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Nov 02

Doctor showing how to prevent red light

The yellow light of death or YLOD is probably the most dreaded light signal that a PlayStation 3 unit can give. It may happen unexpectedly. You may be playing peacefully when, all of a sudden, the screen blanks out. After immediately trying to turn it on, the LED just beneath the power button turns yellow. Nothing appears on your screen. This may be an indication of hardware failure. More often, there are chances that after a few hours of rest, your PS3 unit may work again. However, the yellow light may persist and the unit may not start-up again.

The appearance of the yellow light of death is easy to solve if you are still covered by Sony’s warranty. Just send it to the company to have it fixed. However, it will be a hassle if the warranty period is over. The YLOD is caused by hardware damage, particularly in the console’s motherboard. It is an equivalent of the Xbox 360’s red ring of death (RROD).

Damage on the motherboard can be caused by physical impact. For example, your PS3 unit, from the vertical position, is toppled by your pet dog or younger brother. Overheating can also cause hardware damage. The damage usually happens on the solders. It is highly unlikely to have fried transistors or chips. However, these may also happen due to electrical surges, lightning bolt or short circuiting.

Now what will you do when the yellow light of death shows up? First, let the console rest for at least 20 minutes. Then, turn it on again. If it still doesn’t work, you can apply “first aid” with a blow dryer or hot air gun.

You will have to open your PS3 box and take everything out of it. Face the rear vents and blow it with hot air. Then, move it back and forth like you are painting, so that hot air will be distributed to the entire console’s chipboard. Do this for about 15-20 minutes. Then, expose the PS3 to cool air from the fan. Wait for about 20 minutes or until the unit is already at room temperature. Then, you can plug it back to the socket and your TV for testing. This “cooking technique” is also applicable to Xbox units with the RROD.

The science behind this yellow light of death first-aid is to partially melt the solders. Overheating and physical impact may cut or loosen the soldered sections. Through heating and immediate cooling, you can soften the solders and let them flow to their original shapes. This homebrew solution actually works and there are many positive feedbacks about it.

You can actually do manual soldering, but you need a professional soldering rod and very precise hands. Not to mention, you must have some electrical engineering experience. Because the PS3’s motherboard is machine soldered, hand soldering may just make it worse. The best way to avoid the yellow light of death is to use an automatic voltage regulator. Also turn off the console at least once after every 10 hours.

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