TV Repair
January 17, 2005 7:20 AM   Subscribe

My TV is broken. Within the last few days, it has gone from color to black and white. You can wiggle the s-video plug in the back to see color in spurts, and sometimes hitting it brings back color for a few minutes. Its not an old TV, maybe 5 years old, but it is a tube type. Is this even worth fixing? It's a big tv, so replacing it with one an equal size would be expensive. Is it something your average joe could open up and fix?
posted by quibx to Technology (12 answers total)
Sounds like a problem with the S-Video plug, rather than the tube. Have you tried using a different S-Video cable? Experimented with using composite inputs instead?
posted by neckro23 at 7:32 AM on January 17, 2005

Do not open up your television. You could get a nasty shock, even if the TV is disconnected.
posted by Optamystic at 7:37 AM on January 17, 2005

Yes, don't try to fix this yourself. TVs are the one appliance no amateur should mess with, as they can hold a charge for hours.
posted by orange swan at 7:45 AM on January 17, 2005

Like Optamystic said, opening up a television can be dangerous. Those things can store mega-volts for a long time after they're disconnected from an electricity supply.

There's more than enough juice to kill you, if you touch the wrong part.
posted by veedubya at 7:45 AM on January 17, 2005

To reiterate, you could die. Don't fuck with the serious bad-ass electrical demons that lurk within.

Back before we were enhitchified, my bride sent her (very old, pro-model XBR) tv out to be repaired; it cost a few hundred Canadian.

Investigate locally to find an electronics repair shop that's busy enough to not really care about your business. Describe the problem to them. They'll have a good idea of whether it's worth fixing or whether it'll cost you $1400 in parts and labor.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:59 AM on January 17, 2005

I just bought a 20" used TV about the age of yours for $85. You probably won't find a cheaper option than that.
posted by orange swan at 8:05 AM on January 17, 2005

I second the TV repair shop. You can just call them and describe the problem to a serviceperson and they'll tell you if it's worth fixing.

I agree that it sounds like a problem with the S-Video jack- (and lots of times electronics "fail" just because the jack breaks) so does the internal tuner still work? Does it still receive broadcast TV? If so, you should be able to have it fixed for cheap.
posted by fake at 8:19 AM on January 17, 2005

Response by poster: On the back, both the s-video and coaxial have the same effect. I have RCA plugs on the front - but my entire system is s-video. Hooking my VCR up to the rca has no problems, so I concur, that its probably the input assembly on the back.

I had no idea about the tubes holding a charge. AskMe saves the day. I'll call some shops tomorrow and get an estimate. Thanks!
posted by quibx at 8:54 AM on January 17, 2005

FWIW...we tend to lose color at least once per semester at the video lab at school due to S-Video cables going bad. We generally replace the cable and everything is fine. That might not be happening with your stuff, but it's good to know that this happens fairly regularly with S-Video.
posted by spaghetti at 9:27 AM on January 17, 2005

It might be a bad cable, so it certainly pays to swap it with one of your other s-video cables to see. As for repair if it is the jack into which the cable fits, you could probably do that yourself. The prior warnings are correct, YOUR TV CONTAINS POTENTIALLY LETHAL VOLTAGES EVEN AFTER IT IS TURNED OFF AND UNPLUGGED! Nevertheless, as long as you don't actually touch anything other than the cable jack, and it should not have high voltages, you should be fine. I would let it sit for a day or so unplugged before opening it up and even then be careful. TVs have huge capacitors which can store a charge for a long time. Well designed that charge should bleed out in a short time after the TV is turned off, but who knows whether it was well designed for safety?
posted by caddis at 11:09 AM on January 17, 2005

RUO/X - Just wanted to say that's a very good link for anyone interested in high-voltage electronics safety.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:10 AM on January 17, 2005

If you are wondering where the most dangerous parts of the TV tube are, in case you decide to open the thing against all the warnings, the red wire going to the suction cup on the top of the tube, and everything attached to it is where the *most* dangerous of all stored voltage is. It'll jump through even the tiniest crack in the insulation of that wire, too, so don't think of even brushing against it.

The power supply capacitors and other items inside the TV may also be hot, but they are much more difficult to hit, and don't store nearly as much charge as the anode / flyback transformer.

Inexperienced people should not work inside a TV, and I'd explain how to discharge the flyback, but if you don't do it right while you dischage it, you'll be quite sorry (and quite hurting, and dead if you manage to land on something sharp).

Let the TV repair guy do it. If it's just the jack the repair should be about $50 - $100. It's $50 well spent, IMHO.
posted by shepd at 2:42 PM on January 17, 2005

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