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Serviceman's Log

Will I or won't I? Should I fix it or not? Should I keep it or send it to e-waste? Procrastination is the thief of time but I think I've finally made my mind up that I'm probably not going to be hurried into making my mind up - well, maybe.

by the Serviceman

Items Covered This Month

• LG RT-42PX10 plasma TV (RF-043B chassis)

• Sharp Aquos LC-32GA4X LCD TV

• Panasonic TH-42PV500A HD plasma TV

• Hitachi HDD/DVD recorder – DV-D5163A (AU)

• Front-panel USB woes

• Ciba Corning blood gas

I am at present swamped with uncompleted projects that are taking up what little space I have left and leaving me on edge mentally. The cat senses this and gives me a wide berth. Mrs Serviceman, on the other hand, just blames me for procrastination. Actually, she blames me for everything – it saves time arguing.

It’s not really fair, because if you look at each project there’s always a good reason why it’s stalled. Mrs Serviceman always reckons it is just my backside that needs a good kick to get things moving and that is what normally happens!

Click for larger image

Making money in this business can be tricky. For example, a plasma set comes in with “is it worth it?” plastered all over it and “please quote”. Of course, the customer wants this done for free but you don’t need me to tell you that free quotes are about as useless as free guesses. The only way to give an accurate estimate is to, well, fix it – albeit temporarily.

These days, with some plasmas, it can take an hour just to remove the covers and boards. As a result, I no longer give free quotes.

So there we have our 127cm (50-inch) plasma taking up about three square metres of our two square metre bench space and all the voltages read OK. None of the boards looks or measures faulty, there are no circuit diagrams and they cannot be fixed at component level.

Each board costs a small fortune, so God help me if I choose the wrong board or boards, as the suppliers charge large restocking fees. In the meantime, the client is pressing for an answer.

Finally, you make your diagnosis, cost it and give it to the client, who can’t believe it is so expensive (that usually makes two of us)! The repair bill for their $5000 5-year old plasma is often nearly as much or more than the cost of a brand new set but there’s nothing I can do about that. There are so many brands and models out there that the chance of obtaining a good secondhand replacement board at modest cost is quite low.

And even if you could, how do you guarantee it?

Often too, a new replacement will have been modified to give better reliability. In addition, the control module also sometimes needs replacing to add extra software features.

So the client says he will get back to you.

Unfortunately, as I can all too well attest, many do not “get back to you”, so these bulky items accumulate and gather dust at my expense. After a bit of bullying for a decision, an OK may finally given but then the part may not be immediately available! So you now spend a good part of your life chasing that up too.

Finally, when the part does arrive and the symptom is corrected, you find that there is another fault hidden behind it – one which you couldn’t possibly have known about until the first fault was fixed. All this conspires to make you look more like a doddering old fool which I might well be but am not yet prepared to admit.

OK, enough of my whining. Let me give you some real life examples of the above theme.

The LG plasma

A 2004 106cm LG Plasma RT-42PX10 (RF-043B chassis) arrived in the back seat of a small European car. And according to its owner, it required immediate attention – the TV that is, not the car.

The symptom was no picture and no OSD (on-screen display) but the sound was OK. This model is only a standard definition (SD) set and is a Series 6 model. After the 50 or so screws had been removed, I reached for my multimeter and found that all the voltages read OK.

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