Solving power supply problems (s.m.p.s)

Most problems with equipment using switch mode power supply (s.m.p.s) like television and monitor are power related, this is because power supplies runs under considerable stress due to high voltages and current involved around these circuits.

In order to understand how to solve s.m.p.s problem I am going to show you how to analyze common failure mode in CRT television, you can use this principle in repairing CRT monitor too.

Case One: CRT Television Dead

Here dead I mean the set does not show any sign of life, power ON LED is not lighted and nothing happens even after power is switched on.

First confirm the television power cable is not broken inside, you can check this by measuring the voltage across the AC power input connector on the circuit board.

If the voltage is reaching the circuit board, then look for the fuse and see if it is blown, if the fuse is okay check also the surge limiter is open or not.

If these two components are okay then most likely there is no short on the primary side of the power supply.

Note:Short in the primary side of the power supply usually cause the surge limiter or the fuse to blow.

From now on we shall be using the main capacitor negative as the Ground for all the measurements of the voltages on the primary side of the power supply.

I have modified my meter ground probe with a crocodile clip so that I can attach it to the ground point of the equipment I am repairing and therefore I use only one hand to probe the circuit.

This is safety precaution because as you know for there to have a potential difference there must be a connection between the live and the ground.

So if you are using your two hands and incidentally touch the live and the ground then the current will flow through your body and this can be fatal. But if you are using one hand it is not possible.

One thing I have learn in electronics is that if you master doing your troubleshooting using voltage tests you will have an added advantage because in electronics it is not always the component that fail but it could be just a crack on the circuit board that is preventing the voltage to flow or even dry joints and therefore if you concentrate on looking for the bad component you are going to waste a lot of time and end up not repairing the set.

Therefore I encourage you to narrow down to the faulty circuit (area) by using voltage testing only. This one is very fast and valuable method I have come to learn.

Now set your meter to DC range of 1000VDC and use the main capacitor as your ground.

First check the voltage across this main capacitor and if you get around 300 vdc on 220vac outlet or 150 vdc on 110 vac outlet then it is assumed the supply is okay up to the main capacitor.

If there is no voltage at the main capacitor then check backward looking for open component or circuit board cracked or dry joint on the power path.

Be sure this main DC(300vdc or 150vdc) is reaching the power regulator ic collector/drain pin, Now still using the same ground move the positive probe and measure the vcc-IN pin of the power regulator ic.

Depending on the regulator used you can check the correct vcc-IN Supply (start up Voltage) from the data sheet for the ic used from the internet.

These two voltages are very important and if any is missing the supply will appear dead, if the vcc-IN is missing this means there is a open circuit or start up resistor is open.

Follow backward and find what is preventing the start up voltage from reaching the vcc-IN pin.

Another hint: if you see this vcc is less than normal and pulsating there is a possibility that there is a short on that pin, to confirm just lift up that pin and if the voltage increases then it means there is a short on that pin internally and the ic must be replaced.

There is also a filter capacitor for this source usually 100uF/35V, please check the ESR of this capacitor or directly replace it if you don’t have an ESR meter.

There is also a resistor linked to the source pin of this ic called the current sense resistor which sometimes open or change value and this can cause the power supply not to start. Usually it is a very low ohm resistor, less than 2 ohms and around 2 watts so it is a big one.

If up to here you have checked and everything is okay, then you should suspect a short on the secondary side of the s.m.p.s.

First measure for short of any of the secondary diode using analogue meter set to X1, when you measure across any diode on the secondary you should not have two reading and if you get two reading lift up one leg and test again. If you still get two reading then you can conclude that diode is shorted.

Also when using this method and find that the diode has two reading in-circuit and when lifted up you get one reading, it could also mean there is a short on that source (line).

You can follow that source looking for the shorted component; usually the most common components to short are transistors, ics, diodes, capacitors.

Remember when doing voltage testing on the secondary circuit you should be using the COLD GROUND of the set.

The best cold ground to use is the turner ground (out part) or the CRT ground return.

If you find still there is no voltage at the secondary output or the voltage is low, it is the time to substitute for the main B+ Load with a dummy load.

You can make a dummy load by using a 40 watts bulb/250 vac, a bulb holder, crocodile clip and a wire(read and black) and connect them as shown on the picture below.

Now identify the main supply to the fly back called the B+ and disconnect the supply just before the fly back B+ vcc pin. Don’t cut the circuit board to do this just lift up one side of a resistor( high wattage) in series with this B+ voltage or sometime they use a jumper wire just before the B+ vcc pin of the fly back and attach your dummy load between this point and the cold ground.

If the bulb light steadily and you measure between 90 Volts dc to 140 dc depending on the size of the television then you can assume that the s.m.p.s is okay and the problem is on the secondary side.

In conclusion let me say that any technician who is smart at troubleshooting power supplies (both linear and s.m.p.s) will definitely have an edge in repairing all types of equipments because this is the main cause of many electronics problems.

by humphrey kimathi