Sony Playstation 3 Yellow Light of Death
A couple of years ago there were some major headlines in the news regarding products coming from China containing LEAD. Children's toys were painted using paint containing dangerous amounts of LEAD. Well roll on a few years and China has made quite a few changes to health and Safety issues regarding LEAD.
One problem due to this change is the problem know as "THE RING OF DEATH" on the Xbox 360 and the exact same fault on the PS3 called "THE YELLOW LIGHT OF DEATH". Both these issues on the game consoles are caused by a manufacture problem. There are many other errors caused by exactly the same problem such as E74 on Xbox360 and loss of graphics or partial loss on both PS3 and Xbox.
Anybody who has worked with solder for years will be able to tell you, when the change came in Britain from LEADED solder to LEAD FREE solder, the difference in working with the new LEAD FREE solder was significant. It had a higher melting temperature and just didn't adhere as well as solder containing LEAD. LEAD FREE solder is more prone to cracking as demonstrated in the picture below of cracked BGA solder joints.
The problem affecting both consoles is that the LEAD free solder on the under side of the GPU (Graphics processing chip) is disconnecting, over time, from the main board. As the board of the console heats up when on, the solder joints expand. When you turn the console off the solder contracts. Factor in LEAD FREE solder on what are known as BGA (Ball Grid Array) connections to the main board and and the high operating temperature of both PS3 and Xbox360, then you have a recipe for disaster.
Both the Playstation 3 and Xbox360 have been failing in droves.
Microsoft went some way to addressing the problem by extending the warranty on Xbox360 for "The Ring of Death" and then "Error 74" but failed to cover many other faults that were clearly down to exactly the same problem. Failing BGA solder connections on the GPU.
Sony on the other hand have taken a different tact. They deny there is any problem, and while it accepts some units are failing, it will not accept that there is one common problem between these units.
Many people watched the program WATCHDOG who ran a program on the PS3 "Yellow Light of Death". They featured some novice electronic engineers putting PS3 main boards into an oven, to heat the board up in an attempt to re flow the solder of the BGA chips on the PS3.
Whilst heating the boards to a set temperature, can partially connect some of the connections , the actual temperature needed to reflow the solder on the GPU is dangerously close to the failure temperature of most chips on the main board. Heating a PS3 main board to this temperature would also melt many of the plastic components on the board. So heating in an oven to a lower temperature would not properly reflow the solder, and will only cause a partial reconnection of the solder that will fail in a relatively short period. So it is no surprise that before airing its PS3 special, WATCHDOG got 4 out of 11 consoles returned as failing after the attempted repair.
Sony representatives did not wish to appear on WATCHDOG, but did send a detailed response. One section detailed in the response was:
"11. Sony has invested substantially in creating state-of-the-art diagnostic and servicing facilities to support both in-warranty and OOW repairs. As regards the purported solution to the supposed “yellow light” issue adopted by commercial repairers, effecting a re flow correctly, to the required engineering standards and in a properly controlled static-safe environment requires the use of an infra-red BGA soldering station, which must be set up and programmed to run at very specific temperature profiles. Each such station costs tens of thousands of pounds. The diagnostic equipment required to test that the solder has been performed correctly costs a similar amount."
The full response can be viewed here: Sony's 6 page response to Watchdog claims
Sony are right in what they say. To properly fix both the "Ring of Death" and the "Yellow Light of Death" on both the Xbox360 and Playstation 3, you need to use and Infra-Red BGA rework station set to very specific temperatures and operated by experienced personnel.
We use this method for the repair of many of the problems caused by the solder connections failing on the Xbox360 and Playstation 3. All repairs of this nature are guaranteed by us.
A PROFFESIONAL REPAIR CANNOT BE DONE WITH OVEN OR HEAT GUN
TOWEL TRICKS AND AMATEUR REPAIR CAN PERMANENTLY DAMAGE YOUR CONSOLE
Infra Red reflow of Xbox GPU at our electronic workshop in Manchester.
If you have attempted to repair the PS3 yourself or have had someone else try to repair it using an oven or heating the main board, do not use this service. Heating the main board causes it to warp, the more times this is done the more damaged the board becomes. A correct reflow requires the board to be unwarped. We will charge a fee of £20 to work on PS3 consoles that have had amateur repair attempts performed on them.
The Only way to properly repair this problem is to use an Infra Red BGA reflow of the solder.
DO PS3 SLIM'S SUFFER FROM THE YLOD?
Yes they do, Sony are ignoring the problem. Here is one being repaired:
HOW LONG WILL THIS REPAIR LAST???
This is a difficult question to answer. By re flowing the solder, we are not curing the problems of the PS3. The unit is still operating at too high a temperature and it still has lead-free solder on the under side of the Graphics Processing Unit.
We recommend this repair to anyone wishing to retreive the data from the dead PS3 and recover any discs from the console. The unit can then be traded in for one of the new Slimline PS3's that operate at a lower temperature.
We guarantee the repair for 30 days, and we will re-apply the repair anytime within this time, but it is your responsibility to cover any courier costs.
THERE IS NO PERMANENT FIX ON PS3 YELLOW LIGHT OF DEATH
The only way you could PERMANENTly fix the problem is to remove all the lead free solder from the underside of the GPU and replace it with Leaded-solder. This is not only prohibitively expensive to do, but it is also ILLEGAL under the 2006 European Union Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE) and Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS). So don't believe anyone promising a PERMANENT fix.