The other day the Samsung TV in the bedroom decided to bork. I guess Samsung decided that their 2005-2007 TV’s would have bad capacitors inside, causing them to fade away prematurely. Thank god for the internet, I had that shit diagnosed within 10 minutes. Apparently, rather than buy a new TV, I just had to tear the sucker open, remove the bad capacitors, and pop in new ones with a soldering iron. Easy enough right? I’d never soldered a damn thing in my life but I’m not one to shy away from tech stuff. Usually I figure it out or I kill myself (I’m still here weeeee).
So I unscrew the 18 screws that hold the back on the TV and I totally see it:There, in the group of a capacitors, were the 3 busted top capacitors leaking the black electrolytic fluid. Assholes!!!!! So it’s on. I’m going to go to radio shack, grab some bits and nubbins including a new soldering iron, and hopefully make this happen. The only potential cost really is screwing up the tv’s motherboard (do we call them motherboards in a tv?). Apparently these cost $120 new, so I guess no matter what I’m not going to be buying a new TV.
So off I went to radioshack (I apologize for the changing perspective, I can’t seem to commit to a specific one tonight) and spent a good 30 minutes pouring over their soldering supplies. I end up selecting a 15-Watt soldering Iron, a 45-Watt Desoldering Iron w/Bulb, an iron holder with a sponge, some thin silver solder, a mini wire cutter, and 3 1000um 25 watt (I think) new capacitors. If you are reading this and you need to replicate the procedure, email me and I will give you the correct part numbers. Some total cost of parts: $54.00.
I take my bag of parts home and get set up. The situation is a little janky because I didn’t have any clamps or appropriate soldering station gear. I read on the web that you want to secure the board you are working on, and raise it, so I employed a box and several full bottles of pasta sauce and curry from the cupboard. They have a nice wait and I imagine they will be immuneÂ to any hot solder bits that could potential fly their way.
I made sure to map out exactly where I was supposed to be soldering on the circuit board. The back of those things just appears like a complicated jigsaw of little metal bits if you aren’t used to the appearance. I also remembered to take note of the negative orientation, something that could have endangered the whole mission had I forgotten.
The de-soldering effort was a little confusing first. I couldn’t seem to tell if all the solder had been removed and it was time to pluck out the capacitor. Eventually I realized that once they start wiggling it time to pull them out. Getting all three bad capacitors wiggled out felt like a massive accomplishment.Â I was then able to plug in the three new capacitors like you see on the left. I secured them with tape and prepared all the soldering apparatus for the moment which made me nervous.
The soldering itself, in theory, wasn’t such a big deal. The soldering iron has a > tip, and the key to use the side of the tip, not the point. I took the angled side of the soldering tip and applied it to the area of the circuit board where the capacitor lead meet the holes in the board for 20 – 30 seconds. Once fully heated, I took the soldering wire at lowered it onto the soldering iron (not the hole). The soldering iron melted the solder instantly, and basically formed a pool that surrounded and enveloped the whole in the circuit board. The first join I soldered made me pretty nervous, but right away the process began to make sense and I made pretty short work of the remaining joints. By the end of the effort, I had already begun to feel like a pro.Â
At the end I checked all the joints and they felt solid. So I looked at the pictures I took of the circuit board before I removed it and was able to quickly reattach all the cords and wires to their proper areas on the circuit board. 10 zillion screws later and I had the TV looking as good as new, though the big step would be turning the beast on and surviving the explosion that would follow.Â When I finally had the TV back in its proper place, I was pretty nervous about turning it on. Had I really just saved $500-$1000? Sure didn’t feel like it, that was simple! Too simple? Well, I did save myself the money. Booyah. The minute I plugged the TV back on it snapped to attention and powered up like a good little Samsung should. The taste of victory was sweet. Technical empowerment! I put the soldering iron away in a box and swore to myself that it would be a goal of mine to use it for good at least once more in this lifetime, but who knows…. I’ve always told myself that circuit boarding would be something I’d enjoy and lo and behold it really was. I’d love to do it again. Maybe I need a book on the subject.
So now I find myself in bed watching this newly fixed TV (From Russia With Love), and the sense of pride remains still. I can fix shit!