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Sunday
Mar172019

PURE Avanti Flow – replacing the OLED display

An Avanti Flow with new OLED displayI’ve had a few requests asking for advice on replacing the OLED displays in a PURE Avanti Flow. Since I had a spare (white) OLED display that also fits my portable PURE Evoke Flow, eventually I sourced a used, working  Avanti Flow which needed a new display. It’s a very common problem: the working life of these OLED displays is about 30,000 hours so they just wear out over time.

As I expected, the Avanti Flow is much trickier to repair as it contains a sandwich deck of printed circuit boards inside, each connected by a spaghetti of ribbon cables all located in a restricted space. I needed a number of electronics tools to reach around and manipulate cables and connectors, and the work was more like keyhole surgery at times!

My advice is that if you don’t have the experience of handling confined and delicate electronics like this, the scope for overlooking something, not connecting something properly or damaging the radio’s hardware is quite high and it’s likely that you would spend hours struggling only to be unsuccessful and disappointed by your efforts. Again, the Avanti Flow is quite a lot more intricate to repair than an Evoke Flow so I’d think hard before deciding whether to throw time and money at replacing the OLED display on a DIY basis and risk disappointment.

Despite everything I was pleasantly surprised that I managed to get mine working first time and it now sports a new white OLED display.  What follows is a general guide only to give you an idea of what's involved. I have tried to cover everything but I don’t guarantee I covered every last little thing, nor in exactly the right order, and I’m not responsible for anything that’s been left out. Hopefully without explaining the ‘baby steps’ my photos and text will show a skilled tech. an idea of what’s involved so you can decide whether to tackle this job yourself. As far as I know there is no such guide about the Avanti Flow anywhere else online.

You will need to set aside some quality time (2 hours), or maybe split the work in two phases, working carefully and delicately, while being vigilant and observing the routes of all ribbon cables and cable headers closely to ensure you can disconnect and reconnect everything properly.  It’s hard to replicate a multi-million dollar factory at home but a number of tools like long-reach Philips screwdrivers, hooked probes, gripping tools, long nose ‘radio’ pliers, bent-nose ones and more will be needed  and you’ll also need to be patient and pretty resourceful to complete the repair successfully. It's tricky, but having said all that, it can still be done successfully!

Opening up an Avanti Flow

I am guessing that the radio internals are pre-assembled on the factory bench before being fitted into the cabinets. I could not figure out how to access the display from the front. The front panel and speaker grille were very secure with invisible fixings at each corner, so not wishing to damage it it’s necessary to start from the radio’s rear panel instead. As it turns out, that’s likely the correct thing to do, partly because of some ribbon cables that connect to the display board deep from inside the radio. If anyone knows differently, let me know!

Remove 8 x Phillips screws [click to see]The rear panel removes easily and can hang out [click to see]With the radio face-down on a cloth, start by removing 8 x Philips screws from the rear panel.  The rear will then lift out completely and can be swung to hang over the edge. It also carries the power supply and bass port tube.

Rear panel hanging down before removing the sub woofer [click to see]Reach inside the radio and use radio pliers to unhook the 2 x leads from the sub-woofer speaker. Remove the acoustic wadding.

Sub woofer terminals can be removed next [click to see]Internal view after removing acoustic wadding [click to see]

Remove the sub woofer

The speaker mesh can be prised out carefully [click to see]... revealing the sub woofer [click to see]Underneath the radio, the speaker mesh is a simple interference push-fit and can easily be teased out with eg a pointed probe. Then remove 4 x Philips screws (15mm long) on the speaker plastic mounting ring, and then unscrew the sub-woofer (4 x 10mm screws) and extract the speaker from inside the radio. This makes the interior accessible.

Then the sub woofer can be withdrawnReach through the speaker cut-out and unscrew 2 x nylon P-clips that secure wiring looms to the cabinet; some black foam rubber ‘shims’ were removed from ribbon cables next.

First glimpse of the radio board, the first PCB to be removed [click to see]The Avanti Flow carries a stack of circuit boards inside the cabinet: first is the radio board, underneath that is the audio board and finally the display/ front panel switch board is fixed right at the bottom. They are all interconnected with various ribbons and wire connectors and they all mount on plastic pillars using self-tap screws.

Radio board

Radio board with copper-screen ribbons x 2, and ipod dock above (and more ribbons!) [click to see]The radio board is held with 4 x 8mm long self tap screws, one screw also traps a (solder tagged) shielding wire hooking to the PSU screen. I used a long-reach electric screwdriver with a (magnetic) Philips tip to remove the screws successfully. You don't want to be dropping them inside the radio.

Unhook 2 x ribbon cables on the ipod dock. They will simply pull out and they connect to the main board.

Remove the ipod dock ribbons and pin header [click to see]The radio’s two main wire looms are an obstacle: stiff and inflexible, they obstruct the removal of the boards, but you can cut off any nylon tie-wraps to loosen up the wiring. I cut off all the tie-wraps.

Gently lift the radio board away a little, I moved it to one side. Two ribbon cables (10mm and 15mm wide) are shielded with copper tape; these go to the OLED display board at the very bottom of the radio, so unpick the copper foil and unhook both ribbon cables. (That’s because later I saw it’s easier to unhook these two ribbons from the 'radio board end' and leave them connected to the display board.  Otherwise you will need eg a long-reach flat-bladed tweezer to reconnect them to the display board (which luckily I had!) once in situ. My photos however show these two ribbons as disconnected from the display, not the radio board.

The radio board partly removed. See text re. the two ribbon cables [click to see]

Audio board

The audio board is revealed [click to see]

Disconnect 2 x header wires on the radio board and lift it away to reveal the audio board under it.  Note how a short 20mm ribbon is fitted between the radio board (underside) and audio board (top side).

The audio board lifted slightly, note the headers underneath [click to see]The audio board is held down by 4 x black self tap screws.  Disconnect 2 small pin headers along one side (3-pin and 4-pin – see how a very short wire disappears inside into a front stereo speaker), and then disconnect a 3-pin and 5-pin on the board’s longer edge.

Reach through the speaker cutout and unhook the headers - I marked them with Sharpies to colour-code them [click to see]

Disconnecting the audio board [click to see]This leaves three 3-pin headers on the other short side of the board. I used coloured Sharpie pens to mark which cable plug goes into which header. See again how a very short cable disappears into the cabinet to the other front stereo speaker. The other two cables carry ferrite cores which are a nuisance, but they  slide back up the cables out of the way. Having colour-coded the wires, unhook them from the audio board and gently remove it or set it to one side.

3 x pin headers (inc. one stereo speaker), mark them and remove [click to see]Audio board removed [click to see]The display board revealed [click to see]The OLED display/ switch panel removed [click to see]

Display board

With the audio board removed, the OLED display/ switch is revealed. It has 6 x self tap screws and another 10mm ribbon cable.  Taking this apart, the OLED itself can be lifted off, helped by e.g. a right-angled probe.

Separating the display [click to see]The OLED display ribbon clearly shows pins 1 and 22 and the ribbon cable can be disconnected from the PCB header by gently sliding out the ribbon connector’s black plastic holding clamp. (See my Evoke Flow guidance and photos for more details – it’s the same connector).

Preparing to disconnect the old display [click to see]The flat ribbon latch (black plastic) is very delicate [click to see]Disconnected, note the pin labels 1 - 22Remove any protective poly film off the new OLED display and clean the front display window. The new display ribbon is passed through the mounting frame the same as before. My (white) display was a direct replacement, the same shape and ribbon orientation. Unfortunately it would be easy enough to get a new display upside down or the wrong way round and you would never know until the radio was assembled again, so take some photos if necessary to remind you of the display’s orientation. I also used two small dabs of glue to hold the new OLED on its black plastic mounting frame. Unlike the PURE Evoke Flow, everything is located securely in place with no scope for misalignment.

The PCB also carries the front panel push switches and an LDR (light-dependent resistor) which must all align properly with the front fascia and its buttons.

Reassembly

With the new OLED fitted and the display board screwed back in place, the audio board can now be reconnected which is easier said than done. There are no less than seven PCB headers to reconnect and it’s also easy to get the board the wrong way round in situ.

Re-installing the audio board and its wiringI'd left my radio board hanging around, partly connected. See text about those two copper-clad ribbons [click to see]Don’t overlook those two (15mm and 10mm) ribbons that stem from the display board and go ‘past’ the audio board to the radio board above it. Of course, ensure all ribbon cable conductors mate with the corresponding PCB header properly: the metallic conductors can be seen and they must mate together when the ribbon is inserted into the connector.

I used flat-bladed radio tweezers (similar to ‘postage stamp’ tweezers) to grip and slide the ribbon cables back into their headers successfully. This worked extremely well.

The audio and radio boards back in situ [click to see]Probably the hardest part was re-connecting the audio board leads, which I found very fiddly and time-consuming. I used a variety of long-nose pliers, bent-nose pliers, hooked probes and a lot of dexterity to hook them back UNDERNEATH the audio board (which lies component-side down), but it was possible with care and a lot of keyhole surgery. Definitely not a job if you have ‘sausage fingers’ but it can be done.  Slide those ferrite cores back up the wires out the way, if necessary.

This short 20mm wide ribbon connects the audio and radio boards [click to see]

Re-locate the radio board in place, reconnecting a short 20mm wide ribbon on its underside to the audio board located underneath. The ipod dock ribbons can also be reconnected.

The ‘memory’ of various wire cables helped with routing them to the relevant headers on the radio board and it was fairly straightforward to re-connect everything else. Soon I was only left with the sub-woofer cables to hook up, so the speaker and grille were refitted and the sub-woofer was finally reconnected.

I decided to leave off all P-clips and nylon tie-wraps, leaving the wires routed loosely inside. The acoustic wadding was put in again and the case rear was closed up with 8 x screws.

I did notice white specks of dirt etc inside the display window (not on the new OLED), which is a shame but I decided to leave it alone as it’s an old radio anyway and I just wanted to prove a point. Power up time... would it work?

Powering up again

Every electronics hobbyist knows the feeling of anticipation when powering up their project for the first time. Switching on at the mains and after a few seconds I was rewarded with the Avanti Flow splash screen (in white) followed by Initialising......  and then the radio burst into life. I’m thrilled to say the repair was entirely successful, and the radio could be retuned to local DAB stations without a problem. All buttons and menus worked as expected.

After a few seconds, the splash screen appeared [click to see]Tuning in... [click to see]

More stations... [click to see]Standby screen [click to see]

Replacement OLED displays are getting harder to source, but those purchased via Alibaba seem to be the best quality. I can only re-iterate that the Avanti Flow is a very fiddly job best undertaken by those who are used to fiddling with electronics and manipulating wires and PCBs. With the right skills, patience and tools it’s entirely possible to fit a new display to an Avanti Flow as I hope the above photos prove.

Friday
Mar082019

PURE Avanti Flow display replacement

Following my work on swapping the OLED display of a PURE Evoke Flow, I've had several requests for help in doing the same for a PURE Avanti Flow.  I didn't have any experience of these radios but I have now sourced a used one 'for spares or repairs' and it's sat here on my desk.  The display has worn out but I'm told the rest of it works OK and is worthing checking out.

I happen to have a spare new (white) OLED display so it's worth having a go. It will take me some time to strip it apart and get to the display. It's three times bigger than an Evoke Flow, has a big sub woofer, mains PSU, stereo speakers and ipod dock thing as well, which will probably all get in the way and make life more difficult. However this project is on my To Do List and I will photograph the sequence and do a write-up in due course, so keep your fingers crossed and watch this space!

Thursday
Dec062018

What’s happened to Westfalia.Net?

Westfalia.Net (UK) was a goldmine of hard to find and genuinely useful things [click to see]

Wo ist es? This online emporium run by Westfalia Werkzeugcompany GmbH was a goldmine of mostly German quality, hard to find tools, equipment and materials for the homeowner, DIY enthusiast, farmer and hobbyist. Not to be confused with Westfalia towbars, this Westfalia worktools company  (“Qualität aus Hagen”) boasted 95+ years of service and had a UK mail order outlet at www.westfalia.net.

I bought plenty of household, car, workshop and gardening items from Westfalia, all traditional quality items that were hard to find elsewhere. Snow clearing blades that sliced through ice, shovels, electric chisels, rare long-reach screwdriver bits, all sorts of accessories and bits for my workshop, and lots more besides. Their power tools proved very good too, provided you didn’t mind the German mains Shuko connectors and bulky UK 13A converters. Even their shipping cartons were useful for storage!

Welcome to our main web site... only it's all in GermanHowever, without explanation, it seems the UK operation has vanished without a trace during the year and the URL now redirects to their German website, with a popup promising a ‘perfect shopping experience’ from their larger German store.  Problem now is, the website is entirely in German.

Perhaps this was a pre-Brexit strategic move? Did they decide to bail out of Britain? If there isn’t enough UK trade to justify the extra web design work needed, perhaps there will never be an English language version of their German store. It’s a shame that this highly-rated mail order supplier has shut up shop in Britain. 

I also know how ruthless and unpleasant some German firms can be to deal with, and they will simply walk away without a by-your-leave. In the last couple of years I noticed that German PC supplier Medion shut down its UK mail order operation as well. Their range included (surprisingly) kitchen appliances, Medion-branded Dustbuster-type vacuumers and my Medion Internet radio with 2.1 stereo speakers, all of a very good quality indeed. Medion suddenly sold it all off at silly prices and I snapped up some bargains. Now all these have gone without a trace, with Medion merely advertising computer gaming and a laptop or two on a hugely over-elaborate website. I’m gutted that Westfalia.Net and Medion have ditched the UK market.

You can visit the (German) Westfalia site at https://www.westfalia.net and UK Medion site at http://www.medion.co.uk

Thursday
Dec062018

Everyday Practical Electronics changes hands

Hobbyist electronics magazine Everyday Practical Electronics (EPE) has new owners. It's been taken over by Matt Pulzer, the current Editor who acquired the title from Mike Kenward and Wimborne Publishing Ltd. on 2nd November 2018. The title will now be published by Matt's new company, Electron Publishing Limited.

New title and magazine style coming in March 2019All the core features in the magazine will stay the same but readers can expect a 'refresh' and restyle and this has already started with some column artwork redesigns. The most important news is that, as from April 2019 issue (published in March), the title will revert to its original one of Practical Electronics.  The 'Everyday' moniker (inherited from Everyday Electronics, a beginner's magazine) was past its sell-by date and no longer needed, so the original Everyday Electronics title will finally be laid to rest.

Stewart Kearn of Wimborne Publishing is helping with the transition over coming months, so it is hoped to be 'business as normal'. Further changes are in the air including the website and shopping cart, the latter never really having been polished off since it was introduced a couple of years ago.

Change is in the air, with the UK's last remaining hobby electronics magazine looking to appeal to the rising trends in the maker and coding sectors. Constructional projects will still be sourced from Australia's Silicon Chip magazine and there are no plans to move away from them. One benefit is that by the time they appear in EPE, the projects have been fully sorted and sometimes updated, so EPE readers benefit from SC's  learning curve.

Interesting and exciting times are ahead, so watch this space for more news.

 

Friday
Jul202018

A tribute to Watford Electronics Ltd.

This article is a tribute to Watford Electronics’ journey from its humble beginnings as a hobby electronics supplier to a major PC system builder and IT supplier in its time.

I retrace their origins and progress, helped by Google Street View, and there's also a download of the Watford 1978 catalogue  available along with some contemporary advertisements from Watford, which became saverstore.com during its heyday. Read more...

Friday
Apr272018

Maplin Electronics - the long farewell

Reflecting on the loss of Maplin, one of Britain’s last remaining hobby electronics brands and how hobby electronics has changed dramatically since the 1970s. This article documents Maplin Electronics' rise and fall and offers a snapshot of key events along its timeline along with some interesting links, for anyone interested in the hobby electronics industry. Or just for old times' sake.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Feb212018

Replacing a PURE Evoke Flow Display

Updated on Monday, February 26, 2018 at 2:48PM by Registered CommenterAlan W

Updated on Sunday, September 30, 2018 at 3:56PM by Registered CommenterAlan W

Updated on Monday, December 10, 2018 at 1:41PM by Registered CommenterAlan W

Updated on Wednesday, December 26, 2018 at 6:04PM by Registered CommenterAlan W

Updated on Thursday, March 7, 2019 at 12:38PM by Registered CommenterAlan W

If you own an old PURE Evoke Flow DAB/ Internet radio then it's likely the yellow OLED display will have failed by now. They have been impossible to find until now - at last I found a source of replacement displays so this article with step-by-step photos describes how to repair the OLED display of a PURE Evoke Flow.

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Jul292017

Marguerite Web Design

Updated on Tuesday, November 27, 2018 at 7:28PM by Registered CommenterAlan W

I am sorry to say that I have been contacted today by Mr. William Mairs, the husband of Margaret Mairs of Marguerite Web Design, who advised that sadly, Margaret passed away on Thursday 27th July 2017 following a stroke.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Jul072017

Saverstore.com lights out?

It has somehow slipped beneath the radar but the website of saverstore.com - the IT vendor that rose from the ashes of the old Watford Electronics - has disappeared altogether. Nowhere can I find any details about their downfall though.

The website is unreachable and at the time of writing, their .co.uk domain name has been suspended at Nominet too. The dot-com domain merely shows a private registration now.

Clearly a wheel has fallen off but it's very sad to see this particular brand name sink without trace. I used Watford Electronics some 40 years ago to supply parts for my Multi Channel gas Sensor and other magazine projects, when they ran a small shop on Cardiff Road, Watford.

The original Watford Electronics shop, 33/35 Cardiff Road.I believe that originally Watford Electronics was set up by Nazir Jessa and his son Shiraz ran it. The name 'Watford Electronics' is now a dormant company [resulting from changing the name of another associated company to Watford Electronics] controlled by Shiraz Jessa, maybe for sentimental reasons(?).  Saverstore.com's address was Jessa House, Finway, Luton founded in the era when the home computer sector was thriving.

Several popular UK PC brand names eventually crashed and burned, including Tiny and Carrera and after diversifying into the IT sector Watford had its fair share of woes.  Today's PC market bears no resemblance to the scene of the 1990s and 2000s. A useful write-up on The Register is here.

I won't rake over the ashes any longer but I wrote a piece about the original Watford Electronics shop, as it now appears on Google Street View, here.

I also scanned my catalogue rear cover (image, left), as a nod to those fun, exciting and pioneering days of 1970s hobby electronics that I grew up with, eagerly awaiting my next packet of parts arriving in the post, paid for out of my pocket money.

 

Thursday
Jun082017

Parker Pen fibre tip adaptor

A new lease of life for a favourite old pen

I have a trio of engraved Parker pens from the 1970’s that have sentimental value, comprising a ballpoint pen, a propelling pencil and a fibre-tip pen.

Parker pen (and compatible) ballpoint refills are commonplace but refilling my fibre tip pen has been a problem as the refills went out of production long ago.  Fibre-tips were a relic of the 1970s - a time when the Japanese Pentel rollerball first came to Britain - and they quickly fell out of favour with the advent of  rollerballs and gel ink. In practice fibre-tip refills often dried out, or the tip would get scratchy and damaged, so they were unrewarding to use anyway.

My Parker fibre tip pen in need of a refill

How to give my precious Parker fibre tip pen a new lease of life? The obvious answer is to see if another kind of refill would fit, but there are so many variables (length, diameter, shoulder height, tip length, end cap design and so on) that I found it impossible to get an alternative.

Then I came across a very helpful precision engineer called Darryl Kingshott based in the UK. He describes himself as an ex-Parker Pen engineer and he manufactures individual adaptor sleeves to fit your choice of Parker pen and pen refill. His website shows many examples of his work at

http://www.moreengineering.co.uk/parker-fibre-tip-adaptors/4582872279

Turned brass spacer adaptor for the tip...Adaptor components can be precision-made to fit both the tip end, so your choice of refill sits properly, and also an extension piece may be needed at the cap-end to get the overall length right within the pen.

... and an alloy spacer piece for the endDarryl identified mine as a Parker P61 and offered to take a look. I also suggested the refill I’d like to use. I recommend Cult Pens for refills, so I chose a Schneider Slider 755 (blue). It needed to be something that would not go obsolete overnight. Also, the pen will only be used very intermittently so I hoped to avoid leaks.

The final result, new refill fitted with adaptorDarryl obtained the refill and then machine-turned suitable adaptors, one as polished brass to fit the gold-plated end of my pen, and an alloy extender for the cap. He also tweaked the pen clip a bit.  At a cost of less than £30 including recorded delivery, the pen was soon back in my hands, an old friend from 1978 ready for work once again.

Darryl’s friendly helpful service was terrific and is highly recommended – if you have a Parker pen and want to adapt it for a modern refill, you can get in touch directly with Darryl via his website.