Saturday, January 03, 2009

Tech: Fixed TV for Father In-Law (DTD1363-CAR)

I spent the better part of the morning re-kindling an old love of mine, Electronics. I’ve been dabbling with electronics off and on for 15 years now. In fact, Electronics was an early career path for me before I decided to settle on programming. But, just like many other fields that I’ve had hobbies in, I find myself going back to electronics every now and then.

So this morning I tackled something I haven’t done since the early part of the decade, repairing televisions. My father-in-law brought me a television that he bought for his son a couple of years ago. This set is a Disney Cars TV/DVD combo unit (model # DTD1363-CAR). It’s a cute little unit, shaped to look like Lightning McQueen. And much like McQueen in the movie when he’s got no gas, it would run for about 5 minutes, then shut off. Kind of heart breaking for a 6 year old. Having working in a TV/VCR repair shop in college, I agreed to take a look at it for him.

What I ended up finding was some cold solder joints around the flyback/horizontal output transformer. It’s a big ugly unit with a large red cable running from the top into a suction cup in the CRT. I read a lot of silly suggestions on Fixya (, but the flyback cold solder joints suggestions led me to the visually inspect the joints. Sure enough, there were dull, porous solder joints around the transformer. To fix this, I removed the old solder using a solder sucker, prepped the area with small amount of solder rosin, and re-soldered the connections. I also re-soldered a few other spots on the board that looked suspect. So, what would have cost him about 70 bucks at a TV repair shop took me about 45 minutes. Hardest part was figuring out how to open up the case on this thing, which involved removing the plastic lugnuts in the tires that were hiding the screws holding the trim pieces in place. Outside of that, there wasn’t much else to fixing this. Keep in mind, this TV is indeed a piece of junk though, as are most TV/DVD combos. This is the problem with electronics manufactured in 3rd world countries where old plants are half-assed retrofitted to mass production, and there are poor QA standards, air quality standards, and so forth. I had a TV that my parents passed on to me that lasted well over 15 years, and we ended up selling it at a garage sale. I bet that thing had the tube zapped, it is still kicking out there.

Be wary of self diagnosis on TV’s. We used to pick up old sets from people who would throw out good sets because the picture on the tube would shrink to a “line in the middle” or a “dot in the middle”. So of course, people would assume the picture tube went bad and it would be too expensive to fix. 9 out of 10 times, however, it was a deflection circuit, and the part would cost about 30 bucks to fix it.

Maybe I should go pick up broken TV’s from Craigs list, fix them, and sell them for a little extra money. Not sure I want that kind of headache again.