Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Blu-Ray Drive Tutorial

Coming soon! Check back in a few days and learn how to save $100 by fixing Sony's problem yourself.

Also thinking about creating a KIT for home users that includes HI-resolution photos, videos, software, and even PARTS to fix your PS3.

If this sounds like something you'd be interested, let me know. If there is enough demand I'll definitely get this rolling.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

HD Upgrading and Menu Freezing Fix

Just a quick note. If you are experiencing problems like freezing and you can't use the System Restore function, the easiest way to fix it is by swapping your PS3 hard drive into another system and formating it.

I just remembered you'll need to have some kind of media with the PS3 Firmware on it.

Follow Sony's steps here:

I prefer using the PC Update method whenever I update my PS3 firmware.

You can use any external drive (thumbdrive, flash drive, media card, etc.) as long as it has enough room for the update. They're usually around 130mb.

Then press Start and Select at the same time on the controller and it will go through the motions.

My First Phone Call to Sony

So I decided to call Sony today to confirm a few of my questions. I was surprised how fast I was able to speak with a live operator, took only about 30 seconds of waiting.

Sony confirmed that they will still provide service to users who have opened their PS3 units, so long as EVERYTHING is exactly where it's supposed to be. Meaning that if you forgot to put back that tiny screw that's semi-hidden beneath the power supply they won't touch your machine. Now that's probably an extreme case but they stressed to me that any type of MODIFICATION of the PS3 will result in a service denial. Keep a detailed track of where everything goes if you decide to open your console.

Their service fee is $149 plus any applicable state and local taxes. This fee covers everything. So say your PS3 has a bad motherboard, blu-ray drive and hard drive. The price will still be the same, so no worries.

Keep in mind that they will still erase your hard drive so use the backup function if you plan on keeping those game saves.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Five Most Common PS3 Problems and How to Fix Them Safely and Easily

I've been repairing the PS3 independently and locally in Los Angeles for the past year, since most people tend to have the same five issues with their PS3's I decided to write just a general troubleshooting guide and warning to all PS3 users. I'm not a PS3 Overlord so if any of this information is wrong or off, confusing, boring, etc.... please let me know and I'll correct it / add to it / take away from it, etc. etc.

First, If you're having trouble with your PS3 DO NOT OPEN YOUR PS3 UNLESS YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOU ARE DOING. If you do decide to open your PS3 you will VOID YOUR WARRANTY immediately. Your warranty is only good for 1 year from the purchase date on the HARD COPY RECEIPT you must have it in order to get it "repaired" for free.

If you don't have the receipt or it's past one year then you're at a crossroads. You can try and repair the PS3 yourself, but then you'll void the warranty once you remove the warranty seal. The upside is that you could potentially save yourself a good deal of time bypassing Sony's tech support line, waiting for a box to arrive, mailing out the box and then paying $150+ dollars for something you could have fixed for much much less or better yet, FREE.

The Five Most Common PS3 Problems:

1. Won't read games or blu-ray movies. Or dvd, or cd, etc., freezing, choppiness, sometimes it works / sometimes it doesn't, etc.

2. No audio or video, distorted video, lines, weird colors, no hdmi, only hdmi, etc. USUALLY users with this problem will get the Yellow Light of Death

3. The XMB bar / Menu freezes, any kind of freezing.

4. Overheating. (PS3 works longer when you first turn it on, then shuts off when it gets too hot.)

5. No Power, red blinking lights, three beeps, etc.

1. Not Reading Discs, etc.

If you're experiencing the first problem, chances are you're the victim of a Sony defect. The drives only last on average 1-3 years with average use, sometimes less. MAJORITY of you with this problem will unfortunately have to replace the blu-ray laser in order to get your machine back in working order.

Here's what I suggest you try just in case it's something else causing the problem.Clean the lens with a dvd / cd laser cd. It won't harm the laser. Lots of people think they're super sensitive, they're not. The advantage of using one of these is that you won't have to open the PS3, which for some can be a pain.

If that didn't work, Sony has always suggested a firmware update / and or a System Restore. I've NEVER seen a PS3 laser come back to life after either one of these operations, but that's not to say you'll be the first. It won't harm the system and Sony suggests it so you might as well try.

When you've given up your foolish dream of fixing your PS3 with just a push of a button or if you can't afford to pay Sony to fix their mistake you could as a last resort open your PS3 and try cleaning the lens inside.

If you don't know how to open a PS3 check out some of the videos on youtube. It's pretty self-explanatory the only problem most people run into immediately is that they don't have a T10 Security Hex screwdriver readily available. You can buy them at speciality electronic shops and sometimes at RadioShack but I suggest calling to see if they have one before trekking over. You could always just slam the top cover over to the left too. The only thing holding it on is a tiny piece of plastic. Afterwards your lid will never be 100% secure but it's not that big of a deal so don't fret.

Depending on what you've read or watched don't waste money on a stupid cleaning kit. All you need to do at this point is a quick scrub of the laser with a q-tip with some cleaning solvent (cd /dvd cleaner or distilled water or even windex) DO NOT USE nail polish / acetone. Make sure you just use 1-2 drops only. Any more than that isn't safe. Put the drops on the q-tip, NOT the laser. Clean it in a circular motion and then if there are any fibers of cotton, give it a little blow or if you happen to have a eyeglass cloth or micro-fiber cloth clean the lens with it. Just use care and clean it like the sensitive piece of electronics that it is.

Now when that doesn't work now's the time to go ahead and order a replacement drive. You can get them on the internet so I'm leaving that up to you. There are only two kinds. The KES-400A and KES-410A. If you've got a shiny silver bottom on the bottom of your blu-ray drive then you've got the KES-410A. If you don't, then it's the other one of course. Most of you will have the KES-400A. Once you've replaced the laser the PS3 will work just like before. NOTHING besides playing your discs correctly will change.

2: Video Problems:

If you're got ANY video problem. The very first thing you should try is a manual display reset. You can perform this by holding down the power button when starting the PS3 until your hear two beeps, quickly release the button and the PS3 will attempt to reset the video.

If that didn't work you can try using some of the tips from a PS3 user named Kaivarri. It can be found here:
Yellow Light of Death Fixes

Most of his suggestions are great, but unfortunately for most of you, they won't fix the problem because it's a defect similar to the Xbox RROD problem. For most the problem lies in the Graphics Processor Unit or RSX chip. Heat causes the chip to come off the board a tiny-tiny bit and that's all it takes. The PS3 detects this and depending on how bad it is will boot with no video / audio or will give you a green, yellow, red light deal.

If you're experience this problem I highly recommend you get your unit repaired through Sony and not trying to repair it yourself. I won't even bother describing how you could even attempt to do it since the chances of you being successful without the proper equipment is almost zero.

3. Menu freezing, Can't load XMB, etc.

This is also a very common problem but luckily for you one of the easiest to fix. The simplest thing to do is a System Restore. Just go to Settings->System Restore.

If you can't perform the System Restore and you know someone else with a PS3 the easiest way to fix the problem is to remove your hard drive from your system and place it into another PS3. IT WILL NOT CHANGE OR DAMAGE the working PS3 so don't worry, we're just swapping them temporarily. When you've done this the PS3 will detect the hard drive as a "new" drive and will format it with all the correct settings. Once this is done, swap them back and the PS3 will perform the same process again. The hard drive becomes married to the PS3 after being formated which is why we have to do it twice.

Doing this will fix MOST consoles experiencing this problem.
Afterwards a firmware update is probably a good idea once you've given the PS3 a thorough testing.

If keep getting a drive corrupted message or the PS3 keeps looping you into the same process there's a strong possibility your hard drive is failing. You can replace the hard drive with virtually any SATA drive under 500 Gigs. I recommend since they usually have the best deals.

4. Overheating / Freezing:

Dust is an electronics killer and the PS3 is no different. The first thing to try would be just taking your PS3 outside and blowing some compressed air through the bottom vents and around the PS3. If you have a PS3 that supports the fan trick then you can try using that. I'll leave this on here for now but I've heard from a few different people that it can potentially damage your PS3. I doubt that but I've never used it myself. I always clean the PS3's I work on the old fashioned way.

If this only improves and doesn't eliminate the problem you'll have to open your PS3 and clean the Thermal Compound off the CPU and GPU and then re-apply. This process is relatively safe but you've got to be careful nonetheless. Try searching youtube for guides on this.

5. No Power, no lights, red blinking lights, three beeps, etc.

Oh No, you've got trouble. Usually the presence or absence of lights indicates a definite hardware problem. If you got no lights there's a good chance your power supply has bit the dust. Luckily for you you can swap this part out easily and for relatively very little money. Once you've opened your PS3 check to see which version of the power supply you have. When you purchase a replacement make sure it looks relatively the same.

If you've got blinking red lights you can try using the same tips above for the YLOD problem. Majority of the time I see this problem happening to PS3's that have overheated. I've always suspected that Sony has a heat trigger which stops the PS3 from working again once it has reached a certain temperature. If you know more about this problem please feel free to share any insight. I haven't devoted much time into finding the cause, but if you already have then by all means I'd love to hear your input.

And finally the dreaded Yellow Light of Death or YLOD. If you've got this problem then you've got a general hardware failure. You can try using some of the tips I posted above in the link, but almost every single PS3 that I've come into contact with had this problem because of a video error. Try the methods above but be prepared it's likely your PS3 will have to be serviced by Sony.

As of now I've yet to find a precise and reliable method of fixing this problem. Unlike the "lucky" 360 users there is no kit. Some have claimed that they were able to heat the chip back onto the board correctly or that they added thin strips of metal in order to increase the pressure between the chip and the board. Until there is something a bit more solid out there I would highly recommend you NOT try to fix this problem yourself.

Again if you've got any insight into this problem feel free to share with me privately or publicly. Thanks!

What to do if your PS3 is still under warranty or if you're going to send it into Sony for repair.

If your PS3 is still under warranty make sure you use some compressed air to clear any and all dust out of the system. If Sony gets your machine and there is too much dust they'll say sorry and void your warranty.

If you can or want to, back up your files through the PS3's backup feature. You'll need to hook up a usb thumb drive or external hard drive. The drive must be formated as FAT. If you have no idea what I'm talking about don't worry, go ahead and try just sticking your device into the usb. Most of the drives that are sold are already formated correctly. If yours isn't you'll have to convert the disk. There are a number of ways but to keep this guide from becoming unnecessarily long I'll leave it up to you to figure out how.

When you send your PS3 in for service Sony will restore the hard drive back to default. Now I'm not sure if they send you back your original unit or just swap yours out for a refurb. If you know, let me know. I've always been curious.

How to contact Sony

You can reach them direct @ 1-800-345-SONY

Tips to keep your PS3 in good working condition.

Whenever you see a new firmware update, give it a day or two if you can before updating your PS3. Sometimes Sony is a little too quick to release an update which isn't entirely safe.

When you do a firmware update make sure you don't have any discs in the blu-ray drive. I've noticed a higher rate of blu-ray's failing after being updated with a disc in the drive.

Keep your PS3 cool and away from dust. Don't leave in on the floor where it will suck up dust like a vacuum. Clean out the vents with compressed air once a month or as needed. This will save you a lot of heartache.

If you're not using the disc that is in the PS3 drive, eject it. Having a disc in there just adds to the wear and tear.


How do you know so much about the PS3?

Most of my experience is hands on. I've repaired LOTS of PS3's. The rest is just tidbits I've picked up here and there. Hopefully while helping you I'll learn even more.

- Can you repair my PS3?

Sure! If you're in the Los Angeles area or if you have a paypal account and you want to ship it to me I can repair it. If you're local I repair while you wait. Most of my repairs take 15-30 minutes to complete and I give a 3 month warranty on all parts.

Can you mod my PS3?

Yes, but I won't. At this point in time it's not worth the time and effort to mod it just so you can play old PS2 games. Wait a bit more hackers are getting closer and closer to something worth doing.

- My disc is stuck inside the PS3 will Sony return the game to me if I send it in for repair?

I honestly don't know. I've never actually spoken with Sony before. If you know, let me know.

- How long and how much will Sony charge me to repair my unit?

Again I've never spoken with Sony direct but the general concensus is $150 plus tax and I've heard they charge for shipping now so for some it's close to $200 depending on their location. I've heard getting your PS3 back takes 3 weeks to 3 months in some cases.

- How much do you charge for repair?

I charge ONLY $40-120 for every one of my repairs. This includes all parts, labor and warranty. It never goes higher than $120 period.

- How can I contact you?

If you have any questions, suggestions, etc just email me @


Guide Version 1.0