The Loop

Medical breakthrough: I operate successfully on my laser rangefinder

May 05, 2014

Laser rangefinders are sophisticated optical instruments, and should be handled as carefully as cameras. That means no dropping, no freezing, and no storing all summer in the trunk of your car. I was careless with my first one and, when it stopped picking up targets over 100 yards, I mailed it back to Bushnell to be realigned. It was too far gone to be repaired economically, so they sold me a refurbished unit instead -- a better deal than buying a new one.


That was three years ago. Recently, the refurbished unit failed to power up, even after I'd changed the battery. (This is an ancient model, which runs on an old-fashioned 9-volt alkaline battery rather than a fancy lithium-ion battery like the one in my garage-door opener.) After a little ignorant trial-and-error, I discovered that I could make it work again, intermittently, by pressing my thumb really hard on the battery door. That made me realize that the problem was probably just that the battery was no longer making good contact with the whatever. To repair it, I did what grackles and bonobos do in National Geographic documentaries: I fashioned a tool from the materials at hand:


I straightened a jumbo paperclip and used a small pair of pliers to make a hook at one end:


Then I stuck the hook into the battery compartment and used it to tug on the metal contacts at the bottom, so that they would stick out more. And it worked!


The only bad thing is that, before going into surgery, I had 95% persuaded myself that my only rational option was to buy a brand-new rangefinder -- ideally, the most expensive one available. I can't justify that now, even to myself, although with luck my refurbished-and-repaired unit will break again before the end of the season.