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Opinion

How To Fix A Broken PS3

Green light of success?

PS3s, like most modern tech, break. They might take a while to do so, but chances are – ultimately – they’ll stop working. The one below was a launch model, day one, and lasted five years before kicking up the nasty Red Light Of Death during a viewing of Toy Story 3 on Blu-ray.

That’s probably not important. What is important is that the console was dead. It would switch on for a second or two before flashing a red LED and shutting back down. I waited over a month before trying to fix it, before finally realising that I should at least attempt to see if it still works.

So I (and a mate) pulled it to bits. Shoved the bits in a couple of carrier bags, and forgot about it.

broken ps3

Last Friday – a couple of weeks later – as regular readers to the TSA twitter might remember, we grabbed some beers, some pizza (it was some spicy hot chicken thing) and opened up the bags and panicked. Mainly because we had no idea which bit went where, but also because we’d not separated the little screws.

They were just in a little bit of tin foil, all mixed together. This, we thought, might be fun.

broken ps3

First things first, let’s give the motherboard a clean. Dusting off any five year old crap and then – using what could only be described as industrial strength orange-scented Fairy Liquid, we began to carefully remove the sticky white paste on top of the chips, assuming that the PS3′s failure was due to some dodgy heat transfer or something.

The insides of a PS3, like most consoles, is a wondrous thing. All the bits and bats that Sony fed in their pre-launch hype were present and correct: look, the Reality Synthesiser! That was the thing that made MotorStorm look fancy, I seem to remember. Regardless, all the chips were cleaned and looked sparkling. This repairing lark was easy.

broken ps3

To make sure, we pulled everything to bits. Everything. The bit Portal-like industrial fan was scary, as was all that copper stuff that we could only assume was to make Kratos’ blades super shiny. There’s a lot of heavy metal inside the PS3 – at least the launch models – alongside all the fancy circuitboard stuff. The newer models probably just run off jelly.

If any of this is too technical, we apologise. The beer was nice, though, it was that lower strength Stella stuff that didn’t taste nearly as bad as the usual lager, and didn’t make us want to watch football or light a fag and play Call of Duty, so that’s nice.

broken ps3

As we were going, people on Twitter were telling us that we had to do more stuff. One of the extra tasks we adopted was to “reloat the flux”. Now, I’ve seen Back to the Future and my mate’s car is a 2 litre, so reaching 88mph wasn’t a problem. However, we were being directed towards a ‘heat gun’ and non-flammable surfaces, so we took the motherboard outside and blasted the hell out of it.

Nothing really floated, but it start to smell a bit, so we reckoned that was all good, and left it to cool whilst we had another beer and another go on Max Payne 3. When it was all dry (and literally freezing) we brought it back inside and then started the process of putting everything back together.

broken ps3

This bit was actually easy, apart from the mock catapults that Sony installed that needed both sides gradually screwing it otherwise everything inside would implode and all the Loco Roco would spill out. However, unless you’ve got about eight hands all they did was fly around the room and projected little eye-sized screws at your face. Deadly.

To the right is an iPad. This wasn’t also broken, it was used as a web browser so that we could see how things were supposed to be done. It was quite useful, but required considerable padding and sleeving to avoid the deadly metal shards from the PS3.

broken ps3

So, anyway, half an hour later and we were done. All back together apart from the top bit of plastic which I stood on and snapped. That bit wasn’t really necessary anyway, the whole innards were fixed, cleaned and re-floated, whatever that meant. We were good to go. I found the kettle lead for the system, plugged it in and counted down from 3.

Magically, the thing worked. It was green. It booted. I took and tweeted a picture to prove it. We were back in business. We’d fixed something. We were legendary heroes who would be talked about for years. I could sense the book deal, it was close.

broken ps3

And then it went red again.

Throwing the useless, terminally dead piece of crap back into the same carrier bag it had been rotting in for weeks, we grabbed another beer and played some more Max Payne 3. These things are sent to test us, of course, and this particular model had – as they say – run its course, had a good innings and served me well.

An anticlimax? More of a cliffhanger…

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47 Comments
  1. cheekyMcB
    Member
    Since: Feb 2009

    At what stage did you get your Toy Story disk back? While it was broken up and yanked out or once “fixed” and normal style ejection? Only ask as my YLOD PS3 is in attic with a DVD stuck inside waiting on me to do something about it.

    Comment posted on 17/05/2012 at 14:16.
    • ljc1976
      Member
      Since: Jul 2011

      This worked on my YLOD 40GB:

      1. First shut down the system by flipping the power switch in the back off.

      2. Hold down the eject disc button.

      3. While still holding down the eject button, flip the power switch to turn back on your PS3.

      4. When the green light comes on, wait a few seconds then tap the eject button a couple times. The fan will run on full power and the disc will eject.

      Comment posted on 17/05/2012 at 16:41.
      • cheekyMcB
        Member
        Since: Feb 2009

        The switch method only works with certain models (my online research seems to back this up) but I had tried it anyway ages ago with no success. Thanks though.

        Comment posted on 17/05/2012 at 20:42.
  2. JBoo
    Banned
    Since: Oct 2011

    This comment is hidden.

    Comment posted on 17/05/2012 at 14:37.
    • JBoo
      Banned
      Since: Oct 2011

      This comment is hidden.

      Comment posted on 17/05/2012 at 14:40.
      • Forrest_01
        Member
        Since: Jun 2009

        Actually no, you meant “could have been worse”.

        Comment posted on 17/05/2012 at 14:45.
  3. Forrest_01
    Member
    Since: Jun 2009

    Hmmm, I still have a launch 60GB sat at home refusing to let go of my burnout disc due to the friendly yellow light (‘yellow light of death’ sounds so ominous!) – The plan was to rescue the disc & hopefully keep it as a backup or sell it, but as many here have mentioned them failing days/weeks/months after (youles being the exception to the rule), I don’t think it’s worth the hassle!

    Anyone wanna buy a damn funky looking door stop?

    Comment posted on 17/05/2012 at 14:37.
    • da_siz
      Member
      Since: Oct 2011

      there is an easy way to get the disk out…
      plug in ps3, turn off at back. hold down the eject button, then flick the switch back on. fans will whurr up and hey presto the disk pops out.

      done this many times and fixed many ps3′s

      the fix works every time, just varies how long it lasts.

      only really takes about 2 hours to repair including the reflowing of the circuits and waiting for it to cool

      Comment posted on 17/05/2012 at 15:43.
      • Forrest_01
        Member
        Since: Jun 2009

        The eject thing doesn’t work – tried it.

        Turns on, but shuts straight down regardless of what you are pressing or how it is being turned on.

        I even tried a sexy nightie, but alas, nothing.

        Comment posted on 17/05/2012 at 16:35.
      • Youles
        Member
        Since: Feb 2011

        I used this guys’ guide to take apart the BluRay drive to get my disc back:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJMdu538GwI

        But also check out the reassembly guide as you have to reset some mechanical parts to ensure the drive works again:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IxSmF__s7-o

        It’s actually really easy, and I’ve never done anything like this before.

        Comment posted on 17/05/2012 at 16:45.
  4. seravok
    Member
    Since: Oct 2011

    Heh disassemble a ps3 so that you can fix it, how cavemanish of you guys. I fixed mine using a blow dryer and no disassembling whatsoever. :P

    Comment posted on 17/05/2012 at 14:47.
  5. jeccross
    Member
    Since: Feb 2012

    I did this before YLOD, and replaced the cooling paste stuff on the chips. Seriously, if you have an old one do it now. It’s much easier than waiting for YLOD and it’s not that hard (i’m far from good at this stuff).

    Comment posted on 17/05/2012 at 14:52.
    • da_siz
      Member
      Since: Oct 2011

      just replacing the cooling paste isn’t the fix, the fix is “reflowing the circuits”

      when you remove the heatsink from the processor you should always replace the thermal compound

      Comment posted on 17/05/2012 at 15:45.
      • jeccross
        Member
        Since: Feb 2012

        Yes but if you replace the thermal compound you’re alot less likely to get YLOD in the first place.

        Comment posted on 17/05/2012 at 19:02.
  6. RFC2007
    Member
    Since: Sep 2009

    My YLOD PS3 was traded into GAME

    Done ‘Ye Olde Hairdryer Trick’ on it, got the disc out and save data off, then nipped down to game, and traded in toward a a slimline. Was sweating it when they took it through to test it first!!!

    Comment posted on 17/05/2012 at 15:00.
  7. Zimsalabim
    Member
    Since: Aug 2010

    Hmm. My launch phatty gave up the YLOD about a year ago, so I got myself down to Maplin and shelled out for a one-time-use heat gun and some VERY EXPENSIVE silver thermal paste. Got down to it. Scraped off the chalky gunk from the 2 chips, reflowed (both sides of the board), re-thermalled and fired ‘er up. Huzzah! It worked for 10 minutes until another YLOD… You know what it was? The Blu-Ray drive. Probably the reason it croaked in the first place. £20 for a used replacement from eBay and a year on we’re still rocking… Don’t lose the faith is all I’ll say – those PS2 games aren’t going to play themselves are they? Persona 4. Just saying.

    Comment posted on 17/05/2012 at 15:57.
  8. Killgore81
    Member
    Since: Mar 2009

    I’ve repaired a couple using this method and 3 months is the most I have seen it work for, I usually advise that this repair is only good for backing up saves etc anything else is a bonus.
    Also it reminds me that I’ve got one sat there waiting for round 2.

    Comment posted on 17/05/2012 at 16:46.
  9. freezebug2
    Member
    Since: Dec 2008

    Awesome, the sense of achievement when “the lights gone green” must be ace ;)

    Comment posted on 17/05/2012 at 17:03.
    • seravok
      Member
      Since: Oct 2011

      Truly deserves a little trophy. :D

      Comment posted on 17/05/2012 at 19:37.
  10. ico
    Member
    Since: Aug 2010

    I wonder of this voids the warranty ;)

    Comment posted on 17/05/2012 at 17:47.

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