Instructables
Picture of How to Debeep Things
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These days, lots of household appliances make annoying BEEP sounds.  Their product designers must want you to know the stuff is working for you, right now.  Products beep to show they are finished with a cycle.  They beep to show they are starting a new cycle.  God bless.  

Two examples are our washer and waffle maker. Click on the sound files below of the actual sounds they make.  Washing machines are supposed to make soothing, gurgly sounds to lull a baby to sleep.  Our washing machine sounds like it's making the signal for lights-out in a prison.  Likewise, waffle makers aren't supposed to be obtrusive.  The kids make waffles on Sunday morning, after mom and dad have stayed up laaaaaate on Saturday night.  Our waffle maker sounds like a fire is breaking out at iHop.  After a couple cups of coffee, it's like a 220-volt wire attached to my gut.  

So for GeekDad Day -- a.k.a Father's Day 2012 -- my daughter, 9, and son, 11, went around the house to perform a great service to their over-caffeinated dad.  They performed open heart surgery to remove all the horrible beeps.  It required a little research into the product schematics and a little soldering, but it was worth it.  With a few minutes of work, the house was quiet again.  

 
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Step 1: Find the Source of the Noise

Picture of Find the Source of the Noise
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Unfortunately, the waffle maker did not have any online documentation.  So Lucy had to figure out where to start.  She saw a bunch of holes in the housing where it looked like blindingly obnoxious noises were supposed to emanate.  She began taking it apart there.  (All appliances we worked on were unplugged, of course, and also not the type of appliances with big capacitors and reserve power like TVs that could shock you even when unplugged.)  

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Azayles2 years ago
It's always great to see young players interested in electronics, so big thumbs up to Lucy there!
I've been taking stuff apart, putting it together again (sometimes!) and modifying things since I was about Lucy's age, and haven't looked back since. I'm now 33 :D

What I tend to do is put a switch in line with the buzzer or beeper, in case I need to sell the appliance at a later date, I can return it to "factory settings", or if it's not my appliance, say I'm renting a place :P (Shh, don't tell the landlord!)

Best of luck to Lucy! This is a great 'Ible, and hope both she and your son have this passion for many years :)

Great to see your kids taking things apart! And thanks for a great article. After reading it and being sure what a piezoelectric buzzer looked like, I carefully filled mine with silicone sealant on both sides. Brought the buzzer down to a low roar rather than shaking the walls! I'd rather have no sound but a demur buzz is acceptable. Let the silicone cure before you plug it in. Often, the appliance begins with a beep that might disturb your settling silocone. To heck with the NSA. Maybe we need to learn how to disable all kinds of things.

I like the silicone fix!!
I just tried to do the above to a bosh dishwasher she68r55uc/69. Took the front off, could NOT find anything that looked like a beeper. It might be buried in the big black plastic box housing the control switches, or the big white box housing the LED display. But they did not open easily, and I did not want to hack on them, because I still need THOSE parts to work. i.e. I could not find the dang thing to unsolder it!

If I could just be alone in a room for 5 minutes with the idiot engineers who designed this stuff! The manual says there is a programming way to disable the alarm, but OF COURSE it does not work (after like 100 tries)
Hmm. Yeah, probably in the white box with the display. Damn. I sympathize. Earplugs??
wbsbadboy2 years ago
A word of caution here.
I work on line as an appliance repair consultant and have had my share of people asking how they can disable their appliances buzzer. For the most part they are easy to kill, but there are some models that if you disable the buzzer you disable the control board(s). The manufacturer in its infinite wisdom includes the buzzers into the safety circuitry. If removed the resistance of the circuit changes and the system reads it as a fault in the safety features. Of course the makers don't want any law suits because of failed safety features so it disables the whole unit with an error code flashing on one of the indicator lights, or showing on the readout. As the makers don't think that someone would deliberately disable the buzzer the error code isn't listed in the tech manuals, and I have no way of telling the customer what it means. That in turn makes me look pretty 5to0piD.
Please folks, don't make me, or my fellow appliance techs look stupid. Check with the manufacturer before you disable the buzzers on your appliance.
Thank you!!

Wow, I had heard of "id TEN t" id10t error, but not the "five 2 zero pi D" another code for the tech's out in customer land...

LOL!! Gonna have to remember that error code for future use.

You could always figure out the impedance of the buzzer and replace it with an equivalent resistor, too, so as not to disrupt anything.
I was really curious about that, wbsbadboy. Thanks! I was hoping someone with a deeper understanding would weigh in. It makes sense that some circuits would notice when a voltage is applied to the buzzer but no load results. So some generate an error code. Interesting.

With my computer UPS, I saved the buzzer just in case I had accidentally bricked the product and had to solder it back in. But it's been fine.

People could always try it with an appliance, and if you get a malfunction, reverse course to get things back in order. If all else fails, I think the electrical tape solution applied on top of the buzzer might be the next best thing.
The problems are mostly with the newer style peizos. They are flat and are cold soldered to the board. Removing and replaceing them without affecting the ohms value is tricky to say the least. The boards with the speakers that look like an electret mic can be a problem but for the most part arn't. The ones I have seen that have problems are the higher end units, Bosch, Meile, Thermador, LG, and a smattering of the popular brands like Maytag, Frigidair, Whirlpool, etc.
One concern that should be mentioned here also is that Sears appliances are all made by someone else. So if someone says that Kenmores are ok to remove the speaker they need to determine who made their unit before the remove anything.
As for the tape trick, I prefer a drop of molten glue stick right in the lil hole myself. Two if it is still loud.
Best, Smitty
presumably you could measure the resistance of the buzzer and solder in an equivalent resistor, maybe with an LED to make a visual safety aid, that would (silently) fulfil the same purpose as the buzzer but not disrupt the safety circuit?
Or you could leave the buzzer but pot it in epoxy, you would probably get a dim beep which could be useful.

The stronger the epoxy the less sound it would conduct (I think...ridged to stop the vibrations? or would it conduct the vibrations? or soft to absorb them?) Hell I don't know...
Just wanted to thank the author of this post and everyone who commented. I searched all over google all night to find this answer(s), and just finished de-beeping my girlfriend's flat iron. Or at least muffling it with glue and tape, which tunes it down to a level which doesn't send our Miniature Pinscher into hysterics. You guys rock!
Your kids are awesome - and so are you for teaching them such a useful skill!
lozramsey192 years ago
As dads go, you rock.. That is all. ;)
dsalter22 years ago
what I would like to see, is an easy way to change the annoying buzzer to something nice, like a song, or just something different from the same old buzzer, beep, blah, blah.

surely, there is someone who is creative and smart enough to make this happen?

don
Irish_geek2 years ago
A friend of mine had a jug kettle with a particularly horrifying sound bomb designed to wake dead people which went off whenever the water boiled.

One day he attacked it with a screwdriver to remove the banshee, but failed to find the offending part and ended up with a slightly wobbly handle, a spare spring and some extra screws to add to his collection.

The following day he picked the boiling kettle out of the base into which it sat and as he was walking away heard a wailing behind him. On looking closely at the base, he discovered a little switch underneath marked "Boiling alert" "On" and "Off".

Oh how we laughed.
yoyology2 years ago
Great 'ible. Love the kids and dad approach, and I sympathize with your dread of the incessant bleeping of our modern lives.

Here's an example of an alternative alerting system another Instructablizer has rigged up:
http://www.instructables.com/id/A-laundry-alarm-for-the-hearing-impaired-and-every/
-A-N-D-Y-2 years ago
It's funny how different things annoy different people. I'm the opposite! I want my kettle to beep when it's boiled, I had an old microwave oven that would beep every minute when finished until you opened the door, the new one does not and I'm constantly finding forgotten cups of tea inserted to reheat but got distracted. Washing machine does not beep :( Dishwasher is too quiet :(

Did you remove the buzzer from your alarm clock? :p
a2e -A-N-D-Y-2 years ago
Are you from Delhi man?
Regular people is not used nor fond of that sort of high-pitched loud tones... we find them sort of an aggressive imposition.
-A-N-D-Y- a2e2 years ago
"regular people"
Your happiness is my psychosis, and vis versa...
Lorddrake2 years ago
great concept .. awesome that you have your kids helping you out and learning from you.

not being mean .. just some advice ..

The picture filters are a bit overkill .. especially that spinny one in step 4

other than that .. job well done .. looking forward to seeing more from you soon.
NAAAH I loved the picture filters! I was going to ask how you did them.

How /did/ you do them?
my guess is that god-awful concept .. instagram

I can just see the planning meeting for that now ...

"ok guys .. we have these great cameras that take clear crisp pictures with millions and millions of pixels ... how can we screw it up?"

"lets add filter to make the picture look like it came for a roll of 110 film that has been hidden in an attic for 30 years"

"that's brilliant Johnson ... raises for everyone!!"
a2e Lorddrake2 years ago
Alpha team: we have an insider!
lifeisformakingthings (author)  markyb2 years ago
Yes, the filters can be an attractive nuisance. It's kind of like too much distortion in an 80s rock song. A little goes along way. If anyone sees this Instructable in five years, it will look like a bad corduroy suit.

Pixlr is the service I used. I wanted to use Instagram, but I *think* they are still only for mobile gadgets. Are there better ones?

The funny thing is, the spinny one in step 4 is just an accident in snapping the picture. I was swinging it around in the low-light conditions.

But, yes, as a non-photographer, I have to take my lumps.
Commence eyeroll in 5... 4... 3... 2... 1....

*eyeroll*


sheesh.
+1. Great instructable, really good to see that your kids enjoyed helping out and learned something. Agree with the really annoying filters.
theoldguy2 years ago
The beeps aren't just annoying. They physically paralyze my daughter. Every time one goes off she is unable to move, sometimes for hours. Probably the worst example was a lift we used recently. Press the button - beep, lift is arriving - beep, doors are opening -beep, you are in the doorway - beep, choose a new floor - beep, arriving at a floor - beep, you are between doors - beep, doors are closing - beep. Thankfully she was in a wheelchair so I could get her away somewhere quiet until she recovered. Naturally they disappeared from the house ages ago: I just use a pair of wirecutters and chop them off.
imark772 years ago
I picked up a 750w inverter on sale (open box) at a local car parts store.
It has (had) a low battery alert and after i started using it I discovered it had a under gauge wire alar, a alarm every time it is turned on and off.
Which is great if using in a car, but for a battery pack and a lamp in my room at night, next to my bed / head. it really annoyed me. the simple fix was to wire a switch in line with the buzzerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr and all is good now.
thankfully they had the foresight to include a red LED to indicate faults as well as a green for go led.

this may be a repost if so, sorry. I posted my comment without previewing it, and it never showed up or indicated that posted.
I also thought to add a picture.
Photo on 2012-06-21 at 16.09 -1.jpgPhoto on 2012-06-21 at 16.11 -2.jpg
playgreek2 years ago
This is great. Your kids have inspired me, especially since we have the same wafflemaker.

A QUESTION: I have the machine open, and I see the offending circuit board. When I detach it from the two wires, do I need to connect the two wires back to each other?


Short answer: no.

Can you give a longer answer, please? My first guess would be, you have to measure buzzer's electrical resistance and solder a resistor with same resistance in place of removed buzzer...
sorry, it was meant to be an unamusing electrical pun: "short" answer - cos if you connected the wires together you would create a 'short'! Nurse!!!

Longer answer: if the device has a pair of wires that /just/ go to the buzzer, then "in general" you're safer just leaving them disconnected (cover bare ends with plenty of electrical tape) rather than adding resistors etc which in most cases would not be necessary.

Thank you for your reply! I am from Ukraine, and you simply had to explain the 'short' joke for me, now I get it :)
Thank you! I also looked more closely at the photo, and I saw that they just took off the little buzzer. I've done the same. We're having waffles tomorrow!!!
Great i'able!

This nails a long time criticism of mine, why don't manufacturers take more interest in the tone of their devices aural alarms?

(Cost, likely)

Here's hoping they'll takes a que from our smart phones and make these tones, bells, chimes, alerts, etc more pleasant . . .
Great Instructable, I put layers of tape (double sided) over the beeper to make the sound softer.
I love the pictures, (Haters gotta Hate BTW) How do you make them turn out like they were taken 30 years ago?
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