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Sometimes all you need to do to fix a older piece of digital gear is to check the connectors

by Craig Anderton


So  you decided to re-visit that older piece of digital gear you had  sitting around, plugged it in, and—ooops, nothing! Although this could  mean you’ll have to cough up the bucks to get it serviced, if it’s out  of warranty anyway, there are a few tricks you might try to get it  working again.



First,  you have to unplug the unit (seriously, some people forget to do this!)  and disassemble it. You may get lucky and find a service manual online,  but be careful—you want to fix any damage, not create more. Use your  cell phone to take pictures of what went where so you won’t have any  trouble putting everything back together again. Get a small plastic  container or cup to hold any screws; if it seems you can’t get the  bottom off because of a hidden screw, check to see if it’s under a  sticker or label on the unit’s underside. And please—if you don’t have  the right size screwdriver, get one that fits. Stripping the head of a  Philips head screw before it’s out completely means you probably won’t  be able to remove it at all.


Second,  very carefully unplug and re-plug any ribbon connectors, ICs, and Molex  connectors. You don’t have to take the plugs all the way out; just take  them out far enough so that pushing them back in will wipe the contacts  of oxidation. You may need to do this a couple of times if there’s any  serious oxidation or even corrosion, and remember, some connectors may  have tabs that have be pried away from the connector in order to remove  it. With socketed integrated circuits, it’s worth getting an IC puller  and gently rocking the IC back and forth to move the pin contacts within  the socket (they don’t need to move much). If you pull the IC out, be  extremely careful when re-inserting it so you don’t bend any pins, or  end up bending a pin underneath the IC.

After  doing this, reassemble the device, plug it in, cross your fingers, and  prepare for the “smoke test.” These procedures aren’t always the  solution, but you might be surprised at just how often you’ll end up  with a working unit—and not have to send it in for servicing after all.


CraigGuitarVertical.jpgCraig Anderton is Editor Emeritus of Harmony Central. He has played on, mixed, or produced over 20 major label releases (as well as mastered over a hundred tracks for various musicians), and written over a thousand articles for magazines like Guitar Player, Keyboard, Sound on Sound (UK), and Sound + Recording (Germany). He has also lectured on technology and the arts in 38 states, 10 countries, and three languages.

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