2003 17:41:57 -0600
Date: Fri, 17 Jan 2003 17:43:38 -0600
From: Gary Drummond
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Subject: Re: A new toaster design? Is it worth it?
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gary drummond wrote:
> Awhile back I saw a nice article about the differences between letting
> an engineer and a "computer scientist" design a taoaster. I thought
> knew the site, but the article is gone or I lost the link.
> I just bought a new toaster for my parents. I have one and it works
> fine for me. I guess I should have checked it out like a new product
> before I bought it for them. It didn't do so well at their house, and
> here's the story, but If it had a uC in it I could have posted it
> as "live" example of marketing VS engineering on a uC site/newsgroup...
> The old standard toaster will heat toast until it reaches a certain
> temperature (darkness), using a dark control, which pops the toast up.
> This doesn't seem like a great deal of engineering, until you try
> to design one. The heater element must bake the bread until the
> temperature of "something" releases the catch holding
> the toast down. Easy if you know metalurgy that is. Once they had
> it figured out, nothing much changed for 30+ years except adding
> 2 slices to the toaster load.
> Now it's the electronic age, and we should do better, or so I
> thought. I bought a "NEW Classic" which also handled bagels. It
> had a defrost button "Icon of toast with snowflake in it", a cancel
> button "Cancel", and a temperature/darkness button. It worked for me.
> The only weird thing was the dark control only rotated in one
> direction??? Why?
> I should have tested it for the way my parents used it. The second
> two pieces of toast came out too light if you -took out the
> first two, then added the second two. Adjusting it so the next
> two came out OK made the first two in the morning burn! Bummer.
> Making a blank piece of toast, and wasting energy, makes the
> rest come out OK, unless you wait too long between loads.
> To make things worse, if it started to burn on the "classic" all
> you had to do was lift the lever to pop it up. On the "Classic"
> (spelling and case means something here-classic=old, Classic=new!)
> you had to push the "Cancel" button. My Dad forgot that and just
> did the classic thing and forced the lever up. BAD THING...he broke
> or bent something inside, and now it takes a GREAT deal of force
> to push it down where it stays!
> After taking it apart, I found that it was a circuitboard with an
> electromagnet on it holding the toast/lever down. The circuitboard was
> attached in guides and locked in place with hot glue! The temerature
> sensor was a capacitor in a circuit that compared it with a colder
> one on the other side of the board! I haven't traced the whole
> circuit out, but I would guess it's a bridge circuit of some kind.
> (There are 8 transistors, 3 Ecaps,1 ceramic cap+the two hot/cold caps,
> 4 diodes, 1 LED, 26 fixed and 2 variable resistors in the circuit.)
> So far I have determined that my Dad 1)broke loose a hot glue
> connection on the board/electromagnet 2)or(and) bent the lever
> pulling it up (or the metal which contacted the magnet)
> He did rotate the resistor in the wrong direction, but I have
> no idea what that may have done, we had bad to start, and it's
> still not working right. I might try to fix it but just for fun.
> My "BIG" questions- Why design something, to replace an existing
> product that doesn't work like the old one? Why use hot glue to
> anchor a mechanical connection?
> Both of my parents have bad eyesite and poor memories. They don't
> understand "Icons", and the one on the "Classic" looked to them
> like a circle with an X in it. Both the icon and the word "Cancel"
> were too small for them to read without glasses.
> Adding LARGE words (letters) would have let my parents use it
> right. (OK, "Cancel/POPUP" and "[icon]/DEFROST")
> Now I have spare parts, I've purchased a "real" toaster for my
> parents, posted a note to myself to NEVER buy another product from
> Toastmaster (MagiKitchen, Blodgett, Ctx,...), and vowed never to
> buy another product that I don't test for all ages.
> My letter to Toastmaster said to label it right (large letters)
> for older folks or label the box like toys---
> "FOR AGES 5-40, COMPUTER LITERATE, GOOD EYESIGHT, and MEMORY"
From the responses, what's neat is that it seems that...better, but
flawed, is selling, and there is still room to do the "best". I have a
toaster for parts, and all I have to do is make it the best of breed to
sell it, and 50% of that is just a label on the switches!