My underwater swimming timer stopped working last week. Only the two little digital black dots in the middle remained. Being somewhat of a pessimist, I immediately checked for leakage in the waterproof case. I was glad to discover it was all still dry. I thought the screen would be totally blank when the battery ran out, but it was worth a try to investigate anyway.
When I got the kitchen timer out of the multiple snaps and three layers of heavy duty zip locks, I couldn’t see any common access to a battery. I presented it to my engineer. He surmised that the battery was screwed in because the timer itself is supposed to be water resistant, even though we don’t test this and fortify it with the waterproof iPod case. He found a jeweler’s screw driver and took off the panel, exposing a gooey looking battery.
It was a regular AAA cylindrical battery, but there was some sort of gel all over the space, as well as a rubber gasket. Again, my engineer, allaying my concerns of battery chemical decomposition, suggested that stuff was also meant to protect the electrical connections from moisture. So, I found him a new battery, because I am good for some things.
Meanwhile, he went looking for his own supply of gooey substitutes in his workshop. He returned with two tubes, but upon reading the label of one discovered it hardens when it dries. Not good. The other tube was silicone sealant. He piped it into the battery slot, then screwed the panel back on. Now there was slimy silicone on the back side of the timer, too, as I discovered when I tried to pick it up. He said I should let that dry a little and then it wouldn’t be so bad to handle.
Finally, the next day, I put my timer all back together and went out for a swim. But when I went to push the buttons, all it did was blink at me that I could change the hours and minutes. No stopwatch function was appearing like it had before. Sigh. I checked the back of the timer again and didn’t see any switch to help me out. I took a moment to be grateful that it was actually a warm February day, and went to stand in a sunny section of the pool while I decided what to do.
I noticed a teeny tiny white spot on the back of the timer and tried to push it through the plastic. Nothing. For all I could tell, it was just an odd variation among a number of odd variations on the back of the timer, but with no other ideas, I made sure the timer was positioned in a dry place over the side of the pool and got the timer out again. If I used the very tip of one of the pointiest places of one fingernail, I could get the white spot to push and click like a button. Now this was getting exciting! I turned the timer around and saw that it had an M and an S on it now. I pressed the start button and it began counting up for me. Ah, minutes and seconds! Perfect.
I zipped it all back up and put it underwater for my swim time. This was going to test two things: 1) It would test how tightly the pouch sealed up with multiple openings, and 2) It would test whether or not the battery was really set up correctly. One swim workout later, all was working just right. At least I had figured out half of it by myself. However, I don’t think I’ll be miraculously repairing anyone’s radio or computer to avoid apocalypse, unless all they need is a new battery…