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asteroider
Posted: Sat Dec 12, 2015 1:29 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 12 Dec 2015 Posts: 8
** not firmware **, **not factory reset **, ** not HDMI cable related **, ** not bricked (yet) **, **not signal strength (too high/too low) **, confirmed logic related tested in identical environment to a second working topfield.

>>

Hi,

Looking for some pointers with a problem emerging with my 6 year old TRF-2400 (Australia) which has started to become unreliable with 'service not running or scrambled' messages becoming more frequent of the last month to the point where it is now unusable.

First off - I have two toppys... A 2460 and a 2400, and as can be seen from the video demonstration link attached I have them stacked and have been alternating to verify that only the older 2400 is having 'issues', hence... not reception or cable related.

Also, does not appear to be HDMI cable related as when sending signal through component.. no change. Also subtitle on/off fudge has no effect.

I heard a click from the AV HDD so pulled that and confirmed it was close to EOL and spitting errors and initially I thought that was the root of the problem, but have replaced temporarily with a known good laptop 500gb HDD (lower amp requirement), but the issue still remains so I think it is electronics related but not firmware (see below).

I have done numerous factory resets and service list resets and even tried rolling back firmware through three prior versions (using 'abundant caution' method) before ending up rolling forward to the latest 2.02 version (originally running for months with no issues).

Hence the issue is not firmware related.

I suspect there to be some intermittent logic chip problem, bit I guess a small chance this could also be related to voltages being out of tolerance from the power supply? (caps look ok visually; no bulging) thoughts? on specifics I can test?

Of note: All channels (6 main broadcasters for 17 sub channels) come and go simultaneously.

When booting from cold now almost always has all channels display 'service not running or scrambled' and when doing a channel scan in this state none will ever be found, although curiously 'restoring settings' which include prior scanned channels gets the box running again on all channels although they sometimes drop out again for 5 minutes or so.

Sometimes the channels pop in after 5 minutes after the topfield 'warms up', (like a valve radio lol), but increasingly all channels are becoming unreliable at all times. In instances where the unit remains as 'service not running or scrambled' for long durations, flipping between broadcasters repeatedly eventually restores signal to all channels instantly.

Also note I have temporarily put a variable attenuator on the antenna cable and even when 'service scrambled' I can turn the knob to vary impedance and you can see (in the attach video) the signal strength and quality drop off to zero and back up with no change. At my wits end here given it is flakey which is very strange. if there is a logic error or chip failure this ought to have 'bricked' the unit, yet it works infrequently.

***Of Note: when channels are working if I crank the variable attenuator down so signal drops to zero the topfield loses the signal and displays "No Signal". Which is telling in that it differs from the 'service not running or scrambled' fault.

Please see video link demonstrating signal attenuation having no effect over multiple channels, and seeming to suggest all channels are actually getting a signal but the topfield itself is only able to decode the signal occasionally. Reception did not 'pop back in' during this video.

Does it seem unlikely that a capacitor being out of tolerance on the P/S could result in this sort of behaviour? The fact that it works intermittently indicates a component out of spec as opposed to have failed. Would love to know what to replace given it appears to be logic related.

Has anyone else experienced similar?

video demo:

https://vid.me/wNui

I am certain there is an electronic component that needs replacing, I just dont know which one as this is not the Q14 transistor issue seen in prior models.
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Geoff Bacon
Posted: Sat Dec 12, 2015 1:55 pm Reply with quote
Frequent contributor Joined: 12 Jan 2007 Posts: 3941
Haven't looked at your video and have no knowledge of your toppy but

for one of this age, if it was one being used in Britain, the first step would be to get all the capacitors changed for good quality ones (andyfras does this for us but I suspect you would need to find someone a bit closer!)

Geoff

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Bizman
Posted: Sat Dec 12, 2015 3:00 pm Reply with quote
Frequent contributor Joined: 06 Apr 2010 Posts: 1700
asteroider wrote:
Does it seem unlikely that a capacitor being out of tolerance on the P/S could result in this sort of behaviour?
It seems very likely. The symptoms vary tremendously and the only thing in common is the age of the Toppy. As Geoff says, change all the PSU capacitors for quality ones as the original Toppy ones have a short life. Do it ASAP before you damage the new HDD or something more expensive.

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asteroider
Posted: Sun Dec 13, 2015 12:24 am Reply with quote
Joined: 12 Dec 2015 Posts: 8
I have checked voltages coming from the PSU. All seem within tolerance:

Large connector:
5v group = 5.1v
12v line = 11.89v
17v line = 17v

Small connector:
PS = 4.86v
5vs = 4.92v

So far these voltages also appear to be stable, but today the bloody thing is working non stop so I still need to establish that they are not varying over time. If I can verify the voltages are stable both running and 'service scrambled', then this is more confirmation the 'ageing component' is on the main board.

Does anyone know of any service manuals online for either the TRF2400 or 2460?

Last night, reflowed all solder connections on the Power supply PCB as one or two near high current resistors were looking aged, but immediately afterwards still had the 'service scrambled' message, so effectively no change. Today however no faults so I will wait before progressing to MB cap testing.

Interestingly I came across multiple articles suggesting baking a mainboard in the oven can restore functionality. Most articles seem to suggest this is due solder reflow but there is another aspect and that is re-aligning the internal crystalline matrix of SMD capacitors which are known to age, so... down the track if all else fails and the unit ends up bricked I will try this as a last resort.

http://www.johansondielectrics.com/ceramic-capacitor-aging-made-simple.html

http://www.videokarma.org/archive/index.php/t-253737.html

http://hubpages.com/technology/How-Baking-A-Motherboard-in-the-Oven-Worked-for-Me

Next steps likely to be testing electrolytic 85 deg caps nearer the high temperature areas of the mainboard and having a look in the tuner box which appears to be quite hot indicating that any electrolytic caps in there could be getting into trouble over time.
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asteroider
Posted: Tue Dec 15, 2015 12:00 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 12 Dec 2015 Posts: 8
Ok, some progress/update here.

Have compared voltages to the 2460 and are very comparable so confident this is not powersupply related.

I have figured out how to force the channels back to decoding correctly when they are scrambled:

Press instant record on any scrambled channel ( wont actually create a file as there is no data, but it seems to occupy one of the tuners)

Then I switch to any other main broadcast channel and all main broadcast channels are then accessible and decoding except the initial one being recorded.

If I then stop the recording of the 'scrambled' channel, that group of channels also pop back in and then all channels are working!

This seems to indicate a tuner related problem?

It may also explain why a few programs I have set to record in the past months were never recorded, as potentially the background tuner was not working.

Any suggestions on how to verify if BOTH tuners are currently working on a 2400 and whether they alternate as primary/secondary?

Also, should I now focus on any specific part of the mainboard (tuner related) or simply focus on the silver box the antenna connects to?
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andyfras
Posted: Tue Dec 15, 2015 1:30 pm Reply with quote
Frequent contributor Joined: 25 Jul 2005 Posts: 3391
asteroider wrote:
Have compared voltages to the 2460 and are very comparable so confident this is not powersupply related.

Most PSU capacitors have no effect on the voltages, but when they start to fail, spikes on the voltage rails can get through to the sensitive electronics on the mainboard.

A 6 year-old Toppy will almost certainly have some PSU capacitors starting to fail. So before you do anything else, change the capacitors - and don't put the mainboard in the oven ! Shocked

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andyfras
Posted: Tue Dec 15, 2015 1:36 pm Reply with quote
Frequent contributor Joined: 25 Jul 2005 Posts: 3391
asteroider wrote:
Any suggestions on how to verify if BOTH tuners are currently working on a 2400 and whether they alternate as primary/secondary?

If the 2400 has picture-in picture (PiP), try having different channels in each picture. If you find a 'bad' channel, it may just be a sensitivity issue, but if all channels on one of the pictures looks bad, that would suggest a faulty tuner. You can determine which tuner by removing one of the feeds.

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asteroider
Posted: Wed Dec 16, 2015 4:30 am Reply with quote
Joined: 12 Dec 2015 Posts: 8
Well, voltages are table on the P/S when running either scrambled or not so I am focussing on the mainboard for now.


Pulled apart the silver tuner box. nothing by IC/SMD and oscillators in there so nothing I can fix in there if the fault lies in there (short of baking it in the oven along with a pie for lunch.)

however...

These 2400's use a brand of 85 deg caps called ENW on their mainboards, and they are NOT stamped with a series despite the slim documentation provided by that manufacturer indicating they manufacture (d) a number of series.

http://www.enwhk.com/Catalogue/1~4-ENW.pdf

Hence I have no idea what the specs are supposed to be, but...

I have pulled off a couple of legs on the mainboard for 16v 220uf caps and they all read around 195 uf which isnt too bad, BUT ESR's range from 3 ohms (seems large for a main board) with most around 5 ohms and the worst is 11 ohms! This latter has got to be way of of spec. I think I might replace those where ohms are greater than 6 for a start and give it a whirl.

>>> edit

Ok, a few hours later..

I have unsoldered a leg and tested all the electrolytic radial caps. Seems and ESR of around 3.5 ohms is normal for these 100-220uf 16v caps, and subsequent testing of the 11 ohm one produced 5 ohm so I tested them all 4 times and took the average readings.

There are about 15 caps on the 2400 board and pretty much all the caps except a tiny 33uf 50v one were within tolerance to the low side.
All 3-5 ohms, and 100uf 16v caps reading around 93uf and 220uf 16v caps reading around 194uf average. 3 of the 4 caps near the tuner ( C431/C428/C601/EC4?) were lower and read 188-189uf so those were replaced with new ones (ebay specials) that read around 200 uf, but this only done as I suspect issue is tuner related. Most of my 'new caps' did not read much better so only replaced the ones furtherest from spec.

Also in tuner area cap EC1 at 190uf was replaced with a 200uf one.

And Cap C545 (opposite end of board from tuner) at only 183uf was replaced with the best 2nd hand cap I had @220uf 4 ohm.

In addition resolders all the power pins on the board and legs of high heat transistor type thingys in case of dry joints.

VERY difficult to desolder this board due heat sinking and precision joints, and had to have my dental binoculars on and my iron on maximum at 440 deg C merely to pry them out with semi-solid solder. As such I was not confident it would ever work again but to my surprise it is running again.

I hope (but doubt) the 'not running of scrambled' issue is fixed as there is nothing else I can do on the main-board unless a technical minded person gives me a new pointer.

Given the issue is sporadic I will monitor and report the outcome with a final step of checking the power caps in desperation despite voltage output being stable while running, scrambled or not.
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andyfras
Posted: Wed Dec 16, 2015 9:54 am Reply with quote
Frequent contributor Joined: 25 Jul 2005 Posts: 3391
I'm surprised that you are happy to replace mainboard capacitors, but not PSU ones, which are much more likely to fail, as they are dealing with large currents at high frequencies.

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albertd
Posted: Wed Dec 16, 2015 10:44 am Reply with quote
Frequent contributor Joined: 01 Jul 2010 Posts: 512
asteroider wrote:
........with a final step of checking the power caps in desperation despite voltage output being stable while running, scrambled or not.
I very seriously urge you to take extremely close note of any advice given to you by andyfras.

He is not just some random contributor to the forum. Andy is, here in the UK, THE EXPERT when it comes to Toppy hardware matters, especially regarding the power supply units.

If Andy says that your Toppy is in danger of serious damage due to potential power supply failure, even if it is not apparent to you, then he is almost certainly right, and failing to follow his advice is very much at your own risk.

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asteroider
Posted: Thu Dec 17, 2015 12:02 am Reply with quote
Joined: 12 Dec 2015 Posts: 8
Yes, I know they are much more likely to fail, but these showing no signs and output voltages are stable and close to spec. I will look at them If I continue to have problems as indicated.

The power cap plague is the bolt hole for any electrical issue these days and forum posts are 100 to 1 advising power cap replacement but indications to my limited knowledge point to an issue elsewhere?

So far so good.. no issues yet, but really needs a couple to days to prove stability.

If I still have issues I will pull and test power caps with a view to replacement, but I will eat a chocolate hat if that sorts out this issue given voltages observed? Do bad PS caps manifest in waveform on an oscilloscope in a way other than stable, in spec voltages?
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Bizman
Posted: Thu Dec 17, 2015 10:56 am Reply with quote
Frequent contributor Joined: 06 Apr 2010 Posts: 1700
Ignoring current wisdom means you may have something more expensive to replace. On your own head be it. Rolling Eyes
Why ask for people's advice and waste their time by ignoring it?

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albertd
Posted: Thu Dec 17, 2015 11:09 am Reply with quote
Frequent contributor Joined: 01 Jul 2010 Posts: 512
Bizman wrote:
Ignoring current wisdom means you may have something more expensive to replace. On your own head be it. Rolling Eyes
Why ask for people's advice and waste their time by ignoring it?
I agree 100%

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asteroider
Posted: Thu Dec 17, 2015 3:07 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 12 Dec 2015 Posts: 8
Geez, I thought this would be interesting to forum members coming at this problem from a new angle esp given indications power caps are ok, this power cap cult is like a religion and the acolytes in the crowd bay for heretics to be burnt at the stake.

Anyway, if anyone can be bothered the set has been bulletproof and cycled numerous times since the mainboard mods.

But given everyone is going on and on about power supply caps and how **I** have my head in the sand, I am becoming disinclined to post a final succinct summary for the benefit of others who encounter this problem and have to put up with reading thousands and thousand of posts on dozens of forums on the net on **power caps**!

Isnt it time someone register the domain: "my electrical thingy has stopped working" and just have 4 large words emblazoned on the main page: "REPLACE THE POWER CAPACITORS". Verily, more hold this to be the truth, the way and the light than can be found in any religious tome.

One wonders what the hell Moses was doing up the mountain when he only came down with ten commandments.

Just where the hell was the power capacitor commandment?
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Geoff Bacon
Posted: Thu Dec 17, 2015 4:06 pm Reply with quote
Frequent contributor Joined: 12 Jan 2007 Posts: 3941
It is totally up to you whether or not you follow the advice myself and others have given but your previous post is unlikely to win you any friends should you need further advice.

Geoff

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