RCA/GE TV (CTC175-187+) Solder Connection and EEPROM Problems


[Document Version: 1.71] [Last Updated: 05/25/1998]

Chapter 1) About the Author & Copyright

RCA/GE TV (CTC175-187+) Solder Connection and EEPROM Problems

Author: Samuel M. Goldwasser
Corrections/suggestions: | Email

Copyright (c) 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998
All Rights Reserved

Reproduction of this document in whole or in part is permitted if both of the following conditions are satisfied:

  1. This notice is included in its entirety at the beginning.
  2. There is no charge except to cover the costs of copying.

Chapter 2) Introduction

  2.1) Scope of this document

Problems with bad solder connections, mostly in and around the tuner are very
common with several series of late model (e.g., CTC175-187 and higher chassis)
RCA/GE/Proscan TVs.  Ignoring these erratic and intermittent problems can lead
to serious damage including failure of the EEPROM and possibly other expensive
ICs.  Therefore, it is essential to deal with the solder connections as soon
as these symptoms appear.  The repairs are straightforward though perhaps
tedious.  Thompson may reimburse for reasonable cost of repairs.

Also, some LXI TVs may actually be of RCA/GE manufacture: LXI is sold by
Sears.  If the model number starts with 274.something it is an RCA CTC176/7
or 187 chassis. (pwhite4@aol.com (PWhite4)).

Sometimes, similar symptoms are the result of bad solder connections elsewhere
on these chassis.  Check around the pins of large components like power
transistors, power resistors, transformers, etc.  However, since problems with
the tuner soldering are so common, this is usually the place to start.

Note that many other RCA chassis as well as other manufacturer's TVs are also
susceptible to similar symptoms with similar causes.

Some of the common symptoms include:

    * Random power cycling.  It may come on in the middle of the night!
    * Picture shifts or changes size vertically or horizontally.
    * Picture turns to snow or shows other reception problems.
    * Picture turns to random display of time or other data.
    * Noisy or muted sound, volume buttons have no effect.
    * Remote has no or unexpected effect.

The articles in this document have been compiled over the last few
months from postings on the USENET newsgroup sci.electronics.repair.

Contributions are welcome to increase the coverage of this set of notes
as well as those for the very similar set of problems and solutions for
late model Sony TVs: "Sony TV Tuner and IF Solder Connection Problems".
(Symptoms are very similar and repair requires removing and resoldering
connections inside the tuner and IF boxes.  Unfortunately, at least on
some models, removing these modules is a real treat!)

Proper attributions will be made for all providers of solutions.  I apologize
if I have incorrectly referenced you or left your name off.  I will be happy
to make any necessary corrections in the next revision.  Please email me
with any additional sections.  I would very much like to improve the details
of the repair procedure if possible.

Corrections and additions to any specific symptom or solution are also

I have no connection with Thompson Electronics or any other manufacturer
of consumer electronics.  These articles have been included unedited except
for some spelling, grammar, and format cleanup.

Chapter 3) Solder Connection Problems and Solutions

  3.1) Symptoms of cracked solder connections

Here are some typical sets of symptoms resulting from bad solder connections
in and around the tuner of these late model TVs:

"I have a 26" RCA television with a "squeezed" vertical and "snowy"
 picture, at its worst times it also shuts off and on again.  This
 problem is occurring 50% of the time, I noticed that tapping the
 panel where the 75ohm and rca connectors are attached will realign
 it temporarily.  Is this a symptom of the "solder cracking I read about
 in RCA's or a bad EEPROM and if it is a bad EEPROM why does a smack
 offer a quick fix and why is it shutting off and on?"

"This picture is short vertical about 1/2 inch at top and two inches at
 the bottom. Anyone seen this problem on this chassis. Is it possibly
 related to all the bad solder joints in the tuner area?"

"I have an RCA TV with the following symptoms:

 * The audio will suddenly switch to maximum volume.
 * The volume buttons on the TV and the remote control have no effect on
   the volume during this time.
 * If the blaring condition occurs and I attempt to adjust the volume very
   low, then when the condition returns to normal, the volume comes back at
   this very low volume.  So the signal to adjust the volume must be
   received by the controller while the speaker is blaring.
 * If I use the remote to mute the volume a slight diminishing in the
   volume can be noticed, but the mute is not accomplished.
 * If I cycle power, the problem persists, unless I leave the unit off for
   a while (sometimes 30 seconds, sometimes a few minutes) before turning it
   back on.

 * If I adjust the volume to minimum and turn on the muting, just using my
   stereo for sound from the VCR, the TV will still begin to blare in short
   burst and then eventually come on and remain at full volume."

"My parents' RCA TV has lost some volume, and is now barely audible
 when on full volume. The controls are all electronic and on screen. Is
 this a known problem with RCAs, and could there perhaps be a pot I
 could adjust inside to 'boost' the volume?"

"I have a GE 31" (about 3 years old) where the picture moves down the
 tube, like a DC offset is present.  The top of the picture is down
 about 1/3 from the top of the screen and the bottom of the picture
 compresses.  Occasionally, the picture turns to snow.  If I turn off
 the power and back on, it temporarily cures the problem.  Could these
 symptoms also be caused by poor tuner connections?"

"I have the SAME TV, and mine is about 1/5 off. Some channels also have
 lots of Snow etc."

"I tried using a VCR as a tuner & running the signal in through the RCA
 plugs in the back. Same difference. I still experience the same problems.
 Does this rule out the turner?"

"I am having the following problem with the TV:

 * The screen will go black and display: 1:5P   A-- (the "P" is sometimes
   an "8" or possibly a "B")

 * the screen will suddenly go from showing a picture to show nothing but
   "snow". There is no sound, the remote control won't shut it off, the
   power button on the set won't shut it off, it has to be shut down by
   unplugging it.

 * When it is plugged back in it will sometimes come back on without 
   pushing the power button or using the remote, screen shows nothing but 
   snow, no sound. 

 * Sometimes when it is plugged back in it works normally (won't come on
   until you push the power button or use the remote), it then acts
   normally except there is no sound until you use the remote or the
   buttons on the set to adjust the sound."

"My RCA XL-100 TV has begun to develop a life of its own -- it intermittently
 goes crazy."

"My two and a half year old GE 25" set started having troubles with the
 picture shrinking from top to bottom, losing signal strength (snow) and 
 now shifting of the picture off the bottom of the screen.  This would 
 occur usually right after turning it on, and sometimes could be cured by 
 turning off the set and turning it back on again.  Lately it has been 
 getting worse so I took it in for repair.  Lo and behold, there were 
 several GE and RCA sets there that had similar complaints.  All ended up 
 needing an "S-kit" from GE, an item apparently supplied to the repair 
 center for free from GE.  I needed a crystal as well.  This sounds like 
 some kind of widespread problem that maybe should be looked at as if it 
 is an unwritten warranty?  Anyone care to comment?"

"I have a 27" GE Model 27GT610. About a year ago a problem started to
 develop. It would take turning it on 2-3 times before the picture came
 up. Initially all I would get was a black screen and static on the
 speakers as if it wasn't on a broadcast channel. Over the last year it
 has progressed to taking me 20-30 minutes to get the picture to come on.
 I suspect it might be a corroding startup relay but am unsure. Does
 anyone have a part# and component# that could point me in the right
 direction? Any other suggestions would also be appreciated. Thanks, btw
 I already have the FAQ.

"I have a 2 year old RCA XL100 television. It has worked just fine up
 until the last 2 or 3 weeks. I now have severe problems with it and am
 hoping that someone who reads this posting will recognize the symptoms
 and help steer me in the right direction to fix the damned thing! I know
 of another person who had the exact same model and 2 years after he
 bought it, it started acting up in the same way, so I assume this is a
 well documented problem that I'm seeing...
 When the set is turned on, the "reception" on some cable channels is
 terrible, but others are fine. Turning off and on again fixes those
 channels, but within a few seconds, the reception goes bad again. There
 is a time display function and a mute function on the TV. When I press a
 button, the channel displays in the upper right corner. Likewise in the
 lower left corner with mute. When the TV is misbehaving, these words
 "walk" down on the set. The MUTE word goes so far that it's unreadable
 since only the tops of the letters show. Turning off and then back on
 temporarily solves the problem. Whenever this phenomenon occurs, the top
 of the picture gets "squashed" down and a black band appears at the top
 of the screen. When I look at CNN, the sportsticker at the bottom is
 almost unreadable and it appears that the lower part of the picture is
 forced into the non-viewable area of the screen. If I struggle through
 these problems for an hour or so, then everything is almost back to
 normal, but the problems do appear intermittently. When I switch over to
 the VCR tuner, my reception problems are solved, but I still get the
 screen "walking" behavior, so it looks to be more that the tuner chip
 (unless that also controls these extra functions). Does anybody know
 about this problem??? Is it just a bad chip or component that I can
 replace? What should I do about it? (I'm a EE and am quite capable of
 fixing simple soldering problems and such myself). Before I take it to a
 repair shop or buy a new one, I'd like to see if I can fix this one...
 in a word... HELP!"

"I have an RCA FMR70ER TV that only works when the room temperature is warm.
 If the temperature is cool the TV will never turn on .

"The problem tends to show up after the TV has been on for a few minutes.
 The picture will appear to have signal problems (i.e. a snowy picture), and
 then the top line of the picture will begin to dip down, until it is
 approximately 25% of the way down the tube.  There is just black above it. 
 When its really bad, the picture will be just snow, the top will drop down
 almost half, and there will be a very bright band at the bottom of the
 screen.  Now, one way to remedy this problem is to shut the TV off, and
 then back on again.  Sometimes this will 'reboot' the TV and the picture is
 fine.  Sometimes it doesn't work.  

 The problem is beginning to become more persistent and annoying!"

"I have a General Electric 21" (or 23"...can't remember) colour remote
 control television.  It's about two and a half years old.

 The problem we're having is that the picture is 'dropping' off the bottom
 of the screen.  This sometimes happens shortly after turning the TV on, or
 sometimes not for some time after turning the TV on.  What happens is that
 the whole picture seems to move down a bit on the screen, then it moves a
 little further, then before you know it, there's about a couple of inches
 of black at the top of the screen, above the picture.  You can't see the
 bottom of the picture because it is now below the bottom of the screen
 (i.e. the picture doesn't just shrink).  Sometimes a bright white line
 will appear at the very bottom of the screen, and after a snapping sound
 the picture will jump back up (sometimes back to the top, sometimes just
 part of the way up).  Then it happens all over again, kind of random.  If
 you turn the TV off, wait a few seconds, then turn it back on, most of the
 time (not always) the picture will start out back at the top of the screen
 as it should."

"2 year old ge has tuner problem. Some channels part snowy others very snowy.
 Sometimes don't work at all. But, only on some channels.( Vertical is not
 shrinking).  Any case histories?"

"I have a CTC177 that instead of the two relay clicks of the degaussing
 circuit will click 6-8 times when it is first turned on. Signal was
 coming from U3101 - changed IC, no change in problem. Works fine once
 it's warmed up, anyone else have this problem?"

"I have a weird problem, or at least I have never seen it before.  I have
 a GE colour television that when it is initially turned on the lower
 channels are not existent (snowy) and the upper channels are crystal
 clear.  When the TV has been on for about half an hour, all the channels
 are crystal clear."

"I had/have the same problem w/ an RCA CTC175. Picture shrunk down to
 letterbox size. When i was going to check the joints, I turned it on (hasn't
 been used in a couple weeks), to see if the picture came in full size, but to
 my surprise i had no picture. When i say no picture i> mean it's like my cable
 has been disconnected. After a little fiddling here and there i came up with
 the following.
 * Cable box hooked  - no picture on any channel.

 * Straight cable to TV - only cable channels 54, 55, 64, & 76 (nice and
 Should i go ahead and resolder the tuner connections and see what happens or
 does it sound like the microprocessor may be out?"

"I have a GE TV 25GT543, CTC187AA chassis with a vertical intermittent where a
 whack on the side fixes it.  Is this 'the resolder under and around the tuner'
 fix?  Is there anyway to tell exactly which connection is really the bad one
 rather than randomly resoldering everything within sight?  I like the feeling
 I get when I know that I have really found the source of the problem rather
 hope I got it....."

"Volume and channel OSD shifted off to the right so that channels are not
 visible.  Closed captioning and customer menus shifted to the left.  Tuner
 shield was done about a year ago and is ok.  Problem occurred after a power
 surge that caused C7 the main filter capacitor to fail.  Otherwise the set
 seems to work fine.  Horizontal and vertical sync pulses are present on pins
 26 and 27 of the micro."

  3.2) General repair considerations

Caution: See the document: "Troubleshooting and Repair of Consumer Electronics Equipment" before attempting to repair or replace the tuner module.  You *must*
have proper soldering equipment and desoldering tools.  Attempting to remove,
solder, or replace the modules(s) without these *will* result in a mess and a
very expensive bill when you finally take your TV to a professional.

Someone brought me a TV to look at.  After a little prodding, it was learned
that he had lent it to a friend and it died after six months or so.  The
'friend' then attempted to replace the tuner module based on the description
on a refused estimate from a TV service shop.  He did not have proper soldering
equipment - perhaps only a Weller 100 W soldering gun.  Needless to say, the
TV did not work - nearly every pad on the PC board under the tuner had been
destroyed.  I had to run wires from the pins on the tuner to the their
destinations on the mainboard.  It was not fun.  Luckly, no permanent damage
was done but it could have easily been a lot worse.

  3.3) About that special RCA solder and soldering of the tuner in general

There seems to be some disagreement on whether to use the 'special RCA soler'
or not:

(From: Charles Godard (cgodard@iamerica.net)).

The solder RCA recommends doesn't flow properly.  The only returns I've had
after doing this repair have been because of using their solder.  The best way
to do the job is to use regular 60-40 lead tin and apply the right amount of
heat with a controlled heat solder gun.  Too much heat and you peal the board,
not enough and it won't stick or will crack again.

I first flux the joint's with rosin solder paste. I clean my tip before
starting, and a couple of times during the job.  Again, I use a controlled
heat solder gun.

This seems like a simple job because it is 'simply' soldering.  Don't be
fooled.  I've been at this business for twenty years and am an expert at
soldering.  Of the first dozen or so of these sets that I worked on, I had a
couple of solder spills that cost me a couple of extra hours to locate because
I didn't realize I had made a spill and assumed another problem. Another
hazard is that if you are not skilled and attentive, you may loose one of the
small resistors or capacitors from the board.  If you find it, then you've got
to figure out where to put it back. :> If you flex this board you may cause a
crack on a resistor or capacitor lead that could be very difficult to find.

In addition to all that, there are some hidden joint's that won't be apparent
to even a skilled technician the first time he does the job.  (The stuff in
the middle :)

If you are a trained technician and do soldering regularly and have a
controlled heat gun, and are used to working with these flimsy consumer type
circuit boards, then you can probably do it with no problem.  There are some
jobs that are suited for do-it-yourselfers and I don't hesitate to tell a guy
if I think he can do it and save a few bucks.  This is not a job I would
recommend for the average guy to tackle.  I can think of very few solder job's
I've ever done that require more skill and attention than this one.

Sorry, I'm sure that's not what you wanted to hear.  However, next time you
have a problem, just ask.  I may have an easy fix for you, and will be glad to
give it if I do. 

  3.4) Descriptions of the solutions

Here are some of the responses - many from experienced techs who fix (too)
many of these sets:

(From: J. Caldwell).

Following the instructions packed with the service bulletin will allow a
proper job to be performed. Overheating the board substrate and surrounding
components will cause future and horrible failures.

The connection will NOT look shiny but shouldn't look bubbly or crinked, the
solder will only flow if you use the special solder paste, rosin core solder
will cause it to corrode oddly so clean all rosin core off the board.

A standard Weller station does the job quite well and experience has shown me
that the full repair with jumpers and the special solder (as the bulletin
states) is the best thing to do for reliability and customer satisfaction. I
was mistaken in earlier ramblings.

(From: (JohnSon) johntrum@netonecom.net)).

This sounds like the typical shield/pcb solder joint problems that RCA
has had made famous with their CTC175/177 chassis.  It's a common
problem. We have fixed literally "tons" of them.  I'm guessing it
would be this series of chassis because you also mentioned the EEPROM.

The symptoms you mentioned are all associated with these bad solder
connections and there are even more symptoms that can appear from this
same problem.  No video, color drop, etc. are other common symptoms.
Just get your solder iron hot and do a good job soldering ALL bad
connections related to the shield areas and you'll be in business
again.  You'll still just have a "new model" RCA, but, the symptoms
you describe should go away. If you catch it while it is in the
"smack" condition, you shouldn't need any parts.  If you wait until it
dies completely, you could be looking at an IC or EEPROM replacement.
You DON'T want to replace the EEPROM, trust me!  

(From: Jaclyn (lambert@sos.net)).

Possibly.. :) Once you think you've got all the solder connections done -
you've only just begun.   Also check for cracks on the pads surrounding
the tuner grounds. Oh, you might want to order an extra pound of solder
before you begin....

(From: Louis A. Iannotta (bouncer@nauticom.net))

The problem is bad solder connections under the tuner shield.  The bad 
connections cause false signals to the EEPROM which cause the reduced 
vertical height. RCA just recently has issued a bulletin and a kit to 
repair the connections with a special "elastic" solder which isn't 
supposed to crack under temperature fluctuations.

(From: Chuck (Nordic@osuunx.ucc.okstate.edu)).

I would open the tuner control module and solder all the posts that
are around the periphery of the board.  Also on rare occasions, the
solder connections break on the main board jack that the plug from the
tuner control module attaches to. Resolder them also.  Good luck.

(From: JohnSon (johntrum@netonecom.net)).

I am sure you are probably talking about the "infamous" Thompson (the
RCA/GE owners) bad solder joint chassis'.  They started with the
CTC175/176/177 and from what I see they have continued on up through
the CTC187 at least and maybe further.  You can confirm your chassis
number by checking inside the back of the set or on the back of the
set sometimes.  These sets have a variety of symptoms accompanying the
bad solder joints.  The two you listed are   only a couple.  When
repairing these sets, all of the trouble areas should be repaired at
that time.  You will be just asking for more problems if you don't.
If you are very technically minded, you may be able to repair this
yourself.  If not, you could try a local repair shop.  I have heard
repair prices for this range from $50.00 to $140.00.  I don't have any
idea what the shops are doing to repair them for $50.00, but, I
suspect they may be just going in and soldering the obvious bad joint,
at the time.  As I mentioned, this would only be a temporary repair at
best.  The majority of the problems are under the shield of the "built
into the board tuner", but, there are others also.  I know our charge
to repair them, complete, runs about $100.00. (lots of soldering to do
the job right.)  If you decide you need further info, post what model
and chassis number you are working on.  If it is the problem that I
think it is, I can tell you, from our complete repairs, we have never
had a recall on these chassis for this same trouble and we have
literally repaired tons of these things.

(From: Kevin (giddy@ac.dal.ca)).

In RCA/GE chassis CTC-175,176,177, There is a common problem with bad
solder on the tuner shields and around the microprocessor shield.

The symptom is usually intermittant snowy picture and reduced vertical height.
Please do not be misled into trying to troubleshoot the vertical section
as you may be wasting your time. Often you can confirm if this is your problem
by grabbing the RF input connector firmly and wiggling it while observing the

Thomson seemed to have solved the problem around the end of 1993.

I have done lots of these.

(From: BELJAN E (lvpy67c@ix.netcom.com)).

It is the CTC series chassis and the tuner solder joints break. You
should take the set in as soon as the problem develops to avoid
permanantly damaging the set. The S-kit is most likely the repair kit
for the GE series (S stands for solder) it has special flexible solder
that will keep the tuner from going again.

(From: Marlin (mister-m@ix.netcom.com)).

Yea! These RCA/GE all are having the problem of loose grounds. They are
mostly around the Micro and Tuner grounds. If your having problems with
the picture becoming snowy you may have to remove the tuner shield and
do those also.

The intermitten power on and off may also be around T4401 Flyback Transformer.
Check or resolder this area also.

(From: Mark Paladino (paladino@frontiernet.net)).

I'm not familiar with this model in particular but the symptoms you 
describe my be similar to another well documented RCA tuner problem. 
That problem involves tv's of about the same vintage and after a year or 
so develop symptoms similar to what you describe. The solution to those 
maladies is resoldering all of the tuner shield connections where the 
shield connects to the pc board. I have accomplished the "fix" on several 
RCA TVs of that vintage with similar tuner symptoms and in each 
instance was able to completely correct the problems and restore the tv 
to workable condition. 

(From: Mr. Caldwell (jcaldwel@iquest.net)).

It is not a picture tube. Why is it that some people think that the picture 
tube is bad when the set has a snowy picture? 
It's solder connection in the tuner, the tuner is not replaceable it is part
of  the mother board. Call RCA and ask them if they will foot the bill. If
not call an authorized repair center and get an estimate.

(From: Lawrence E. Manion (MANION.L.E@worldnet.att.net)).
Get the problem fixed now or the connections will cause enough noise on the 
microprocessor that it will eventually 'deprogram' the EEPROM and you'll need 
that replaced and it's quite expensive as this part holds *all* adjustments.
There are only 2 or 3 controls that are manually aligned. 

I have fixed many, many TV's with this problem.  It is common to all RCA,
GE, LXI model.  The problem is easy to fix, but its hard to get the area
ready for repair.  To those that are brave remove the back, pull out the
chassis, (some plugs must be removed so mark as needed) turn the mother
board over.  Now find the metal can near the cable connection.  Their will
be 4 solder connections, remove (its harder than it look) then remove
shield to expose inner tuner area.  You will need to solder all ground
inside and around the shield mound you removed, and the connection that was
unsoldered from the shield.  Now solder any connections that looks bad
including surface mounded components i.e.: transistors, IC, and the cable
input connections.  reassemble in reverse order then your problem will be
gone.  Be careful not to bridge any connections that is NOT connected a
good mag light is a must!
I normally charge $70 labor for this job takes about an hour of work and 8
hours of playing time to confirm the problem is fixed.  Only one out of
20-30 TV's required parts.

(From: John F. Reeves (jreeves@uwf.edu)).

On the CTC175 family of chassis, the tuner shield soldering job must be 
performed before any other troubleshooting can be done as this procedure
will correct many such symptoms. the tuner shield on the bottom of the
board must be removed and resoldering around the shield structure should
be done. There are four posts that need to be resoldered, and check for
any other suspicious looking connections. There are other circuits to
check also. Give the entire board a good look. When that is done, see if
there is any change in your symptom. These chassis also have a service
menu that can accessed by pressing and holding the menu button then
momentarily pressing the power and volume up buttons.   CAUTION!!!
If you are not familiar with these procedure DO NOT MESS WITH IT!!!
You can really foul up your set. This procedure is included in the
service manual.

(From: Paul White (pwhite4@aol.com)).

I advise resoldering the chassis, all ground and shield lugs that feed
through the board, especially around and under the tuner shield.  If you
can't do this take it to a shop and tell them the symptom and that it needs
resoldering, if they don't know what you are talking about take it
somewhere else.  If you wait to long the problem will get worse and will
damage IC u3201, the EEPROM IC, which means a complete alignment of this
IC.  Most techs will fudge these settings and may be ok but don't wait
till that occurs for your own benefit.

(From: Bill A. (Lucy27@ix.netcom.com)).

Yup!! Actually, the whole tuner shield/microprocessor shield grounds all are
poorly soldered.  You can sometimes with the naked eye or magnifier see some
of the loose connections, but if you solder just a few now you will be back in
there in a month or less guaranteed.  So just do the whole solder job.  It is
actually a much better repair and you can rest easier at night knowing that
you resolved the problem rather than patching it.

The 'classic' problem is prone to the CTC175 through CTC187 chassis.  I'm also
seeing the same problem on the newer generation CTC178 through CTC189 chassis.
Instead of RCA redesigning their 'On-Board' tuners, they would rather re-design
the solder thats been around for hundred years give or take.  Good Luck!!!

  3.5) Detailed solder/shield repair procedure

(From: Mr. Paul (jcaldwel@iquest.net)).

RCA now offers a 'kit' to repair these, the only thing in the kit that is of 
any use is the paper template that shows exactly where to solder. But I'll
give it a shot:

First under a bright light, after removing the bottom shield look for solder 
splashs or components that may have been desoldered by heat.

Kind of short....view from bottom with RF connector toward top:

    |                                 |
    |                                 |
    |                                 |
    |                                 |
    |                                 |
    |                    X            |
    |                                 |<
    |                    X            |< Bad connections in lower right
    |_________________________________|< corner causes vertical bounce.

Two X's will cause a snowy pix, they are posts from the shield that are 
supposed to poke through the bottom but don't quite make it. A small round pad
that may look like a test pad or that has a component lead poking through the 
board are good points to solder.

Also when you remove the board in some sets the leads on a filter to the left 
of the deflection/color/etc. IC can be bent and short, usually resulting in 
a snowy pix or just snow. (View from bottom, IC is below tuner, filter is to 
left, has three in-line pins.

(From: Ken Bouchard (bouchard@ime.net)).

On all of these RCA chassis, with the 'sandwich' type tuners, the shield must
be removed, and then carefully solder everything you can see on the top and
bottom of the tuner.  Then re-install shields and solder them in as many places
as you can as well.

A special solder (very very expensive) is sold to the repair centers, that has
an elasticity to it to allow a correct fix for this problem.  However, you can
get away with just normal soldering in most cases, to cure the problems.

I cured our set of all of this, by soldering and soldering....  Most of it has
to do with grounds that pass through the tuner, as well as 0 ohm jumpers and
such that have bad soldering....

The connections that are bad, are feed-through holes as well as all
connections around the perimeter of the tuner can.  Each feed-through can be
spotted and rca supplies you with a mask.  There are about 15-20 connections
in all.  RCA has a fix for this, which uses a very special ($700 a pound)
solder which has elasticity to it.  That and the solder mask helps to make a
fast repair.  Also look about for ends of any chip components that were poorly
soldered.  Got to have a fine point tip, or your likely to short something out
in your effort to repair.

Be advised that there are many surface mount transistors, chip caps, and
resistors that are in the tuner, so you will need a fine point low wattage
or temperature controlled soldering iron for these.

(From: Tech 7 (gscivi@aol.com)).

You don't really need a template!  Just solder the shield all the way around,
and at each point where it comes through the chassis. (this is easily observed
by removing the top shield cover as well).  and instead of adding jumpers, I
simply solder each corner of the bottom shield to the pc board.  Jumpers work
just as well, so if you want to follow the instructions of the people who
didn't make it right in the first place, be my guest.  A close inspection will
also reveal the locations to solder.  And resolder the upc shield too!

  3.6) Still doesn't help?

"I need some help with this GE tv. Its a 1993 vintage model 27GT613 with a
 chassis number of CTC177BH."

 I resoldered the tuner shield and connections. However, when I powered 
 it to check to see if I had resolved the intermittent tuner situation
 I found that I receive stations 2-13 with much snow in the picture."

(From: Nice address (jbc@blkbox.com)).

If you are sure that you did not make a mistake in soldering, check
the RF coils.  The coils are small wires through the PC board in the
tuner section.  I have seen a few cases where the wire was probably
not clean when soldered. You may have to scrape each wire and solder
it again.  A bad MIXER coil may cause snow on some channels and be ok
on others.  EEPROM alignment will not solve the problem.

Chapter 4) EEPROM Information, Problems, and Solutions

  4.1) Bad EEPROM

Almost any problem can be due to a bad EEPROM since it contains the 'boot'
information needed to set up all the TV's subsystems.  These include reception,
raster, picture, menu, closed captioning, color, sound, and other symptoms
The most common cause are the bad tuner solder connections discussed elsewhere
in this document.  However, EEPROMs can and do fail on their own.

Where the TV has died totally - particularly after having had prior problems
caused by bad solder connections - the EEPROM may be corrupted so totally that
the set cannot even 'boot':

If you have an oscilloscope, monitor the DATA line from the EEPROM when you
turn the set on.  Normally data should appear for a short time and then
disappear.  If there is a continuous stream of data on the DATA line, the
EEPROM is probably corrupted.  (For the CTC177, it is U3201, pin 6 if you
don't have a schematic.)

Replacement EEPROMs are now available from:

* Dalbani (1-800-325-2264) for over 150 different RCA/GE chassis between
  CTC175 and CTC187.  About $3 in singles.

* TV Man (tvman@mindspring.com)).  I now have all Thompson, RCA, and GE
  EEPROMs in stock.  Web: http://www.mindspring.com/~tvman/.

"I have a GE model 25GT505 that suddenly developed a problem.  Here's what

 For 2 years the set has worked fine.  Went on vacation for two weeks - house
 at 63 degrees.  Used TV for 3 hours one night with no problems.  Next morning,
 picture is bad as follows:

   Picture is as wide as the screen but the vertical height is compressed. 
   Picture starts about 1/3 of the way down the tube and extends to about
   1/3 of the way up from the bottom.  Furthermore, the bottom traces seem
   to be overlayed resulting in brighter than normal lines."

(From: DCAVS (dcavs@aol.com)).

This is a common problem for all GE, RCA, ProScan televisions of a
variety of chassis.  It is due to a design and manufacturing flaw.
You should call  RCA Customer Relations at 317-587-4151
and take it to a Thompson Authorized Service Center.  (Thompson Electronics
of France owns the names, RCA, GE, and ProScan for Televisions. )
Thompson has been sending their customers $75.00 for carry in service
and $95.00 for in-home service.  This amount should cover the bill as any
technician who knows what they are doing should be able to complete
the repairs quickly.  There is a small chance that the data in the EEPROM
IC that stores all the setup data has become corrupted.  In this case the
set needs to be reprogrammed to operate correctly.  This is a time
consuming process and can have a great affect on the quality of reception.

  4.2) Verifying that the EEPROM is bad

"I have a dead RCA CTC175 chassis in my shop that I have traced down to a 
 bad EEPROM.  The tuner shield solder connections were repaired, but how do I 
 read the EEPROM contents when the set can't be fired up?  We have done a
 number of these EEPROM change outs, but never with a dead set."

The following applies specifically to the GE model 31GT657 but the general
approach (with appropriate changes in chip IDs and pins) applies to many
other models:

(From: seabulls@unlimited.net).

If you do have troubleshooting experience, scope pins 5 and 6 of U3201 when
the set is first plugged in to see if data is being exchanged momentarily. if
the data continues on and on, then the eeprom is bad. If data occurs for just
a moment then settles into a steady 4.8V, then troubleshoot the horizontal
drive circuitry, and if there is no data and no 5V on pin 8, then troubleshoot
U4101 and the 1.5meg resistor off pin 4 (I think) for open. As Hank pointed
out, you could have a blown fuse and shorted flyback although they are
unlikely on this chassis.  If you do have a blown fuse, U4101 is most likely
shorted and the 140V rectifier is probably shorted too (CR4106 I think is the
location). The flyback, while possible, is the last thing I would try.

(From: Videotek (dmcdonal@Direct.CA)).

You are right, it is probably the EEPROM. When you install the new one, the
set should fire up, but the horizontal sync will likely be out. Just enter the
service menu, and reprogram the eeprom. There are about 80 parameters that
need to be set. To verify that it IS the EEPROM, scope the data line on the 
EEPROM, and plug the set in. If you see a burst of data, and then nothing then
the EEPROM is OK. If you see continual data, then the EEPROM is bad, as the
CPU is trying to find it, and the eeprom is not responding. If no burst of
data, then check your power supply. 

Everything from soup to nuts can be blamed on that blasted EEPROM.  No audio,
no vertical, no color. All bad eeprom. I have changed hundreds, and have 3
sets in my shop now waiting for their turn to my bench.

  4.3) EEPROM organization

(From: Mr. Caldwell (jcaldwel@iquest.net)).

There are three sections to the EEPROM:

* The factory identification section is where the generic microprocessor gets
  the  data on what chassis it is in. If this get's scrambled the set might
  think it's  a PTV or other size set or has a different type of audio system,
  etc. This is only alterable by a device that can directly write to the eeprom
  and cannot be modified by the TV (except when something goes wrong) or the
  technician without knowing the data and having and I2C eeprom programmer. 

* The factory adjustment section is that part that stores technician alterable 
  settings such as horizontal hold, stereo alignments, etc. and can be 
  adjusted by entering a code and then using the remote or chipper checker from

* The Customer adjustment section holds all customer controls and is adjustable
  in normal use of the set.

Since this chip is an I2C bus memory chip it should be quit easy to buy one
of each chip from RCA and pull out the chassis coding for each chip then
buy the IC in bulk at 1.00 a pop. It's an interesting chip anyway and worth
experimenting on.

I think Phillips has such a programmer available since I2C is there baby.

BTW, you should get the FULL 'service' model number and FULL chassis number
when ordering parts. Having the service model number makes it easy to look up 
the full chassis number, you only need the full chassis number to actually get 
the eeprom but some parts require the 'service' model number.

The service model number is the model number in smaller print on the back that 
has 3 or more extra digits on the end.

  4.4) Difference in EEPROM contents depending on model

(From: Matthew L. Kruckeberg (MKRUCKEBERG@pol.org)).

Various configurations require various EEPROMs.  Stereo/Mono, AV jacks/no AV
jacks, PIP/no PIP, linear power supply/switch mode power supply, pincushion
circuitry/no pincushion circuitry, hotel set/consumer set, and the screen size
are all variables stored in the section of the EEPROM not accessible from the
on screen menu.  There also at least 2 different microprocessors.  The early
sets were produced without closed captioning and require a different micro.  I
agree that there is a lot of confusion caused by the variety of EEPROMS and
the lack of properly trained techs to service these sets.  I have seen quite a
few butcher jobs to the tuner shields, wrong EEPROMs installed, and incorrect
or no realignment of the EEPROM values.  Unfortunately there are many people
who think they are qualified to service these units just because they claim
to know how to solder.  When in doubt about the correct EEPROM check with the
local RCA parts distributor with a chassis number or better yet buy a manual.

  4.5) Comments on EEPROMs

(From: Raymond Carlsen (rrcc@u.washington.edu)).

There are dozens of different models, each with different functions supported
by "instructions" in that EEPROM. You could buy one of each (chip) and clone
them with a burner, but unless you have hundreds of sets to repair, it
wouldn't make sense to go to all that trouble. There are now quite a few
after-market sources for those EEPROMS. The specific one for the chassis
you're working on must be installed or the set will not work properly.

Some of the 'programming' of the chip must done *after* it is installed, by
the tech, such as the tuner setup adjustments. Each tuner is of course
different and so requires tuning. Other factory-programmed EEPROM data cannot
be changed by the tech during setup... that's the basic reason the EEPROM must
be replaced when the tuner grounds corrupt the data.

Rather than start from scratch each time the chip must be changed, the tuner
settings can be 'copied' from the old chip (Note: not always possible),
i.e. readings written down on paper and then entered into the new chip during
the setup adjustments. After you've done the tuner resoldering, install a
socket for the EEPROM. Unplug the TV, install the replacement chip and power
up the set. With the set still plugged in (but turned off, of course), remove
the chip and install the "bad" one and copy the "parameters". Put the
replacement back in and enter the values you copied down. The set should now
work properly. I've been able to do that on all but one set I've worked
on. You will not find that information in the RCA service literature. It's
essentially a workaround, dreamed up by a tech to save time. Bless that one!

Lastly, don't get me started on why Thomson treats it's servicers like
[censored]. Chipper Check... Nipper Net... all paid for by techs who can
barely afford the coffee they're drinking. Who needs it? You *must* buy RCA's
test fixtures and software to service and do even simple adjustments on the
new sets! I pass. If that's leading edge.....

  4.6) EEPROM part numbers

"I have a GE 27 inch stereo TV (model 27GT613, chassis CTC177BH) on
 which I just repaired the tuner shield cracked solder connections."

(From: Michael D. Long  (longm@tusmp004.allied.com)).

A friend of mine who repairs machines said it was the EEPROM before he
even scrolled done to see that you had had a repair tech look at it. He
also has told me that to replace the eeprom you need to get the correct
eeprom from RCA and prior to removal all of the factory settings need to
be recorded from service menu(he doesn't remember exactly how to get to
it without a tv in front of him--check a sam's photofact for
details--you can also get the correct part number from that too.

(From: "Nice address" (jbc@blkbox.com)).

Do not trust Sam's photofact for the correct part number.  There are
about 14 different part numbers for CTC177.  They may all use the 
24C02 but the default values are different.

Hey, NAP uses a 24C01 and they charge about $25 for it.
Has anyone built the I2C programmer yet?

(From: YonyMar (yonymar@aol.com)).

Your problem could be caused by a bad EEPROM. First you need to get the
correct replacement EEPROM. The letters at the chassis will get you the
correct part number, i.e. CTC177XX. Before you remove the old EEPROM enter
the software service mode and copy down all the settings so you can write
them into the new EEPROM. I would suggest using a socket also.

  4.7) Article on EEPROM problems and servicing

The July 1997 issue of "Electronic Servicing & Technology" magazine has an
article "Servicing EEPROM problems in RCA televisions", by Bob Rose. (Editor:
Nils Conrad Persson (CPersedit@aol.com), Sales: Electronic Servicing &
Technology, 76 N. Broadway, Hicksville, NY 11801, 1-516-681-2922. Editorial
office: PO BOX 12487, Overland Park, KS 66212 1-913-492-4857.

ES&T has also had articles on CTC17x servicing and of course all sorts of other
repair of consumer electronics in general.  While not something you will find
on the newsstand, you might be able to get a peak at one if you snuggle up to
your local electronics repair shop :-).

(From: Ted Gondert (vcrepair@bbs.industrynet.net)).

The article is good with some useful information. There is a chart with
average values to use for setup/alignment of the new EEPROM.  Compared the
printed numbers to what I wrote down from RCA CTC175A that was repaired by
replacing the EEPROM using a socket and switching the old for new EEPROM after
turning on the set to read the old parameters. Then setting the new ic to
match. His numbers are close, so maybe TV would work about the same, just set
new EEPROM to the average values in the chart.

The article also explained cure for the no sound problem caused by the speakers
being muted by pin 29 on microprocessor high. That can be fixed by removing
resistor R1915 in the muting transistor circuit, etc., as mentioned on
the sci.electronics.repair newsgroup many times.  But, he said RCA doesn't
approve of it and recommends this technique:

1. Disconnect AC from chassis by unplugging the set.
2. Unsolder pin 8 of EEPROM (and isolate from pad).
3. Use a pick to short pin 8 to the pad, temporarily restoring B+.
4. Plug in set and turn it on.
5. Remove the pick and therefore the short circuit (to the pad).
6. Use the menu function to select speaker on-off.
7. Turn speaker back on.
8. Unplug set and resolder pin 8.

I haven't tried it but sounds interesting. Wonder if some other EEPROM
problems can be cured that way? ;-).

  4.8) EEPROM trick for GE CTC177 Problem

Restore defaults I assume.

From: jcaldwel@iquest.net (Mr. Caldwell)

Trick # 722

* Press and hold menu then press power and then press volume + 
* Release menu
* Press menu (vertical will collapse don't panic)
* Press menu
* Press power

You may have restored the eeprom, it's worked for me with some very
weird problems with the eeprom where I'd normally have replaced the eeprom.

Note: You need the FULL chassis number and failing that the FULL model number
to get the correct eeprom.

The full chassis number may be on the back if the set but it is always inside 
and,  it begins with CTC get all the digits after it. I.e CTC177AE CTC177BA
CTC177BA2 etc etc

The generic number on the eeprom will only get you an un-factory programmed
eeprom that will not work or work *very* strange.

The full model is the 'Service Model' in small print near the large print 
model number. There are several digits after it that point to the correct
chassis number and thus the correct eeprom number.

  4.9) Getting into programming mode on dead set

Where the set does not come on at all or shuts down immediately, the following
MAY get you going.  WARNING: If the shutdown is actually being caused by
excessive HV, this could result in a dangerous and/or destructive situation!

(From: Wes Black (wesmike@aol.com)).

On the "T" Chip solder a temporary jumper from terminal 26 to ground this
will bypass the HV shutdown circuitry. You should be able to fire the set
up and enter into the program mode. When finished be sure to remove the
jumper. This procedure has worked many times for me. Oh Ya!! don't forget
to resolder the tuner section first.

(From: J. Caldwell (jcaldwel@iquest.net)).

Setting the horizontal frequency to low (by accident or from corrupted EEPROM)
may cause the TV to shutdown or give the with the appearance of being dead.

To fix this is you need to check the value of the main 'critical safety
capacitor' a.k.a 'redundant capacitor' a.k.a 'tuning capacitor' This is a
larger blue capacitor that is connected from the collector of the horizontal
output, it can be connected to ground in smaller sets or is run through the
pincushion circuit to ground.

Once you have the RCA part number order one, solder this in parallel to the
existing capacitor and the set will fire up and not activate the high voltage
shutdown circuit.  You can enter the factory setup, reset the horizontal
frequency for a stable picture, turn the set off and remove this added

I've used this sporadically only to be able to copy down all the other values
in an EEPROM since if this happens on it's own it's a good idea to replace the
EEPROM.  This is not needed if you have the RCA signal generator for these
newer chassis.

(From: Tech 7 (gscivi@aol.com)).

Don't let the set run too long with the shunt capacitor either!  This does
work however, and is even the suggested method by RCA itself!  After a number
of these badly machined chassis, I have learned to count the service menu items
in the event this very symptom crosses my bench. (once the resoldering has been
accomplished, there is no need to replace the eeprom!)  ; Clip shunt cap to
horizontal output, turn set on (full AC), enter service mode, press Volume Up
76 times, Channel Up once, you are now in the horiz oscillator adjustment
parameter.  Volume up/down will adjust the oscillator to near sync. As soon as
you see two or three slanted sync bars shut the set down, remove the shunt
capacitor and try the set again.  Isn't this fun?!

  4.10) In circuit EEPROM reprogramming

In many cases, while the contents of the EEPROM have been corrupted by write
errors caused by bad solder connections, the actual chip is undamaged and
really does not need to be replaced.

The following isn't something you could likely justify for one repair but
if you have a motel full of RCAs, it could easily pay for itself and then some
in saved time and money!  Note: I have not tested this software/device so I do
not have any first hand knowledge of its performance.

The hardware interface schematic is free from the Web site or you can buy it

(From: Jim Lawnichak (tvdr@mail.emeraldnet.net)).

If you get the chance, stop by http://www.emeraldnet.net/~tvdr and take a look
at Quick Clip.  The program eliminates most tuner alignments and repairs the
EEPROM while its still in the set.

  4.11) EEPROM and audio problems

(From: Paul R Gendreau Jr. (tvman@biddeford.com)).

The 175/6/7 (and more) chassis has a SPEAKER MUTE feature for those
chassis that sport speaker output jacks, and the speaker mute is also
used during the POWER ON or POWER OFF functions.  Even if your model
doesn't have the jacks - the software and hardware to mute the speakers
exists!  When the EEPROM data is being corrupted by the poor solder
connections - one piece of data that can become corrupted is the bit
that is set to turn the SPEAKER MUTE circuit on.  Since the on screen
display for that model has no menu feature to allow the customer (or
technician) to turn the speakers back on - you cannot correct the data
in the EEPROM without an EEPROM programmer. There are some servicers
that are using EEPROM programmers to access the data.

A easy and cost effective work around is to disable the speaker mute
circuit in hardware.  This involves the removal of a diode or a surface
mounted device (SMD) transistor - what part to remove depends of the
chassis involved.  If Q903 is present on the foil side of the board -
remove it.  If Q903 is not there, then CR1953, a diode, will be present
on the component side of the board and it should be removed.  Only one
component, not both, will be in a given TV.  Removal of whichever of
these 2 is present will disable the speaker mute circuit.  If the rest
of the EEPROM data is OK or can be corrected by the on screen menu then
this procedure will save the replacement cost of the EEPROM (less than
$5.00 wholesale) and the tedious job of performing about 100 alignments
to the tuning system which is *REQUIRED* after EEPROM replacement.

On the negative side: The customer will find a difference in the way the
TV operates!  The software in the TV mutes the speakers during POWER ON
or POWER OFF functions. This make both of those functions very quite. 
With the speaker mute circuit disabled there will be a small burst of
noise during both of those functions.  The level of the noise is not
objectionable - but it will be a cause of concern for customers that are
not forwarned.  I would guess that over 80% of our customers choose the
modification and subsequent cost savings rather than have the EEPROM

(From: Woodie Morris (bwmorris@bellatlantic.net)).

Here's what I do:

* If it's a stereo model, short Q903 emitter to base. (surface mounted)

* If mono, cut or remove CR1953.

  4.12) EEPROM notes

(From: Darren (fatal@net.bluemoon.net)).

For the RCA series CTC chassis that have been produced in say the past 6 or 7
years, there is a 4 pin IC near the front of the chassis..... that is the
EEPROM.  Every chassis has letters such as CTC175 A or K or E2 etc.  When you
call for this part you need to know the exact letters of the chassis, because
the programming in the eeprom differs for every chassis. I have a complete list
ng of all eeproms to chassis part numbers. The info on the ic is useless. The
majority of the EEPROMs run about $4 to 6 which is not all that much.
We stock all RCA EEPROMs.

How do you know when your RCA needs a new EEPROM?  The two most common reasons
are: no power (TV will not turn on) or no audio.

Yes, sometimes the TA audio chip goes bad, or the fat flameproof resistor that
feeds the main voltage to that IC burns up, or solder loosens from the board.

When you determine you need a new EEPROM, and you put it in, audio should come
back.  But if it does not and you know the audio IC is good, chances are you
may have zapped the IC or the new one is defective.  These EEPROMs are
extremely sensitive.  To determine if it is the EEPROM, you need to desolder
a pin on the main IC and apply a 4.6 volt source to it to see if it will bring
audio back.  I don't have the schematic handy so I cannot tell you which pin
that it is but that is a definite way to determine a bad ic due to an EEPROM.

Once you replace the EEPROM, you need to reprogram the set. off of the main
menu you have to put the TV into service mode.  If you were smart (and the TV
was not in shutdown) you copied all the codes from the old EEPROM, so you know
the settings for the new one.  Knowing these codes is extremely important!
There are something like 50 main options 100 more just for the tuner set-up.
Get the service manual!

  4.13) Work-Arounds to sound muting problem due to bad EEPROM

"Yes, please send me a more complete diagram and the EEPROM work-arounds as
 I see that the no-audio problem has come up a couple of times on the
 sci.electronics.repair newsgroup.  BTW, how exactly does a bad EEPROM
 result in no audio?"

(From tvman@biddeford.com).

The 175/6/7 (and more) chassis has a SPEAKER MUTE feature for those
chassis that sport speaker output jacks, and the speaker mute is also
used during the POWER ON or POWER OFF functions.  Even if your model
doesn't have the jacks - the software and hardware to mute the speakers
exists!  When the EEPROM data is being corrupted by the poor solder
connections - one piece of data that can become corrupted is the bit
that is set to turn the SPEAKER MUTE circuit on.  Since the on screen
display for that model has no menu feature to allow the customer (or
technician) to turn the speakers back on - you cannot correct the data
in the EEPROM without a an EEPROM programmer. There are some servicers
that are using EEPROM programmers to access the data.

A easy and cost effective work around is to disable the speaker mute
circuit in hardware.  This involves the removal of a diode or a surface
mounted device (SMD) transistor - what part to remove depends of the
chassis involved.  If Q903 is present on the foil side of the board -
remove it.  If Q903 is not there, then CR1953, a diode, will be present
on the component side of the board and it should be removed.  Only one
component, not both, will be in a given TV.  Removal of whichever of
these 2 is present will disable the speaker mute circuit.  If the rest
of the EEPROM data is OK or can be corrected by the on screen menu then
this procedure will save the replacement cost of the EEPROM (less than
$5.00 wholesale) and the tedious job of performing about 100 alignments
to the tuning system which is *REQUIRED* after EEPROM replacement.

On the negative side: The customer will find a difference in the way the
TV operates!  The software in the TV mutes the speakers during POWER ON
or POWER OFF functions. This make both of those functions very quite. 
With the speaker mute circuit disabled there will be a small burst of
noise during both of those functions.  The level of the noise is not
objectionable - but it will be a cause of concern for customers that are
not forwarned.  I would guess that over 80% of our customers choose the
modification and subsequent cost savings rather than have the EEPROM

  4.14) Comments on alignment after EEPROM replacement

The EEPROM data is different for the CTC175, CTC176, CTC177 and up
chassis.  For correct EEPROM alignments, access to the service data is
required!  You can install an EEPROM IC and only adjust the fist dozen
settings, which deal with picture color and size, and this might result
in a pretty good picture.  But the TV will be far from correct in
operation!  Keep in mind that the tuner alignments are all set to
mid-range when you install the new EEPROM.  The tuner is therefore far
out of alignment and requires full alignment!  Proper alignment requires
3 things:

1. The correct service information for the chassis involved.

2. A signal generator capable of generating a signal on all cable channels.

3. A digital volt meter.

While items 1 and 3 are either inexpensive or common, the signal generator is

For any problems you might have, I recommend that you find a FACTORY
AUTHORIZED SERVICE CENTER for the brand you want repaired.  There are
several reasons for this suggestion.  The primary reason is that only a
FACTORY AUTHORIZED SERVICE CENTER has the service manual, technical
support and access to original specification parts that should make the
service of your product effective.  In addition, only a FACTORY
AUTHORIZED SERVICE CENTER will have knowledge of common problems which
may occur in your model and may have suggestions from the manufacturer
as to the best solution for those problems.  

Call the manufacturer to locate your nearest FACTORY AUTHORIZED SERVICE
CENTER, or check your local Yellow Pages. Then call ahead to confirm
that the service center is authorized not only for the brand of product
you need serviced but for the specific type of product (for example, a

If your product is less than 2 years old and you have concerns regarding
early product failure, product quality, or repair problems, then you
should direct those concerns to the manufacturer.  Many manufacturers
are eager to assist you if you take the time to call or write.  If you
do contact the manufacturer, it is important to have ready the model
number, serial number and purchase date of your product.  Many times
they cannot assist you without that information.

If you need to have a product repaired within the terms of the
manufacturers warranty and you do not have your bill of sale (proof of
purchase) then all is not lost!  Most companies are prepared to send you
a PROOF OF PURCHASE DOCUMENT if you call them with the model number,
serial number and what you feel is the purchase date. This can take some
time to obtain.  If the FACTORY AUTHORIZED SERVICE CENTER you'll use has
a fax number - ask the manufacturer to fax the letter to the service
center. This will speed the repair along.  

(From: Matthew L. Kruckeberg(MKRUCKEBERG@pol.org)).

Alignment is a must for proper operation.  You will need a service manual for
the instructions which should be available from your RCA distributor.  You
will also need a RF signal generator capable of generating the entire tuning
range on the set (up through cable channels 120+).  RCA sells one under the
part number TAG-001 for about $200.  There are about 150 parameter that will
need to be aligned.  With a lot of practice I have gotten the time down to
about 45 minutes but the first ones became afternoon projects.  Unless you
plan on doing a lot of them you may be better off cutting your losses and
referring the job to a shop with the needed equipment and experience.

  4.15) Tuner alignment problems

"This RCA CTC175 came in with dead set diagnosis, as usual the problems was
 the EEPROM.  I installed a new one and the set came on, but the new EEPROM
 came with the parameters set at default, and in some channels I had poor
 reception.  When I get into the service mode I can adjust this parameters
 (100 and further) of the electronic tuner and I achieved a good reception
 changing this parameters. The problem is that, as far as I know, the way to
 save these parameters is pressing power, but when I restarted the set, got
 poor reception again.  When I checked the parameters, the new data was there,
 at least in the display, but it has no effect in the reception.  I think the
 procedure to save this parameters is not the correct."

(From: Dogcatcher (Dogcatch@ix.netcom.com)).
The correct procedure for aligning the tuner parameters is with a special
piece of gear that you can purchase from RCA called a 'TAG001' generator.
According to the manual once you adjust any of the tuning parameters you must
align all.  It is true, I've tried to "tweak" them in myself and you think it
looks clear but when you turn the unit off or change the channel it is snowy
again.  I really suggest you check with RCA or a distributor and do it right.

(From: PWhite4 (pwhite4@aol.com)).

Pressing the power button is how you write your settings to memory.  You are
saving the parameters correctly.  I have noticed on the CTC175 chassis that
the settings for several of the parameters above 100 can affect the reception
of the different bands in the tuner.  2 through 6 or 7 through 13 etc. can
become snowy and clear as you adjust.  If you don't have the RCA Tuner
Alignment Generator (TAG) you just have to fudge until you get all the
tuning bands acceptable.  This is very time consuming and frustrating.

  4.16) EEPROM replacement tricks

(From: Raymond Carlsen (rrcc@u.washington.edu)).

Hopefully you saved the old chip. If so, you can use it to put the
original values back for the tuner (assuming a snowy picture was not one of
the original problems). There are no "ball park" values. Install a socket
for the EEPROM. Fire up the set with the new chip, then power it down.
Without unplugging it from the AC outlet, remove the new chip and put the
old one back in. Turn on the set and run the menu and copy down *all* the
parameters for the tuner. Turn the set off again and install the new chip.
Put in the values you copied down and exit. Power down and unplug the set
for a few minutes. Now, fire it up again and see if it works. You may have
to reset some of the operational parameters like height and RGB values, but
the tuner should be OK. I've used this technique several times with very
good results. It saves having to start from scratch. The trick is that some
of the values in the EEPROM are sent to the micro when the set is plugged
in, and others when the set is turned on. That's the reason you don't
unplug it to swap chips. It's a bit of a gamble with the new chip, but
worth it for the time it saves. Good luck. 

(From: n3evg@aol.com)

Next time you're faced with a RCA/GE dead set due to shot EEPROM from bad
tuner grounds and connections...and worried that you can't dump the
contents of the bad EEPROM to reset the tuning alignment and other
parameters, do this:

Remove the "bad" chip and solder an 8 pin dip socket in its place.  Now
take the new chip, plug it in the socket, plug in the set and turn it on. 
If all goes well and the set comes on (make sure you have already had all
the solder connections repaired in the tuner before this of course) turn
the set off and Without unplugging the set!  Remove the new EEPROM and
replace the original in its place.  Turn the set on and enter the
programming menu and proceed to copy down the contents of each of the
memory registers.  Do all of the tuning channels regardless of how many
stations you are receiving.  After you have completed, you can now replace
the bad eeprom with the new one and program each of the registers.  When
finished, I then turn the TV off, unplug it wait a few seconds, plug it
back in and make sure everything held.  Sometimes I have to redo the
horizontal hold and RGB registers.

(From: jcaldwel@iquest.net (Mr. Caldwell)).

* Pull plug!

* Get an 8 pin socket and remove the new IC and reinstall the old IC in the
  socket (I'm hoping it's not zapped).

* Plug set in and turn on.

* Enter the access code to get the numbers out of the old EEPROM and copy them
  down (all entries - even channels you aren't using --- sam).

* Pull Plug.

* Put new IC in socket and copy in the numbers you wrote down.

Now enter all the numbers from the old IC into the new IC and see if problem
is solved. If not, I've forgotten which numbers are for the sound but since
you copied the new IC's numbers you should have no problem when you read the
service literature or someone here tells you what they are .

Also pull the shield from the bottom of the tuner and resolder the grounds or
expect to keep doing this.

If you zapped the old IC then use the TV for target practice with a high
powered rifle, I suggest .308 with a soft-point :-).  Just kidding, you 
should probably get it professionally aligned.

Unless you are willing to purchase the equipment needed to perform the
tuner alignment and preserve your sanity or some kind repair shop 
owner who lurks here will accept the chassis you send them for repair.

Chapter 5) Setup Information

  5.1) Setup menus for the uninitiated

"There are some secret codes on this GE TV. I had a Circuit City guy 
 here before, and he held down the power-key or something & fiddled with 
 the other keys during startup. Its almost like a computer's BIOS... 
 Wild! Is this list available to mere mortals?"

  5.2) Setup for CTC175/176/177

(From: yonymar@aol.com).

The following is the setup procedure for the Thomson CTC 175/176/177 chassis.

Software setup procedure:

1. Press and hold Menu button, press Power, then Vol+.

2. Two displays appear at the right and left of center. Use the Vol+ button
   to step the right display to # V76 (Group 1 setup V76).

3. Press Ch+ or CH- button to access parameter.

4. Press Vol+ or Vol- buttons to change software value. 

Group 1, V76 Service Adjustment Parameters

Parameter   Parameter Value          Range
(Ch+/-)     (Vol+/- to change)     

00        Security pass # for Service Adjustment.  Must set to 76.  May not
          advance until value set.

01        Horz freerun freq          00-31
02        Horz phase                 00-15
03        Width (27/31 )             00-15
04        Pin amp (27/31 )           00-07
05        Vert center                00-15
06        Vert height                00-31
07        Red bias                   00-127
08        Green bias                 00-127
09        Blue bias                  00-127
10        Red drive                  00-63
11        Green drive                00-63
12        Blue drive                 00-63

13        Security pass # for Chassis Adjustment.  Must set to 77.  May not
          advance to higher param. until value set

Group 2, V77 Chassis Alignment Parameters
Parameter (Ch+/-), Value (Vol+/-).

  14 to 24.
  25        Security pass # for Tuner Adjustment (Must set to 78)

Group 3, V78 Electronic Tuner Alignment Parameters

Parameter (Ch+/-), Value (Vol+/-)

100 to 156.

Or more specifically:

(From: Glenn Watkins (blueribb@comcat.com)).

To access the second level of the service menu, first press and hold MENU.
Then tap the POWER and then the VOLUME UP buttons. You should see 4 zeros.
Press VOLUME UP until the right zeros read '76'. You are now in the first
level. Now press CHANNEL UP until you get to 13. Now press VOLUME UP again
to '77' on the right zeros.

You are now in the second level.

Thomson has a CTC 175/176/177 Technical Training Manual which has
all this information.  Get a copy!

(From: P White4 (pwhite4@aol.com)).

If this set has the RCA CTC195/197 chassis you will need a lap top computer and
the RCA chipper check software to adjust the digital convergence beyond the 25
steps in the set up menu.  RCA is forcing the software on us in this chassis
and any beyond it.

  5.3) CTC175 CTC176 CTC177 EEPROM addresses and comments

(From: J. Dow).

The contents of address 0x00 of a CTC175/176/177 chassis V-line EEPROM is:

bit 0 : 1=speakers enabled 0=disabled
bit 1 : 1=tone high 0=normal
bit 2 : 1=air 0=cable
bit 3 : 1=autocolor enabled 0=disabled
bit 4 : 1=closed captioning enabled 0=disabled
bit 5 : unused
bit 6 : unused
bit 7 : unused

The contents of address 0x00 of a CTC175/176/177 chassis W-line (with ST-9
micro) EEPROM is:

bit 0 : 1=speakers enabled 0=disabled
bit 1 : 1=tone high 0=normal
bit 2 : 1=air 0=cable
bit 3 : 1=autocolor enabled 0=disabled
bit 4 : 1=closed captioning enabled 0=disabled
bit 5 : 1=alarm enabled (4K EEPROM only)
bit 6 : unused
bit 7 : 1=adjust/setup menus disabled (commercial sets only)

Now it's pretty clear, if the very first bit of your EEPROM gets cleared, the
sound is gone.  So, before you touch anything else, try writing 0x0F to
address 0x00.

If you're familiar with I2C, you know, address zero (and subsequent addresses
if you're really unlucky) can be cleared easily by accident if one keeps the
data (SDA) low and bangs the clock (SCL) long enough.

On early sets, crazy things like that happen when the micro loses ground
due to an intermittent tuner shield contact.  Newer sets have the micro
grounded thru other paths;  nevertheless, EEPROM corruption is not
completely eliminated.

The EEPROM has a bunch of chassis dependent setup as well.  Losing the channel
list and labels is only an inconvenience, but losing the tuner setup can make
the TV worthless if you can't realign the tuner.  Losing some other values,
such as hor. freq., B+ voltage, etc. can make the set blow the fuse....

The EEPROM map varies, even for the same chassis due to revisions.  EEPROMs
are *not* interchangeable!  A factory new EEPROM does *not* have any correct
alignment values:  it's only good enough to start up!

No TV made by Thomson(GE/RCA/ProScan) has ever had a non-volatile memory built
into the microcontroller.  Some sets have more than one EEPROM.  Some ancient
AccuScan boat anchors have the channel list in the *remote* and not the *TV*

Once I had the pleasure of aligning a couple of hundred chassis in a couple
of days;  The defaults were grossly incorrect for tuner settings; failing
minimum gain, tilt and out-of-band rejection specs.  Some channels wouldn't
come in at all, and a few sets wouldn't sync up.

If you don't understand how the micro works and what's in the EEPROM, it's all
black magic and you'll be cussing and replacing chips at random.  If you know
the game, you can fix a number of things without ever having to solder or buy
a component!

  5.4) GE/RCA CTC177AF tuner alignment

(From: J. Dow).

Tuning voltages for channels: 2,6,14,17,18,13,34,37,48,50,51,57,63,76,83,93,
110,117, and 125 are stored in the EEPROM.  Primary, secondary and single
tuned.  Three values per channel.  Every chassis is different because of
individual variations in manufacture, coil knifing, etc.  So the factory
default middle values are no good for any particular set.

You may try to copy the data from the old EEPROM from 0x54  through 0x8C into
the new one.  If that doesn't help, you really have to realign the set.

If you have the factory ATE rig it's less than 4 minutes.

If you have the service rig (TAG001 or similar), it can be half an hour or

The procedure is described in the service manual.

You need a VHF/UHF signal generator at least; a spectrum analyzer is also very
handy but not essential.  You also need a lot of patience if you're doing it
by hand and not software.

Chapter 6) Miscellaneous Problems

  6.1) Bad buttons?

(From: Zapper (zap@mhv.net)).

I have run into at least 6 sets of the CTC177 family with bad channel up/down
switches.  One switch would get 'leaky'...stick on I guess.  Everybody that I
talk to  has not seen this except fer me.

  6.2) Lost sound after repairs?

(From: mandacat@ix.netcom.com).

I've had two RCA (Thompson) Chassis with intermittent vertical problems. The
fix was to install jumpers to carry the ground through all points on the PCB. 

The interesting thing in troubleshooting this intermittent (prior to learning
the cause) was that you would typically resolder what you thought was
suspicious solder connections (grounds and components to the PCB). Now to
the point. One of the sets I worked on lost sound AFTER the repair.  I found
out that if the set didn't have an 'Internal speaker off' option, one
connection on the sound module was not soldered at the factory. I soldered it
when I was re-soldering connections and I lost sound!  If you have the
schematic, I think its Pin 3 on the TDA7263 Sound Module which is not connected
at the factory on sets that do not have the internal speaker off feature. Very
Interesting!  Another way to re-enable the sound would be to lift R1915 (you
can cut it on the top of the chassis)  from the collector of Q1903 (Transistor
is always turned on for the case mentioned above).

  6.3) The ultimate in trapezoid distortion on CTC177?

"The raster is full height and is centered, but narrow at the top (less than
 half the width of the screen) and nearly full width at the bottom. The
 image is extremely distorted with gross convergence error at the sides.

 With the vertical drive connector removed from the yoke, the display
 consists of the red line sloped down from left to right, the green line
 roughly horizontal and the blue line sloped upward from left to right.
 The three lines cross approximately in the middle of the screen. The
 ends of the lines fit the shape that the raster has when the vertical
 yoke connector is in place. That is, the upper ends of the lines are
 closer together than the bottom ends. A rough diagram of this display
 may be viewed at

 All waveforms associated with the horizontal output, vertical output and
 high voltage transformer (T4401) appear as depicted on the service notes."

My first thought was mechanical - the yoke is grossly tilted on the neck of
the tube - the TV was dropped or something.  This would result in both
trapezoidal distortion and convergence problems (probably purity as well).

Another possibility is that a portion of the horizontal yoke windings (the
upper half, in this case) have opened due to bad connections or a break in
the wire.  This would mean that the R, G, B electron beams would see less
deflection at the top than the bottom and could conceivably result in the
severe convergence problems as well.

A short between H and V windings of the yoke is not a likely cause as this
would result in much more severe (if that is possible) problems (including
much smoke).

I do not know whether EEPROM problems could result in this but considering
that so much is controlled digitally these days, I would not discount it
as a possibility.  Width and Height are digitally controlled so that
some peculiar failure in an LSI chip or the EEPROM might be possible.

First, eliminate the more likely possibilities unless you have an EEPROM
to swap and quickly confirm.

The November issue of Electronic Servicing reviews the 175 and the 177.  It
appears that the EEPROM in these sets can cause a great deal of weird problems.
It goes into great detail and gives some circuit diagrams of these sets.

Chapter 7) Service Information, Costs, Reliability

  7.1) Source for Thomson (RCA/GE/Proscan) television receiver service manuals

(From: Michael Caplan (cy173@freenet.carleton.ca)).

The following has always worked for me:

TCE Publications
10003 Bunsen Way
Louisville,  KY  40299
Phone: 502-491-8110

  7.2) Solder and EEPROM repair costs

"I live in New Haven, CT and my local RCA/GE repair center tells me that a
 repair for this problem will cost about 145$??? Everyone who has
 responded to this post says under $100. Am I being taken to the
 cleaners??????????  That would really piss me off."

(From: Paul R Gendreau Jr. (tvman@biddeford.com)).

We are an RCA/GE factory authorized service center. (You should have this
work done by an authorized service center because we are the ONLY people
who understand where all the problems are with this TV!) Our rate for this
job is $77.00.   Furthermore, if the TV is less than 2 years old it would
be a good idea for you  to call RCA/GE (same company). Call consumer affairs
at 1-317-587-4151. Explain how you feel about the cost of  repair and the set
not being very old. The numbers of posts in this group referring to this
problem confirms that there is a PROBLEM.  Ask them to reimburse you for
part of the cost.

RCA/GE/Thomson is a good company and has always been willing to address
complaints from consumers.

  7.3) That special RCA solder

From: Raymond Carlsen 

I understand it is a different Tin/Lead formulation with Gallium added to
both lower the melting point and make it more flexible after it hardens.
With regards the melting point, as people have pointed out here, you have
to get it up to at least 800 degrees to make it flow properly. Well, yes
and no. I get the best results With a Weller PTC station and a PTE8 (800
degree screwdriver tip), which I think is the biggest physical size tip
made for that iron. That's the clue... use a big tip and solder quickly.
Use the edge of the tip for the areas close to SMDs. The large mass heats
the metal quickly so you don't have to cook the board.

(From: Charles Godard (cgodard@iamerica.net)).

I've done hundreds of these sets and since the first few when we didn't know
about all the 43-46 (depending on how you count) joints, have NEVER had one
come back and NEVER expect to see one back.  If one ever does come back, I'll
fix it for free!  Guaranteed!

I've had a few from other shops and from refurbish shops that were not
properly soldered.  But, if done right with 60-40, they will not come back!

We have been soldering grounds containing various mixes of metals ever since
the PC boards first came out.  Soldering grounds is nothing new.  The same
requirements hold now as always did.  Flux + Clean joint + proper heat will
make a good joint!  Every time!

Of the ones that I've seen lately that have come from the refurb shops, the
same problem exist.  They didn't heat the NEW solder to the flow temp and it
still didn't make a good joint.  Even with the NEW solder, they still can't
get it right.

Is there anything wrong with using the new solder?  NO

Is is a waste of resources? YES

Why would it work?  It is a gimmick to make the tech heat the ground connection
to the proper temp to make the solder bond to the ground.  It requires a
higher temp to flow the NEW solder.  In the process, the temp of the ground
metal is heated enough to accept the bond.

Why would TCE recommend the new solder?  It's called CYA (Cover Your A**).
There's got to be an excuse for their continuing to sell so many of the units
with a manufacturing defect.  This is an excuse because they can't figure out
how to fix the problem on the assembly line without spending mega bucks.

Do I care?  No it makes me mega bucks.

What causes the problem in the manufacturing plant?  The solder bath does not
heat the grounds to the proper temp.

If the manufacturing process heated the grounds to the proper temp, would
there be any problem with the finished product?  NO

Is the original solder in the solder bath sufficient to make a good ground if
proper heat is applied?  YES

Then why would there be any need to change the specifications for the solder
applied to the board on a refurb job instead of instructing the tech to heat
the joint to the proper temp to flow the solder?  CYA

If the original solder in the solder bath is not sufficiently flexible to make
a good ground, then is there a defect in engineering or the manufacturing
process? YES

Why don't they just put the new solder in the solder bath?  Because the temp
required to flow the new solder would peal the board.

Why don't they just heat the solder bath hot enough to make the grounds bond
with the solder?  Because a temp that high would peal the board.

Why do they do it this way?  Because it is a cheap process.

Is there any need to use the new solder?  NO, just heat the grounds until the
solder flows.

Will the joint hold if 60-40 is used?  YES, just as they have always held ever
since we first started working with PC boards if solder is properly flowed,
various metals notwithstanding.

  7.4) Thomson Consumer Electronics Saga

(From: Gregg Lansley (gregglns@ix.netcom.com)).

The good news is that Thomson Consumer Electronics has recently
released a repair kit for the 175/177 chassis.   The bad news is, as
far as I've been able to determine, that this kit appears to be
limited, as yet, to Thomson authorized service dealers, which I ain't.
My supplier, Andrews Electronics in California, doesn't stock it and
doesn't know when/if they will.   The stock number is S-Kit-1.
I've only seen a copy of the instruction sheet that comes with it, but
it consists of solder and paste flux (enough for 10 repairs) and a
template.  The key seems to be the solder.  To quote from the
instruction sheet:

The special solder supplied in the kit is *not* a rosin-core solder.
Paste flux must be used to get the solder to flow.  The solder
included in the kit remains elastic when cool to prevent joints from
breaking due to thermal expansion.

There.  Now, you know everything I know!

"I guess that's good news for the RCA/GE group (Thompson), but,
 unfortunately it took them over 2 years to correct the problem.  They
 should have had a factory recall on these tv's and made their
 customers happy or at least "happier" than they are now!  Instead, I
 have found, they won't even honor their extended warranty in several
 cases.  I just fixed one of these tvs for a lady that had exactly that
 problem.  Her extended warranty is good to January 1988.  She called
 Thompson when she started having problems with the tv. They gave her a
 list of about 3 or 4 "authorized service centers" for the RCA/GE tvs.
 She spent the better part of 2 hours on long distance calls and to her
 surprise, they would not honor the warranty as stated.  The warranty
 states that they will provide IN HOME service for any tv that is 19"
 or larger.  She has a 20" tv and when she called the closest warranty
 center, they told her they did not travel that far for repairs.  The
 distance was approximately 75 miles for the closest "service center"
 that they referred her to. She got the same answer from the other
 places they offered .  They said they would fix it if she brought it
 in, but, this lady is elderly and obviously her mother is older.  She
 got this tv for her mother, with the extended warranty, so she could
 eliminate the problem of having to haul it somewhere if she had a

Typically, these days, the customer is expected to bring in sets of
that size.  However, if in home service was a condition of the
warranty, then it seems to me a service call should have been made.
Look closely at the warranty, however, and see if there's some fine
print that allowed them to get out of making such a distant service
call.  Remember, these documents are written by lawyers!

"Her reasoning was that it was a GE and they are a "GOOD TV""

"We bring good things to life"!   

Fooled *her*!  In my opinion, those sets are crap.  For that matter,
what about "RCA"?  For years, they were a better color TV than GE.
How many consumers really know that today, RCA = GE?  Don't own one,
don't want one.  But how does the average would-be purchaser know

I noticed these things beginning to come in, with the same type of
problems, about a year ago.  Not till I began reading this group did I
realize how common the RCA/GE failure is.  I don't think a week goes
by without somebody posting about the CTC175/177.  In fact, I've saved
several of the posts on the subject.  Now, if a customer stops by with
one, and expresses disgust at the set's needing repair at such an
early date, I just bring them over to the computer and let them read a
few of these posts.  The one that sticks in my mind was made last
spring.  Somebody posted of an odd problem they'd been having with a
late model RCA or GE, and whoever replied said something like, "Oh,
you must have a CTC 175/177.   Hehehehehe!"

"And the company would back up any claim they gave in writing!  Right??
 WRONG!!   She was so disgusted after she attempted to get them to
 repair it that she called me back and said to come and pick it up, fix
 it, and she would just pay for it.  She was not messing around any
 more with them.  So, on top of buying the tv and paying for the
 extended warranty, she now has an additional charge for my repair
 bill.  I'm sure she won't be purchasing another Thompson product..
 ever!!  This tv was purchased brand new in January 1995."

Barely more than a year old.  Unfortunately, that's fairly typical for
the RCA/GE with that problem.  In fact, I have to go look at one
today, same problem description, about the same age; a 27" floor

"I'm also sure she is not the only customer who has experienced 
 these similar problems.  Don't get me wrong, I don't think this mishap 
 will put a company the size of Thompson out of business or anything 
 close to that, but, I'm sure it hasn't helped their public image at all."

Oh, I don't think it's even registered with the public.  You'd think
that you'd read of this dismal repair record in a publication like
Consumer Reports, but they are silent on the matter.  Makes you wonder
how much the magazine is worth....

"I know they sold a ton of these sets that will still need repairs in the
 future too!"

Yeah, we'll have work for some time to come.

"I just think their announcement is just too little, too
 late.  I'm sorry for rambling on, but, some of these companies and
 their greed just get me a little pissed off."

Don't blame you.  I think you're absolutely right.  Although maybe
there is just a bit of corporate honesty showing here; the RCA symbol
is, after all, a *dog*!      ;-)

  7.5) In defense of Thomson Consumer Electronics

At least here are a couple of people's experiences:

(From: Daryl Smith (darsmith@spk.hp.com)). 

Thomson Consumer Electronics has been good about taking care of this problem,
despite the TV's being out of the warranty period, in my case, anyway.

There is a 1-800 number to call Thomson Consumer Electronics about this
problem.  My 2 year old 31" GE TV had the same problem.  I called, they
sent an acknowledgement letter, I had the set repaired (~$90), I sent
a copy of the repair bill along with the letter back to Thomson, and
they reimbursed me the full cost of the repair.  I don't have the number
with me right now, but if you can't locate it elsewhere, I will dig it
up at home.  I had it repaired in late May and the reimbursement check
came last week.  You will also need to send them a copy of the original
sales receipt for the TV.  Good luck.

(BTW, they originally said they would pay up to $75 toward the repair
labor + the full cost of any required parts, but the check came back
for the full $90 it cost to have the set fixed, so I'm not complaining.
Maybe it was for the extra effort to get a 31" set hauled down to and
back from the shop [it must be a factory authorized shop].)

(From smaher@freyja.solano.cc.ca.us).

I like many others have faced the solder problem.  I bought my 27" RCA,
Model F273S1WN, television on January 9, 1995, and paid for a two year
extended warranty.  With the extended warranty, my labor was covered until
April 9, 1997.

I first experienced video and sound problems in August 1996 while the
television was still on warranty.  I had almost the identical symptoms as
stated in section 1.2 of you article.

I brought the set in for repair and was immediately informed that I needed a
part to repair the problem.  After three weeks, I got my television back, and
it worked fine until April 17, 1997 (eight days after the warranty expired).

I again brought the set to the same repair company.  This time I was told
that all the solder connections had to be resoldered at a cost of $115.00.
Since my television had the same symptoms as it had the first time it went
bad, I asked if they just fixed the same problem again.

The repair company could not find any paperwork of the previous repair so I
called the warranty company and they stated to me the the repair done in
August 1996, and the problem was soldering not a part replacement.

I called RCA at (317) 415-4151 and stated that I felt I should not have to
pay for repairs even though my warranty had expired.  They agreed to
reimburse me for $85.00 of the cost of the repair.

(From: Dave Fredricks (fred@rea-alp.com)).

If you have to, there is a 900 number supplied by Thomson. Yes it is $2.50 a
minute, but if you can clear customer for the bill at least the set is fixed
and you get the money. They have been pretty helpful when I have had to use
them on a dog unit.

  7.6) Reliability of repaired sets and new models

Since these are manufacturing problems and not electronic design faults,
the long term reliability of these RCA/GE chassis with properly repaired
solder connections should be excellent.

However, not everyone shares this opinion:

"How far to the landfill? I expect these TVs to be problems for years to come.
 Cut your losses now!"

(From: Bert Christensen (bert.christensen@rose.com)).

My experience with these sets has been that once the grounds are repaired they
are quite trouble free. I would much rather have a set with one or two easily
repaired faults than one with different faults everywhere like the Zenith
System series.

(From: Mick DeMaria (bmvid@snet.net)).

For what its worth.  We are an authorized TCE service center in the central CT
area.  TCE has been giving customers special authorization.  Letters for
tuner-skit repairs in the amount of $75.00 for carry in, and an extra $20 for
in-home on 31" and larger sets.  The customer is expected to pay the
difference.  So far if the s-kit instructions are followed, we have only had
one or two repeat failures out of at least 500 repairs done to specs.  in the
TCE bulletin.  Many authorized servicers in this area seem to think the
jumpers and special are just BS.  I can't say for sure but TCE's procedure
seems to work.

  7.7) Would you buy one of these sets?

(From: Mr. Caldwell (jcaldwel@iquest.net)).

I would buy an RCA/GE TV.  The problems with the solder connections have been
solved on the newer chassis.  Once the connections have been fixed on the
problem sets there is no other common problem. If you yell at RCA they have
have been paying for the repair.

(From: Mr. Caldwell (jcaldwel@iquest.net)).

I would, the problem with the solder connections has been fixed in the 
newer chassis. Once the connections have been fixed on the problem sets there
is no other common problem. If you yell at RCA they've have been paying for the

(From: Bert Shristensen (bert.christensen@rose.com)).

My experience with these sets is that once the grounds are repaired they are
quite trouble free. I would much rather have a set with one or two easily
repaired faults than one with different faults everywhere like the Zenith
System series.

(From: Leon Thomas (lthomas@bcn.net)).

I live in Mass. and have sold and repaired hundreds of the ctc175/6/7 chassis.
If a technician is called when these problems are first noticed I would call
it a minor repair.  If the repair is done properly, it WON'T happen again.
The most you should be charged for this repair (no parts changed) is around
$70.00.  I have never had to do a second repair on the same set. I do not
recommend anyone without experience touch these chassis.  You can mess up the
tuner very badly if you touch the soldering iron to one of the many surface
mounted components.  Pay the $70 and have it done right.  I even let people
watch me fix this problem to show them what it was. What you have to realize
is RCA has made a terrific set with a minor bug.  These chassis, in my mind,
are the best on the market once they have been repaired.  The new chassis they
produce now ctc189 is a great improvement.  Basically the same design with no
bugs.  I have sold many of these sets and have had not one return! 

  7.8) Getting service/reimbursement 1

"Just got off the phone with Thomson. I was "authorized" to receive $75
 for the repair, plus $20 for travel to my house. My local repair shop
 quoted $110, if I brought it to them. So if I can't talk them down much,
 I may  tackle the repair myself. I'm a EE, which isn't saying much, but
 I work with many talented techs who can help get the job done."

(From: Siva Subramaniam (SubraS@cat.com)).

The same thing happened to my GE 25" TV.  I was told it is a problem
with bad solder near the tuner.  This problem is very prevalent and GE
(Thompson Electronics rather) is aware of it.  My TV was out of warranty
too, but when I called GE at 317-415-4151 and complained about it, they
offered to assist me in taking care of the problem.  They paid $75 in
labor and all parts charges.  They even set me up with an authorized
service center locally and paid them directly.  I did not even have to
get anything reimbursed.  I had to pay $90.00 for labor ($15.00 out of
my pocket), and the unit now works fine.  Even though the quality of GE
TV was bad (this solder problem), I laud their customer service.  I hope
you could get taken care of in a similar way.

(From: algba@ix.netcom.com)).

If you call that # and find that you get nowhere, call it back another
day and talk to a different person and you will probably get satisfactory
results.  I've told this to many customers that didn't get results on the
first call and they had success on the next call.

(From: Colin Fisher (gomark06@aol.com)).

Call them at the
                A) Beginning of a month and quarter     (best)
                B) Beginning of the month               (least)
                C) Beginning of the quarter             (next best)

Why?....that's when many corps dole out budgets.....

(From: Dave (moonwolf@fundy.net)).

We just had our 3 year old GE TV serviced for a problem with the tuner
shielding.  The tech had to resolder the shield.  Even though our warranty
just ran out, it was honored.  The tech said this was a common problem with
GE & RCA - the board heating up and cracking the solder joints.  He also
touched up a couple of other areas in the vicinity as 'preventive
maintenance', he said.

It's back to working fine now.

(From: Gary Ferris (grferris@voyager.net)).

Thomson Consumer Electronics' US headquarters is in Indianapolis, IN.  I have
found them relatively accommodating if a product is 1 or 2 years old.  Any
older an they tend to take a harder line (which is not unreasonable).  Many
other manufacturers have "silent recalls" for products that develop problems
in a significant percentage of the same model.  These will usually last for 6
months to a year and service centers are reimbursed for the repair as if under
normal warranty.  Two examples are Gold Star with the infamous reel sensor
failure and Sharp with Hi-Fi audio crackling.  Both of these were covered for
one year.

  7.9) Getting service/reimbursement 2

"I am trying to decide if I should attempt to repair this myself or take it
 to the shop.  While I have am a degreed EE (who actually has his own lab
 bench), this only serves to remind me of how much I actually don't know about
 TV repair. From reading the above information, it seems that there are no
 component leads that need resoldering, only the shield connections.  Is my
 perception accurate?  Are all of these spots easy to access?  Is the template
 in the repair kit helpful/accurate?  Can a do-it-yourselfer get the template?
 Is it really necessary to use the "elastic" solder? (Got to admit - I've never
 seen elastic solder - wonder if that's a marketing ploy to try and convince
 you that you'll never have to repair cracked joints three years from now.

(Responses from: Matt Kruckeberg (mkruckeberg@pol.org)).

If your are skilled in soldering you may be able to do it yourself.  Be
advised that the traces and components under the shield are fairly
small and subject to damage and detuning.  The template provided is
accurate.  As to the reliability of the repair only time will tell.  I
have had no reoccurrances on the units serviced with standard solder 3
years ago before the "elastic" solder kit and jumper wire instruction
set was made available.

"Because of the above uncertainties, I would prefer to have a professional do
 the repair.  However, I want Thomson/GE to pay for it.  It appears as though
 there is an obvious design/manufacturing flaw.  My company would recall/repair
 its product if this happened.  So I feel Thomson/GE should also.  It's the
 principle of the situation.  But, from this web page, it seems as only RCA is
 reimbursing their customers for the repair, not GE.  Does anybody know a phone
 number where I can call and complain to Thomson/GE?  Has anybody heard of any
 successes in getting GE to pay for it?  Does it have to be a GE authorized
 repair center?  Any help is appreciated."

Good luck.  Thomson Consumer Electronics the parent company of RCA and GE
televisions has been quite difficult to deal with regarding this problem.  I
have had them tell customers that I did not know what I was talking about and
denying that a problem exists.  This after sending out 3 service bulletins on
the problem.  I even received a letter and phone call from the field service
manager stating that such information was not to be released to the general
public.  The phone number I have for TCE customer relations is 1-317-415-4151.
Be prepared for busy signals and a wait on hold.  Officially the work is to be
done by an authorized service center but I have heard of cases of reimbursement
for work done by non authorized servicers, generally in rural areas where an
authorized servicer is not locally available.  I would suggest having the work
done by an authorized servicer since they should have the needed solder,
training, and experience.  The good news is that these sets have been very
reliable otherwise.

  7.10) Getting service/reimbursement 3

(From: Steve Backi (backis@rjrt.com)).

I have an RCA 27" TV with a CTC 177 chassis.  This set was manufactured in
June 93, and I purchased it in September of 93.  A couple of months ago, I
started experiencing problems with the set, i.e: snowy picture, picture
compressed, picking up other channels.  Typical problems associated with
CTC175/176/177 chassis.  I telephoned several repair shops.  Each one of them
was very familiar with the problem.  I took it to one shop in the area.  He
charged $115 for the repair.  $85 for the solder problem and $30 for
additional EEPROM configurations.  Based on estimates I seen, this seemed like
a fair price.

My repair man gave me the telephone number of Thompson Consumer Electronics,
and asked that I request partial reimbursement for the repairs.  This is where
the fun begins.  I first spoke with a customer service rep(Patrice) who would
not give me her last name.  She stated that she was not aware of any problems.
I asked for the supervisor's name.  After a brief conference with the
supervisor, (I suppose), she gave me the name Ryan Brown.  She also said
because the set was older than 3 years, I was not entitled to any refund.  She
hung up before I could get further explanation.  I telephoned back, and asked
for Ryan Brown.  Mr. Kevin Johnson answered my call.  He very rudely said he
was unaware of any problems despite what every repair person I spoke with and
the hundreds of responses on the internet.

While he did say he would not offer any type reimbursement, he was willing to
offer a certificate towards the next RCA/GE/ProScan TV purchase.  I told him,
I will no longer be purchasing any brands manufactured by Thompson Consumer
Electronics, because in my opinion, they do not stand behind their products.
I will no longer purchase those brands, and I urge consumers not to purchase
those products.  I suspect that the reason towards my bitterness, is that I
own two other Sony TV's, and a Mitsubishi, which are at least 12 years old,
and they perform flawlessly.

  7.11) Getting service/reimbursement 4

(From: Karen Justice (Karen.Justice@PSS.Boeing.Com)).

We had the misfortune of buying a 35" RCA TV in September 1995.  We chose
the RCA based on a Consumer Guide rating that indicated it to be a "best
buy". We paid over $1200 for the television.  Within 8 months, we were
experiencing the "shrinking picture" problem.  I believe the manufacturer's
warranty was 90 days on labor and 1 year on parts.  I called the authorized
service dealers in our area as well as several others and learned that the
estimate for the repair was typically more than $200.  No repair shop was
able to tell me that it was a known problem and that I should contact the
manufacturer to see if they could offer any type of assistance.  I went
with a non-authorized dealer close to home who charged me $138 to fix the
"vertical output system". Of that amount, $30 was for pick-up/delivery and
the rest for labor.  The TV worked fine after spending the $138.

Well, less than two years later, the same problem is occurring again.  It
just so happened that last month's Consumer Report magazine (my
subscription hasn't expired) indicated that Thompson Electronics recognized
a defect with the TV's and suggested that the Customer Service number be
called.  So, after numerous long distance phone calls (the first time I was
told I needed the exact date of purchase, since I couldn't recall if I
bought it on 9/5/95 or 9/6/95, and to call back). I can't imagine that the
one day made any difference, but I verified the date, called back and
eventually got through.  They said they do NOT admit to the televisions
having a problem.  However, since the TV is relatively new and I have
already had one out of pocket expense, they would give me a "special
warranty". They said that I am "lucky" to get this, since I had a non-
authorized repairman look at it originally.  They agreed to pay for all
parts and up to $80 for labor, if I went to an authorized service center.
They recommended Martha Lake Electronics.  I called Martha Lake and learned
they have a "flat rate minimum" charge for large TVs and won't even begin
to look at the TV for less than $225 and it could go up from there!
Pickup/delivery is another $110 at Martha Lake (which is about two miles
from my house). So, I contacted the other authorized repair service and he
said he could probably do it for $150 plus $40 for pickup/delivery.  I
called Thompson back to let them know that the amount they are authorizing
doesn't even come close to covering the cost of the repair.  They were
unwilling to negotiate a different amount.  They gave me the names of other
authorized service centers in other cities within a 30 mile radius that I
could call for comparison.  They said they had mailed out my authorization
on April 29, but I told them I never received it.  They checked and for
some reason it didn't get sent.  After another long distance call of
probably 20 minutes they said they would send another authorization today.

Needless to say, I am thoroughly disgusted.  I am mad at Consumer Reports
for recommending a TV as a "best buy" which was built by a manufacturer
that had a running history of a known defect.  I am mad at the authorized
service dealers who didn't mention the problem to me when I first called in
June 1996 when I could have perhaps negotiated with Thompson Electronics to
pay for at least part of the repair.  I am mad at the repair service
dealers who appear to be charging customers much more than they should for
this repair (all other information in your article on the internet said
that all the repair associated with this problem should easily be
accomplished for $99 or less). They tell me it is a "major repair" to do
the soldering.  I am mad at Thompson Electronics for not authorizing full
repair of my television, since it is a recognized problem (in your article,
someone indicated they should even authorize a recall).

The one thing I did learn is that I will never buy another RCA (or GE)
product again and I will no longer use the Consumer Guide recommendations
upon which to base my buying decisions.  So maybe I made a one time
purchasing mistake, but they have lost my business forever, which in the
end, could be even costlier for them.

(a week or so passed)

Since I wrote the note, other problems are occurring with the television
(we can't turn it off - other than unplugging it, and the picture is
nearly obliterated now with "snow").  By the way, I got a letter from
Thompson Electronics on Friday, May 8 (dated April 29), authorizing the
repairs/labor (up to $80).  I have All Area Servicing coming this
morning to fix it (they said they should be able to do the repairs at
our house).  The "house call" is $54.95 and the repair will be another
$100 plus tax.  They say that once a complete soldering job is done that
the TV's seem to work fine.  I certainly hope so.  I don't look forward
to facing another $150 bill in another two years.  Thanks for listening!

Written by Samuel M. Goldwasser. | [mailto]. The most recent version is available on the WWW server http://www.repairfaq.org/ [Copyright] [Disclaimer]