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Slingbox Solo Freezing, Stuck Optimizing, Losing Connection? Check the Capacitors
Views of this topic: 23888
May 20, 2010
4:53 pm
admin

Over the last month or two there seems to be many complaints regarding the SlingPlayer Solo and it freezing, get stuck on optimizing, dropping the network connection, etc.

There can be several things that can cause this from poor router conditions, week or bad power supplies, high latency issues and more. As an example in this topic thread, Slingbox Pro-HD Freezes ("Optimizing") while Streaming, alone there are over 900 views and 56 posts about different things to test and try. Some things have worked others not.

There are  over 3,000 views and hundreds of posts about it on the answers.slingbox.com site. Some of the tips or tricks others have said worked but a lot of them have not.

If you have tried just about everything to get your Sling Media Slingbox SOLO working and your are at your wits end you may want to try this.

Please note; We are not recommending you take apart their slingbox and void your warranty or if you just aren't comfortable doing so, but there have been several reports of capacitors going bad in a SOLO.

If still under warranty we recommend you read a few posts ask a few questions and see if anything helps. If not the call Sling Media Support and have them walk you through some testing up to returning the box for warranty replacement.

What you want to do is look for bad capacitors.  Because as the capacitor ages or starts to go bad , its capacitance decreases while its equivalent series resistance (ESR) increases. When this happens, the capacitors no longer adequately serve their purpose of filtering the direct current voltages on thedevice , and instability results.

To take the box apart look for the  four screws under the rubber feet of the slingbox solo.  You have to pull the footpads off in order to see them.  After you unscrew those screws under the feet, the black main chassis comes apart in HALF.

Slingbox Solo Case Bottom

Then  you will see the red plastic.  Flip it upside down and there are 5 screws at the bottom.  unscrew that and you can finally pull off the case.

Inside Slingbox Case Bottom

Now you have access to the internal circuit board.

What you want to look at are the capacitors.

  • Bulging of the vent on the top of the capacitor. (The 'vent' is the impression stamped in the top of the can. The impression forms the seams of the vent. It is designed so that if the capacitor becomes pressurized it will split at the vent's seams relieving the pressure rather than making it explode.)
  • Sitting crooked on the circuit board as the bottom rubber plug is pushed out
  • Electrolyte (a crusty brown substance) leaked onto the motherboard from the base of the capacitor
  • Venting from the top of the capacitor, visible as rust-like brown deposits, or a visible hole in the vent.

Capacitors  look like this.

Slingbox Solo Non Bulging Capacitor 1

If you see any that look like they are bulging at the top then those would be the suspect ones.

Here is an example of a bulging capacitor.

Slingbox Solo Bulging Capacitor 07

Here is an example of one good and one bad capacitor. The one on the left is good the one on the right is not.

Slingbox Solo Bulging Capacitor 02

What you would want to do is replace any capacitors that are bulging. If you have gone this far I would  guess if you are out of warranty ans ideas so it won't hurt to try this.

You may just want to do this yourself. If so here is a great video with a little humor that tells you all about capacitor basics. Thanks to http://www.afrotechmods.com for the video.

[youtube][/youtube]

You can order caps from places like  http://www.digikey.com or http://www.mouser.com. They generally run for under $1.00.

If not into soldering motherboards or worried about messing something up the any good TV repair shop should be abe to replace them for you.  They surely won't guarantee that your slingbox will work but they will be   competent enough to do the job.

If you do take your slingbox Solo apart and find bad capacitors we would love to hear about it. Even if you decide not to fix them. If you do fix them and your problem is resolved then we would love to hear about that too!

Special thanks to jin for supplying the pictures and directions on taking apart the slingbox Solo!.

You may also want to refer to these posts regarding tips, tools and techniques on replacing capacitors.

http://www.dalantech.com, Wikipedia, ehow.com

May 20, 2010
9:13 pm
jin
Forum Posts: 10
Member Since:
May 12, 2010
Offline

haha, that video is great! i actually had no idea what capacitors did until now so am very pleased to learn something new. thanks for the write up and post brandon. if mystified and frustrated slingbox owners actually end up taking their boxes apart and see bulging caps, they will owe the solution to you.

jin

May 28, 2010
5:38 pm
nursing schools

this post is very usefull thx!

June 1, 2010
11:25 am
Jason

It would be great if you could supply the mouser part numbers. I have no second thoughts about changing them, it's just making sure I get the right ones.

June 1, 2010
3:15 pm
Brandon C
U.S.

Forum Posts: 1556
Member Since:
April 19, 2010
Offline

The G-luxon 470uf 16v model LW capacitors are usually the ones reported as going bad. RadioShack 470uf 35V(Model: 272-1030 | Catalog #: 272-1030, $1.29/apiece) or At Mouser, http://www.mouser.com/ProductDetail/Lelon/RXJ471M1CBK-1016P/?qs=s.....5rz/U0U%3d

 

The other 220uf 25v capacitors are usually ok.

June 2, 2010
4:37 am
pwongkk
Singapore
Forum Posts: 7
Member Since:
June 2, 2010
Offline

ok guys, Sling support forum had banned me from posting further due to my insistance that the caps are the problems.

As the Sling moderators keep deleting my posts there, this is a great place to post without them intefering further. Bad caps are sensitive words in that forum now. Never mind.

I've just posted a review in Amazon.com where I bought my Solo in late 2008. After reading several other reviews, there are people there having the freezing problem as well. Therefore, this issue is not just confined to the Sling forum alone and is more widespread that what we thought.

No wonder the folks over at Sling are trying hard to surpress information given by us.

I hope the community of fustrated users would find their way here for more informative updates.

June 2, 2010
10:21 am
Brandon C
U.S.

Forum Posts: 1556
Member Since:
April 19, 2010
Offline

pwongkk, 

They banned you?  From what I saw there wasn't anything too negative on your comments but maybe there were deleted before I checked.

Amazon is a good place to place or read reviews on products. There has to be something going on with the capacitor issue since so many have reported problems with them and replacing them fixed it. 

It will be interesting to see if they acknowledge the problem publicly or not and if so what they will do for owners of SliongBox Solo's over 1 year old.

June 2, 2010
5:52 pm
SMWinnie

Same story here. Bought a Solo in late 2008. Slowly got less reliable and then wouldn't connect. When I checked into warranty, it was $30 to start the support process. Thirty bucks is no big deal; the six hours of my time that this was going to take is. So I shelved the Solo and picked up a Hava.

I read about the bad caps here and decided to crack the case. In the interim, SlingMedia shut down the old Sling Community and replaced it with a censored forum where mention of faulty capacitors is verboten. (Their argument: If people crack their boxes after reading the forum and their problem *isn't* bad caps, then the customers get cheesed off at Sling. Seriously.)

Cracked the case and found both the 470uf caps had visibly failed. Ordered replacements (and a replacement for the 220uf cap) from badcaps.net. Wife is a biophysicist and laser table jockey. She swapped the caps out and chided me for not double-checking on the caps' polarity*.

Box is back in the rack and I'm getting 6Mbps local and Comcast's upstream limit remote. So now, even though I don't even have Dish Network I hate Charlie Ergen.

* Wife adds one bit of speculation. If you insert a capacitor with reversed polarity, you can get a slow degradation of the electrolyte. She doesn't remember if the original (faulty) capacitor on the board was inserted correctly (positive lead to the square hole).

June 2, 2010
6:29 pm
Brandon C
U.S.

Forum Posts: 1556
Member Since:
April 19, 2010
Offline

That's how we came about when the SlingCommunity was turned off. You will see some familiar faces here.

BTW, Did you see this post about Sling Media Now Replacing SlingBox Solos out of Warranty

Glad you got it working. Great idea from the wife. If anyone else takes apart their box it would be interesting to find out if the capacitors were put on backwards.

June 3, 2010
4:45 am
pwongkk
Singapore
Forum Posts: 7
Member Since:
June 2, 2010
Offline
10

Brandon C said:

pwongkk, 

They banned you?  From what I saw there wasn't anything too negative on your comments but maybe there were deleted before I checked.

Amazon is a good place to place or read reviews on products. There has to be something going on with the capacitor issue since so many have reported problems with them and replacing them fixed it. 

It will be interesting to see if they acknowledge the problem publicly or not and if so what they will do for owners of SliongBox Solo's over 1 year old.


 

They can ban me for all they want, I don't really care if this is they way they conduct business and treat customers.

Have you noticed, ever since some of the users had seen the bloated capacitors in my unit, some of them have opened up their sets and confirmed theirs also have the same problem.

If I had not insisted it is bad caps and more users are biting on this as the cause of freezing, I doubt Sling would still be continuing to lead people on a wild goose chase. Glad that now they are forced to acknowledge that the caps are a cause and replacing the boxes.

I'm sure some of their moderators are lurking around here too. Whatever the case, as promised, I'll document the entire repair process, the test results and post them in this forum for all to see. Hopefully the mods here won't remove or censor them.

June 3, 2010
5:06 am
pwongkk
Singapore
Forum Posts: 7
Member Since:
June 2, 2010
Offline
11

SMWinnie said:

Same story here. Bought a Solo in late 2008. Slowly got less reliable and then wouldn't connect. When I checked into warranty, it was $30 to start the support process. Thirty bucks is no big deal; the six hours of my time that this was going to take is. So I shelved the Solo and picked up a Hava.

I read about the bad caps here and decided to crack the case. In the interim, SlingMedia shut down the old Sling Community and replaced it with a censored forum where mention of faulty capacitors is verboten. (Their argument: If people crack their boxes after reading the forum and their problem *isn't* bad caps, then the customers get cheesed off at Sling. Seriously.)

Cracked the case and found both the 470uf caps had visibly failed. Ordered replacements (and a replacement for the 220uf cap) from badcaps.net. Wife is a biophysicist and laser table jockey. She swapped the caps out and chided me for not double-checking on the caps' polarity*.

Box is back in the rack and I'm getting 6Mbps local and Comcast's upstream limit remote. So now, even though I don't even have Dish Network I hate Charlie Ergen.

* Wife adds one bit of speculation. If you insert a capacitor with reversed polarity, you can get a slow degradation of the electrolyte. She doesn't remember if the original (faulty) capacitor on the board was inserted correctly (positive lead to the square hole).


 If you inserted the capacitors in the wrong polarity, once power is applied, it'll pop instantly and your whole room will have this acidic smell. You won't even have the chance of looking at the slow degration. What's left will be the 2 legs on the PCB.

 

A smaller strip on the caps will indicate negative polarity. This is marked with a shaded semi-circle at the location on the PCB.

 

Don't worry so much, if you've repaired it and it works, chances are you've got everything right.

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