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Tivo Series 3 - Bad capacitors in power supply

Discussion in 'TiVo Help Center' started by johnsom, Jul 25, 2011.

  1. Jul 25, 2011 #1 of 532
    johnsom

    johnsom New Member

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    Word of warning... It appears that Tivo has used a power supply in the Series 3 units that has bad capacitors. My series 3 went down last week and being well out of warranty (I jumped on the Series 3 upgrade promotion) I opened the case. The first obvious issue was the Capxon (known bad capacitor vendor) brand capacitor bulging and starting to leak.

    I wonder how many other Series 3 units are experiencing this problem.

    It looks like they used quality capacitors on the motherboard, but went cheap on the power supply components.

    I have ordered some Rubycon replacements, I'll post with the results when I get it repaired.
     
  2. Jul 25, 2011 #2 of 532
    dlfl

    dlfl Cranky old novice

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    "Capacitor Dissease" is well known in the electronics industry and has affected plenty of equipment. The early S3's were of the vintage to be most likely affected. This problem and replacing the caps has been mentioned on this forum numerous times.

    Tivo obviously buys power supplies, and probably the mother boards, from vendors so it's not surprising if one vendor used bad caps and another didn't.

    Hope you ordered "low ESR" premium caps!

    There's even a bad cap web site:
    http://www.badcaps.net/
     
  3. Jul 25, 2011 #3 of 532
    MikeAndrews

    MikeAndrews Registered abuser

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    Buy a non-working S3 on eBay or Craigslist and strip out the power supply.
     
  4. Jul 25, 2011 #4 of 532
    MikeAndrews

    MikeAndrews Registered abuser

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  5. Jul 25, 2011 #5 of 532
    dianebrat

    dianebrat I refuse to accept your reality TCF Club

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    ohh I see a game of "spot the potential link spammer" that might be happening right before my eyes! :D
     
  6. Jul 26, 2011 #6 of 532
    MikeAndrews

    MikeAndrews Registered abuser

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    :confused: It's right there when you follow the unicorn tracks.
     
  7. Jul 26, 2011 #7 of 532
    johnsom

    johnsom New Member

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    I would buy a new power supply from Weaknees, but I have the skills required to just buy the $10 in parts and fix it myself.

    I did get low ESR parts that surpass the ESR and ripple specs on the original.
     
  8. Jul 31, 2011 #8 of 532
    unitron

    unitron Active Member

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    When it comes to Capxon, I think even the stuff in Radio Shack's junk drawers outspecs them.
     
  9. Aug 9, 2011 #9 of 532
    RobOnLI

    RobOnLI New Member

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    Seattle, WA
    Well, after several years of having problems with my S3 it has finally died. Just this morning actually.

    I opened up the case again and noticed that the large capacitor on the power board is rusting. Something is leaking out of that thing.

    Unfortunately I do not have the skills or tools to replace just the capacitor so it looks like I'm stuck replacing the entire power board.

    Thanks,
    RM
     
  10. Aug 9, 2011 #10 of 532
    unitron

    unitron Active Member

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    If you feel comfortable removing the power supply, and want to pay shipping/mailing both ways (and a few bucks for the replacement capactitor(s), I can unsolder the bad ones and solder in good replacements, no charge for labor.

    However, I don't have an S3 in which to test it, and can't absolutely guarantee that the capacitor(s) are the only thing wrong with it.

    Mailing an entire TiVo runs about $20 one way. Not sure what sending just the power supply would run.
     
  11. Aug 9, 2011 #11 of 532
    section128drunk

    section128drunk New Member

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    I've purchased 3 Tivo HD units from ebay in the last month for an average of $31 DELIVERED, if you are patient, you can find some really good deals on a working parts machine.. the early THX Series 3 are actually more money
     
  12. Aug 9, 2011 #12 of 532
    johnsom

    johnsom New Member

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    Replaced the bad CapXon with Rubycon Saturday and have been running great since. :up:
     
  13. Aug 9, 2011 #13 of 532
    lrhorer

    lrhorer Active Member

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    An $8 soldering iron and a $5 roll of solder from Radio Shack are all the tools required. While the Tivo motherboard is a multilayer board using surface mount components, the power supply is just a single layer board with axial lead components. Re-working an SMD multilayer board requires some skill and a steady hand. I don't recommend it for someone who is not already handy with a soldering iron. A low-frequency single layer board however, is much easier to wrangle. Just be sure to keep the tip of the iron clean, heat the joint, and add the solder to the joint, not the iron, and you should be fine. A bit of solderwick or a solder sucker can help with de-soldering, but honestly with large capacitors it's really not necessary.

    Of course, it's up to you, but frankly, I can't imagine shying away from a soldering job this simple. Honestly, this is nothing I would have hestitated to tackle when I was 12 years old.
     
  14. Aug 9, 2011 #14 of 532
    lrhorer

    lrhorer Active Member

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    A lot. It's a well known problem. I have several bulging caps on one of my S3s. (I haven't opened the other recently.) If they go plotz, I'll drag out the old soldering iron.

    Yep. I suspect they may have purchsed the power supplies as assembled units from some OEM manufacturer. It's what I would do.
     
  15. Aug 11, 2011 #15 of 532
    Darr247

    Darr247 New Member

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    A working OLED front panel goes for almost $100 from parts dealers. :-|

    So I imagine that explains why those are more.
     
  16. Aug 11, 2011 #16 of 532
    unitron

    unitron Active Member

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    You left out the part about these particular electrolytics being polarity sensitive (as are probably 99.99% of electrolytics), and to take careful note of how the old ones are hooked up so as to not put the new ones in "backwards".
     
  17. Aug 11, 2011 #17 of 532
    Chris Gerhard

    Chris Gerhard Active Member

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    Yesterday I read about the issue the first time and it is apparently a common problem. With 2 lifetime TiVoHDs I guess I better open both up and see if I have any problems. There is nothing about how the units are working that makes me believe anything is wrong so maybe I will be lucky. Replacing the power supply with a power supply from a used TiVo when I have a problem isn't my preferred solution but might be the least expensive.
     
  18. Aug 11, 2011 #18 of 532
    lrhorer

    lrhorer Active Member

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    True. A polarized electrolytic capacitor can explode if installed backwards. I wouldn't say 99.99% of electrolytic caps are polarized, but certainly more than 99% are. Non-polarized electrolytic capacitors certainly exist, but they tend to be rather small as filter capacitors go, and they are considerably more expensive than polarized electrolytic caps.
     
  19. Aug 11, 2011 #19 of 532
    DocNo

    DocNo Member

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    It's not rusting, that's the color of the electrolytic fluid leaking out of the capacitor.

    The fluid is the problem - it's a case of industrial espionage gone wrong - they stole a bad electrolytic fluid formula :) Badcaps.net is a fascinating site if you are into electronics, geeky in nature or just enjoy a good mystery. Dell got hit particularly bad with their Optiplex GX270's - we had to eventually replace thousands of them and it go so bad that for a while we stocked internally a steady supply of motherboards to swap out as the machines turned up. We eventually started to proactively look for the bad ones - the capacitors, at least for the Dells, all had an X on the end of them so they were easy to spot. If there as any other letter they were fine. It was a complete nightmare - but as others pointed out, it affected the entire electronics industry and not just one or two manufacturers.
     
  20. Aug 11, 2011 #20 of 532
    lrhorer

    lrhorer Active Member

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    <Light bulb goes on> Ah! My company supplied me with a GX270 whose power supply failed. I always thought it funny, because modern power supplies are so reliable. I'll bet that's what it was.
     

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