TideLog Archive for October, 2010

This is a common fault across a wide range of Samsung camcorders in their range. The camcorder will not power up from either mains or battery, and also will not charge the battery. It comes down to a failed triac and/or resistor on the charge board just behind the battery, resulting in no power getting to the main control and CPU board. They blow because of plug-in surges/spikes and age. Every time the mains is applied, surges occur, that’s why the resistor is there, to regulate power-up spike.

Note that the boards in some models, for example the VP-90 & the VP-L630 are almost identical, and will fit each other, but DO NOT work correctly. The last time I interchanged a VP-90 charge board into a VP-L630 the Camera function would not work, it just kept shutting down and restarting. Over extended periods, this will result in EXCESSIVE SURGE shock to the CCD charge coupler circuitry, and WILL damage it, resulting in no picture being recorded, and a new CCD control board being needed. Only do this, and use the Player function to verify the fault, and then either replace the board, or renew the failed triacs and resistors. Don’t excessively try the Camera, it won’t work due to differing circuitry and software.

MAKE sure you replace the board with the EXACT same camcorder model PCB. Models in the same family can be interchanged, for example the VP-L620 charge board can be used in the VP-L630, but check the features list, some have an optional filament camera light on the front, and these need high start current which the charge board regulates from input current.

So, if your local “repair” guy tells you your camera is totally knackered because the “main board has blown”, don’t believe him until you check my advice. I’ve had customers use me for second opinions, and I’ve saved them excessive cost! Some cowboy shops totally overlook the charge board, and because they don’t have bits to test the problem, write it off, which is totally wrong.

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I’ve been using my PS3 for the last few days, on two different full HD TV’s, one, Greg’s TV, a 32″ LCD Full HD Sony Bravia, and Kassie’s Samsung 50″ Full HD TV, and I’m far from impressed. GTA4 on PS3 is supposed to (according to the box) be able to do either 720p, or 1080i/p. It never did 1080, except at the XMB, on both TV’s, whereas the 360 does full 1080p straight away!

The aliasing on the PS3 was terrible, on all the games I tried (FIFA 09/10, Stuntman, GTA4) and they all only hit 720. I’ve now decided to sell the PS3, and stick with my 360. I repaired a Slim yesterday, and the fan in that is the nastiest thing I’ve seen since a laptop:

The fan is all plastic, tacky, and typical of Sony downgrading. The PS3 has gone downhill ever since its release, and here’s my full list of faults:

1. Features have been removed (cardreader, PS1/PS2 compatibility, Other OS) that made it better than the Xbox in terms of utilities.

2. The games don’t run at full 1080 when they are supposedly supposed to, and they look aliased and god awful.

3. The PS3 FAT had just as many faults, if not more than the original 360 (discs not reading, video not working, YLOD, RLOD , total failure of the PSU because it got too hot). The 360 has only ever suffered mainly RRoD faults, and the occasional DVD read error. Playstations have had laser failures since the brick Playstation 1, they still haven’t learnt how to manufacture a laser correctly. I’ve never once had to fix a 360 with failed PSU or no video without reason (E74)

4. The Slim PS3 is junk, the components are shrunk, the fan is noisy and cheap, and the games STILL DO NOT run at full 1080. The only thing that makes the PS3 somewhat if at all better than the 360 is that it has a BluRay drive, which is a con anyway, as the same games on 360 fit on DVD, nd they’re better quality!!

5. Firmware “updates” break features. Take for example a FW upgrade that caused people’s BD drives to not read discs? And the recent 3.5 update where 3D discs are choppy and out of sync? Yeah, nice, Sony. Not. They’re acting like they created 3D, which they did not.

I’m normally unbiased in my repair work, but here is my conclusion: Sony is JUNK, JUNK, JUUUUUUNNNNNKKKKK!!!! I’m so glad I gave up on them after my 3rd PS3 laser replacement. They’re still as damn bad, if not worse. An insult to the Japanese, and I love the Japs, as my lil lady is a Jap, and proud of it, Sony just mar their electronics industry. At least Microsoft offered a 5 year warranty, and the new 360 Slim is superior to the older consoles, and all the shite Sony have ever put out. My 8 year old Xbox 1 is still strong, modded, but with all original parts except HDD, so go figure….

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I found out yesterday about PSJailbreak, and another method using your iPhone that can jailbreak the PS3 allowing you to use homebrew software, and allowing backups of games to run from an external HDD.

Too bad I’d already updated from 3.42 to 3.50, and they don’t work with 3.50. Darn! Morale of the story: Don’t update firmware unless you really have to. Well, I couldn’t access Playstation Network or Store without doing it, but I’m still pissed…..

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The new fan arrived this morning, and I fitted it. It’s all working as it should, and I’ve been out and bought a wireless controller and GTA:IV so I can roadtest it doing some Serbian terrorism!

I might replace the power supply, as the one that’s fitted is one that gets quite hot. There’s a cool running one available, so I’ll give it a try to keep the system heat level down. The Other OS feature has been removed, someone’s already updated it to 3.30, which was a FW with it deactivated. Oh well, at least everything else works, DVD & Blu-Ray and PS1/PS2/PS3 games all work fine, so I’m happy!

Refurbishment and repair is what I love, and am good at it, I’ve made a lot of profit from electronics repair!

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It arrived yesterday, and I stripped it today. The fan was jammed, it seems to be badly out of shape, the metal frame is bent and the fan coil assembly itself is slanted. It’s a 19 blade, so not one of the rubbish 15 blade ones Sony decided strangely to replace them with. The seller has used a hairdryer/heatgun in the vents to fix a previous YLOD, so the casing and heatsink plastic surround are warped.

Other than that, it powers, runs the XMB, and plays PS1 & BluRay games, and the hard drive works. I’m gonna get a new complete casing and a new fan is on its way via Special Delivery Next Day as I type, so it should be running again in no time! Here’s my total cost of ownership calculation for the stuff it needs:

Console from eBay with faulty fan and possible risk of YLOD = £69 inc £14 P&P

New complete casing to replace the heat warped one from the amateur hairdryer YLOD “fix” job of the old owner = £16

Used working 19 blade cooling fan = £16.98 inc P&P

Future BGA re-ball if it ever YLOD’s on me = £0 as I’m doing it myself

Possible future 120GB HDD upgrade = £30

Total = £138.98

So, still cheaper than buying a used fully working one, or a featureless Slim new. This 60GB FAT has the cardreader, PS1/PS2 backwards compatibility, and the Other OS feature. The Slim costs £229 without all that!!

Damaged repairable is the way to go if you have the skills and experience, which I have. I also don’t use towel, reflow or hairdryer tricks, only professional BGA re-ball, so I’m a winner!

Reflow must not be confused with re-ball. Re-flow is simply heating the component up to re-melt and bond broken solder, whereas re-balling involves renewing the solder balls completely and re-soldering with a hot air rework machine using more heat to ensure higher melting point. This reduces the risk of the solder melting at the console’s normal temperature.

You see? I’m not a bedroom enthusiast, like some of the “been in the console repair business 4 years” people that claim they can do it all because they’ve taken one console apart and watched YouTube. I’m a pro, I’ve been doing it since the Amstrad 464, before the Web or YouTube really existed!

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My ill PS3 hasn’t arrived for surgery yet, but while I’m waiting for her to show up, I thought I’d do a guide on taking one apart. Taking the PS3 apart is an involved process, and we don’t want to rush, so make sure you have at least a couple of hours spare to do this if it’s your first time. Also make sure you have proper lighting and the right tools.

This guide is good for all versions of the FAT PS3. I disassembled a 60GB model carcass I had knocking spare that was still in one piece. It has a completely blown motherboard due to a power surge, so I’ve not lost anything, but you’ll want to be extra careful!!

NOTE: This guide DOES NOT cover YLOD fixes. I do not use “fanboy enthusiast”  reflow methods, and only use re-balling techniques, which involves specialist knowledge and expensive equipment. This article only covers teardown procedures.

You will need:

●     Torx screwdriver
●     Phillips head screw driver
●     Small flathead screw driver (for removing the rubber foot)
●     Somewhere with plenty of space that is well lit and that wont build up static electricity. (Mainly anywhere but carpet)

So, here’s my dodo-dead PS3…..all ready to be taken apart, for the third time, as it suffered two YLOD’s previously, before being professionally reballed by myself prior to its shocking total death and acquisition as scrap…..

On the left side of the console you will see some rubber feet. The first screw to be removed is underneath the rubber foot circled in red in the pic below. The warranty sticker covers it, so this will need to be removed (INVALIDATING YOUR WARRANTY, so be warned!) The foot can be pried out with a small screwdriver. Then underneath is a Torx security screw. You will either need a Torx screwdriver, or a flat head screwdriver that will fit in the screw. Once the screw is removed, set the foot and screw somewhere safe.

Once the screw is out, slide the top of the case to the left. It will require a bit of force to slide if you’re opening the console for the first time. After the top slides as far as it will go, lift the top and it should come off as below:

After the top is off, there will be another cover, the main system cover. You will need to remove the 7 long screws circled in red. Why Sony decided to give the PS3 a separate “top-hat” is beyond me, it would have been easier all as one, as with the PS2, unscrewing from underneath!

Once the 7 screws are removed (set them aside safe), gently lift up the back corners of the top half of the console. There are 2 small clips near the back you may need to undo with a small screw driver. Now the top of the console should just lift off (with a bit of gentle force) and you will see the guts of the PS3. The PS3 has a lot more guts than the 360, a bit way too much in my opinion, too much metal and plastic. Getting a 360 open is nowhere near as hard for me, it takes me less time, and the innards aren’t as cramped!

As you can see, and as I know from experience of Sony repairs, as with all their other consumer goods there’s tons and tons of metal, screws and ribbon cables! It’s as secure as GTA4’s Liberty City Penitentiary in here there’s so much metal, held down by so many screws!! Hence the weight! Wait till you see the cooling unit….

First, the power supply (The silver box on the left) has to be removed. Remove the screws circled in red, and take out the plug (next to the front left screw. See it?), the power supply will just lift out.

Also, take out the mains plug in the back of the power supply. The power supply should now be completely disconnected from the PS3. I like to disconnect the big rear cable first, I’m always cursing the thing when I do it last and I lift the PSU out without disconnecting it! It is tight, though, and probably easier to do after the screws are out so you can lift the supply out. I’m a glutton for punishment…..

After the power supply is removed, the Bluetooth board (in the 60GB models, it also has wireless) needs to be removed. Unscrew the 4 screws and unplug the ribbon cable and the board will just lift out. Note that you have to “flip” the brown tab on the ribbon socket, it isn’t a pull out type, so don’t try, you might damage it. Flip it up and away from you and the ribbon.

Now we need to remove the Blu-ray drive. This is quite easy. Lift the drive up about 2” and you will see a really wide ribbon cable, the data cable, connecting the drive to the motherboard. Unplug it. There will also be a plug near the front of the Blu-ray drive that controls the motors for the spindle and slot load/eject mechanism. Unplug it as well. The drive will then just lift out.

Underneath you’ll see the main data ribbon cable. This time, not a flip and release job, but a pull out clip. Pull it towards the ribbon:

Now you will (hopefully) see the same as what is below:

Next, we have to remove the small Power\Reset & Eject button circuit board. This board is attached to a small metal bracket. Remove the 4 screws holding the board and the metal bracket and unplug the small ribbon cable (a flip top!). The board should now easily lift out.

It’s time to remove the motherboard! To get it out, remove the screws circled in red in the pic below:

Once you’ve removed the screws, gently lift out the whole motherboard along with the back panel like I’ve shown below. Start from the back, where the vents are, and lift towards the front (away from you if the rear of the console is facing you). Make sure you have taken out the plastic HDD cover with the HDD sticker on it! Otherwise the clips on it will get bent!!

Make sure to support the whole assembly, as the heatsink system is darn heavy, you don’t want to drop anything. I had a friend dropped his board assembly back onto the base, damaging it, because he was only holding it with two fingers!

After the bottom of the PS3 case is out of the way, you can admire the huge monster cooling system on the bottom of the motherboard.

After you’re done marvelling at the hugeness of the fan, remove the plastic back panel. The are 4 small plastic clips (2 on either side of the motherboard) that you need to lift to take off the back panel. then, unscrew the fan screws, unplug its cable, and remove the huge mammoth fan:

Check out the size of the fan! (It looks a lot bigger in real life.) The first time I stripped a PS3, I realized a flaw that most fanboys seem to miss. The fan seems more like a cheap laptop fan with sleeve bearings, rather than the quality rifle bearing fans with tough plastic frame in the 360. Take a look, it looks cheap:

Anyway, back to the article. Flip the motherboard back over. Unscrew the 4 screws (circled in red) holding the 2 metal heatsink support brackets down. Once these screws are undone, take off the brackets:

It will now look like this, ready for the heatsinks to come off, so be careful moving it:

After that, flip the motherboard over again. Now gently pull up on the heat sink. Be gentle here. The cooling system will lift up off the CPU and GPU and come off completely. A bit of force will be required here as the heat sink will be stuck down to the CPU and GPU with white thermal paste, which has possibly cured and hardened.

Here again, my keen engineer eyes noticed a flaw. Look how close together the fins of the heatsink are. The fan has to PUSH the hot air through the tiny gaps. The 360’s fans PULL the heat AWAY from the heatsink, not push through it. It’s alright blaming solder and the CPU die size for the heat, but it’s the efficiency and quality of the heat transport system that matters too. In the case of the 360, it was more the solder and die size that causes RRoD failures, but the PS3 in my eyes has this poor cooling too as well as the same die size and solder issue as the 360. Sony seem to have made it huge with a huge (cheap) single fan to compensate, but after a while of use, the failures start.

Anyway, convection lesson aside, on the bottom of the heat sink and on the CPU and GPU will be white thermal paste. This is used to help transfer heat from the chip to the heat sink. Do not touch or eat this stuff! You MUST clean it off and replace it! Do not listen to enthusiasts claiming you don’t. Once old bonded paste has its bond broken, it becomes useless, and will not cure or bond again, resulting in inefficent cooling, and another YLOD…. I recommend Artic Silver, silver based paste is the best, but don’t put too much on, as it can be capacitive, resulting in shorts of components if it gets near them.

After you get the heat sink off, you can lift up the metal heat transfer shielding. Be very gentle with this as it is very thin and bending it could possibly cause the shielding to short out something on the motherboard when the PS3 is reassembled.

Now flip the motherboard over again, and remove the metal shielding on the other side and you will
now see the naked motherboard:

Top Side:

Bottom Side:

That’s it! We’re done with disassembly! To re-assemble, just follow my tutorial in reverse, making sure you plug in all cables fully (ribbon cables are finicky, if inserted slanted, can cause short circuits), and be very very careful with the heat transfer shields so that you don’t bend them and short out or crush something.

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I haven’t worked on a PS3 for a while, at work or home, so I decided to find a faulty one to tinker with, and teach Greg how to fix PS3’s while I was at it, as I’m the only one at KC who can fix consoles. So, I’ve bought one on eBay that supposedly has a faulty fan.

Mmm, simple fix, eh, you might think? No, not always so. A faulty fan on a Playstation can be several things. I’ve done failed fans in PS2’s as well.

A) Failed/stuck fan

Sometimes the fan’s just stuck, or outright given up. The PS3 fans are a lot cheaper than the high quality rifle bearing ones in the Xbox360, and they either seize up because of dust, heat, or sleeve coil/solder failure. To verify it is the fan, piggyback a multimeter into the fan connector on the motherboard (you’ll need to run the motherboard out of the case, the fan and socket are underneath the base). As long as the voltage is between 5 – 12v depending on the heat, it’s fine. Replacing the fan will solve this scenario, just make sure the fan is mounted tightly and where it can’t get stuck, as there’s play in the mounting holes for fine adjustment.

B) Failed temperature sense diode/thermostat control chip and/or relative fuses

If the voltage is non existant or too low/stuck on full at cold, with the fan not speeding up in relation to the heat rising, the temperature sense diode and or thermostat may have failed or be failing. The symptom of the fan being on full on a cold start is a result of this, the diode resistance sticks high making the controller chip think the CPU is too hot. A completely failed diode and control chip/fuse means the voltage will be at 0v. Resulting in an expensive rework and diagnostic job. Not for n00bs or towel trick merchants.

C) Failed fan voltage rail

The fan is fed through the thermostat controller, and this itself has fuses. If the voltage is at 0v, and you believe the diode/chip is working, replace the fuses (surface mount).

D) Failed Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) sense line

A failed sense line (pulse width modulation) will result in the PS3 thinking the fan isn’t spinning even though it will be operating normally. The console will inevitably shut down. Every RPM of the fan sens out a pulse, the faster the fan turns the more pulses it sends out to say “this is how fast I’m turning!” and the controller determines the RPM based on the pulses.

This can be either the fan, or the RPM sensor in the control chip. First cheap fix, second, expensive, as the whole control chip needs to be replaced.

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