Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Don't Trust Warranty on eBay

If a trader on eBay claims to provide a warranty, don't take their word for granted. Because if they refused to provide a warranty or don't reply to your email after purchase,you are own your own and eBay will not help. Here is my story of what I have gone through in one such case.

I bought 10 LED lamps from "HappyHome" on eBay on 13/01/2013 and 3 of the lamps have gone burst within 6 months. I doubt if remaining 7 would leave beyond 12 months.

Issue is: The glass on top becomes concave may be due to heat and then leaves its grip with the body and pop out. Before going down the led start blinking and lamp makes little blast sound. The lamp in left picture (taken on 25/06) has burst today, the one on right is the lamp that burst earlier. It clearly indicate poor manufacturing process and quality issue.

Link to 'HappyHome' store page
Link to LED lamps from 'HappyHome' on eBay

See the picture below that clearly state that 'HappyHome' provide 12 months warranty on their LED lamps, that is pure lie. As after sending 3 mails in last one month or so, i have not received any reply. Also when i took up this issue with eBay customer service and their reply is even more disappointing.

eBay Response - see what eBay has to say about this, in their own words. Read it carefully and make your own decision while buying any valuable from eBay. 

Pictures like above of the complete chat with eBay is available here
(refer chat screen.docx or chat with agent.htm). The chat transcript is provided below. 

so u r saying ebay can't do anything about it
can you not ask your member to fulfil their warranty or black list them
hello John, r u there ?
i need a reply from you on above queries
John Rea (eBay Customer Rep)
Unfortunately, we cannot contact or force a member to fulfill their obligations as we have no control over what has happened. What I can advise that you do is to contact your seller or square trade about this.
I am really concerned and its big surprise for me here - ebay saying they can't control their member or ensure that the seller meets their obligation on what they saying on their page
in that case any seller would claim to provide a warranty and when customer demand it, they don't respond
John Rea
Yes, that is correct, but please know that we have a 45 day time frame to file a case if something has happened with the item, in this case being faulty. However, since the time allotted for this has passed, I'm afraid that the option to file one is not available any longer.
John Rea
This is because we feel that 45 days is a fair amount of time for the buyer and seller to try to resolve the problem. It also allows for difficulties with the postal service and personal circumstances.
John Rea
Also, what has indicated in the listing about warranties depend on the seller's action, as it is their decision on how to proceed. Also, Our site is a venue where anyone can offer, sell and buy just about anything, at anytime, from anywhere, in a variety of formats. At no point do we have possession of anything listed or sold through the site.
fine but here the seller is selling something with 12 month warranty, hope you have seen the link that i sent
John Rea
Because eBay is not involved in the actual transaction between Buyers and Sellers we have no control over the quality, safety or legality of the items or the truth or accuracy of the listings.
now if a customer faces an issue with the item, you must ensure that seller meet their obligation
if you can't ensure that or control it - a seller would say anything in their advertisement. anyone would i provide a 12 months warranty
i know what you are saying you have not control on the quality of the item, however you have control on the listing and the member
you must have provision in your system to identify the fraud seller like this and blacklist them
in this case if you raise my concern with a seller he might help me
John Rea
Yes, that is correct, Nilesh. You don't have to worry as this kind of report has been saved and we will review your seller's action and take action if needed.
you also don't provide a provision for item feedback, otherwise people can right feedback about such seller so that other buyer are informed
will you be taking any action against the seller in this case?
if so what? Will you be informing about what action have your taken?
John Rea
Occasionally these unfortunate situations do arise. We work our hardest to reduce the frequency of these events, however sometimes the situation is beyond our control. I can assure you that when these situations do arise we always work as quickly as possible to try and solve the problems. This is very important to us, as we want our community of users to enjoy the best possible trading experience.
John Rea
Rest assured that your report will be investigated thoroughly. Appropriate action will be taken immediately once a decision has been made. However, due to our compliance with our Private Policy, we are unable to provide you any information as to what action has been taken.
John Rea
To have an idea on what possible actions will be applied, it may range from a warning, restriction or may even result to a suspension of an account, depending on what type of offense they made.
From your words it is clear that you will not be taking any action - if you don't inform me how will i know that you have taken a action
you are asking me to contact a police and some third party warranty provider and not helping me directly
John Rea
I understand why you're upset and I can't blame you for that. However, please understand as I try to inform to you why I can't take any further action. I believe I have addressed all of your concerns. Please follow what has been advised. Thank you for using eBay and have a good night.
Till date eBay has not taken any action against this trader as you can see from the link provided above. I don't think they will take any action as they earn their $$ comes from a commision they get from sellers. Also they don't provide a feedback mechanism like Amazon seems to suggest they favour sellers more than buyers.

Friday, 5 July 2013

3D Printed Jigsaw Puzzle

Software Used
1) GIMP2 - for picture editing
2) Inkscape to convert picture file (.jpg) in to SVG
3) Tinkercad to convert SVG into STL file

Detailed Process
1) Download a map picture from google

2) Simplify the picture using software like GIMP or just draw it. In this case i made the following changes
- Made Goa little bigger
- Simplified the boundary of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh
- Connected all north eastern states in to one

3) Follow Inkscape tutorial for tracing and than save it as SVG file
- First Trace above map image, you will get boundary line picture which looks same as above
- Fill the color in each state, select all state and move it on side
- Delete the boundary image
- Now only below image remains, save it as SVG

4) Goto and create a free account. Tinkercad is browser based 3D design software which is now acquired by Autocad
- Create a new design 
- Import SVG, set the scale as 30% or you can reduce the model size afterward
- Set Height = 2mm
- Click the import button, Your 3D design of a map is ready now
- Save it as .STL file and print it using a 3D Printer

 5) Final product, 3D Printed Jigsaw printed using white ABS plastic (plastic of LEGO blocks). The case on right side makes your job easy to arrange a puzzle, believe me otherwise it's bit hard for anyone.

After painting indian flag color on the puzzle, this make it really easy for young kids. 
my Huxley 3D Printer
6) if you want to print one of your own, follow the link below to download the design file. 

7) Here is a UK map puzzle, made using same process


8) You can use the same design process to design a cookie cutter too.
- Mickey Mouse Cookie Cutter

9) Gingerbread girl cookie cutter, my 7 year old niece wanted me to make her this gingerbread girl cookie cutter. I had no idea how it should look, so she drew below picture for me (on left)  and picture of final product on right. This one is printed using organic plastic PLA (its made from corn). Here is link if you want one

Monday, 20 May 2013

my Pi-Car

Pi-Car is a Raspberry Pi (RPi) controlled RC (remote control) car, for details click on the link. In brief Pi-car runs without pressing the remote buttons, instead we will send the instructions by a computer program. I have used the basic Pi-Car kit and Raster RC car Porche GT3 RS from Argos.

How it works?
We connect the RC circuit Left, Right, Forward, Backward button points and 0V points with RPi GPIO pins, using Pi-Car circuit which is made of 4 FETs and 4 Resistors. Need to write Python program that controls the behaviour of pressing the L/R/Frwd/Bkwrd button of the remote. For detailed instruction for building a car like this follow the instructions provided here

Here are the pictures of my setup

1. RC Circuit of Raster RC Car Porche GT3 RS from Argos

2. Make 5mm hole on back of the RC to create a passage for wires

3. Final setup looks like this

4. Here is a video showing how it works, doing one forward and backward loop, there is a sleep of 10 sec in between to change the position of the car

5. This video is showing car following the carpet perimeter forward and reverse

6. Sample Python script, here is link to my Python script, which is a modified version of the sample script provided by

Lessons Learnt
I think overall its a great project for any 10+ years old to learn computer programming in fun way. I found that even the five years olds were quite excited and amazed watching the car run by a computer instead of a remote, all they have to do is hit the enter key :-). They also got a hang of it, Big Computer talking to small one, Small one (RPi) is talking to remote and remote is talking to a car. :-)

Controlling a RC car is not that easy, as the basic car doesn't have speed control or break system. It simply runs based on how long a button is pressed, so getting a time accuracy is bit of tedious job and require lots of trial and error. Also it may not run the same distance on and off carpet due to variation in friction. The charge of the battery will also affect the distance it covers in a given time, for example with full charge it may cover 3 ft in 1 sec but with low charge it may be able to do only 2.5 or 2 feet. I think once you get hang of it its fun.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Tinkercad got a new lease of life

Tinkercad is nice little tool for 3D modeling, specially designed for 3D printing. It's very easy to use compare to other free/open source tools like Blender, Sketchup, Audocad 123D etc. About a month back there was an announcement that Tinkercad will be discontinued as core team wants to pursue other goals. However interestingly on 18/05/2013 they announced that Audocad has agreed to lease a new life to this nice little tool.

I have mainly used two tools Sketchup and Tinkercad, sketchup is mainly used for Architectural design. The model coming out of sketchup is not ready for 3D printing, requires some special plug-ins to export the sketchup model to STL format. As such it may not be fair to compare Sketchup with Tinkercad, as both tool's are designed for different purpose but both are widely used by 3D printing hobbyist users.

What I like about Tinkercad (compare to Sketchup)?

  1. Import SVG, I like it as it makes it very to easy to convert a 2D drawing to 3D model. I have used it to make Map Jigsaw puzzle and Cookie Cutter.
  2. Some of my favourite features are Object rotation, push/pull, cutting, moving object from one place to other, joining two objects, making an object transparent etc.. are way to easy in Tinkercad compare to Sketchup
  3. Best thing in Tinkercad is,  object coming out is always a solid object unlike in Sketchup where sometimes you need to repair the STL.

I wish we have following features in Tinkercad, I am not an expert so if you think this is already possible in Tinkercad, feel free to post your comments.

  • Number of basic shapes available are bit limited, I wish we have Arc or round shape objects. As making round corners of the cube is not that easy
  • Drawing canvas size is bit limited and also zoom is limited
  • I miss the guide and measure tools of sketchup in Tinkercad, the scale tool in Tinkercad provides very limited functionality. I find it very difficult to measure the internal details of the object in Tinkercad. For example in this Map jigsaw, how do we measure the width and height of a particular state?
  • Adjust the size of the tool-bar icons and movement of tool bar side to top or bottom

My creations with Tinkercad
Micky mouse cookie cutter -
Gingerbread woman -
Samsung galacy Ace2 case -
India map jigsaw puzzle -
UK map jigsaw puzzle -

Note: Sketchup is not completely free but they provide free and licensed version both, the free version is quite good enough for any beginner. I find the plug-in architecture of Sketchup quite powerful, as it has allowed to build large list of free plug-in libraries by community.