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This question recently came up: https://electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/616812/why-does-my-touchscreen-often-not-register-my-commands-when-it-is-plugged-into-m

It’s been closed because of the ‘use of consumer devices’ off-topic limitation.

I have objection to this.

The OP is asking about a question larger than the ‘use of a consumer device’ itself. It’s fundamentally a system noise issue, and it’s common one when it comes to dealing with power supplies running powerful motors. In other words, it’s a real engineering question, in a subject area near and dear to many of us: electomagnetic compatibility (EMC).

Would it be any different if, say, OP had hand-built an R-pi with a touchscreen and encountered the same issue? A long while back I answered a question like that related to IR sensors, and the answer was similar: suppress the common-mode noise from the supply. Clearly, it’s an EMC question.

This question, also closed as off-topic: Two devices sharing the same coaxial cable, what frequency channel should I chose? involves the use of cable modems, antennas and MoCA together in a home wiring plant. Again, although it involves ‘use of consumer devices’, it is about system design: specifically, RF compatibility between Cable, OTA TV and MoCA. Again, it involves EE. This application may not be near and dear to you, but as a former STB/DVR/MoCA/DOCSIS designer it is to me.

And it goes on and on. As engineers, hobbyists, hackers (and often all three) we design and troubleshoot systems, many of which involve integrating consumer electronics and making them work.

My point is, just because a ‘consumer device’ is being used in a system doesn’t automatically mean that it’s about the use of the device itself. If the scope of the question includes scope beyond the sub-unit, and the question is an electrical one, it’s a EE question and deserves to be on-topic.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I consider that a significant proportion of questions that attract votes to close because they are deemed to be re use of consumer devices do in fact contain enough design related content to merit retention. Sometimes changing the wording makes a difference - but I have edited other users' questions to make the design aspects clearer and still have had them closed. || I am somewhat amazed at the narrow minded approach to such issues. In many cases such questions which have design aspects form an excellent basis for answers which will guide future beginners and serve as useful tutorials. \$\endgroup\$
    – Russell McMahon Mod
    May 10 at 12:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes, and that’s the reason I’m putting a stake in the ground on this. \$\endgroup\$ May 10 at 13:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ You could probably argue that many of the "my XYZ electronic device doesn't work" questions posted here on EE could be given an in-depth EE answer explaining what's actually going wrong and what different design decisions might be made to improve the behavior of the device - but what would be the point? The vast majority of these questions do not appear to be asked by someone in any position to understand or make any use of this information - all they want to know is "how do I make this black box do what I want it to do?" - and that's not what this site is for. \$\endgroup\$
    – brhans
    May 10 at 16:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ I also don't think that editing the question (as you did in your first example) to try to superficially mangle it into an EE design question is appropriate. If that's what the OP wanted to know then that's what they would have asked. If you really think there's some EE knowledge related to the subject you'd like to share, then ask your own question on the subject and self-answer it. I have no doubt you could frame a question in a way which would be on-topic for this site. \$\endgroup\$
    – brhans
    May 10 at 16:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ If someone raised a question that involved knowledge of a commercial electronic device (like the above) and, I felt I could answer it based on my direct experience of said device then, I would answer it but, I would also vote to close the question. If it doesn't meet the guidelines for what is a proper question on this site then it gets close votes. How can there be any argument against that. That's my stake in the ground for what it's worth. \$\endgroup\$
    – Andy aka
    Jun 24 at 11:57

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I voted to close that question, and it could just have easily been closed with the repair close reason1.

I agree with you that it's probably a system noise issue, but the way the question was phrased and presented suggested basic commercial usage and implied a commercial solution (e.g. use this, not that).

You helpfully answered the question and from comments I can see that the OP seems to have gained a bit of insight.

It's since been deleted by a bot, which I'm not sure I understand nor agree with. However, I stand by the decision to close it. Unless the OP were to add some additional context that revealed an understanding of and/or intent to do some sort of engineering as opposed to consumer purchasing.

The main issue is that we don't want the site to become a dumping ground for commercial electronics usage and repair questions. At least, that's the impression I've had for the past twelve years.

1 "Questions on the repair of consumer electronics, appliances, or other devices must involve specific troubleshooting steps and demonstrate a good understanding of the underlying design of the device being repaired. See also: Is asking on how to fix a faulty circuit on topic?"

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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes, you see what I'm getting at, and I see what you're getting at. That's why applying the test of 'scope' and 'EE' tests to questions like this would allow making better close decisions, and allow rich EE-driven discussions and answers to properly scoped questions. In the bigger picture, EE-SE only has perhaps a couple dozen core contributors. It's not nearly as active as the other SE sites, so it should not be so sensitive to 'noise' as, say some of the software sites, so smacking down questions like this seems rather heavy-handed. \$\endgroup\$ May 6 at 21:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ I should add that OP did take some troubleshooting steps - a basic A-B test of wall power vs. e-bike power. What they didn't understand is how (capacitive) touchscreens work and why they could be sensitive to common-mode noise. \$\endgroup\$ May 6 at 21:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ Two thoughts: One, the question shouldn't be deleted, so it can remain visible and capture searches in the future. Two, and admittedly the larger issue, is that the sort of question we're talking about, where repair steps and determining OP capabilities are necessary, are better suited to forum-style sites where reciprocal communications can be carried out by everyone. Unfortunately here, I think this type of question inevitably leads to long comment sections and doesn't have a lot of value for future visitors. \$\endgroup\$
    – JYelton
    May 6 at 21:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ "properly scoped questions" <- yes, that's what makes the difference. Neither of your examples is one of those. \$\endgroup\$
    – brhans
    May 10 at 16:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree in general terms with hacktastical \$\endgroup\$
    – Russell McMahon Mod
    May 11 at 11:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would also have voted to close it on the basis of asking for opinions without sufficient supporting information and a clear lack of research (for which I would have downvoted it). Also note that the OP hasn't been seen in over a month so getting out of shape about the closure (considering that the application was so bespoke) isn't worth it. Using a touchscreen on an electric bike is, in my opinion, probably foolish and dangerous. \$\endgroup\$
    – Andy aka
    Jun 24 at 10:42
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A better question would be in this case, is it a design question? If it's not a question about the design of something then it's probably not suited for this site.

One thing that has been decided in the past is we don't want to be troubleshooting hardware, we want to be designing hardware. We do make an exception for engineering tools.

Another problem is both questions are very specific to the users and not likely to be useful to other people.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I disagree that they’re specific to the user (well, they are if they are deleted, but anyway). The question of noise intrusion comes up a lot, especially with power supplies, and I dare say this new wrinkle on e-bikes will come up more given their popularity. The MoCA one is kind of specific only because it isn’t as well known as Ethernet, but it does come up, and the installed MoCA base is not insignificant. \$\endgroup\$ May 7 at 0:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ A question about how to trouble shoot a fiber optic router would also be off topic, even though it is of a specific nature. \$\endgroup\$
    – Voltage Spike Mod
    May 7 at 5:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree in general terms with hacktastical \$\endgroup\$
    – Russell McMahon Mod
    May 11 at 11:15
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The difference between if they had built this themselves and if they are asking about premade consumer electronics is that in the former case, they would actually be able to professionally troubleshoot it.

What the first question says is: some sort of phone, some sort of ebike, some sort of EMC issue. No measurements have been made, no schematics are posted, no search of what fundamental components there are that may be involved. We don't know which device that is the culprit. We don't even know if it's conducted or radiated noise. So we can pick a lot of different close reasons, "unclear" being the most obvious one.

As for answers, "Try to smack on a ferrite and see if it helps" isn't engineering, it is trial & error. Yes it will likely help... why, though? How to get to the root cause? How to fix the design? Probably not possible to answer without extensive reverse-engineering. It might have been a better question for the DIY site.

Regarding the second question, it is better, but still partially about the use of electronic products. There are some engineering aspects like RF characteristics, frequency allocation, antenna placement. It isn't obviously on-topic, but it isn't obviously off-topic either. In such cases, where the question itself is otherwise clear, it's better to leave the question open.

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