They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To

I was in the midst of putting together a post about how to annoy progressives when I got a call from the WP Parents. It seems they had a problem a little earlier in the day and now needed assistance. When they told me what had occurred all thoughts about my original post were put aside.

What had happened that was so earth-shattering that they required help from me? What was it that took me away from my home (and keyboard)? Something truly awful.

Their two year old HDTV died in an almost spectacular fashion.

As the WP Mom explained it, it started with something that sounding like an electrical arc, then sparks, and finally puffs of smoke pouring out of the vents at the rear of the screen. Then the picture died.

The audio survived the spitzen-sparks show, but the picture was gone.

With March Madness upon us (and UConn playing), it was of the utmost importance to remove the dead HDTV, procure a new one, and install it. They took care of the first two and I took care of the last.

A quick trip from The Manse expedited the matter, and an hour later the old 37” HDTV was in the garage to await disposal and the new 46” set was up and running.

From the description of the failure I have to guess the high voltage inverter that provides the 1500 to 3000 volts for the LCD backlight failed, hence the arcing sound, sparks, and smoke. While it could probably could have been replaced, the cost of doing so, specifically the labor, was more than that of going out to buy a new set.

The fact that it failed after two years leads me to suspect it was the direct effect of the banning of lead in electronic solders under the EU's RoHS (Restrictions on Hazardous Substances) directive. (Damn the EU!!) One of the side effects of that ban is a decrease in the long-term reliability of certain electronic and electrical equipment. I have a feeling that either a solder joint failed or a tin whisker grew from the lead-free solder and shorted out something that burned out the inverter.

Many of the newer LCD sets have replaced the fluorescent backlights (and the need for high voltage to drive them) with LEDs, which operate from a much lower voltage and last longer, too. (I wish the WP Parent's new HDTV did, but it also uses a fluorescent backlight. We'll see how long that lasts.)