Slingbox Solo Freezing, Stuck Optimizing, Losing Connection? Check the Capacitors 254


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.

You can order caps from places like  www.digikey.com or 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


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254 thoughts on “Slingbox Solo Freezing, Stuck Optimizing, Losing Connection? Check the Capacitors

  • jin

    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

  • 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.

  • pwongkk

    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.

  • 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).

  • SMWinnie

    My bad for editing what my wife said about polarity on the caps. She was suggesting that the “giant-brained engineers” that the Sling Media moderator/censor is leaning on for authority might want to take five seconds to check before packing the returned Solos for component level testing.

    I checked again tonight, and she definitely agrees with pwongkk that these caps should be a stinky mess if installed backwards. (If I understand her correctly, a slow death would require a sustained applied reverse voltage under a volt.)

  • Paul Abbott

    My SlingBox Solo started to die in exactly the way described by others…after perusing the incredibly long thread on Sling’s forums, I was directed here. I just took apart my SlingBox and what do you know…two bulging capacitors! I’m going online right now to order a soldering iron and some replacements.

    Thanks for posting this!

  • DanG

    Hi,
    I don’t know if I have the same problem you guys are referring to but I will explain it in case there is. I just bought a slingbox, hooked it up, and connected to it on my laptop. Got the remote control working and everything, played around for about 15 mins with no problems. Then decided to try accessing it on another computer in the house to see how that worked. It worked fine for a few minutes and then started to have connection problems where I would have to re-enter my password. It would work for 30 seconds or so, then cut out again, re-enter password. The working time became less and less until now it won’t even connect at all. I noticed the box is a little hot after the few hours since I unpacked it and tried to get it to work.
    Did I do something wrong by trying to access it on another computer? Could something inside have just heated up and eventually fried completely? I don’t want to open up the box as it is brand new, but does this sound like something I should send the box back for, or is it something related to my computers that I can fix without replacing the box?

  • Mark

    Well I hadn’t used my slingbox in quite some time. moved last August and the unit was setup idling away.
    Now I am English and an insanely passionate soccer fan. Live in Canada and with the world cup timeshifting I thought it may be nice to sit out on my patio and watch a game on my Laptop.
    My unit is a PRO-HD and it took a while for me to stumble across this link. The issue I had was that I could not connect to the slingbox over the phone or local. I went to look at the unit and there was no network light. Wasted a good hour, at first scratching my head and then trying to find a solution on line when all else failed.
    Slings website does have a mention that if you have no network light that you should look at everything else on not the slingbox.
    After reading through this post I decided to crack it open and check it out. Being a little bit hesitant as in the past I got screwed by doing this with my XBOX360, the next day they announced that they would honour all repairs of there cheap assembly also.
    Low and behold the 2 16V capacitors are bulging with leaking capacitors. I will be picking up a couple of capacitos tomorrow to replace. The unit will probably be better off for putting a better capacitor in the unit anyway and maybe get a few more years out of the unit
    Back to work on Monday, Lots of world cup soccer to watch and not enough hours in the day….Need my unit up and running fast.

    Thanks to all for their insight and success stories

  • Chris Crosby

    Just saw this Forum by chance as I have a slingbox solo beaming SKY to my son in the States. Yes, the common freezing problem on both local and internet….I kept thinking it was my internet connection but after reinstalling the software and the router several times with no improvement decided to look for another cause. The Slingbox help site didn’t and so I searched for more ‘independant’ advice. Having taken the cover off the Solo I saw the characteristic bulging 470uf capacitors and popped down to my local Maplins and bought 2 capacitors but with a rated voltage of 35v to be on the safe side…total cost…..88p….less than $1!! Soldering them in was fairly straightforward, but the solder did have a very high melting point so persistence was necessary! Put everything back and now it works perfectly running up to 4000+ kps on local and 1200kps on remote…..I am lucky to have a very fast connection. Reception in the USA is now totally stable and very high quality. Slingmedia really ought to come clean on this problem as their reputation is being damaged. It is essentially a great product.

  • Roland Stone

    Because of the release of Slingplayer for Android, I was about to run out and buy a Slingbox today. Then I started reading about the capacitor plague. So now what should I do?

    1. Buy a Slingbox Solo?
    2. Buy a Slingbox Pro HD?
    3. Buy an extended warranty?
    4. Buy a Hava?

    I have a Tivo HD, Verizon Fios and a Droid.

  • lizzybb

    My original problem started with the SlingCatcher giving me errors after about 15 or 20 minutes of running, which led me to assume the SlingCatcher had the problem. After all sorts of resets, I was still getting errors. I continued using the Slingbox with a laptop, since that was still working, but after a few days, even that started giving me the errors after just a few minutes of viewing. It was unusable. I did all sorts of reconfiguration of my router, tested my isp provider, etc etc. I refused to buy another router because I knew it worked with everything else in the house and I hadn’t changed anything on it when the problem started. I finally found this forum and decided to go for it. I opened it up last night and the capacitors were bulging. I bought the 35V capacitors at Radio Shack and bought a 40W soldering iron (the small one I had was not doing the job). I had never soldered anything in my life, so it took a little bit of work, some reading up on the internet, and $11.57 for parts, but it was WELL worth it! I ran the SlingCatcher for over 2 hours tonight and it looks great. I figured my unit was out of warranty so I had nothing to lose. Thanks for taking the time to set up this thread, it was invaluable!!

  • davee

    Changed out the Caps per instructions on this page. WORKED AS DESCRIBED!!!
    Total cost $15. ( Had local TV repair remove and solder new caps in for me)

    Slingbox better admit the problem and do something before their reputation is further tarnished. Great product, too bad they have such shady Cust Service.

  • davee

    Anyone else find that their SOLO is better after the Capacitor replacement, than it was fresh out of the box? Mine sure seems to be. Streaming is “stronger”, optimization is faster…it is an all around better unit now. Just wondered if I was the only one to notice this.

  • Marc

    Well, I changed my caps too. The 470uF ones were bulging at the top. I’m not the best person at soldering, but managed to get the job done without messing up the circuit board. Before it would work intermittently varying from 1-20 mins. I think maybe it depends on how hot it is? No idea.

    Now, it hasn’t disconnected yet. Been on for 10 hours now.

    Just chiming in,

  • ricklynchcore

    Thanks for this wonderful useful forum discussion and getting my slingbox solo, slinging again. Story:
    I was still under the 1 year hardware warranty when I began to display all the known capacitor problems. I began my dutiful time consuming, rediculous dancing thru hoops, drama with sling media. Of course they insisted it was a software problem etc…Finally got them to give me the rma to return my defective unit. Received my new unit today July 14, 2010. Set it up and guess what!!!!!!! Same problem. I cracked open the new box to discover two blown 470uf capacitors. I could not believe it. They sent me a broken replacement. Oh well, went to radioshack and picked up two 470uf 35v model #272-1030. I brought them over to the tv repair man who replaced them in about 7 minutes for no charge. Set up Slingbox and it has been humming perfectly for well over 1 hour. Prior to capacitor replacement it would not run for more the 5 minutes without the time out. Thanks all for the great information, I really appreciate it. Shame on Sling Media for such poor customer service.

    Rick

  • Ashli

    Hi there,

    I went to the two links provided to order capacitors, but there are so many different types of capacitors, and I do not want to buy the wrong ones. Can anyone tell me which ones are the right kind for the Slingbox? My Slingbox has been giving me problems for so long now, I am optimistically excited to see if new capacitors will allow me to watch tv on it again!! Thankd for any help you can give me!

  • ece02006

    For quite a while, I have been unable to use the slingbox solo (~2.5 years old and definitely out of warranty) for more than 5 minutes without it de-authenticating. I opened up my slingbox, but the (Sanyo 16V 470uF) capacitors appeared normal. Desperate for a solution, I decided to replace the capacitors anyway. I went to Radio Shack and picked up two of the (only) 470uF 35V capacitors in the store for a mere $1.29 each, and replaced the two 470uF capacitors on the slingbox solo. My slingbox now works like it did when it was brand new!

    Thanks to everyone here for the helpful tips

  • Alfredo Villanueva

    I replaced my caps some time ago, it cost me 60 bucks by a tv repairman. He did a great job! Paid too much, but it is what it is, I’m happy! I’ve been saying the same thing to all and have posted this on the Sling forum, the company does not want to admit the problem. Just tell us those of us that do not have a warranty anymore. Quit trying to make money by keeping us on the phone and trying to tech support it. It is a common problem and should be the first thing to be discovered. Good luck.

  • Jess

    Thanks for the insight. I’ve had my solo for 8 months. It worked well the first 3 months or so and just got worse and worse as time went on. I went on to the Sling Box Solo forum and found that I wasn’t the only person with the problem, there’s hundreds of us out there. I saw someone posted a link to this site, and I’m so happy they did. I had a bulging capacitor. I replaced it for $1.39 and my Solo is working the best it ever has, I’ve been streaming as high as 5000 kbps. It’s awesome. Thanks so much.

  • ricklynchcore

    After jumping through a million hoops I finally got Sling to send a new solo to replace my under warranty model, only to receive another capacitor plagued unit. Got tired of dealing with them, replaced the 470 uf’s myself, and all has been humming well now for a month. Dstvasia did right, by my experiences.

  • Kevin

    I was having the same problems as other users in here … my Slingbox SOLO was running great for about 6-7 months, then it began to have periods of slow bps rates, usually disconnecting after about 20 seconds. Then ultimately i could not get my network to even recognize it at all. I called Slingbox support which is one of the worst support teams I have ever encountered. I told the tech support woman my symptoms and she simply asked me my LED activity and concluded with “Sir, your Slingbox is working fine” and then said if we wanted to dig further, it would cost $30 per topic.

    After trying everything I could and nearly throwing the damn thing out, I came across this thread. I opened up my Slingbox and sure enough, both 470uF caps were bulging. I pulled 2 capacitors off an old Dell motherbaord that were 470uF 16V and installed them and the box is working great again, like it was never broken. The only difference between the replaced caps is the rating for the Dell caps is at 85 degrees, while the old caps were at 105 degrees. Hopefully this doesnt come to be an issue.

    Thanks for putting this thread together. The Slingbox is a great product which unfortunate major design issues. Dont even bother dealing with Sling’s tech support. The user community knows more about their product than they do.

  • Dan

    My Slingbox Solo bought a little over a year ago developed exactly the same problems described above. And after cracking the case showed the same two caps bulging. Radio Shack had the equivalents. Fortunately the caps’ uncrowded location on the board allows relatively easy removal and installation (even with a crappy old soldering iron like mine).

    Thanks for the step-by-step presentation of the fix.

    Slingbox ought to be ashamed!

  • Rob

    My solo had the same connection drop problems after working for approx 18 mos. Although the 470uf caps looked ok, I replaced them with the radio shack caps, 470uf 35v. The procedure seemed to go fine and the polarity is correct. Now when I plug in my solo, the network light will flash (not the power light) and all lights go out in approx 5 seconds. No power.

    Any suggestion?

    Thanks, Rob