Repair Parts From Unlikely Sources


[Jay] sent us some details of a quick fix for a baby swing he owns, along with the unlikely place where he found replacement parts. We showed you a pair of his creations earlier this week, which you might recall. As luck would have it, the motor on the baby swing he modified burned out shortly after we featured his hack. Don’t worry – he didn’t break the swing when he hacked it, nor is there a Hack-a-Day curse. It’s purely coincidence, we swear!

The swing is about 7 years old so the burned out motor wasn’t that huge a surprise. After doing some research, it was looking like he would likely need to shell out $70-$100 for a replacement motor. He luckily stumbled upon a forum thread that said a motor from a cheap air freshener was a perfect match, so he gave it a shot.  Sure enough, it was the same motor, but with more torque. All it took was $5 to get the swing up and running good as new.

It just goes to show that you never know useful common items can be until you take them apart to see what’s inside.

38 thoughts on “Repair Parts From Unlikely Sources

  1. This is definitely a more powerful motor than those found in CDROM drives, but $70-100 for a motor must mean the supply is low and the dema… well you know.

    It amazes me sometimes that these simple fixes are there for the hacking. You just need to not be lazy and get up and do it.

    I’m sure your baby is much happier now that the swing can really rock!

  2. Wait. He hacked the swing to defeat the time-limited shutoff and shortly afterwards the motor burned out. You don’t see a connection here?

    I’ll make the bold prediction that the brand new motor won’t last 7 years if the limit is still hacked.

  3. @Sam – Safe bet that rigging it to run continuously was the last straw on the old motor. But if the new motor does have more torque it should sustain continuous operation with the same load better than the old motor.

  4. @Sam – I believe the 7 minute limit hack is only for the mobile + sound and light show built into the swing, not the actual swing’s motor. At least that’s how the Fisher Price swing we have works.

  5. from the article:

    “Nevertheless, the new baby is in this thing almost all day. I’m not surprised it burnt up.”

    maybe he should more time actually playing with his child and a little less time modifying the damn swing.

  6. Fisher-price hasn’t changed the design of these swings in a very long time, actually. The newer swings are only cosmetically different. This is the same as with a lot of their baby stuff (jumpers, seats, etc.)

    Re: the motor – it’s actually a fairly specialty part, with very high stall torque and low voltage. The air freshener canisters require a fair bit of pressure to run, and the swings require a good push each swing.

  7. It’s called gear ratio. Torque increases by the inverse ratio that the rotation is geared down. Like anything out there different performance motors in the same package from the same manufacturer. If the baby is in the swing all day I am surprised CPS has not been called. Perhaps an arduino to log the baby’s daily duration is in order.

  8. Once you start to see the prices some manufacturers charge for stupid proprietary things in the industrial parts industry… you never stop cringing.

    $300 peripheral circuit boards (that really aren’t that complicated).
    $1000 for a copy of the software you already had loaded on your machine.
    $5000 main boards. From a 1995 vintage machine.
    $500 for pumps that you know you can buy for $100 or less.
    $800 for a PLC
    $2000 for said software on PLC

    I guess when production grinds to a halt, you overnight the important stuff? Sometimes it just goes well beyond stupid expensive though.

  9. It never ceases to amaze me how people can read something and twist it around. Makes me laugh really because it confirms I have a pretty good grip on reality, right and wrong.

    Hopefully Jason will update this post on the REAL reason the motor died. You all have it wrong so far ;-)

    @BadWolf – What does Karma say when you call? “Stop calling me fool”. ha ha.

  10. 7 minute timer hah. This kid is trying out for the astronaut corps’s, already able to be disoriented for long periods with no vomiting.
    Next hack a magnet drive with feedback and get rid of the motor.
    Have you checked that increased mass has slowed the swing out of the frequency that the motor and gears provide causing wear. Longer straps to chair.
    Magnet drive won’t have this problem.

  11. Seeing that big plastic gear in the pic I thought I’d add my Mr. Obvious little hack. These gears are notorious for having those tiny little teeth break. Good luck finding one the exact same size and gear ratio. I take the gear with the broken tooth and smash it into a flat wad of silly putty, then lift and turn the gear a little and reseat it so the broken tooth is in an impression. Fill with a little epoxy or super glue and wait to dry. Voila new gear tooth and functioning gear :) Hope this simple trick helps someone :)

  12. @everyone:

    The hack i did last week was only to run the lights and mobile…The rocking motor is completely independent of that. So, for everyone who thinks that i “burned it up” you are dead wrong. My significant other plugged in my laptop’s power supply thinking it was the cradle swing’s supply. And yes, i got rid of the batteries a while ago. The laptop supply is 16v, and promptly overloaded the control circuitry and sent too much voltage to the swing motor. After some police style questioning and troubleshooting skills i was able to put together what had “actually” happened. At first i thought the motor had just died but then she made a comment about the adapter, something like “it’s the one with the yellow end” and i said “uh no”. It’s then i realized what had happened.

    Also, to everybody who doesn’t have children, you have no idea what it is like for you child to have gas and be uncomfortable. The swing really helps with that and gives her something to watch. When i say all day, i mean like 3 or 4 times a day for maybe an hour, she actually loves to sleep in it while rocking.

    So the next time you read something, maybe there should be a little less trolling and accusations of child neglect, this is supposed to be a great environment to share experiences with other people. I challenge anyone who thinks they can fix stuff to get off their @ss and do it, then post it to hack a day like i have.

  13. Usefull info. I did sort of the same thing;
    The slideout tray in my old dvd-player had burned out, luckilly i had and broken cd-rom laying around. It had the exact samt motor for the tray as the dvd-player. A quick snip and solder, it worked again!

  14. So the moral of the story ISN’T “it was designed to turn off after 7:15 SO IT WOULDN’T SELF-DESTRUCT?”

    I find it amusing that hackaday didn’t take this as an opportunity to explain that (1) lots of stuff is carefully designed so it doesn’t destroy itself with, for example, auto-shutoff times; and (2) that violating the original design may push the operation of your hacked device right past the bounds of its own safely operating specification.

    It should probably be something you describe very carefully at hackaday, considering we don’t want our hacks to destroy our equipment. It’s a serious design consideration, making sure that whatever parts you use don’t self-destruct because your design asks too much of them.

  15. Plus, it always costs a lot to have to suss out and repair whatever component broke down.

    As example, I recently modified a battery-operated rechargeable screwdriver to work with much higher capacity NiMH cells than the original NiCD cells it came with. In one continuous run of the driver pushing a drywall screw into plywood (pilot hole already drilled, mind you) I stripped out the drive gears. I imagine it would have run down the batteries or had insufficient torque if I had just left the damn thing alone.

  16. @dan fruzzetti – Sigh. The real moral of the story is that people continue to contribute their two cents before actually reading an article and without paying any attention to previous comments.

    Had you actually read the write up or comments you would see in several places that his previous hack was related to a different component in the same swing, and the destruction of the motor was due to a mistake made by his wife, not purposefully over driving any particular part.

    I’m sorry to hear that you broke your rechargeable screw driver, but it sounds like you should likely heed the following warnings:

    (1) lots of stuff is carefully designed so it doesn’t destroy itself with, for example, auto-shutoff times;

    (2) that violating the original design may push the operation of your hacked device right past the bounds of its own safely operating specification.

    Neither of which this guy did.

  17. @Dan:
    You should read my latest post. No one is pushing the design. Also I consider myself a competent engineer who knows a devices limits. I would not have done something so irresponsible as to compromise the integrity of any such device. It’s people like you, shoot first and ask questions later that really bring down a great forum like this. It’s easy to be an armchair quarterback isn’t it? If ANYONE doesn’t have a constructive comment or opinion I urge you to navigate away from this page, trolls are not welcome. Fir the rest of you, thanks for your comments and support.


  18. to get away from all the bashing…..

    I have a beard trimmer that I’ve hacked WAY past its design lifetime. I finally gave up on it after: replacing the nicad cell twice (for some time I had it hacked to run directly off a wall-wart), replacing the wall-wart charger (which involved opening up the replacement and soldering on a coiled cord–itself hacked from something else), epoxying broken gear mounts in the head, and finally replacing the motor with an identical one from an electric toothbrush. This last involved dremeling the gear off the toothbrush motor and replacing with the offset actuator from the original.

    When the last battery died, I went looking for a replacement and found I could get a much nicer one for around double the cost of the replacement cell. It finally hit the shitcan after ten years….

  19. That is an awesome story about renuvinating something way past it’s useful life. This is the kind of hack that makes you feel like you really prevented something from hitting the can right away.

  20. Mmm. Now it just needs a stereo, laser guided missiles, booster rockets, and cheetah blood rubbed on in the shape of two lightning bolts on it and that kid will really be having some fun…

    Or more realistically, perhaps a hack that lets you swap out the sounds and put in different light combinations? Make this bugger programmable and far more interesting for the kid?

  21. There was a story some years ago about how extended time in a swing was not good for infants. IIRC, that was why the timeout function on the FP swings was instituted. I’m sure it could be googled….

    That said, I understand the frustration of a ‘gassy’ infant. I’ve been there, with multiple children and grandchildren. As long as the kid’s not strapped in for hours at a time, I don’t see the harm.

  22. @Jack:

    The timeout is for the lights and sound, not the rocking. Basically, its like those old hand crank units, sans lights and music. As long as you crank it, it rocks. Thanks for the kind words.


  23. I performed this repair on my daughters swing but the motor out of the air freshener makes quite a bit of noice when pushing the swing. Anyone else run into this? The original motor was almost silent in operation but this one isn’t far from drowning out the music it’s so loud. Any imput would be appreciated.

    1. I tried to do this…in the new fresh magic ultra the motor isn’t strong enough. I’ve tried it twice unsuccessfully…I guess it’s a less powerful motor. I mean it’s a fisher price snugabunny cradle and swing and the inside is a bit different….however the motor in the new freshmatic is just not powerful enough. It has to be the original or express…the ultra….just doesn’t have the power needed.

  24. Worked great. Before looking around the Internet I tried a similar looking motor from a surplus electronics store in the valley called all electronics. Motor had the same dims and very similar markings on the side, but turned out it spun much slower and had less torque. Airwick freshmatic ultra gadget only was purchased on eBay for about $7. Working great now.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.