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Discussion Starter #1
I have an out-of-warranty, four year-old Panasonic TH42PX60U that has served me well, but last night it "popped" and went dead. The popping sound sounded like a light bulb exploding, so I imagine it was related to the backlight. The LED on the on/off switch is now blinking red.

I'm sure others on the forum have experienced similar. Any idead of the problem and the approximate repair cost? I have to decide whether it's worth junking or repairing. It's a 720P set (which is fine for its use) and you can pick up a comparable set for $500 nowadays...

Coldcanuck
 

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This is a plasma and therefore has no backlight. The pop is disconcerting and may be a blown board. Here's a list of things to try/check.

http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=19694

As you say, if you need a repair, it may be better to get a new TV...

The blinking light often blinks a number of times, which gives an indication of the problem. Perhaps you can call a Panasonic service centre and advise them of the number of blinks and they might be able to advise what's required.
 

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It's probably a blown capacitor or possibly a chip. The fact that the light still flashes, means it's probably not the power supply. If a capacitor blew, a good tech might be able to replace it. That assumes that it didn't take out anything else on the board when it went. If you can see what blew and can get a number off the board, it could be a DIY if you can find a replacement board somewhere. I would try eBay and Google.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
So I counted the blink - 10 - and went and did a Google search for the appropriate service manual. I went thru the basic diags,listening for relays when the TV is first plugged in (check!) and then again when the on button is pressed (check!) So the problem doesn't appear to be with the main power supply board.

As I look throw the PowerPoint slides that make up the service manual (supposedly, based on the website I got the manual from), I see that 1 blink has one designated issue, as does 2 thru 9 blinks. then I get to 10 blinks - it could be one of 5 issues involving any of three boards - aghhhh!!!

I decided to pop the back of the TV hoping to see a burnt cap that would lead me to the correct board. No such luck. I can neither see nor smell a toasted cap.

I guess I'll call tomorrow and inquire about the price of the replacement boards to see if I can justify the repair cost.

coldcanuck
 

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It could also be something much simpler, like a blown fuse. That should be easy to replace. If it blows again, it becomes an issue of finding what is making it go.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
So I took it to an independent repair shop (authorized Panasonic service centre) which has a god rep here in Ottawa. It cost me $45 for an estimate. The estimate came back at $400 + tax - $250 for an SC board, and $150 to replace it.

The $150 in labour really surprised me. Given I had already taken the TV apart and seen how it's set up inside, I realized an experienced tech could take the back off, replace the board and do whatever else he does there, and replace the back all in under 30 minutes. So I decided to search the web and found SC boards ranging from $40 used to $100 new in the US. So I figured I would replace it myself.

I stopped by the shop to pick it up and they could let me leave with it because the TV was still in pieces. They had put in a test SC board to test the solution and thus had to remove it and put the back back into the TV. At this point I was thinking that given they had already done all of the work they would have to do to replace the SC board, why the hell are they charging me $150 to install the board? Now I'm starting to think this is a sleazy shop. Anyways, I left the TV there to let them put it back together and I picked it up after work.

When I arrived there to pick it up at the end of day last Friday the owner/manager was on the phone. Just as I got my TV loaded into my SUV he came outside and asked me what I was going to do with it and I told him that
I was going to buy a used replacement board. He threw out the usual scare tactics and offered to buy the TV off me at a nominal price for "spare parts".

And I'm thinking "Yeah, then he buys a board for $75 and sells the TV for $300 on Kijiji. I guess I'll be taking my electronics elsewhere.

Coldcanuck
 

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Coldcanuck, Do those cheaper board prices you quoted include shipping? A brand new board from Panasonic Canada does cost around the price quoted. The TV repair shop has to charge something, or he will not be in business long. The $150 labour also covers the rent, heat, water, electricity, advertising, cable and telephone etc. The $150 in labour also gives you a 30-90 day warranty if the replacement board fails. There are 3 things to consider when analyzing whether the repair price was fair:

1) Was the repair cost 50% or less the price of a new set?

2) Was the set repaired in a timely fashion?

3) Did the repair last?

If you can answer yes to these 3 questions, then the repair shop is not sleazy. He has to charge something to stay in business.

If you took your TV to 10 different TV repair shops you would find that most quotes would be in the $350-$400 range. His estimate fee of $45 is quite reasonable.

More power to you if you are able to repair the TV yourself. But don't criticize a TV repair shop for trying to make a living.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I hear you and understand where you're coming from as my wife owns a small business that has two retail locations and deals with similar issues on a weekly basis.. However, perhaps I didn't give the whole story. Taking the TV in I disclosed my repair threshold was $300-350, otherwise I would replace it.

I agree with you that the board cost is probably as expected for Canada. It would have been nice if he had mentioned the option of a used board or inquired about my ability to self-repair, but obviously he had no obligation given his business. However, given much of the repair labour was actually covered by the $45 estimate fee given the TV was disassembled to have a test board inserted, I question the ethics of charging $150 for the extra 15 minutes to order and replace the board. But that's not my real issue as I know that that behaviour is common in any business (not that I condone it, but like you said, it's probably how they survive).

My problem is that I had previously disclosed my repair threshold, yet he egregiously charged me for the repair labour knowing that it was a 15 minute job for him and that the labour charge put the total bill just above my threshold. AND THEN HE CHASED ME DOWN IN THE PARKING LOT OFFERING TO BUY THE TV OFF ME FOR A NOMINAL AMOUNT. That's the sleazy part.

coldcanuck
 

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Thankyou for your reply coldcanuck. Now that I have the full story, it makes more sense why you found him sleazy. Some repair jobs are easy, some are hard, and some don't work out at all. I would think that his labour rate is a flat rate for each size of set to cover the easy to hard ones. If a customer only wants to spend a certain amount of money, then the repair shop has 2 choices:

1) If he is busy, he can charge his "normal" rate and give you the higher quote, hoping you will go for the extra $50.

2) Or if he is slow, then he tell you that normally it would cost $400 for the repair, but that he will do if for $350 so he can get the job and at least make some money.

Times are tough for TV repair shops these days because anything below a 37" set is usually not worth repairing unless the board can be repaired. About 10-15 years ago there were large numbers of 20" and 27" sets that would fail and 95% of them could be repaired. Now with all these cheap prices on flat panel sets, the smaller sets are not the money maker that they used to be.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
So I bought a used board off eBay for $39. S&H was $31 (ouch!). Total for board: $70. Add in the estimate of $45 and I fixed it for $115, not including my time and gas to the repair shop, etc.

I would encourage everyone to take a stab at fixing their TV if it goes on the blink and is even marginally worth keeping. I knew jack about fixing TVs (although I do have a higher-than-average ability to learn and debug) and I managed. Google is your friend. Chances are if you have a problem, someone else in this world has encountered it before you and written about it on the Internet.

I must admit the $45 repair estimate was worth every penny. based on my Internet searching I had narrowed the problem down to one of three boards. turns out it was neither and the repair shop had identified the correct board as they had swapped in a replacement to confirm. When I had the correct board model needed for the repair, the rest was a piece of cake.

Coldcanuck
 

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With the way technology is going, pretty soon there will be no more TV repair shops left. The TV repairman will go the way of the Dodo bird.
 

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Congrats, coldcanuck! I think most people (those that don't read this board) would have landfilled the set. A few would have taken it in to be repaired, fewer still would have repaired it themselves. Nice job.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks. I find it's a real sense of accomplishment in doing your own repairs and saving the cash. It's not that I can't afford a new TV to replace it. In fact, I'm looking at getting a 46" LED TV for the living room and moving my other 42" Panny to the basement. I've cashed in a bunch of Aeroplan points for 4 x $500 FutureShop gift cards for the occasion.

You win some and you lose some. My fridge went tits up this summer so I tried to fix it myself. Searched the web and found a couple of threads where it referenced the cheap, poor quality GE circuit boards and people replacing the relays on the boards. So I ordered a relay from the US and soldered it on and it didn't work. I ended up buying the new board and replacing it as the wife had lose patience with me playing electronics technician. In the process I dropped my $200 end-grain mesquite cutting board on the floor as I pulled fridge out and broke it in half. Given I took a half day holiday to repair it, I probably paid triple what it would cost had I called the service man.

I CSI'd the board I replaced in my TV and it was one of the big transistors on the scan board that blew. I probably could have sourced one and replaced it, but it would have been a pain as the heat sink it was screwed to was attached to a half dozen or so other transistors and the heat sink was soldered to the board. It looked like a real PITA so I think I made the right decision to buy the board.

coldcanuck
 

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His estimate fee of $45 is quite reasonable.
It sure was. Very few shops would do what they did for $45. I've seen signs in repair shops that charge the minimum repair price or flat labour for estimates since they lose money on cheap estimates.
 
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