Replacing failed powersupplies on qbus PDP-11s
ard at p850ug1.demon.co.uk
Thu Jan 29 13:49:50 CST 2009
> Finally, does anyone know of any good guides on repairing switch modes?
> Whilst not keen, I guess I should bite the bullet (hopefully not
> literally) and learn how to repair them.
I've repaired SMPUs... The first one terrified me, now I am still
cautious, but I will do them.
Until you get some expernince, don't even think of repairing a PSU
without a scheamtic. There are several difference circuits, the control
circuitryt may be on the mains side or the output side of the 'isolation
barrier' for example, and not realising whcih is is a recipe for giving
yourself a possibly fatal shock amd more importatnly damaging the
machine. (Yes I ahve got that the right way round. There are many more
hackers than classic computer out there...)
There used to be a 'repair guide to SMPSUs' (or some similar title) as
part of the Usenet sci.electronics.repair FAQ. That is worth trying to
find and read.
Also, if you're in the UK, try reading 'Television' magazine from around
1985 onwards (or maybe a bit before that). Many TVs of that period used
standard-ish SMPSU circuits, and the repair methods are much the same for
In general, stanr by looking at the fuse. If it has blown violently
(shatered or blackened glass), suspect a major short on the mains side of
the PSU. If it's a rectifier diode, then most likely it was not damaged
by anything else, and replacing it will get the supply working again. If
the chopper transistor has shorted (very common, alas), then it may well
have been damafgd by somthing else. Maybe a shorted rectifier or
capacitor on the secondary side (but the protection circuit _should_ cope
with that), maybe a problem with the snubber network, maybe shorted turns
in the chopper transformer (A replacement is avialalbe 'locally' as the
manuals say, where 'locally' is either a misprint for luckily, or the
name of an oscure Welsh village :-)).
If the fuse is OK, and the supply is 'tweeting' (trying to start up, then
shutting down, and repeating), then the problem could be a short on the
scondary side, it may be a fault in the voltage regulation loop (so that
the crowbar is tripping, shorting out the supply and shutting things
down), or maybe an open-circuit or high ESR capacitor. The last is very
common, some people who go in for 'lucky dip servicing' just test all the
elctrolytics in the SMPSU with an ESR meter and replace any that seem a
If the fuse is OK and the supply seeems dead, then probably the startup
circuit has failed. In smaller supplies, this is often a high-value
resistor (220K or so) from the +ve side of the mains smoothing capacitor
into the depths of the chopper circuit. It oftne fails open-circuit. If
you can find it, test it.
Beware of the last fault. Some SMPSUs don't have bleeder resistors on the
mains smoothing capacitor, relying on the chopper circuit to discharge
them. If this isn't running for any reason, the capacitor stays charged
and will zap you. Now how do you think UI found that out :-)
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