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This thread will discuss general problem solving skills. It will also cover some specific troubleshooting techniques. It will remain closed and each thread will focus on a specific topic. If you have comments start a new thread for your specific topic and refer back to the appropriate post here.
 

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Plain ole user
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11,121 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
Problem Solving

Basic problem solving for electronics is not much different from other problem solving. The basic steps are:

Understand the problem
Make a plan
Excecute the plan
Check the results


Understand the problem
The place where most people get stuck or create problems for themselves is by not fully understanding the the problem. With respect to electronics, this starts with observation of the basic symptoms. Is the unit powering up at all? What functions work? Which do not? Are all signal types and inputs affected? Are internal functions such as menus and graphics working? Are there any sounds when power is engaged? Were there any patterns or preceding symptoms?

There are dozens of observations that a skilled tech will make right away that may seem trivial to the consumer or average user. Look for as much information as possible when you have a problem, whether you are trying to solve it yourself or getting help. More information makes for more efficient and effective repairs and solutions.


Make a plan
I see lots of problems that are made worse by people who either do not understand the problem or do not make a plan even if they do understand it. It is always advisable to have the service documentation such as service manuals, training manuals, tips, and service bulletins. It is also necessary to do your homework to determine what is needed in terms of equipment and parts, and to make sure that you are using the right sources. When actually performing a repair, plan for enough space, bags or cups to hold screws, something to make notes on or to record dissassembly steps so that things can go back together properly, plan for good lighting and a location that is clean. Get the information before starting the repair.

Execute the plan
This is the part where you actually solve a problem or fix something. It can be the easiest if you do your homework and plan properly. It may be tedious, or something new, but it should not be anything hard to figure out. That should have been done before.

Check your work
The old math teacher comes out, eh? Yes, this is important. I go over my soldering and wire dress, as well as double and triple checking that all connections are made properly and in the right location. I look for other problems that are common such as known bad solder joints or high failure parts that may show wear or thermal damage. All this is done BEFORE firing up the unit. After starting up, adjustments should be checked for all signal conditions, and all functions need to be checked. I usually like to run a unit on test as much as possible before returning it to a system. Intermittent problems require even more testing. You never know for sure in many cases if you have actually solved the problem when you have an intermittent to start with.


Finally, one bit of advice that should be considered at all points in the process...check your assuptions! No matter how sure you are of something, it is probably at some level based on some underlying assumptions. Always second guess those assumptions and check their valididty. The number one source of mistakes is ASSUMING something that was not true. This bug bites even the best techs constantly.
 
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