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Article on Reliability of Electronics

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  • Article on Reliability of Electronics


    Some on this list no doubt have visited this web-site, but I will call attention to it here.

    Dr. Colin Pykett, a gentleman from the UK, has a site that is chock a block with articles he has written on organs, both pipe and electronic. They are generally informed articles, but some of them sound a little out of date.

    Anyways, his latest article is called "Reliability and Obsolescence in Electronics". I won't comment on it other than to say, I don't come across near as many component failures as he has, or thinks happens out in the field.

    The link to the article is

    Read it and weep. Your 20 year old wunder-appliance will shortly go down the river.

    As for me, I am not as pessimistic as the venerable Dr. I service many an organ that is over 25 years old, is serviceable, still works and likely will do so till they are over 30 years old, if they are not replaced by then. Generally people/churches tire of their electronic/digi wonders and replace them. Present day instruments have an advantage of MIDI, which allows for additional excitement and so replacement may not be as frequent, but also the new instruments may not be very serviceable in 20 or more years.

    Also, the article does not deal with speaker problems and fragility of data (software). Maybe he will write about that in a future article.

    John B, if you read this, let us know if this article matches your experience.


  • #2
    I skimmed this article and although he takes a scholarly approach in his discussion of why components fail, in the end he simply pulls a number out of the air for longevity.

    My own experience with electronic components suggest that his figure might be a considered a minimum longevity starting point.

    He mentions the church whose electronic control system for its pipe organ failed and they decided it would be too costly to replace, and got a new electronic/ pipe hybrid in its place. Really? Since when would a decent complete organ be less expensive than replacing the control system? Surely there were other factors at work.

    Allen 965
    Zuma Group Midi Keyboard Encoder
    Zuma Group DM Midi Stop Controller
    Hauptwerk 4.2


    • #3
      He based his longevity predictions on a 2006 publication of the Institute of British Organ Building (could there possibly be any bias?)

      But I agree with him on his concern regarding the outcome, but not necessarily the motivation (it is quite possible technology and component part costs change on their own over time without ill intent on the part of the manufacturers:

      "Among other things, product lifetime is defined by obsolescence due to essential components such as special IC’s not being available at the time of repair, and this can be deliberate policy on the part of a manufacturer. Another factor is the often uneconomic repair costs even if the parts are available. The upshot is that it is often cheaper to throw away and buy new, and although it is peripheral to the thrust of this article, the e-waste problem thus created is significant. For example, much electronic equipment contains highly toxic material such as beryllium or lithium, requiring specialist recycling which is seldom carried out even in developed countries."
      For the record, very few of my properly electrically protected non-moving-part computer electronics have ever failed. Hard drives yes, on/off switches, rarely a power supply, but never a mother board. Of course, I haven't had any computers for 25 years yet...
      Last edited by DellAnderson; 08-19-2010, 06:56 PM.