Archive for January, 2015


This monitor has been on my desk for months because I’ve been avoiding it but I’ve decided that it’s taking up too much space so I’ve decided to start digging into it again.  I’m going to document my repairs here in hopes that it will help someone else out to see my troubleshooting process.

The symptom of the issue is no picture.

The problems are several.  The monitor is switchable between standard and medium resolution hence the “DS” in the model name which stands for dual sync.  When I attempt to run it at 15k, things seems somewhat stable.  There is no picture but when I test B+, it will sit there right around 130v which seems pretty reasonable.  Testing with the high voltage probe I get about 130v on the anode which tells me something in the flyback/HOT area is not working correctly but I don’t have a schematic so I’m flying blind on it.  When I hit the base on the oscilloscope, I get a reasonably nice looking square wave that seems to be at the correct frequency and looks happy.

Oscilliscope reading (base)

So that makes it appear that the driving waveform is ok.  When I hit the collector, I get this:

Oscilliscope reading (collector)

That does not look good.  Theoretically I should be getting voltage spikes that go well of the screen when the HOT grounds the flyback.  The scope is set for 50 volts per div and I’m barely covering two of them so something is clearly wrong here.

When I switch over to medium resolution (25k jumper) things get much worse.  The B+ pops on and starts at about 140v, then it keeps climbing and the monitor starts getting noisy to the point where I’m concerned and then I shut it down.

I’ve tested the flyback with a ring tester and it looks good but perhaps there is a different problem with the flyback that cannot be diagnosed with that tool.  I know for sure the HOT is good, I have several of them and they all test the same.  When I pull the HOT out of circuit, both the 15k and 25k mode act the same and give the same B+ voltage of roughly 130v.  The only difference is the waveform reading on the base of the HOT.

During the holiday season here I had some time to tackle some of the projects that have been on my todo list for ages.  One of these projects was improving the video output from my Aquarius.  Last time I hooked it up, the picture was pretty horrible.  It may have been a flaky RF switch box but an RF modulated video signal isn’t really ideal in the first place.  Searching around, I found some schematics for the Aquarius so I thought this project would be a piece of cake.

Here is the offending RF modulator

Here is the offending RF modulator

It appeared to be a simple matter of removing the RF modulator from the board and then grabbing pin 1 and feeding it to a RCA jack and feeding pin 3 to another for sound.  When I did that though, I got video like this:

 

Wrong colors, smearing, illegible text.  Yuck!

Wrong colors, smearing, sync loss, illegible text. Yuck!

It was at this point that I realized the project might not be as easy as I first thought.  I decided that the problems was a weak signal so I set out to try to amplify it.

I was a little puzzled as to why such a weak signal worked fine for the RF modulator but not for the TV.  When I looked at the signal on a scope, it looked fine:

This is the unloaded signal straight out of the TEA1002 chip with the two resistors in place.

This is the unloaded signal straight out of the TEA1002 chip with the two resistors in place.

But then when I put a resistor across the signal to load it down, it squashed down to nearly nothing.  Apparently the RF modulator doesn’t have much of a load at all since it has no 75 ohm cable termination to deal with.

I unsuccessfully tried a couple of single transistor emitter-follower circuits such as this NES Video Booster circuit that I found.  While it improved the signal, it didn’t entirely fix the problem.  My friend suggested a purpose built video buffer chip such as the MAX4090.  Oddly, he had a roll of 200 of them laying around that he never found a use for.  I hooked it up on my breadboard to check it out:

Breadboarding an SOT23-6 packaged chip was a small challenge but certainly not impossible.

Breadboarding an SOT23-6 packaged chip was a small challenge but certainly not impossible.

That's more like it!  (Ignore the moire pattern from my cell phone cam)

That’s more like it! (Ignore the moire pattern from my cell phone cam)

Success!  That worked pretty well.  I started with the reference circuit found in the MAX4090 datasheet but found that it worked best with only the one cap installed on the output.  I omitted all of the resistors from the circuit and the decoupling cap on the vcc.  Just in case though, I designed my PCB off of the reference schematic:

MAX4090 Breakout Board Schematic

MAX4090 Breakout Board Schematic

Here's my Kicad layout for the breakout board.

Here’s my Kicad layout for the breakout board.

Here's the breakout board installed in the Aquarius.  Fits where the RF modulator was.

Here’s the breakout board installed in the Aquarius. Fits where the RF modulator was.

IMG_1977

This is how it should have looked from the factory the day it was shipped!

In case you are wondering about the red +5v line, I got that from the bottom of the board.  The 5v regulator line is very clearly marked on the solder side over near where the three wires from the regulator go under the metal shield.  I just followed it as close to the former location of the RF modulator and grabbed it there.

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