Repairing the power switch on your V.Tech V-Reader

In my last post, I discussed the poor quality switch that V.Tech used on the V-Reader. Well, I found a replacement switch at a local Radio Shack, which is, in itself, a remarkable event.  Side note: I didn’t realize that Radio Shack still carried such parts, but, they do. Most of the little parts like switches, resistors, breadboards, etc. are in a bin full of drawers. They are organized very nicely and were easy to find what I wanted.

IMAG0404Back to the V-Reader.  The part, number 275-0002 5.0 mm High Tact Switch, came in a package of four for under four dollars.  You will need a small Phillips screwdriver, soldering iron, solder and wire cutters to make this repair.  Soldering skills are necessary.

Once you have the part, you need to take the back off of the device.  Remove the batteries and the SD card if you have one installed. There are a number of screws on the back that you must remove, including one in the battery compartment, two on the back under the rubber feet and the rest are under the plastic booties.  The booties are easily removed with a pocket knife or the tip of a pair of tweezers.  Carefully lift up on the booties as you’ll need them once you are done.  After you have removed all of the screws, very carefully lift up on the back. The orange on/off switch piece just sits between the two halves and it will fall out. Note the direction it was sitting (it really only sits one way) and put it aside.

Next, there is a screw with a washer made on the screw. This screw keeps the little pc board IMAG0406in place that has the switch soldered in place. Remove the screw and set it aside.  Carefully lift up the board and, using the wire cutters, cut the old switch off the board. You’ll need the existing legs to stay in place since the legs on the new switch (yes, I know they are called pins…I like legs more) are too short.  Here’s where it gets tricky…

Using the soldering iron, very carefully solder each leg on the new switch to the legs of the old switch that are still on the board.  You may need needle nose pliers to steady the switch. You may be able to ditch the board all together and solder the red wire to one leg and the black wire to the opposite leg as two legs are all you need. You would need to fasten the switch to the case somehow.  But, if you can use the board, the better.

Once you replace the old switch with the new, put batteries in and test. Hold down the switch for a few seconds and the device should power on. Once you have successfully replaced the switch, put the board back in the slot it came out of and then place the orange tip in the slot. You may need to shave the tit of the orange piece just a bit as the replacement switch is just a little too tall. Put the back cover in place, being careful not to pinch the power wires and ribbon cable on the bottom right of the device.  V.Tech did a poor job laying out the wires.

Screw it all back together and replace the screw covers and the rubber tips.

Turn the unit back on to make sure it is working.  If so, congratulations, you saved yourself the cost and headache of replacing the device. If not, don’t despair, recheck your work. A wire may not have been soldered correctly.  I made that mistake myself. 

Even though this is a cheap and simple repair, it is one that should not have to be made. The poor design and choice of parts is inexcusable.  V.Tech should have been more proactive and, at the very least, let registered users know about the issue and allow them to exchange the device.

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A double rant: V.Tech and used video games (like Battlefield 3…EA, I’m looking at you!)

EA and used video games

OK, so used video games are very popular because, generally, you can get a good buy if you don’t mind waiting a short time after a hot game is released. I tend to do this myself as I am a cheap bastard and hate to spend fifty to seventy dollars for a game we may or may not like or play for very long.

Recently, I got a copy of Battlefield 3 by Electronic Arts.  Now, EA has been notorious in it’s anti-piracy campaign but have recently begun to fight the reselling of video games—a very legal practice.  EA, and other publishers, feel they should get a cut of every resale of a game. Say what?  Why should they? Failing that, they come up with schemes to force the purchaser of said used game to pony up money or they cannot take advantage (or play, in some cases) the full game.  Such was the case for Battlefield 3.  The online multiplayer portion (the part I am interested in) requires a code to be entered the first time use the game.  Since my copy was used, the code was already redeemed. I had to spend another ten bucks to go online and play the multiplayer portion of the game (mind you, I have already shelled out sixty dollars to Microsoft for this very privilege.) So, rather reluctantly, I ponied up the money to play the game (which is pretty good, I might add.)  While they got money from me, I feel like I was cheated.  And, please, don’t give me any bull about cost of servers, etc. It’s already been paid for…that copy was already paid for and they have no right to any further payment.  It is like Ford demanding another grand so you can drive the damn used car. And, buying anything and reselling is like buying a car and reselling that when you no longer need or want the car.  This is no different.  And GameStop, you should have told us that this might happen.  I know you knew this and it is poor customer service.  (Speaking of GameStop, they are primary reason these companies are pissed off about used game sales, GameStop overcharges for these things, but, people like me fuel them.)

V.Tech V-Reader

On to the V.Tech thing.  Months ago, we purchased a V-Reader for our three year old.  The thing was a huge hit. Unfortunately, it lasted just a few short months.  We swapped out the batteries and it quit working. Trying more batteries did not fix the problem. So, it was shelved.  Yeah, we could have sent it back for service, but we did not. They aren’t that expensive now and there is a newer model with real buttons for the keyboard, so we decided that we would just buy a new one since we had an investment in the software.  Well, my fiancé read many, many posts about the same problem and, in one of the posts, someone mentioned that it might be the switch. So, I popped the cover off and did some digging.  I checked the wires for the batteries (one of them is pinched, but that was not the problem.) Nothing obvious (other than poor soldering and nicked wires) so I tried shorting the switch. Presto! The device sprang to life.  Further reading reveals that V.Tech is aware of the problem yet is not doing anything to address it (other than charging fifty bucks to replace the switch…you can buy a new reader for forty-five, you do the math.)  So, now that I know what the problem is, I am going to fix it myself.  I just need to find a switch that is small yet durable.  I will post an update once I have fixed this. 

ON the surface, these two events seem to be unrelated. Well, they aren’t. They are yet two more examples of the poor customer service that is being foisted upon us.  EA makes me never want to buy anything from them again.  As cheap as I am, I do buy new games but will avoid EA as much as possible (as it is not possible to do so completely when one has a 14 year old and a three year old.)  And V.Tech should acknowledge a poor design choice and fix the damn things for free.

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