Repairing things: the lost art in a throw away society
Perhaps I’ll be coming off as a “walked to school uphill both ways in 10 feet of snow” old guy, but when I was growing up in the late 70’s and early 80’s it seems like we fixed more “things”. If your refrigerator had a problem, you called a repair guy. If your TV went on the fritz, you called a repair guy. If your clothes dryer broke, you had someone come to fix it. I once disassembled a 1973 Honda with nothing more than a Chilton book from the public library with moderate success; it’s not that hard to try and you’ll always learn something in the process.
Having this history, it made me a bit disheartened when some lightning damaged a substantial set of electronics that a relative of mine had and the insurance adjuster just called it all bad and they paid for new. Now, I get it, newer electronics are more complicated and more susceptible to EMI. However, TVs in particular are really just big PCs nowadays. A power board, a motherboard and a giant LCD. That’s it. Oh, and a case and stand, neither of which is critical to the operation of the device. Knowing that, I took both broken TVs, a 55″ LG, passive 3D smart TV and a 32″ samsung and took them home along with the LG blu-ray player. My logic was that, at the very least, I could have fun showing the kids how to take them apart and we could go over the insides.
Little did I know that for the small sum of ~$140 I could repair not one but both of these devices. Disassembly was a snap, the hardest part was finding a surface area large enough to set the 55″ face down on. Once open it was pretty clear that this would be pretty simple if I could get the parts. To the right is the inside of the 55″, it was a tad more complicated but as you can see it is really a quite simple device. The board on the right is the logic board, essentially a purpose built embedded PC. The board on the left is the power board. The power board on both devices was intact, but the 32″ would not power on. The 55″ powered on and went into a boot loop. I suspected damaged flash so I found a used one on ebay for $114. It was removed from a cracked screen item of the same model. Incidentally, the LCD is pretty much the only thing that should keep you from repairing a device like this. It’s not often cost efficient to replace the screen since it is the bulk of the device cost.
I did the 32″ samsung as a test case since parts for it were $12 each for the board and power supply. Although I didn’t see any bulged caps on the power supply capacitors, it would not power on and smelled burned so I replaced it.
10 minutes later and I had a functional 32″ display that is now in my office, powered by a raspberry pi and displaying network statistics for my job among a few other windows related to my work. With that working I decided to go ahead and repair the 55″.
Low and behold, it was simple and quick. Now I have a 55″ smart TV for $114, complete with plex support, netflix streaming and a bunch of other apps that I’ll never use.
The take away here is that stuff isn’t that hard to fix given the willingness to try. With the internet the take apart guides are even easier to get and the chances of success are dramatically increased.