Fault finding index

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MartinB
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Fault finding index

Postby MartinB » Fri Feb 27, 2009 12:34 pm

A frequent post topic on STH, and indeed all similar retro forums, is where someone has a hardware fault and is asking for advice on how to go about fixing it. In response there are usually plenty of helpful suggestions and/or pointers to ‘common fault’ articles such as those hosted by Sprow or Wouter.

EDIT :

In case this never goes anywhere, resources in the spirit of the approach can be found at....

For example :

http://wouter.bbcmicro.net/hardware/repair/index.html

http://www.sprow.co.uk/bbc/doctor.htm

and the zipped-up troubleshooting book mentioned in...

http://www.stardot.org.uk/forums/viewto ... 416#p43416


Thanks

Now, in the electrical goods industry (and motor vehicles, and…) there are engineers ‘bibles’, paper and electronic, which are essentially collections of actual fault fixing reports by engineers and technicians which briefly detail which action fixed a particular fault. For example, you might get a TV entry which says “Ferguson TX100 / Repeatedly trips to Standby / Replaced IC6”. These list entries tend to be short, to the point, and, importantly, don’t include actions which didn’t fix the fault, the latter phrase being the key to the success and usefulness of such an index.

As an example from our world, I’ll pick a test case I was involved in - not to blow my trumpet but because it actually demonstrates a downside of the ‘free advice’ problem! retro_junkie posted ‘Beeb not hearing tapes' and I suggested at least 6 possible causes, all valid, and I could have suggested more, but ultimately he replaced IC7 and this action fixed the fault. BeebInc also suggested some common solutions which might equally have fixed this particular snag. The valuable knowledge there then was that a failure of IC7 does really occur and that it’s a fault which can cause a loss of tape capability. The downside was that he had to wait for replies and he might have felt swamped with suggestions, some of which could be totally anecdotal and/or theoretical and would never apply in reality. That of course was just one example from probably hundreds buried in the forum, all with a similar story.

I have for a while been thinking that a similar index would be very useful for our community and it could be hosted on this very site. It needn’t be in any way complicated and would just be partitioned by machine, e.g. Beeb, Elk, Master, Arc etc., and would simply have three or four columns – Machine configuration summary, Fault Symptoms (as detailed as possible) and what action actually fixed the fault. The single most important feature of such an index is that it is free of theory, speculation and anecdotal evidence and ONLY itemises real and successful repairs.

It would of course take time to build up some useful weight but retrospective input from users is fine as long as the information is correct and is not discoloured by memory. The index would be available to all members and all incident reports would be included unless they were clearly impossible – e.g. "Standard Iss.7 BBC B / Powers up and beeps but black screen / Replaced clear plastic keystrip cover" would probably not make the index :wink:

Someone (some people) would act as a repository for reports and these would simply be technically vetted for plausibility and then added to the list. I’m only thinking of a simple three/four column text file, nothing fancy, which can be visually scanned when hunting for a solution to a problem. I doubt we’d get into thousands of entries so a database wouldn’t be necessary although end users could import it into a their preferred package as they saw fit.

So, anyone have any thoughts on this? Good idea? Bad idea?

Answers on an electronic postcard to this thread :)

Martin
Last edited by MartinB on Wed Dec 18, 2013 6:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Elitist
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Re: Fault finding index

Postby Elitist » Fri Feb 27, 2009 8:01 pm

A great idea but it would of course take a lot of work. I would volunteer to help but I have too little spare time as it is. :(

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MartinB
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Re: Fault finding index

Postby MartinB » Fri Feb 27, 2009 8:17 pm

Thanks for the encouragement :D

Actually, I wasn't particularly asking for volunteers (probably explains the lack of comments :lol:), just that if I maintain such an index, people would volunteer their experiences - just a PM would suffice! Such a 'list' is only useful if it contains information from many and diverse sources - if all the entries come from me then it would be somewhat limited and not usefully impartial :(

For my part, I can usually fix a fault even if it's new to me but I thought it might be useful for people who are less technical but prepared to have a go at fixing a fault with an intelligent and, importantly, pre-proven idea of things to try.

Thanks, Martin

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Re: Fault finding index

Postby thedark » Fri Feb 27, 2009 8:27 pm

i wil help you where i can
but i do not fully understand your point.
you typed a long story but as i see it
you want to make a index of common problems on de bbc master b b+ electron scene am i right?

wel i do know a lot of the master bbc b and electron because i had them all and experienced a lot of trouble the past 20 years, but i prefer to keep it mostly to the master and addon troubles, can you explane i clear english what you want to do. i am from holland and english isnt so good, so try to explain it somewhat clear for the ones who ar not from england :-/

ill here from you
-------------------------------------------------------------
-=[[ Music 5000 Stil Rulez On The Acorn Scene. ]]=-
-------------------------------------------------------------

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MartinB
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Re: Fault finding index

Postby MartinB » Fri Feb 27, 2009 10:41 pm

thedark wrote:...you want to make a index of common problems on de bbc master b b+ electron scene am i right?
Yes, you are right, but the list will show a problem and how someone fixed it. It will not be a list of how a fault might be fixed but how a fault was actually fixed by a user.

For now, I want nothing from anyone, I am just asking if people think that such a list would be useful. If enough people think that it is a good idea (more perhaps than 3 of us... :wink: ) then I will create the index and explain further what I would like people to provide.

Hope that is clearer - Sadly, Dutch was not an option in Lancashire schools :wink:

Martin

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Wouter Scholten
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Re: Fault finding index

Postby Wouter Scholten » Sat Feb 28, 2009 12:08 am

For now, I want nothing from anyone, I am just asking if people think that such a list would be useful.


Yes, it would. The trouble is, that you're probably not going to get much help/input. Take something else entirely for example: In the past (years ago) I asked for contributions to the BBC micro book list. I think I got about 2 responses from people who provided details on a few books, 99% of the work was done by me. Ditto for almost everything else. That's not just the case for my website, but stairwaytohell and other websites too. "The BBC lives" is an exception, mostly built on user contributions, but that works because it's an agglomeration of things people were interested in and then sent to Robert. Try to ask for specific contributions on a particular topic, and you could be waiting for years...

So, the best you're likely going to get, is input (or a list) from people like me, Robert Sprowson, and a few others who have actually repaired lots of machines and thus know what's most likely to be the problem...

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Re: Fault finding index

Postby Arcadian » Sat Feb 28, 2009 3:44 pm

Even though you're only talking about a small text file, we could give it it's own subdomain (for additional visibility) if you think that would be a good idea? e.g. http://faults.bbcmicro.net

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MartinB
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Re: Fault finding index

Postby MartinB » Sat Feb 28, 2009 7:38 pm

Thanks for that Wouter - it's nice to attract some input from one of the pathfinders :)

Hmmm... I am of course aware that the ratio of the number of people who put significant effort into the Acorn community versus the number of people who benefit from that effort is somewhat unequal but I guess that's the nature of all such things in life. The problem is, if we were to let that stop us from trying to improve that community then the world of Acorn might just vanish into history. I personally get as much pleasure as I do from this hobby precisely because people like yourself (and Sprow, and Dave, and...) toiled on regardless. For me though, the bottom line is that if there wasn't an Acorn community kept alive by like-minded enthusiasts, whether they be active contributors or simply passive users, then I think I'd probably drift away too. So, I think I'll give it a go because at the end of the day there's nothing to lose, just lots to be gained. If just a handful of Acorn machines are saved from the skip because someone spots a fix they wouldn't otherwise have attemped then that'll do for me :)

Dave M wrote:...if you think that would be a good idea? e.g. http://faults.bbcmicro.net
Yep, that would be brilliant! What do you/I/we need to do, bearing in mind that my knowledge of 'things Web' is dismally lacking. Subdomain? Say what now...? :lol:

Martin

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Re: Fault finding index

Postby retro_junkie » Thu Mar 05, 2009 12:02 am

MartinB wrote:...it actually demonstrates a downside of the ‘free advice’ problem! retro_junkie posted ‘Beeb not hearing tapes' and I suggested at least 6 possible causes, all valid, and I could have suggested more, but ultimately he replaced IC7 and this action fixed the fault. BeebInc also suggested some common solutions which might equally have fixed this particular snag.


As it happens, that was the first thing I tried and it worked straight away... in that example there wasn't really a downside but I see your point and yes it seems a good idea!

Oddly though, that beeb still won't read tapes from FreeUEF - I don't know if it's because they are a slightly different format (they sound different to original tapes and don't take as long to load) but all electrons I've had have had no problem at all with them.

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MartinB
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Re: Fault finding index

Postby MartinB » Thu Mar 05, 2009 12:42 am

Edit : Just saw that you (retro_junkie) posted whilst I was typing the following epic! Thanks for that :) and I am going to crack on with this...

To start the ball rolling, could I ask you all to begin thinking about anytime you have had a fault on a Beeb, Electron, Master or any peripheral devices/gadgets and how the fault was fixed :-k. As I have stressed already, it's important that you either carried out the fix yourself, witnessed the repair in person or are 100% certain that you know precisely what action(s) effected the repair. Please do not include second or third-hand information that you have heard or read (which could therefore be classed as anecdotal), information that is theoretical or information that might simply be partly or wholly inaccurate. I'm looking for YOUR experiences, no matter how trivial it might seem to you.

The repair report should be as brief as possible but must include :

1. Machine or peripheral/gadget Make, Model and any relevant configuration details.
2. Fault symptoms - not an essay but detailed enough to allow others to identify " :idea: ....that's exactly the fault on mine! "
3. What fixed it - again, not an essay and don't include lot's of investigative things that were done prior to the actual fix, just the specific action that fixed the problem.
4. Any other useful information/comments/observations - e.g. if you changed a chip, was it socketed or soldered, are any special tools needed, etc. etc. Waffle on as much as you like here - not all the comments will necessarily go in the index but it'll help me to categorise the fault better if it's perhaps not otherwise clear from the description :?

Please note that this request is sincerely aimed at anyone and everyone, not just the super-technical types. If you have had a fault and fixed it by 'wiggling a cable' or something equally simple then that's fine - it'll go in the index as long as there is some, however remote, technical plausibility to the repair action :).
Also, don't withold something you did because you think someone else will have logged it already or because it's already in the index. I'm going to include a report count against identical faults & fixes so that 'hot-spots' stand out. For example, if you have a non-starting Beeb with a continuous tone and you find two fixes in the index, one with 10 reports and one with 1 then it would make good sense to first try the common fix before trying the rare one. (Therefore, please also tell me if you have fixed several machines with the same fault & repair!)

This index is not for me, it's for all of us and the aim is to provide helpful and practical fault-fixing information to all current and future Acorn enthusiasts. Let's do everything we can to keep these machines in circulation :D

Anyway, have a think and after Byte-Back I'll post the formal request and give some preferred reporting routes.

Thanks in anticipation - Martin :)


Tonny (thedark) - Please can you make me a list of all the fixes YOU have done to repair a faulty BBC B, Master or Electron. Tell me details of the computer, the fault and the repair. Please send it to me by PM. Many thanks, Martin :)

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Re: Fault finding index

Postby Samwise » Thu Mar 05, 2009 10:30 pm

Hey, y'all are going to Byte Back, right? Methinks we could do something a bit more than just hosting text files. Mr. STH knows I've had some plans around the website, so I think it'd be well worth us having a chat about this over beer. :)

Sam.

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Re: Fault finding index

Postby MartinB » Tue Apr 07, 2009 2:26 pm

Ok good people of the STH community (and beyond :wink: ), shall we give this repair index a go then?

For the first few weeks/months, I'll just passively collect your reports until there's a reasonable knowledgebase and then I'll liase with Arcadian and Samwise to decide on the best way of hosting the index.

I have a good bunch of fixes from own my experiences and I think I have somewhere a few sheets of original dealer workshop diaries so I can make a good start on my own. If you study the preceding posts on this thread you'll get a good idea of what's wanted and I'll re-quote the executive summary below.

I don't propose to individually accredit entries in the index but there would perhaps be an acknowledgements section somewhere which simply lists and thanks contributors either by name or by STH handle. I'm open to thoughts on this?

The core request then is for details of how you fixed a particular fault on the Acorn Model B, B+, Master or Electron computers and any associated peripherals. (I'm currently excluding the Compact and the Archimedes range simply because I know jack about these and I wouldn't be able to validate any information.) Therefore, submit your knowledge as follows :
MartinB wrote:1. Machine or peripheral/gadget Make, Model and any relevant configuration details.
2. Fault symptoms - not an essay but detailed enough to allow others to identify " :idea: ...that's exactly the fault on mine! "
3. What fixed it - again, not an essay and don't include lot's of investigative things that were done prior to the actual fix, just the specific action that fixed the problem.
4. Any other useful information/comments/observations - e.g. if you changed a chip, was it socketed or soldered, are any special tools needed, etc. etc. Waffle on as much as you like here - not all the comments will necessarily go in the index but it'll help me to categorise the fault better if it's perhaps not otherwise clear from the description


Arcadian / Samwise - do you think this thread could/should be a 'sticky' for a while until the index is up and running?

Thanks in advance for your submissions for your fault index :D

Martin
Last edited by MartinB on Sat Sep 13, 2014 8:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Fault finding index

Postby Samwise » Tue Apr 07, 2009 2:39 pm

It's now a sticky.

If you can cope with collating the results for about another 6 weeks, I should be able to cobble something together for you then. If you want something sooner, give me a shout and we'll come up with a temporary home in the meantime.

Sam.

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Re: Fault finding index

Postby MartinB » Tue Apr 07, 2009 3:01 pm

Ta much Samwise :D

That's fine, I actually think six weeks will be an absolute minimum as I don't really want it to go live until it's a significantly useful document. If an early majority of users consulting it don't find an answer because we publish too soon then it'll just end up getting discredited and contributions will suffer.

Martin

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Re: Fault finding index

Postby trevj » Thu Apr 23, 2009 2:54 am

This is a very worthwhile idea. I look forward to seeing how the list evolves. Do you think other common hardware may be included too? (e.g. disk drives and cub monitors)

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Re: Fault finding index

Postby MartinB » Thu Apr 23, 2009 4:04 pm

Thanks trevj and welcome to STH :)
trevj wrote:Do you think other common hardware may be included too? (e.g. disk drives and cub monitors)
Yeah, it was always my intention to include peripherals too so if anyone has had any specific repair experiences with kit hung off an Acorn then that'll be included in the relevant section.

Hmmm... and whilst we're on the subject, I see that input to the index is a bit 'thin' thus far :(. Still, I suppose it's early days yet and I have no doubt that, even as we speak, people are busy documenting their experiences... :^o

Martin :wink:

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Re: Fault finding index

Postby AndyF » Sat Sep 19, 2009 7:39 pm

I know this thread is stickied, but a reply may re-alert people to it (as its "new content") its easy to overlook stickied ones after a bit and its been a while since it had a reply...

Posting to see if anyone else had any useful common issues to share with Martin.

I know I have PM'ed the few I could.

:)

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Re: Fault finding index

Postby BeebMaster » Fri Mar 26, 2010 3:38 pm

I'll try to help with this if I can.

However I'm more likely to be of use in reverse - ie. identifying actions which turn a perfectly-functioning Beeb into a smoking pile of embers!
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Re: Fault finding index

Postby TopBanana » Wed Jun 09, 2010 5:06 pm

I may have something you can use as a starting document.

Give me some time to scan it in ..... (now where did I put the scanner ... :?: :?: #-o )

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Re: Fault finding index

Postby MartinB » Wed Jun 09, 2010 9:16 pm

I confess that I've only just realised that there's been a renewed hint of interest in this :shock:. Whilst it remains on my agenda, the original and wholly underwhelming virtual silence eventually decided me to push this project to the bottom of my pile. I've never yet failed to complete a promised project and hopefully the same will be true of 'the index' but right now I just don't have the spare capacity to fit it in :roll:

Since I conceived the fault index idea, I've produced RAMagic!, tackled HD Floppies, created BeebSID and right now I'm in the middle of the Bluetooth Affair and have just released a sneak preview of a game I've been writing for the last 25 years or so that now demands to be finished asap. (Well, Arcadian demands that it's finished asap :wink:)

Therefore, I'm perfectly happy for folk to keep the index alive with any ideas or submissions but you'll have to wait a further spell before it can go live as a usable reference.

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Re: Fault finding index

Postby sirmorris » Wed Jun 09, 2010 9:18 pm

Master / Went on fire with smoke and smell and shit / Replaced caps

There you go.

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Re: Fault finding index

Postby MartinB » Wed Jun 09, 2010 9:22 pm

Cheers Charlie :D - actually that'll be a repeat count entry because BeebMaster has already logged 427 different pieces of equipment (including several Masters) in the "Went on fire with smoke and smell and shit" category.

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Re: Fault finding index

Postby BeebMaster » Wed Jun 09, 2010 10:48 pm

Yeah, I've even changed my left-hand picture to prove it!
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Re: Fault finding index

Postby TopBanana » Wed Jun 23, 2010 2:11 pm

Toubleshooting the BBC Micro

I've scanned it in as a pdf and it's available here

Edit

I've taken my FTP site down, but see the link later on in the post for a download from Dropbox

ftp.top-banana.com

Login : STHUser
Pwd : BBCMaster

Please note - don't use a web browser to download it, use a proper FTP client and disable PASV, otherwise it won't work.
Last edited by TopBanana on Sat Jan 14, 2012 12:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Fault finding index

Postby station240 » Wed Jun 23, 2010 4:40 pm

TopBanana wrote:Toubleshooting the BBC Micro

I've scanned it in as a pdf and ...


That's a good start, needs to refer to the chips by IC number and type though. It really hard to read the IC numbers on the boards, and having to look at diagrams is a pain.

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Re: Fault finding index

Postby TopBanana » Thu Jun 24, 2010 10:47 am

station240 wrote:
That's a good start, needs to refer to the chips by IC number and type though. It really hard to read the IC numbers on the boards, and having to look at diagrams is a pain.


Blimey, bet you were always the sunshine kid in your class ! lol :P :P

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Re: Fault finding index

Postby retroclinic » Fri Oct 01, 2010 8:55 pm

An Entry for your fault finding index, this has just happened to me on a board I'm refurbing.

Was running fine, then the picture went Yellow on RGB out. Traced the fault to Q6, a BC239 which is an output transistor for Blue (there are ones for the R and G too). Getting that exact part seems to be more trouble than it's worth, but a ZTX653 (which is far more common) fits in, but you need to reverse the case, so the flat on the transistor is facing the other way. As it's a simple TTL signal, it doesn't matter too much about the tranny's performance/gain etc.

Mark.

EDIT: Typo in the Transistor number
Last edited by retroclinic on Fri Oct 01, 2010 9:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Fault finding index

Postby MartinB » Fri Oct 01, 2010 9:05 pm

Cheers Mark, useful one. I've often looked (as in glanced!) at those when pondering video funnies but never had to change one.

I anticipate breaking the index into main functional areas so that example would obviously fall into the Video/Display category. Thanks again :wink:

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Re: Fault finding index

Postby matelot » Sun Jul 17, 2011 9:26 pm

is this fault finding index still being built?
I don't think I would be able to add answers very often but would be very pleased to see an index that would give me the confidence to try to find problems with my beebs and peripherals.
It sounds such a good idea and could it please include the (to me now anyway) usual problems with power supplies ie c1,2 and 9? I'm sure someone will benefit from this as I did from asking on this site a while ago.
Bob.

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Re: Fault finding index

Postby MartinB » Mon Jul 18, 2011 10:59 pm

Well Bob, apart from a very few responses, I broke my spade digging through walls of apathy so it's kinda on the back burner. In fact, it's probably fallen off the back of the stove :wink:

Perhaps my thinking was a little perverse in that those who would most like to see such an index are those who are least likely to be able to contribute in the first instance. Conversely, those who could contribute probably aren't fussed coz they can do the stuff anyway :roll:

I might give it another go when my 'other stuff' goes quiet but the index I had planned was very much community contribution based and without that input it's a bit of a non-starter. That's not necessarily a criticism, it's just the way things can go in communities such as ours. (I've certainly no complaints about the level of support I receive in other projects :D)


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