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Technical PS3 repair/hardware questions for experienced tinkerers...

CZroeCZroe Registered User
edited January 2011 in Games and Technology
Hey, guys. It's been a while. :) My usual wall of text is coming... the questions are bolded where I restate them near the end.

Out of four Playstation 3 consoles my twin brother and I have three dead PS3s. My 60GB EE+GS launch unit died a little over a week ago. The 80GB GS one I bought for a friend in 2007 died too (actually... long ago) and he left it with me. I also got a 20GB EE+GS unit from a friend with no audio/video (seems to boot based on activity). My brother's 60GB unit was a refurb from Newegg (translation: former YLOD), so it'll probably YLOD on him soon enough. I don;t think it was refurbed by Sony because the packaging was very different than the official refurbs that Fry's sells and did not expressly say so, but this is about the broken ones anyway:

The 60GB one blinks a red light when booted and has a rented disc stuck in it (it's holding up my netflix queue!). If I try it multiple times I can sometimes see a yellow flash before it blinks red, but I already know it's just another symptom of the same issue that causes the yellow light od dead (YLOD). I guess that makes it a "red light of death" (RLOD).

My friend took apart the 80GB one and lost half the screws, but it's a straight YLOD.

The 20GB one was purchased in hopes of fixing or using as parts. It was reportedly dropped while completely disconnected and turned off. It never displayed video again. Searching on sites like iFixit, I see that many dropped PS3s do the same thing (no A/V; normal-seeming boot). I don't see where anyone has ever had the problem fixed or even diagnosed.

Anyway, I actually left the 80GB and 20GB units in GA with my twin brother and only have access to the 60GB one so I couldn't just hook up the drive to one of the others to extract the disc (80GB models have the "fan test" mode that will let you eject the disc even when having a YLOD/RLOD error condition; the 20GB unit with no A/V still allows loading and unloading discs). I had to take it apart and extract the disc, which many people say will cause a problem loading other discs if you don't put one back in. I put a dummy "protection disc" (clear with no data layer) from a cakebox package of DVD-Rs (they usually put them at the top and bottom of the stack on the spindle) and I hope I got everything put back together the way it was. After taking out some screws the disc kinda fell out before I could take note of where all the moving parts were supposed to be situated. I spread open the pieces that lift the magnetic hub and slid the disc in as if it were loading (I manually unlocked a piece that receives the disc). It was hard to make sure that they stayed spread all the way when putting it back on the drive and I wasn't really sure if they were supposed to be spread all the way but it was the only way to make sure that they didn't touch the magnetic hub (when they contract, they lift it off the disc so it can be ejected). Can anyone tell me if I did this right? For the other problem (RLOD) I'm sending it to an eBay repair guy who says that he can do a true lead-solder reballing of the CPU/GPU. Lead-free (RoHS) solder is more brittle and is usually what gives in a YLOD or even XBOX E-74/RROD. Ironically, they didn't want lead in the landfills seeping into our water supply and, even though people don't throw away working consoles with lead solder on the PCBs, now we have consoles failing left and right adding to our landfills. At least they don't have lead! ;)

OK, so the 80GB one is getting the same treatment (leaded solder BGA reball). A "reflow" is generally considered a temporary fix and a $150 refurbishment from Sony would simply be the same flawed RoHS design and cost too much. I always groan when I see people saying that it is from "overheating." Yes, temperature makes the boards flex and they eventually fail through many cycles of this, but faulty engineering is to blame (RoHS manufacturing processes were less refined; joints were bad as Bunny demonstrated with his dye test, and the BGA ASIC design was flawed as demonstrated by the ATI and nVidia notebook GPU failures).

The 20GB unit is where I have some more issues and questions. First of all, it appears normal as far as the lights and sounds go (normal beeps, green power indicator, normal HDD activity, normal disc load/eject, etc). There is just no video through either the HDMI or the multi-out connectors. The video reset trick does nothing. I doubt it is a problem that can be fixed by reballing the GPU or CPU, but the guy doing the work wants to try anyway. I think it would be a waste of shipping charges and that I should just pay Sony to fix it (assuming that they can). I haven't found one single diagnosis or repair method for this particular issue online. Even if the eBay guy won't charge, I think it would be a waste of money. In fact, I'm kinda suspicious that he wants to bother with it at all so I'm not going to send it with the BD, PSU, or HDD so he won't try to salvage it for spare parts. You know: "All I have to do is say that it wasn't fixable, refund the money, swap the BD drive with another customer's bad unit, charge that other customer, and send the dead PS3 with a new problem back to that other guy. He'll never know because it's dead!" I half justified buying it to salvage the BD drive when the laser inevitably goes bad on one of my other PS3s (my twin brother and I still had two working 60GB EE+GS PS3s back then; now down to one).

Actually, I'm going to strip them all of the top shell, PSU, HDD, and BD drive before sending whichever units I decide to send him. He seems way to eager to waste his time on that 20GB one. If I send it to him I'll probably try to work out a deal for spare parts. Speaking of spare parts, I was hoping someone could answer me this: Will the 20GB WiFi-less model work with WiFi if I get a $30 WiFi/BT module and replace the BT-only module inside? I don't know if the firmware and system menu ID the model and hide the WiFi option of if they actually detect what hardware is available.

So, my questions were:
Are the white plastic pieces that lift the magnetic spindle hub off the disc supposed to be fully spread when a disc is loaded?
Should I bother having a "no A/V" PS3 reballed? Reflowed? Is it worth refurbishing through Sony (see below)?
Can I upgrade a 20GB model to have WiFi by swapping the BT module with a BT/WiFi module from a different PS3?

I can't recall how much my brother and I spent on that 20GB model but I think it was $30 or $50. That's probably worth it for the BD assembly and HDD alone, but adding $150 for an official Sony refurbishment may make it a pretty bad deal ($200 for a 20GB? Is the EE+GS worth that?). We obviously don't need 4 fully functioning PS3s so we intend to sell the 20GB and 80GB models if they can be fixed (we both plan on keeping our 60GB EE+GS units).

Any input would be appreciated. Thanks!

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