At the heart of virtually all electronic devices are printed electronic circuit boards known as PCBs. These boards are made up of copper tracking etched onto a substrate. These tracks are very delicate, and physical impact or excessive current can easily damage tracks or the components soldered to them. In this guide, you will be shown how to diagnose a PCB fault and where to go in order to get it repaired.
Diagnosing the problem
With the exception of industrial electrical appliances which should always be fixed by a professional engineer, there are a few simple checks that you can make to any household electronic item before you send it off for circuit board repairs. The vast majority of electric items are protected by two fuses, one in the plug and one on the circuit board. If you send an item away from repair before checking these, you can incur unnecessary labour charges. Fuses are also not covered by most warranties. So, it is up to you to check and to replace any blown fuses. To do this, you can either use the continuity tester of a multimeter, or you can a specialised fuse tester. After checking and replacing fuses, you should check your warranty. If the appliance is covered, then do not think twice and send the item in for professional repair by the original manufacturer. If the item is not covered by some kind of warranty, then it will be cheaper to find your own printed circuit board repair service.
Choosing a repair service
There are many repair services for PCBs and circuit boards though, you may find it better to use a service which offers free collection. One such company is Ieruk.co.uk, but it is worth noting that you will need to remove the circuit board from the appliance before collection. This is usually not a problem for most devices, but complex units like flat screen TVs may have multiple boards. In these situations, it can be better to send the TV to a specialist TV repair service. If you are technically competent, you can attempt a repair yourself. After checking fuses, you can make sure that all ribbon cables and power cables are properly connected. Do this before even looking at any circuit board components. Once you have completed connector and track continuity checks, examine capacitors as these are the first components to fail. A blown capacitor is easy to identify visually as it will have obviously melted, split or distorted in some way. Remember that you can only work on circuit boards when the power is isolated, and if you can afford it, use professionals specialising in electronics repairs wherever possible.