Sunday, March 7

Five Whys for Cateye

In a previous post, here, I noted a fix for a wiggly Cateye HL-EL530. That post was premature. As it turned out, sometimes a simple fix is not adequate.

Where I work, there's a level of affection for what is known as "Six Sigma," where people use what I (somewhat politically incorrectly) refer to as "an engineering approach" to solve tough problems. The name comes from the Motorola and then General Electric program whereby they wanted to ensure that light bulbs would fail less than three standard deviations from the mean. In English, that'd mean that if you bought a GE light bulb they hadn't bothered to test, it would light up for you 997000 times out of a million. Dilbert aside, I KNOW that six sigma works because I've used it to solve problems that have been around since before I got out of elementary school. I don't know that I care for all the "belt" mystical stuff, but there is substance beneath the BS, sure enough.

Anyway, part of "Six Sigma" is what is known as "THE FIVE WHYS." This is simply going down levels below the immediate problem you are having, to find out why that problem occurs and why THAT problem occurs and so on. It's sometimes hard to get below three whys, but even three is beyond what most people do. Even me.

My Cateye light wiggled - Why? It was loose in the bracket. Every Cateye bracket. That was the first why, and it was what prompted my post and the zip tie fix. Slap myself in the face! I'd forgotten to keep digging to deeper whys.

The SECOND WHY - Why was my Cateye light wiggling in every bracket? Because something had changed in the light. I didn't examine even down to the second why.

The THIRD WHY - Why did something change in the light? Because of the photo below.
Which brings up the FOURTH Why. Why did the front of the light bracket break? Because something acted to pull the light upwards at the front or push it down at the back. I'm not sure what that might be other than the on/off switch is at the top rear of the light. I've never smacked the thing intentionally, however. It's just gotten well used over the year I've had it. What's more, this pretty definitely looks a lot worse than it did even a couple of weeks ago. SOMETHING is chewing my light bracket up in the opposite direction of what might intuitively be expected.

We shall SEE what the Fifth Why reveals. Right now that light is at my LBS. Perhaps I will be a happy camper. Rain is in the forecast for Monday, so missing my light is not a big deal yet. Even should this drag until Tuesday, I have my cruddy Cateye 520 as a backup.


Ham said...

I don't think much to the overall quality of cateye these days, much as though their illumination is good (why I carry on using them)

When I did an overnight ride last year (Dunwich Dynamo, c.150 cross country miles all up) I bought a supermarket copy of a 3w LED maglite for about £10/$15 (runs on 2 x C-cells), covered it with a piece of old inner tube to stop it grating my bars and fixed it on top of the stem using ties and rubber bands. Astonishing performance, but unfortunately no dip switch.

Oldfool said...

In open ocean sailing I have learned that if it looks like it will break it will,sooner or later, usually sooner.
If it looks absolutely bullet proof and couldn't possibly break it will but usually later after you have come to rely on it and in a place that not only can't be fixed but can't even be "temporarily"(pick the term you prefer) rigged.
Since the only sure thing was to carry a whole extra ship I just settled on having a back up plan (lots of duck tape, zip ties, baling wire and bungie cords along with the standard string, marlin and rope) for when things died.
Once I understood that life at sea on a boat was a series of broken stuff I relaxed and life was good.
I am not empressed with the so called modern materials and engineering If my life depends on it I build it myself.
I'll bet with your background and brains you can design and build your own light that would put the expensive inferior junk to shame.

Steve A said...

Glue, WD40, and paper clips also come in handy.

m e l i g r o s a said...

lights are such a pain in the butt. I have a cateye that is missing some stupid little rubber thing which makes the whole thing unstable. now i wrap it around my basket or stem with a veclro strap. ta-da. problem solved LOL

Steve A said...

Lights DO seem to be persnickety. I have now discovered that a NEW 530 base also wiggled - in each of the three brackets I have, and niether of my other non-530 Cateye lights wiggle at all. Velouria swears hers is solid.

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