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Old 09-09-2013, 02:23 PM   #1
buscuitboy
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Question Not a matter of "if", but "when"

I have some Series 3 TiVos. One of them (S3 OLED) seems to have some bad caps on the power supply (in a reboot loop) & I am trouble shooting it now. The others are working fine right now, but is it really a matter of not "if" their power supplies will fail and rather more "when" will they fail?

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Old 09-09-2013, 02:26 PM   #2
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It is seeming more and more likely that this is the case. If I had multiple boxes and had to repair some caps, I would probably do them all preemptively.
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Old 09-09-2013, 02:36 PM   #3
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I actually got a fully working TiVo HD off Craigslist for $20. Didn't subscribe it and am pretty much keeping it for "a rainy day" for when my other (lifetime) TiVo HD's power supply starts giving me issues. If I ever use it, I am sure this one will probably give me fits at some point too, but oh well.

I had thought about possibly going the Weakness route and get a S3 power supply from them if I ever need to, but I also tend to wonder if they are simply recycled power supplies that are pulled from working S3 machines & have no issues now. Working fine, but eventually will have problems down the road (& probably out of warranty at that point).
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Old 09-09-2013, 02:38 PM   #4
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Well, even if the units from Weakness are from the era of bad caps, they could have limited life once turned on.
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Old 09-09-2013, 02:56 PM   #5
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Well, in my small sample of 2 OLED S3s, I have 100% failure

One failed last year. The 2nd failed this year. They actually take a while to fail as the first signs (in my case) of failure is unstable output on svideo/component. Then sometimes cablecard 2 problems. In the final death throes it'll go in a boot loop. However what you experience probably depends on which caps are going.

On one unit it was the two underneath the heat sink, while the others were fine. On the other unit it was the 5 on the other side of the heat sink, I believe the 5V and 12V lines.

I think really it is just a matter of time for many units.

I was under the impression weaknees asks you to send in your broken power supply and they will send you a "refurbished" one where they have replaced some or all of the caps. So their "inventory" depends on you "supplying" your broken ones to be refurbished. Then your power supply becomes the refurbished one for the next unlucky bloke who needs a power supply.

Personally if your units are easy to get to then proactively replacing caps makes some sense, but if they are hard to get to, I'd just wait until you see some early signs and then pull it out then.

I have a very small sample, obviously, but neither one died right away. Looking back, there were those tell-tale symptoms for many months, which I didn't realize was a symptom for the first unit.
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Old 09-09-2013, 08:33 PM   #6
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Remind me what the signs are please. I previously gave a stock TiVo HD to my mom and it locked up possibly during power loss even though it is on a UPS.

I pulled the plug and it goes to the second boot screen, almost there please wait a few minutes, and then reboots. I can't remember if this is hard drive, caps, or possibly both.
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Old 09-09-2013, 08:42 PM   #7
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Remind me what the signs are please. I previously gave a stock TiVo HD to my mom and it locked up possibly during power loss even though it is on a UPS.

I pulled the plug and it goes to the second boot screen, almost there please wait a few minutes, and then reboots. I can't remember if this is hard drive, caps, or possibly both.
The welcome screen is on the motherboard, the few more minutes screen is on the hard drive.

So open it up, check the power supply for even the slightest bulge on any of the capacitors (the tops should be absolutely flat), and take the drive out (you can leave it on the bracket) and hook it to a PC and boot with the Ultimate Boot CD or a cd from an image supplied by the drive manufacturer and run the manufacturer's long test.

And if you have a voltmeter, check the +5 V (red wire) and +12 V (yellow wire) with and without the drive connected and see how close the readings are to 5 and 12.

Report back.
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Old 09-10-2013, 12:03 AM   #8
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Thanks I will try to look at it when I go over there again. I will probably have to bring it home to test it.

I was hoping it might the power supply since I could do a simple swap. If it turns out to be the drive, I guess I can always just pull it and drop in the drive from one of the spare TiVo HD and do a clear and delete.
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Old 09-10-2013, 03:57 AM   #9
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Thanks I will try to look at it when I go over there again. I will probably have to bring it home to test it.

I was hoping it might the power supply since I could do a simple swap. If it turns out to be the drive, I guess I can always just pull it and drop in the drive from one of the spare TiVo HD and do a clear and delete.
Well, if you have another known good PS for that model, take it and your Torx drivers (you'll need an 8 or 9 for the little screw right above the AC jack, as well as a 10 for the case screws) over to mom's and drop it in and see what happens.
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Old 09-10-2013, 09:14 AM   #10
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I pulled the plug and it goes to the second boot screen, almost there please wait a few minutes, and then reboots. I can't remember if this is hard drive, caps, or possibly both.
I have run the WD extended test on a previous hard drive from a rebooting S3 (OLED). When all came back OK, I then put this one in another S3 I have and it worked fine so I know the issue is in the power supply.

Its also good to know that if it gets past the first "welcome" screen then your PS is probably good, but if it doesn't get past the "almost there" screen then its probably your hard drive.
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Old 09-11-2013, 07:19 AM   #11
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I had two S3's and neither one ever developed a problem with the power supplies. The first one was in service for at least five years. I bought the 2nd one used and had it subscribed for 3-4 years before I retired it.

If you're handy with a soldering iron, replacing the caps is not difficult nor is it very expensive. It certainly can't hurt to replace them as a preventative measure if you're concerned that they might fail.
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Old 09-11-2013, 07:35 AM   #12
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My Tivo HD is several years old and hasn't shown any obvious signs of power supply problems. I did open it up and found one capacitor bulging so I ordered replacements for all 11 capacitors, which arrived yesterday.
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Old 09-11-2013, 08:15 AM   #13
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Its also good to know that if it gets past the first "welcome" screen then your PS is probably good, but if it doesn't get past the "almost there" screen then its probably your hard drive.
If you read around enough, you'll see that while this is a fair guide to use when troubleshooting, but that PS problems can be demonstrated in all sorts of strange symptoms not consistent with the boot problem indicated above.
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Old 09-11-2013, 02:16 PM   #14
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If you're handy with a soldering iron, replacing the caps is not difficult nor is it very expensive. It certainly can't hurt to replace them as a preventative measure if you're concerned that they might fail.

I have thought about attempting to try and replace some of the caps myself on my Series 3 power supply. Even googled it and watched some Youtube videos, but I am a afraid I will mess something up. I read here how someone (with little experience like myself) attempted it themselves and things went from bad to worse as the unit would not power up at all. I am afraid of running into this.
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Old 09-11-2013, 02:24 PM   #15
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I'm replacing capacitors as we speak--all 13, including the tiny ones.
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Old 09-11-2013, 05:47 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by buscuitboy View Post
I have thought about attempting to try and replace some of the caps myself on my Series 3 power supply. Even googled it and watched some Youtube videos, but I am a afraid I will mess something up. I read here how someone (with little experience like myself) attempted it themselves and things went from bad to worse as the unit would not power up at all. I am afraid of running into this.
The main thing to be wary of is the polarity of the capacitors, which are clearly marked. Note that this only applies to the electrolytic capacitors (i.e., the long tubular ones). If you install one backwards, the power supply will not work properly, if at all. Just replace them one at a time, making sure the polarity is correct, and you should be fine. The "+" terminal is usually silkscreened on the board.

Apply just enough heat to the pad to melt the solder. You can remove the solder using some desoldering wick or a desoldering pump (i.e. solder sucker). Don't overheat the pad or you could detach the copper trace from the circuit board. You can still repair it by soldering a jumper wire between the capacitor pin and the next solder pad on the trace, but it's best to avoid that if possible.

When installing the new capacitor, make sure you apply heat to both the capacitor lead and the circuit pad with the tip of the soldering iron. Use just enough solder to flow around the lead and the pad. Remove the soldering iron from the pad as soon as the solder flows. You can blow on it gently to speed up the cooling process, but the solder will solidify within seconds after removing the iron. Just make sure you don't move the capacitor while it's cooling or you could end up with a cold solder joint. Clip the leads close to the board when you're finished using a pair of side cutters.

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Old 09-13-2013, 01:14 PM   #17
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I may try this on another lifetime Series 3 HD unit I have that might be showing signs of capacitor failure on the power supply. Basically, it works & boots up totally fine with one M-card in it. However, if I have 2 S-cards in it (like before), it goes into a reboot loop.

It was suggested here that the two cable cards are drawing more power from the power supply upon the initial start-up and therefore why it may not be working properly (if the power supply is truly failing). For now, I am just using the one M-card and all is good, but I am sure there will be a time when that isn't good enough.

I may then attempt to replace some capacitors on my own. If all else fails, I actually have an exact spare Series 3 HD (non-lifetime) that is not subscribed to and sitting in a closest so can use it for parts if needed.
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Old 09-13-2013, 04:27 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by mr.unnatural View Post
The main thing to be wary of is the polarity of the capacitors, which are clearly marked. Note that this only applies to the electrolytic capacitors (i.e., the long tubular ones). If you install one backwards, the power supply will not work properly, if at all. Just replace them one at a time, making sure the polarity is correct, and you should be fine. The "+" terminal is usually silkscreened on the board.

Apply just enough heat to the pad to melt the solder. You can remove the solder using some desoldering wick or a desoldering pump (i.e. solder sucker). Don't overheat the pad or you could detach the copper trace from the circuit board. You can still repair it by soldering a jumper wire between the capacitor pin and the next solder pad on the trace, but it's best to avoid that if possible.

When installing the new capacitor, make sure you apply heat to both the capacitor lead and the circuit pad with the tip of the soldering iron. Use just enough solder to flow around the lead and the pad. Remove the soldering iron from the pad as soon as the solder flows. You can blow on it gently to speed up the cooling process, but the solder will solidify within seconds after removing the iron. Just make sure you don't move the capacitor while it's cooling or you could end up with a cold solder joint. Clip the leads close to the board when you're finished using a pair of side cutters.
All good .... but I would prefer ".. remove the soldering iron from the pad about 1 or 2 seconds after the solder flows." You need to be sure the solder wets both lead and pad and that they are both heated enough. Granted, if you have done a perfect job of contacting both parts with the solder tip, you could probably remove it instantly -- but that frequently isn't the case.
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Old 09-14-2013, 07:16 PM   #19
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On the subject of soldering, in case it's not already been made clear, the idea usually is to heat up the two things to be soldered together to a temperature that will melt solder and let them melt the solder onto themselves rather than melt the solder with the iron.

Melting a little solder on the iron while it's heating those two things, however, releases the flux inside which helps encourage the solder to melt and flow (this is also useful when desoldering to get the solder already there to melt sooner).

A little practice and you should get a feel for how to do it right.
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Old 09-15-2013, 07:42 PM   #20
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Looks like the C503 and C403 are definitely bulging on my mom's bad TiVo HD. I am hoping it is just the power supply and the drive is OK.
Old Capacitors


New Capacitors


The new one looks like it has a slight bulge on the C503 even though it has never been powered on that I know of.
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Old 09-17-2013, 02:24 AM   #21
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Looks like the C503 and C403 are definitely bulging on my mom's bad TiVo HD. I am hoping it is just the power supply and the drive is OK.
Old Capacitors


New Capacitors


The new one looks like it has a slight bulge on the C503 even though it has never been powered on that I know of.
Is that the same supply with replacement caps in the bottom picture?
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Old 09-17-2013, 07:20 AM   #22
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Is that the same supply with replacement caps in the bottom picture?
He was talking about doing a simple swap so it is probably a different power supply that was intended to be a replacement.
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Old 09-17-2013, 07:49 AM   #23
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poppagene is correct. That is just another board pulled from a spare TiVo HD I had.

It turned out to the be the hard drive any way.
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Old 09-17-2013, 10:41 AM   #24
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Looks like the C503 and C403 are definitely bulging on my mom's bad TiVo HD. I am hoping it is just the power supply and the drive is OK.
If able to, pull the hard drive and put it in a desktop PC. Then run the WD extended test on it. It usually take a few hours and if it comes back with errors, then your hard drive definitely needs to be replaced.

Of course, this is assuming you have a spare desktop PC to work with as who really has these anymore?
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Old 09-17-2013, 11:39 AM   #25
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poppagene is correct. That is just another board pulled from a spare TiVo HD I had.

It turned out to the be the hard drive any way.
Put your finger on top of that cap that looks slightly domed (with the TiVo unplugged from the wall socket, of course), and if it's not absolutely flat, replace it, and any that were in parallel with it, 'cause it ain't gonna get better or heal itself.
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Old 09-17-2013, 12:45 PM   #26
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Of course, this is assuming you have a spare desktop PC to work with as who really has these anymore?
LOL, I've got at least 3 extra working Windows PCs plus a Hackintosh sitting in my computer room in addition to my primary PC, one desktop upstairs for the wife, four HTPCs, two netbooks, and two laptops. I've also got an unRAID server and a PC dedicated to running pfSense as my router. I could probably put together a couple more with spare parts I have lying around.
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Old 09-26-2013, 07:25 AM   #27
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Is this capacitor issue supposed to affect the OLED S3 boxes? I still have two S3 boxes from 2006 that my girlfriend uses. When 1TB drives were first available in 2007 I put one in each of those boxes and that has been it. They have been running 24/7/365 so far without any issues.
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Old 09-26-2013, 07:37 AM   #28
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Is this capacitor issue supposed to affect the OLED S3 boxes? I still have two S3 boxes from 2006 that my girlfriend uses. When 1TB drives were first available in 2007 I put one in each of those boxes and that has been it. They have been running 24/7/365 so far without any issues.
Yes
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Old 09-26-2013, 08:00 AM   #29
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Is this capacitor issue supposed to affect the OLED S3 boxes? I still have two S3 boxes from 2006 that my girlfriend uses. When 1TB drives were first available in 2007 I put one in each of those boxes and that has been it. They have been running 24/7/365 so far without any issues.
I have a Tivo HD from 2008 that had some minor issues but nothing obviously related to the power supply. I put it on a good UPS from day one. I opened it up and found one capacitor bulging a little so they can be fine for several years but will eventually fail.
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Old 09-26-2013, 09:00 AM   #30
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I have a Tivo HD from 2008 that had some minor issues but nothing obviously related to the power supply. I put it on a good UPS from day one. I opened it up and found one capacitor bulging a little so they can be fine for several years but will eventually fail.
I won't be looking forward to that day. My GF will be pissed. I keep telling her to offload some shows she wants to keep to Tivodesktop but she hasn't
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