Those of you who have been TSA readers for a while might remember that a couple of years ago I shared the three part tale of what happened when my launch-day PS3 succumbed to the dreaded ‘Yellow Light of Death’ (YLoD).
Where I left the tale was that having bought a PS3 Slim to replace it I was trying to find my dead PS3’s original 60GB HDD, having replaced it a few months after launch with a larger one, so that I could have a go at taking advantage of the Sale Of Goods Act to get a refund or exchange. I told you at the time that I would let you know the outcome, though I did not expect it to be a couple of years later.
Wherever the ‘safe place’ was that I put the original 60GB HDD in it has remained safe and hidden these last two years. Doing some clearing out at the start of this year I decided that I had waited long enough to find the original HDD. Rather than keep my dead PS3 around any longer I decided to just get rid of it.
I could have tried to repair it but so many of of those repairs turn out to be temporary and it had been sitting unused on a shelf for so long that, to be honest, I just could not be bothered with it anymore.
Before disposing of it though I did have one last question that I wanted it to help answer; was its death my fault? One of the reasons put forth by some as a cause of the YLoD is that the user is often to blame for not keeping their PS3 clean enough.
Mine had lived on an AV rack that is dusted regularly and there was no evidence of dust buildup on any of the air intake or outlet grills. At the time, and several times since, I have been told that my PS3 would have been fine if I had diligently vacuumed it out weekly to prevent any dust buildup inside.
Now I don’t know about you but I have never given my consumer electronic kit a vacuum, regularly or otherwise. My house doesn’t get particularly dusty and I have no furry pets shedding all over the place so I have never considered it necessary. Indeed, I would consider it a design flaw if a piece of consumer electronics needs vacuuming out regularly when kept in the average home environment.
A curious mind can be a danger to free time though, so before disposing of the old shiny black beast I determined to answer the question of whether vacuuming was likely to have saved it. Time to get the tools out.
The first appreciable sign of any dust during the disassembly was on the inner portion of the fan blades but it was a pretty insignificant amount to see for someone who is used to taking PCs apart. The main heat sink assembly with its cooling fins and heat pipes, where I’d expected to see dust, was surprisingly clear.
The only noticeable build-up was on the outside of some of the EMC shield which had sat just inside one of the intake vents. Here, small dust bunnies had begun to form but the population was far from becoming out of control or a problem.
It was possible to see that some had climbed through the holes and onto the motherboard itself though, so off came the EMC shield. There inside were a handful of small bunnies clinging tightly to what had once obviously been some very attractively charged electronic components.
Again they were not present in sufficiently large numbers or of a size where they would have been the problem. Most of the motherboard was entirely free of dust and showed no signs of damage from excessive heat or electrical shorts.
My conclusion was that it was likely that the usual cause of YLoD had killed my PS3, cracking of the solder joints underneath one of the main chips. There was probably nothing I could have done to prevent it other than to have not used my PS3.
There would have been no harm done had I gently hoovered the air intakes and rounded up those few errant bunnies but neither would have doing so saved my memory card reader-equipped piece of gaming hardware. PCs regularly fill up with far more exotic dust-based lifeforms and continue to work for years and you should expect your PS3 to be able to operate without regular application of a vacuum cleaner.
Don’t Forget To Deactivate
One useful thing about the entire exercise was that it reminded me that although the PS3 was dead and so couldn’t be used to deactivate itself from my PSN account it was a perfect time to use the web-based method of doing so. A great guide to doing that can be found here.
Not only was I able to deactivate my PS3 but it also showed me that my old long-passed-on PSP-1000 was still registered. At the time, it was a couple of weeks before the PS Vita launched and I certainly would have been very flummoxed if my PS Vita had failed to properly activate because that old ‘1000 and my current ‘3000 were using the two valid activations.
You can only deactivate devices using the web interface at most every six months, so that ethically-challenged gamers cannot keep activating and deactivating a host of different PlayStation consoles on their accounts, but if you have either sold on or otherwise retired any PlayStation consoles that were tied to your PSN account it may be worth checking that they are not still taking up any of your limited activations.
And that ends the tale of the death and its aftermath of my launch-day PS3. I did not bother to reassemble it and merely took the bag of bits to the local recycling centre where the circuit boards and scrap metal could be processed as far as possible to recover the raw materials. Who knows, perhaps it’s already been reincarnated as a toaster? As long as they didn’t reuse any of the solder it should be fine.