I fixed and broke a phat Playstation 3

While sitting twiddling my thumbs on a Sunday evening in April, my attention wandered to the new hot air station and then on to the old Playstation 3 sitting under the bench.

The Playstation was given to me as ‘faulty’ a few years ago. At the time, I tried putting in a known working HDD, but the console refused to switch on.

So the console was free, and I had a hot air station (Quick 857DW+), my plan was to reflow the chips and see if I could bring it back to life. Partly out of boredom and partly for science.

Playstation 3 switches straight back off

If I switched the console on it, it would switch off again in an instant. There’s a small red led but nothing else.

Playstation 3 red light
Red light says it’s doomed

Reflowing the CPU and GPU

With the console open, it’s easy to identify the main chips. I had read in the past about re-flowing the solder balls under the chips but there is an online debate (argument) about what is really happening and how the fix works.

CPU GPU Playstation 3
The CPU and GPU ready for re-flowing

With my hot air nozzle in one hand and the infra-red thermometer in the other, I used a circular motion over each chip to bring the temperature to around 350′

Then I sat and waited un-patiently for them to cool down slowly.

Green light of success

I certainly wasn’t expecting this.

Green led PS3
It only went and turned on when I put it back together.

With the green light and some fan spin, I hooked it up to a display to the met with:

“Cannot start.. The appropriate system storage was not found.”

There lies the problem with impromtu fixes on a Sunday evening, there are no shops open. You’re out luck if you need to pick up a part or an accessory.

The following day, I did manage to find a 2.5″ HDD at the nearest CEX for only £5. With the latest firmware installed, it booted up but not without some very high fan speeds.

I broke it again 🙁

After stripping it back down to the motherboard again, I overtightened the bolts on the heatskink.

Do you know that feeling when you’re tightening a bolt, it gets nice and tight, but you give it one more little turn, hear a crack and the head of the bolt suddenly becomes loose.

That’s the feeling. My heart sank.

So for now, the Playstation is back under the bench. Sitting waiting, for a chance encounter with a replacement heatsink and bolt.

Upgrading and restoring a PS3

When I do come across a replacement heatsink, I would also like to attempt some other upgrades to expand it’s life.

This would be a good machine (‘cos it was free) to try my first reball on. And if that’s a success, replacing the capacitors, which are another common failure point, would be next on my list.

There is an aftermarket cooling fan too, should the machine still work after my reball and capacitor work.

So that’s the story so far for this Playstation 3.

It was a short lived victory, but a victory is a victory no matter how long it lasts.

Sega Megadrive Corrupt Graphics fix. Hint: It’s the video ram.

This post is for those of you with a faulty Sega Megadrive (Genesis) that’s developed a fault and is now showing corrupt graphics.

The game loads, you can see the game on the screen with things moving, but the entire image is blocky and full of artifacts. The sound seems to work fine tho, so that’s a bonus.

The fault lies with the two video ram chips (or it could be one of them, I replace in both mine).

The good news is, the process is relatively easy. The not not so good news, is that you’ll need a donor board. Finding video chips for a 23 year old games console is rather difficult.

Watch the video tutorial on removing and refitting the Sega Genesis Megadrive video ram chip modules.

If you have any questions or suggestions please use the Youtube comments section. I am always keen to help or learn more from people with more expertise than myself.

Tools used in the instructional video.

Hot air station: Quick 857DW+
Soldering iron: Yihau 937D+

Chirping Mark 5 GHD Straighteners Repair

A friend asked me to look at their MK5 GHD straighteners which had began chirping. This is when they play the start up sound repeatedly when you switch them on.

This is how I fixed them.

After some initial research it looked like the thermistor might be at fault. This is a component which prevents the heating elements from turning on if they are too cold.

In this case the elements were warming up while the GHDs where chirping so I moved my attention elsewhere. Following some advice I found online, a new CPU was ordered and swapped but this didn’t cure the fault.

GHD Straightener CPU replacement video

Next, I did what I should have done in the very beginning and checked the R8 and R11 resistors. Sure enough the R8 resistor was showing open on my multimeter. Thankfully I had some spares from the last time I repaired my girlfriends GHDs, so I was able to quickly sort out a replacement and fix them successfully.

Replacing the R8 Resistor on the Mark 5 GHD Straighteners

Conclusion

Always start with some basic fault finding. Check for voltages, continuity on the fuses and most importantly, look for the well known failure points on what you are fixing, before you go all gung-ho and start looking for more complicate faults that don’t exist.

If you found my videos useful, please like and subscribe to my youtube channel for more.

How to replace a Nintendo DS lite charging port

In this video I show you how I fixed up my £9.99 DS lite ebay find. It didn’t take long to indentify the problem and when the new part arrived, it was a relatively easy fix to get it working again.

Identifying a faulty charge port.

Fault finding a broken charge port on any Nintendo DS is fairly simple. After plugging it in, give the power lead a wiggle from side to side to see if the orange light switches on and off as you move the cable.

A visual inspection can also reveal damage with missing or bent pins inside the connector.

Conclusion

While removing the faulty component I found the flux paste much more effective than the brush on (no clean) type. Using the hot air was much quicker than th soldering iron and solder sucker, with the added benefit of being non contact (in theory there is less chance of damaging pads).

The game ports worked after a good clean. So rather than there being a fault, they are just worn, making them a little temperamental at times.

It you have any comments or questions, please leave them on youtube and thank you for watching.

Affiliated links.

Soldering stations on Amazon UK

MG Chemicals Rosin Flux paste

Athlon 2600+ survives the ride of it’s life

I thought people made this stuff up!

So apparently this really does happen. An ebayer listed a motherboard bundle as Spare PC Parts or something completely vague like it. The listing was in the Campervan and camper section, believe it or not. Condition was faulty not working and there was zero description as to what the parts were, other than the photos.

So with all that in mind, it’s not surprising I was the sole bidder and won the auction for £2.99 with £5 postage.

CPU yanked from the socket.

I was disappointed when I removed the bubblewrap from the motherboard and saw there was no CPU in the socket. When I opened the bubblewrap surrounding the cooler, I was surprised, happy and shocked all at the same time.

It defies logic, why do this? Just leave everything in place, where it is safe.

With a firm but gentle twist, the CPU was carefully released from the grip of the cooler.

Reinstalling the CPU

With my heart pounding I gently lowered the CPU into the socket. It would not go in. A bit of wiggling, blowing on the socket, waggling the socket lever and more wiggling, it eventually found it’s home, on the K8T8AS Jetway motherboard.

AGP Goodness

This is what attracted me to the auction, the asking price on this card is ridiculous. I don’t know if they sell, but you never know, it’s worth a shot anyway.

Hercules 3D Prophet 4500 64Mb 631 5058605

Also included in the bundle was a PCI Soundblaster card, PCI Firewire, PCI TV tuner and PCI network adapter.

Firing it up.

Despite the sellers attempt to damage the CPU pins with stupidity and lack of common sense, it did boot to bios.

What a good result. This will be a nice little retro gaming PC for anyone who’s looking for an older system. IDE and SATA are both supported, so you can mix older and new drives with ease.

I’ve listed the GPU on ebay for a silly high price, to see if someone will take it. Failing that, I can list the whole bundle for a 99p start and take my chances on it earning more than the £8 I paid for it.

A nice find.

Dell Poweredge 1300 Pentium III find.

Can you believe someone threw this out? Well yeah, I can. It is over 20 years old and it weighs the same as a small car. But, it is interesting and so I thought, it would be good to see if it had survived the elements after being outside for at least 2 weeks.

Stripped bare

This isn’t something I wouldn’t normally do first, but I wanted to check for any obvious signs of corrosion, especially inside the power supply. So the first job was to remove all the parts and blow out the dust with a computer blower.

The motherboard is an 0161E and this one can ideed survive being left outside.

The OS is on a 9GB SCSI HDD which makes a hell of a racket. It boots up to Windows NT Server 4.0 which is password protected.

Also included was a tape drive for back ups, with an 8GB tape still in the drive.

The customary floppy drive and cd rom were also present.

Additional cards were a PCI SCSI adapter (Adaptec AVA-2904) and a PCI network card.

Putting the beast back together was a challenge, finding which tab or lever you had to push or pull wasn’t easy. Bloody Dell.

It went back together eventually and booted to BIOS and WindowsNT Server just fine.

A morning of fun, learning and some mild frustration

All in all, I’m glad I picked it up. Although I don’t have a use for it, it did provide and mornings worth of entertainment, learning and some idle curiosity.

Silver Gameboy Advance SP

A few days ago while browsing ebay someone had just listed a faulty Sony PSP for the low price of £20. I’m not too interested in PSPs ate this time but looking through the photos of the item, and something caught my eye.

PSP with GBA SP

The last photo for the PSP actually showed the back of a Gameboy SP, with the PSP in the background. This gave me a good idea that the very next thing they were going to list was that Gameboy.

The missing Gameboy

A few minutes later and lots of F5’ing, sure enough they listed a silver GBA SP with a buy it now price. Thankfully my immediate offer was quickly accepted and I am now the new owner of a silver GBA SP.

Good cleaning and free gaming

There was some cleaning to do when it arrived, a previous owner had customised it with an Apple logo sticker on the top of the case which left a lot of glue to remove but the seller did send out a game with it too, which I wasn’t expecting.

Apple logo glue

After a good clean with Mr Sheen (don’t use alcohol on plastics), here it is tested and working. Although being sold as faulty, it does power on, play the included game, Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins and the charging light illuminates when connected to the mains.

GBA SP playing Super Mario Land 2

The game cartridge has seen better days, you can tell someone has enjoyed playing this game a lot. It’s not the correct format for the SP but it is my first gameboy game cartridge, which I will be keep for testing gameboys I own in the future.

Super Mariu Land 2 6 Golden Coins

Happy ebay hunting guys

So I am of course very happy with my purchase. It goes to show it’s worth browsing people’s listing and having a good virtual rummage if you have the time.

It’s going to hard to find a better bargain in the future.

The Tale of Two GBAs SP NES editions

During February 2021 I have been buying and selling a few games consoles, with the goal of making enough profit to buy myself a hot air re-work station and then hopefully an oscilloscope.

Handheld devices are new to me, as I have never owned a Gameboy, DSI or similar, but I know they are still very popular.

So I took a chance and picked up these two Gameboy Advance SP NES edition, the pair were being sold as ‘faulty batteries, won’t turn on’, and I paid £50 for them delivered.

Game Advance SP

When they arrived, I was pleased to see they were in good condition and the housing was original too. It wasn’t until I paid the money, did I learn there were reproduction ones being sold too.

Supplying power through the bench top PSU

My first step was to remove one of the batteries and hook up my bench top PSU to the battery terminals on the GBA, carefully dialling in the correct voltage and amps from information on the battery.

The GBA turned on and was games loaded without any issue. Sound was also working, I will come back to that later.

GBA SP and bench PSU

Battery Charging with the TP4056

Using the TP4056 li-on charging board and an USB volt/amp meter tester, I could see the battery was charging. Both consoles turned on and played games from the charged battery.

Testing the charger

So both Gameboys work with a charged battery, but the charger won’t charge the battery. So I’m beginning to think there is a charge problem inside the GBAs, but it’s unlikely both would suffer the same fate.

Not a GBA charger

If you know about GBA SPs you might have already figured out what’s wrong with the above photo.

I snipped the jack plu off the charger the ebay seller provided, plugged it back into the above adapter and powered the GBA using my bench top PSU.

The penny dropped

Two things seemd odd. 1. The GBA didn’t take any amps from the bench top PSU (which meant only the battery was providing power). and 2. There was no sound coming from the speaker.

After some research I learnt the adapter in the above photo, is not a power adapter, it’s for headphones. The previous owner had been trying to power both GBAs through the headphone adapter.

Thankfully no harm seems to have been done to the consoles. There is a new charging cable on the way and it seems I have been lucky with these two.

A lot of time could have been saved, if I had a proper charger and not relied on what the seller provided but with the help of the TP4056, USB meter and bench top PSU it all worked out in the end.

I’ll test these properly and sell them on the add to my hot air re-work station fund.

Setting up an ESP8266-03 for complete beginners

This post is for the compete beginner with an interest in the ESP8266 microcontroller. Specifically the plain standard board ESP8266-03.

TTL USB ESP2866-03 size comparison
TTL USB adapter with standard ESP8266-03. Legs have been soldered on, to attach the microcontroller to a breadboard. These things are tiny, much smaller than I expected.

Let’s start with a disclaimer. I’m a completer beginner too. I have no microcontroller experience, never owned an Arduino, or used any kind of development board in the past. So, don’t take this post as an how-to guide, as I may not be following ‘best practises’. I provide this information as I have done it, and take no responsibility if something goes wrong.

What I’ll cover today, and what I won’t

I won’t cover what the board can do, I will assume you have already done your homework and decided you want to get the board set up and programmed with something simple to get started.

Here are steps this post will cover.

  1. Set up the correct wires on a TTL USB adapter.
  2. Solder some pins onto the ESP8266-03 connectors which will allow it to be plugged into a breadboard.
  3. Install a push button switch on the breadboard (allows the ESP8266-03 to start up in program mode later).
  4. Install an LED and 1K resistor on pin GPIO 12.
  5. Set up Arduino IDE and install the ESP8266 board manager.
  6. Boot the ESP8266-03 in program mode, load the sketch, reboot the ESP in normal mode to run the sketch.

On the software side we will use the Arduino IDE (which is free), to send a program (Arduino calls them ‘sketches’ to the board), which will flash the LED and display text to the serial console in the Arduino IDE.

Step One: Set up the correct wires on a TTL USB adapter.

To connect the standard ESP8266-03 board to a PC, you will need a TTL USB adapter. The one I bought is ‘Yizhet 2x FT232RL USB to TTL Serial Converter Adapter 3.3V 5.5V Module Mini Port for Arduino and Raspberry Pi‘ from Amazon.

Make sure it has: RX, TX, 3.3V out and GND. These are the pins we’ll be connecting to the ESP8266-03 module and the breadboard.

I soldered four wires to the pins RX, TX, 3.3v VCC and GND. The soldered connectors are prevented from shorting between each other with some (poorly applied) heat-shrink tubing. RX goes to TXD, TX goes RXD on the ESP8266 and I connected the 3.3v and GND to the power rails on the side of the breadboard.

Step Two. Solder some pins onto the ESP8266-03 connectors which will allow it to be plugged into a breadboard.

Identify the input / output / power connectors needed and solder on some connector pins. If you aren’t using a breadboard perhaps you can just solder on some fine wires. I found some connector pins on an old DVD circuit board, but you could probably cut some legs from a few LEDs.

Pin layout for an EPS2866-03
These are the pins we will be using to set up the EPS8266-03

GND goes to ‘-‘ on the breadboard
TXD goes to the RX pin on the TTL USB adapter
RXD goes to the TX pin on the TTL USB adapter
CH-PD goes to ‘+’ on the breadboard
GPIO 0 goes to a push button, which goes to ‘-‘ on the breadboard
GPIO 12 goes to an LED to 1K resistor, which goes to ‘-‘ on the breadboard
GPIO 15 goes to ‘-‘ on the breadboard
VCC goes to ‘+’ on the breadboard

Step Three. Install a push button switch on the breadboard

Now this is where I initially had trouble. To be able to send sketches from the Arduino IDE, you have to boot the ESP8266 into program mode. You do this by shorting pin GPIO 0 to ground while powering it up. I’ve used a push button on my breadboard, but you can leave it off and just use a simple jumper wire from the pin to the ‘-‘ rail on the breadboard.

So when i want to load a new sketch, with the board off, I hold down the push button (which shorts pin GPIO 0 to GND), then plug in the USB cable, wait a moment and release the push button. The board is now in program mode. I can load the sketch using the Arduino IDE.

When the sketch has been installed, I pull out the USB cable to remove power. Then plug the USB cable back in, to switch the board back on, into normal mode, and the sketch will start running automatically.

Step Four. Install an LED and 1K resistor on pin GPIO 12.

To see the output connect an LED to GPIO12, then use a 1K resistor to GND. The code in the sketch will turn on the LED and read the status of GPIO 12 and print the output to the Arduino IDE serial monitor.

Here is a plan of the layout.

Notice TX goes to RX and RX goes to TX. The pushbutton connects to GPIO 0 (for booting the board into Program mode). The LED is on pin GPIO 12, then to GND through a 1K resistor.

Step Five. Set up Arduino IDE and install the ESP2866 board manager.

Head over to https://www.arduino.cc/en/main/software and install the correct for your operating system.

Once installed go to File/Preferences and pasts this URL where it says ‘Additinal Boards Manager URL’s’.

http://arduino.esp8266.com/stable/package_esp8266com_index.json

Head to Tools/Boards manager and search for 8266, and install the ESP8266 by ESP8266 Community. From the list of boards you should now select ‘Generic ESP8266 Module’.

Step Six. Boot the ESP8266-03 in program mode, load the sketch, reboot the ESP8266-03 in normal mode to run the sketch.

Blink is basic sketch that comes with the Arduino IDE. The original version of the ESP8266 had a built in blue LED. Because we’re using version 3, there’s no LED, so I have wrote my own code to use GPIO 12 instead.

/*
  Turns an LED connected to GPIO12 on for one second, then off for one second, repeatedly.
  
  Reads the status of pin GPIO12 and outputs status to the Serial Monitor.  

  This code is inspired by the BLINK sketch which is unsuitable for ESP8266-03 because it lack a built in LED.

  by Phil Bryden

  http://www.philbryden.co.uk
*/

// the setup function runs once when you press reset or power the board
void setup() {
  
  pinMode(12, OUTPUT);  // initialize digital pin GPIO12 as an output.
  Serial.begin(115200); // initialize serial monitor.
}

// the loop function runs over and over again forever
void loop() {

  digitalWrite(12, HIGH);              // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level) 
  Serial.println(digitalRead(12));     // Reads the out put of GPIO12 and displays it in the serial monitor
  delay(1000);                       // wait for a second

  
  digitalWrite(12, LOW);             // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
  Serial.println(digitalRead(12));   //Reads the out put of GPIO12 and displays it in the serial monitor
  delay(1000);                      // wait for a second
}

To install this code

Paste the code above into a new sketch in the Arduino IDE
Hold the push button down, while plugging in the USB
Release the pushbutton (the board is in program mode)
Click the upload arrow icon (top left) in Arduino IDE
Wait for the code to be installed (mine displays ‘Hard resetting via the RTS pin…’ when done)
Unplug and plug in the the USB cable (without holding the push button down) to restart the ESP8266-03
The board should now be in normal mode and the code will run automatically.

If all has gone well the LED will blink on and off for 1 second. There should also a print of what is happening in the Tools/ Serial Monitor window, 1 is high and 0 is low.

If the output in the Serial Monitor is garbage, make sure the baud rate is set to 115200 and be sure to check to see that the correct COM port has been selected too.

That’s it, a beginners guide to setting up the ESP8266-03 with the ArduinoIDE.

I hope this has taken some of the confusion I felt when researching this little microcontroller. Most of the information available was aimed at people with development boards, and I found the learning curve quite steep.

What’s Next?

If this post has been helpful, let me know and I’ll follow it up with a post on how to get the board to read a switch input, then turn on the LED.

Good luck with your own microcontrollers and projects.

I have an instagram account with this sketch running and the follow up program where the LED activates when a button is pressed an input pin. Take a look.

Philips Philishave 282 Battery Replacement

This morning I replaced the non charging battery on my very old, but working Philips Philishave 282

Brand: Philips
Model: Philihsave 282
Fault: Battery not holding charge
Fix: Replacement battery fitted

Philips Philishave 282
A very old Philishave 282. Still working on mains but won’s hold a charge

Opening the shaver is very easy, using a T8 torx bit, I removed the two screws and the cover can then be carefully removed.

Philips Philishave 282 Cover Removed
The old battery needs to be removed by lifting out the circuit board and desoldering from underneath.

The circuit board and motor assembley are in one piece. You have to lift them out together to avoid damaging the fine copper cable holding them together.

Philishave replacement rechargeable NI-MH battery
A replacement 42mm x 14mm Ni-MH battery

The new battery cost me £8.95 which was cheaper than the £20 – £25 price of a new shaver.

Here is the video from this morning. I hope you find it useful.

In the video, the old battery is in the wrong way, this is because I have already removed it to check for any identification numbers before ordering the replacement. This makes it look that I have installed the new battery the wrong way around, but I haven’t. I had to double check and admit, I confused myself, until I remembered I had already taken out the old one and must have put it back the wrong way without thinking.