PTCL Electronics

Department of Chemistry University of Oxford

John has the joy of repairing any commercial equipment that it is deemed repairable. Sometimes this is a joy, other times a headache. One major issue that he gets on a regular basis is people not cleaning the units fully. This WILL mean that he hands it back to the user for re-cleaning, until either he is bored and throws it in the bin, or it is deemed clean.

Should the main job of the faulty item/kit be safety; such as a laser interlock system, then it will be given high priority. He can generally fix the fault with the system, or come up with a suitable workaround, depending upon the fault. Laser interlock faults can generally be sorted within 30 minutes of John receiving the message (parts dependant). He may however wait till the end of a tea or lunch break before this 30 minutes start.

When a unit breaks down with a potential electrical/electronic fault, consult John. John will then either say the fault is X, and replace the component/fix the joint, or he will consult with the company and provide cheaper assistance than an engineer may cost. On occasion, the system is deemed to need the experts in, however this is reduced through having John on site.

On occasion, devices will blow up a memory or processor chip, which cannot always be fixed. This is due to the fact that they may contain information concerning how to run the machine. In this situation it may be possible to communicate with the original manufacturers to obtain either the program, a replacement chip, or a new control board.

Should the unit be unmovable or heavy, speak to John, who may wish or be able to work on the unit in situ, or for lab services to move the unit to a more convenient location for mending.

When the unit(s) to be repaired are brought in, it is mandatory to bring a completed decontamination certificate (see downloads) with you, primarily to indicate that you have cleaned the unit. It also helps us by providing your contact details; otherwise how will it be returned when fixed? The form can be mostly filled out on the computer before printing, only the signature needs to be done by hand. If the user writes down what the fault is (preferably detailed) on the back of the form, then if John is not around then he can read the form and see what can be done.
At around the time that John is handed the form and unit he will typically provide some idea to how long the job will take. This might not always be the time solely on your job, due to installing interlock systems in rooms (not as many as a few years ago) and carrying out repairs for other groups. For some of the larger repairs, he may need to speak to the supervisor(s) of the kit before starting any repairs. This may be an annoyance,however, some have wondered where their finances have gone. If you wish to have it repaired urgently, voice this. He may be able to have a look before less urgent jobs, but he prefers to do things in the order they came in.

Items that John has fixed in the past include stirrers, hotplates, stirrer-hotplates, motors, (older) TV's, vacuum gauges, pulser units, power supplies and fart detectors.

If you (the user) feels that an incident (whether or not you have been involved with the incident) has compromised the mains socket or wiring in any way, then we are more than happy to come and check that the mains socket is functioning and still safe to use. Although we are authorised to check that the circuit and socket are safe, we cannot go into the socket or any mains trunking without the resident electricians approval. Should there be any concern and we are not available, then either lab services or the electrician, Dan (email: Slobodan Rosic) are the people to contact. If there is damage to a socket such as a burn or crack, then contact Dan at the earliest opportunity and do not use the socket.

Although we do fix electronics, we don't/cannot fix smart phones, DAB radios, wristwatches (batteries may be changeable), modern TV's, some modern laptops, computers (see IT for laptop/PC repair). This is due to their small size and/or complexity. We may cause more damage then is already there, however, if it is otherwise going to the bin, we MAY be able/willing to attempt a fix/salvage things from it. On some of the items, there are input connectors. Should those connectors be damaged, we may be up for repairing them. With Mac books, we are likely to cause damage by opening them up due to the fact that Apple designed them to be slim and with minimal obvious screws.