January 31, 2012 | John Berendzen | Professional Development, Sustainability

How the internet is greening the planet and saving me $$$

Here’s one more example of how the internet is changing our world for the better….

Like most Americans, I own several televisions.  I have a small one in my kitchen; a medium sized one in my bedroom and a larger one in my living room.   I remember the day a few years ago when I bought the TV for the living room: the cashier at Best Buy said “you want to buy the extended warranty?  These things have a tendency to break.”  I thought – why would I need that – Frank Rosario still watched the wood panel set his parents bought in 1967.  This thing will never break.

Fast forward 3 years.  One day the TV just flat out quits.  Being a resourceful guy, I do everything I know to get it to start running again, which consisted of unplugging and plugging in the TV.  I replace the batteries in the remote.  I hit it gently on the side. After all that, no dice, it still won’t work.

This TV is practically brand new.  It just doesn’t seem right to toss it in the garbage heap and buy another.  Plus I’m cheap.  There’s got to be some way to get this thing working again.

There’s one more thing to do.  I Google the words “Samsung TV won’t work”.  There, I find many internet posts from people who’ve had the same experience as me, and I learn that the Samsung TV’s seem to have a design flaw that shows up a lot.  They suffer from faulty capacitors.

So, now that I know what the problem might be, I went to YouTube and searched for “Samsung TV won’t work”.  This is where I really found the goldmine.  It appears that with a little work, you can identify the bad capacitors and replace them yourself.  Several wonderful people have posted movies of these repairs, taking you step by step through the process.

I thought “what have I got to lose?”.  I took the back off the TV (fortunately it’s held together with screws, unlike my IPhone).  I removed the board that held the capacitor.  One looked bad – when they go bad, the top will “pop up”.  I brought it to the office and showed the board to our Tech Consultant Wade, who verified my assumption about the bad capacitor.  On the way home I stopped by Radio Shack.  They were extremely helpful.  They helped me to buy a set of assorted capacitors (one of which was the right fit for my TV), a soldering gun, desoldering braid and some solder.  Total cost, $25.00.

I went home, plugged in the gun, removed the old capacitor and soldered in the new capacitor.  Screw the board and the back on the TV and….. it worked!   It was the happiest, most satisfying thing I’ve done all year.

This is the bad capacitor removed from my TV

A word about capacitor replacement – these things hold an electrical charge after the power is shut off.  My little 10 volt capacitor has enough juice to shock me, but larger capacitors have enough power to ELECTROCUTE you.  It might be a good idea to know how to drain the power from these before you work on them.  Please be careful.

One more word about capacitor replacement.  Here at the office, we all use flat panel monitors.  Over the past few years, probably a half dozen have gone bad – you guessed it, blown capacitors.  Joseph Burzinski (Joe junior, now a Freshman at Missouri University of Science and Technology and a techno-genius) has repaired them all for us.  So before you toss those electronics on the garbage heap, see if it’s possible to fix them.   It’s a lot greener and less expensive than constantly buying new!

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