Dilbert Electronic Candy Dispenser Troubleshooting & Repair
Videos for Engineers
daughter, Sally, recently bought me a Dilbert Electronic Candy Dispenser at a second-hand store. We soon learned the
reason it was there and not dispensing candy electronically on someone's desk.
When I loaded in a fresh set
of batteries and pressed Dilbert's computer mouse, nothing happened. I whipped out the DMM and measured the voltage
at the two AA batteries as 3.2 V with the switch open, and about 2 V with the switch closed. The system was getting
voltage and drawing current, but nothing was happening.
disassembled the contraption (no easy task), and assessed the situation. The cam-operated shutoff switch was crammed
against a stop, but it was not apparent why. I then pried out the little DC motor and verified that voltage was getting
to the motor. Having toyed around with many similar motors as a kid, and noting that basically nothing has changed
over the years, I confidently unbent the two case retaining tabs and pulled the rotor assembly out from the stator
key to getting it apart is removing the CPU front cover beneath the computer monitor. I used a thin metal 6" engineering
ruler (scale). The cover snaps in on each side with a little locking tab. It will take a lot of force to pry the
tabs out of the holes, but I have done it at least three times with no damage to the tabs or the mating holes.
Be sure to note the placement of all the
gears and cams as you disassemble everything since the timing of the electrical switch is dependent on getting it
back together correctly.
were carbon deposits all over the brushes (2) and commutators (3), along with some poorly applied grease that was
supposed to be at the rear rotor support (not on the brushes). A little MEK on a Q-tip took care of the misplaced
grease, and then some 600 grit sandpaper on the brushes and commutators took care of the carbon deposits. The motor
was reassembled and then fired up while still outside the dispenser housing.
reinstalling the motor and aligning its gear with the main dispenser gear, I pressed the start button and it immediately
started to run and then stall. I hurriedly removed one of the AA cells to prevent damage; it is not possible to put
the batteries in backwards. Upon close examination of the situation, it became obvious that the entire gearworks was
running backwards, causing the cam-operated shutoff switch to get jammed into the cam rather than ride over the top
of it. A quick reversal of the two wires at the battery box rectified (literally) the problem; soldering required.
else was cleaned (remember that it was second-hand) and reassembled. The video below shows the results.