Service aids 2009

In Features On
- Updated

In these tough times people are looking more than ever for good value and service, and independent dealers are best poised to offer both. In all realms from delivery to bench TV repair there are relatively inexpensive devices to facilitate excellent service. I’ve picked some good ones for review here.
Protection racket
All dealers have to deliver – and sometimes collect – TV equipment, and the potential for damage, especially to the screen, is high. Available from Charles Hyde (CHS, http://www.chsinteractive.co.uk/) is a range of protective covers, some with foam padding and carrying handles. To protect screen surfaces in transit and storage the same company offers translucent stick-on foil in 10 and 15cm widths. Cleaning and rejuvenation of the surface finish of TVs and other equipment is facilitated by purpose-designed aerosol sprays at £8.38 and £4.45 respectively: this is especially useful for furbishing up used gear for sale or re-rental.
It’s often required to test batteries of various sorts; CPC (http://www.cpc.co.uk/) offer a simple battery tester with analogue meter readout and acceptance of a wide range of battery types for as little as £2.63 with needle-and-scale readout or £4.97 with LCD type meter. Order codes are IN00628 and IN05529 respectively. Testing of remote control guns is an everyday requirement in the shop and in the field: their infra-red emission can be checked optically with the £6.31 reflective detector card IN02142 or the battery-powered LED-indicating tester HSRCTEST at £7.76, both from CPC. For general voltage and continuity testing of leads, bulbs, fuses and the like a general-purpose multimeter is needed. It does not have to be sophisticated or complex: at £14 or less, types IN02014 and IN05347 (analogue) from CPC are virtually dispensible; the same supplier has a range of ten digital multimeters priced below £10.
The law demands that anything sold to the public is safe and fit for use. New equipment is unlikely to be faulty, but the possibility is always there with second-hand gear. Full-blown PATs (Portable Appliance Testers) are expensive, but shock hazard can be checked out with CPC’s £60 insulation tester IN05462. Better safe than sorry.
Field and bench
For those dealers who operate their own service operations, indoors or out, several new aids have appeared in recent times, some providing new solutions to familiar problems, and some addressed to recent changes in technology and hardware. In the former category comes CPC’s inexpensive variable audio tone generator, code IN05294. Priced at £32, it has low-level and speaker-level outputs with volume and frequency control from 20Hz to 20kHz, and is ideal for finding those rattles, buzzes and resonances which can plague TVs, speaker-boxes and their mountings. It’s useful in the workshop and the customer’s home. Aerial and dish installers have always had a problem in threading a cable through the holes in two brick courses of a cavity wall. This has been addressed by a magnetic cable guide gadget available now from CHS at £17.61. Problem solved. For the workshop engineer faced with the problem of working on thin-screen panels while viewing the picture (in a mirror) CHS has come up with a specially designed workshop jig which supports and clamps the whole caboosh on a bench stand capable of holding LCD and plasma screens up to 50in in size. Two types are available, differing mainly in their stability with large and heavy models. They can be found in the tools/service aids section of the CHS website.
A common cause of problems in LCD screens is failure of the CCFL (cold cathode fluorescent) tubes in the backlight assembly, which can be difficult to verify. Both CHS and CPC market CCFL tube testers at prices between £48 and £75. Because many LCD TVs are designed to shut down completely in the event of faulty backlight tubes, these instruments are useful diagnostic aids. CHS also sells replacement tubes and high-voltage invertor assemblies.
Finally – in these turbulent and energy-conscious times – how about a power meter? At £7.64 from CPC product PL10053 measures the energy/power consumption and running cost of connected appliances.
Prices
All prices quoted here are net trade to account holders, and do not include carriage or VAT.

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