Opinion

COLUMN: There’s a price to pay for making your own

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The technical evolution of devices that brings music to our ears began, instruments aside, with huge wind-up units that played sounds off a metal drum. Then came paper rolls and, thanks to the discovery of vinyl, eventually records.

The devices to play them became smaller, such as the ubiquitous MP3 players and smartphones.

Following records – the 78s, 45s, 33s and so on – came large 8-track tapes soon usurped by cassettes which, in turn, were made obsolete by CDs. And like VCR movies, it’s now almost impossible to even find them anymore. The above mentioned mini-computers/phones similarly consigned CDs to the evolutionary dustbin.

Yet resting in the dash of many cars are CD players, the actual mechanism often now silent except in one of ours. Not that it was playing sweet music. It just growled and grumbled annoyingly when the key was turned on, and often kept grinding away long after the key was turned off.

Fortunately, following the somewhat short interludes of annoying clatter when the engine was started and stopped, the unit remained silent, until its keeps going even after the key is off shenanigans killed the battery.

When the car wouldn’t go, it was time for the CD player to go too.

The bad news from the garage is that it can’t be fixed other than removing/replacing it, in the meantime leaving a gaping hole where the stereo once was.

Seems that in the six-disc player one of the discs was undecided as to whether it should play, change or eject itself, in the process making an incredible racket. The only cure, once removed from the car, was to irreparably gut it. And the cheapest way to do that was to do it myself.

From the mechanic came sage, though obviously too late, advice: “you should never put ‘home-made’ CDs in multiple disc players . . . they don’t like them.”

In the nether regions of my house is a very large freezer, of the vintage near that of gramophones. Despite its years, and admittedly high cost of energy inefficiency, it serves both as a large repository of often forgotten food and as a handy workbench.

Currently resting on its time-worn top are myriad tiny screws, electronic boards, widgets and wiring connections of what purpose I have no clue. But during the “surgery” I marveled at the creative genius who designed these players. There are more gears and levers driving the unit than in the finest Swiss watch. Sadly, my efforts to resolve the sticky disc dilemma laid waste to all that engineering.

I’m great at gutting things, not so great at putting them back together. The result of which, since thanks to the automotive industry’s policy of immediate obsolescence, the units are no longer made, meant it was off to the auto-wrecking yard to find a replacement.

Thus acquired and installed, the hole in the dash filled and the speakers once more reverberating with sound, the regular driver of said vehicle is happy again.

I do, however, now have six CDs extracted from the offending apparatus. And upon inspection of the recovered discs, all but one was homemade, thus demonstrating that piracy does have its price.

markrushton@abbynews.com

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