The Illumination Repairs App

I was inspired by the work/volunteering that I had been doing for Illumination Repairs C.I.C. to attempt to create a contact app and I decided to create it in Flutter so that eventually it would work on both Android and iOS without having to write the whole thing twice – there are pros and cons to this approach which I hope to cover in another post.

I opened up Android Studio on my Development Laptop and set to work….

I first of all I discovered how to create three tabs within the AppBar which would enable me to switch between three pages easily. They were “Home”, “Email” and “Website”. I used the artwork from the Illumination Repairs Instagram posts – cheeky I know but I was hoping that the company would benefit from my efforts so it was justified. The colour scheme that they had chosen was black and white so I felt that I had to keep it as it is part of their “brand” – I would have much rather used a more colourful palate.

The “Home Page”

Here you can clearly see the tabs (set on Home). The artwork is the first page of a video presentation which they created to “tell their story”. The next images are some of the “slides” in the video presentation.

It took me a while to work out how to have a mpg4 run in the app but I succeeded. I will leave a link to my GitHub Repo for this app at the end so you can see how I did it rather than explain here.

Next is the “Email” tab which leads to an email based enquiry form which sends an email to a designated address.

Finally, there is the “Website” tab which has a link to email (blank) but again to a designated email address. I later considered this surplus to requirements because the form on the email tab form was sufficient.

It also has a link to Illumination Repairs Facebook page and the Illumination Repairs website.

The biggest flaw with this app is that for all of the people who approach us for a repair it is a one-off contact – who would download an app just to get one or two things repaired, so it will never go into production in it’s current form. All is not lost – I know a little more about how to embed a video into a Flutter app, I have more of an idea about how to create an email enquiry form in Flutter, I can put links into buttons to webpages and email (the second email code works a bit different to the first) and the links to the webpages including Facebook/Meta can be done several ways – I tried the most common way (according to Stack Overflow) and it didn’t work as it was trying to parse ipv6 addresses and I think that that particular method was best suited to ipv4 addresses and so I found another method much better. I will use what I have learned in other apps and it has opened my horizons to the possibility of other apps.

That link to my GitHub Repository containing the code for this app:-

https://github.com/CullenDevelopment/illumination_repairs

Things that I have repaired.

These are some of the things that I have repaired as part of Illumination Repairs since November 2021.

Shredder

This was the second shredder that I repaired – this one had a bent paper switch – the one that activates the shedder when you put paper in the feed. The first one had a broken switch and I re-wired and replced the switch.

Kettle

The one of the bi-metallic strips needed replacing – I had a spare lying around from a kettle that could not be repair due to a broken and non-replaceable element. This one went to a charity shop – it was an Asda basic range kettle and wasn’t worth much so we gave it away after extending it’s life.

Toaster

This toaster – the metal strips that holds the bread has come off it’s rails – it was given a new lease of life via the charity shop – it made nice toast – well, you have to try these things out (you do actually, more about that later) but wasn’t worth much but someone will have the use of it and it’s one less easily mended electrical in landfill.

Nespresso Coffee Machine.

It wasn’t puncturing the pods. It turned out that it did if you put the pods in at a certain angle. It wasn’t broken as such but perhaps a little worn and worked perfectly if you were careful. It went back to a very grateful client who gave a donation. Nice machine.

A “Flip-over clock” from Habitat

This clock wasn’t flipping over the days of the week due to a broken mechansim post and so the gears were not engaging. I replaced the post with a screw and it went back to it’s owner.

Sit in electric toy car.

After much investigation, it turns out that there is a switch in the charging point socket. When it is charging the circuit goes one way; when it is not charging i.e. when the charging plug is not inserted a switch closes enabling the battery to power the motors, lights, horn, radio and a host of other accessories. The problem was that the switch was stuck – it only needed to free the mechanism of the switch. The parent of the owner was very grateful and I have since heard that her children are getting a lot of use out of it again. We don’t usually repair things this big – it was sat in my sitting room for several weeks. We were sad and also pleased to see it go at the same time!

Morphy Richards Steam Generator Iron.

The steam was working but the iron was not getting hot – I replaced a relay that controlled the current to the iron element once I found the problem – it is always worth investigating – the obvious answer was that the element in the iron was defective but by a series of resistance measurements that was found not to be true and I was able to trace it back to the relay. The owner was very pleased and made a generous donation.

DeLonghi Eletta Coffee Machine

Despite the owners very thorough cleaning regime it turned out that the reason this coffee machine stopped brewing was a blockage in the hot water pipe.

Whenever we complete a repair on anything that uses mains electricity we have to ensure that it is safe and to that end we Portable Appliance Test (PAT) the items and record the results then apply a sticker to show that it has been done and the appliance is safe.

The first part of the test is a visual check of plugs for sound connections, that the cable is secure, that an appropriate value fuse is inserted and that it is in good condition (no tin foil, nails or other bodges), no signs of overheating or cracks and other damage to the plug. The cable is inspected to show that it is in good condition and we check for cracks and other damage on the appliance. We then determine what “Class” of electrical item we are dealing with and set the PAT Tester to check the appliance according to it’s class. Class I tests Earth Conductivity (Bonding) and Insulation resistance. Class II, just Insulation Resistance. We can also do a “cord test” which is generally detachable cables like “kettle leads”. All of the values should be (well) within the values set by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) Code of Practice for “In-Service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment” 5th Edition.

My Seaward Primetest 100 PAT tester

This is my PAT Tester. The smart ones amongst you might be thinking the top figure – Earth Conductivity – is a little high as we would prefer the figure to be <0.1 Ohms (the guidance is <0.2 Ohms usually and in special circumstances <0.5 Ohms) but it was down to the length and conductor cross surface area of the cable.

The last part of the test is that it functions as it should do which is why I enjoyed the toast with the toaster that I repaired as well as coffee from both coffee machines.

I also replaced the screen on a DAB radio, the aerial on another DAB radio and repaired an assortment of other things that I haven’t got photgraphs for…

I decided to create a Flutter based app on the theme of Illumination Repairs… More about that next time….