Taylor Food Thermometer

This Taylor food thermometer display went blank and stayed blank even when given fresh batteries, so it’s getting the teardown treatment before disposal. It appears to be a design that the company has made for many years with slight variations, here is a close cousin I found on Amazon. (*) I’ve found no mentions of repair instructions or replacement parts, this is a disposable device.

The first thing I wanted to check is construction of the temperature probe. There were two possibilities:

  1. The temperature probe is mostly metal, and the sensor is near where the wire is attached. This would be dependent on a metal with high heat conductivity to carry heat from the tip of the probe to the sensor at its base.
  2. The temperature probe is mostly hollow tube, and wires run the entire length of the probe to a sensor at the tip.

I started opening it up and got this far before slicing myself open on a sharp metal edge.

With a ritual blood sacrifice to the teardown gods, I decided to stop here. It is far enough for me to conclude that possibility #2 is correct and the probe is mostly hollow tube with the sensor at the tip.

Next I started prying against the shiny top surface of the device and found it was merely a cosmetic facade held on with glue and not hiding any fasteners underneath.

Four fasteners were visible behind the display so I started work there.

There is a piezo sound element embedded in the back, and a circuit board inside. Under that black blob is likely a chip that runs the whole show. What struck me are the areas to the left of the blob: there are a few round test points, but many more rectangular pads for components that aren’t there. Are they for calibration? Are they for adjustment? Are they to activate/deactivate features for other products in the lineup? Maybe a combination of all of them?

I see a single screw for the base. Removing that screw freed a small piece of plastic but did not free the entire base. However, it did let me see inside the base and distinct signs of additional fasteners.

Aha, I forgot to check for fasteners hidden under squishy feet.

With those screws removed, we can see the base has no active components. It has the battery enclosure, socket for the temperature probe, and a circuit board for all the switches and buttons to operate the device. All the components appear to be in good shape, I see no obvious signs of damage that might explain why the device stopped working.

The display is a custom LCD unit held on with the squishy conductive stuff I’ve seen before in tearing down electronics but didn’t know anything about. This time I went online and found this electronics StackExchange thread. Which linked to this one. Formally “Elastomeric connector” and less formally “zebra strips” (though a search with those terms also need to have “electronic” in the keyword list or else we’d get stuff about zebra the animal.)

I don’t plan on keeping the circuit board or any of the components on board, but I’ll hang on to the LCD for the moment. If I get around to probing the LCD in the future I’ll need to fabricate my own circuit board to make contact with the zebra strip. I can take this picture showing the connector pitch, but sadly I’ve already lost horizontal alignment reference and that’ll be a problem I have to tackle later.

(*) Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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