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Servicemans Log

In this job, it's all too easy to put in a lot of effort for nothing. I encountered a couple of such jobs recently but then I was stimulated by our glorious leader. All is well, I think.

Items Covered This Month

  • NEC PX42VP4G Plasma TV
  • Sansui 66cm LCD TV (SAN 2601)
  • Pioneer PDP503G 127cm Plasma TV
  • Thomson Speedtouch 536 ADSL2 Modem
  • One of the more alarming trends in the service business (at least, for me) is that the exact nature of many faults can no longer be determined. Factors such as cost, time and new technology often conspire to prematurely terminate fault-finding procedures. The result is that faults are increasingly being resolved by replacement at module level.

    In the 1950s and 1960s we had valve jockeys and now, regretfully, we are being “dumbed-down” to board jockeys. That’s progress, I guess, and all we can do is carry on and look as happy as we can.

    Click for larger image

    These thoughts were triggered rec-
    ently when I was called out to a wealthy suburb to attend an NEC PX 42 VP4G plasma set that would intermittently cut out on bright screens. Naturally, it had to come back to the workshop to be repaired and then soak tested.

    These large-screen flat-panel TV sets can tie up a lot of resources just getting them onto the workbench. First, you need two people to carry them and you also need a large station wagon or van so that they can be kept upright during transportation (the display panel is particularly fragile). Then, when you finally get the unit into the workshop, you have to lay it carefully down on three or more large soft sponges with gaps in between.

    These gaps are there to allow a mirror to be slid between the sponges, so that you can see what is on the screen.

    Of course, if you have the money, time and inclination, you can get a special jig that will hold a plasma or LCD at any angle you require. However, the diminishing returns from this profession mean that costs have to be kept to a minimum and so most of us use large benches and lots of sponges. I’m not going to even spend my 900 Rudd-bucks on one but I do appreciate being stimulated all the same.

    Because of the intermittent nature of the fault, I initially decided to try to “accelerate” its appearance by gently heating the switchmode power supply with a hairdryer. Unfortunately, this seemed to have the opposite effect as the fault never appeared. I then tried using freezer to see if that would do the trick but that didn’t work either.

    Well, to cut a long story short, a whole week went by and despite running the set all day every day, there was no sign of the fault. And by now, the client’s wife was beginning to phone, clearly impatient for the set’s return.

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