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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Digital Cinema Forum   » Life Span of DPL Chips (Page 1)

 
This topic comprises 2 pages: 1  2 
 
Author Topic: Life Span of DPL Chips
Lyle Romer
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1381
From: Davie, FL, USA
Registered: May 2002


 - posted 11-16-2013 07:13 AM      Profile for Lyle Romer   Email Lyle Romer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I'm just curious if you guys see failures of DLP chips in the field and how long they last for.

The reason I ask is that I have a DLP TV at home that is probably 5 years old and gets maybe 2 hours of use per day. In the last few weeks it has started developing stuck white and black pixels all over the screen.

I was wondering if (hopefully) the professional grade chips have much better long term reliability.

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Carsten Kurz
Film God

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From: Cologne, NRW, Germany
Registered: Aug 2009


 - posted 11-16-2013 10:06 AM      Profile for Carsten Kurz   Email Carsten Kurz   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The DLP chips themselves are pretty stable. TI has some impressing statistics. Stuck pixels, though are usually not a matter of defective pixels, but board/formatter wiring, these are high density flatwire cables/connectors, leadfree, under high temperature loads.

So, DLP chips fail hardly ever, but that doesn't mean you won't have stuck pixels sooner or later.
I have seen quite a few newly installed DLP machines with some stuck pixels.

If warranty/budget allows, this will usually mean a lightengine swap, and I guess most of these defects can be repaired in the factory.

- Carsten

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Mark Gulbrandsen
Resident Trollmaster

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From: Bountiful, Utah
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 11-16-2013 10:32 AM      Profile for Mark Gulbrandsen   Email Mark Gulbrandsen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I had issues with early NEC NC3240's and lots of bad pixels. Had to replace two light engines within several months of installation... but this was only on the very first batch of 4K projectors they produced. No issues since those and quite a few 4K systems now in...

Mark

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Steve Guttag
We forgot the crackers Gromit!!!

Posts: 12207
From: Annapolis, MD
Registered: Dec 1999


 - posted 11-16-2013 07:25 PM      Profile for Steve Guttag   Email Steve Guttag   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I've probably swapped out 4 light engines due to stuck pixels. All were found within warranty.

I guess we will all see how this will be over time. If it is encouraging, I had 3 Barco DP50s in service for 10-year, 7-days a week. The DLP chips range without issue that whole time. We had two bad color boards within the first 6 months and that was it. In the last year, two of the touchpanel controller modules died...but the system was completely runable anyway. Now those where the EARLY, EARLY machines...series 2 stuff is much more refined.

-Steve

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Lincoln Spector
Film Handler

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From: Albany, CA, USA
Registered: Mar 2012


 - posted 11-21-2013 01:56 PM      Profile for Lincoln Spector   Author's Homepage   Email Lincoln Spector   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
A couple of years ago, at the San Francisco International Film Festival, one auditorium at the Kabuki theater had a dead pixel.

Actually, it was more of an undead pixel. It wouldn't turn off. In light scenes, no problem. In dark scenes, there was this one tiny blue light.

The problem was fixed before the festival was over. The theater's top projectionist said that the festival revenue helped pay for the very expensive part replacement. I think he said it was something like $12,000.

I don't know what kind of projector they have or how long they had it.

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Marcel Birgelen
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From: Maastricht, Limburg, Netherlands
Registered: Feb 2012


 - posted 11-21-2013 04:46 PM      Profile for Marcel Birgelen   Email Marcel Birgelen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
That's a typical phenomenon for a stuck pixel in the DLP chip for the blue channel.

A pixel stuck in the off state is hardly noticed, but a pixel stuck in the active state can be very annoying in dark scenes.

If you Google around a bit, it's easy to find information regarding te MTBF of DMDs like the TI DLP chips. Besides maybe some better QC, I don't think there will be any essential difference between the production quality of the consumer and the professional chips.

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Lyle Romer
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From: Davie, FL, USA
Registered: May 2002


 - posted 12-29-2013 08:46 PM      Profile for Lyle Romer   Email Lyle Romer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
As a follow up to this. I've done a lot of research on my TV issue and it does appear to be caused by stuck mirrors on the DMD chip. I am going to change it out (under $200 for a "wobulation" DMD chip). I'll take a picture of the old one. Supposedly you can actually see the stuck mirrors with the naked eye(each dot is bigger than 1 pixel).

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Marcel Birgelen
Film God

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From: Maastricht, Limburg, Netherlands
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 - posted 12-30-2013 04:36 PM      Profile for Marcel Birgelen   Email Marcel Birgelen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
You can actually see the contours of the last picture on your DLP chip if it hasn't been reset to an "all black", "all white" or neutral position before shutdown and you didn't shake it too hard.

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Terry Lynn-Stevens
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From: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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 - posted 01-02-2014 12:54 AM      Profile for Terry Lynn-Stevens   Email Terry Lynn-Stevens   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I would say at least 10-15 years, I am sure there is some planned obsolescence built into digital projection equipment.

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Marcel Birgelen
Film God

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From: Maastricht, Limburg, Netherlands
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 - posted 01-03-2014 07:09 PM      Profile for Marcel Birgelen   Email Marcel Birgelen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Without some hard numbers, this is just a guess.

Fact is, a 3 chip DLP projector is actually more prone to DLP failure than a single chip solution used in almost all home and office DLP products. If just one pixel in one of the three DLP chips gets stuck in the "on" position, this will produce a red, green or blue colored dot in darker scenes, which can be really distracting.

There are other things that are just due to fail after 10 to 15 years of operation, like cooling fans or in case of Barco projectors, stuff like heat exchangers, etc.

And let's not forget that all first generation digital projectors are already slowly being obsoleted by pushing stuff like HFR and 4K.

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Steve Guttag
We forgot the crackers Gromit!!!

Posts: 12207
From: Annapolis, MD
Registered: Dec 1999


 - posted 01-03-2014 07:30 PM      Profile for Steve Guttag   Email Steve Guttag   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Ahem...first generation? Not to be confused with "Series 1"...the First generation are the Barco DP50, DP40, Christie's equivalent models. Those have already been obsoleted. I know we retired our DP50s...but only just a few months ago...they made it 10-years. As DCinema machines, they were essentially obsolete once the 2K machines came out but one could still get 1.3K content for them for a couple of years.

The Barco DP100 came out in 2004, as I recall...it is hitting 10-years now...the same with the CP2000 from Christie. About all that they can't do is the 3D stuff (well).

As for heat exchangers, cooling pumps, fans...big deal...that isn't such a high price or unreasonable service. However those modules will drive you to the poor house pretty quickly. Just about every PCB in one of these things is on the order of a few thousand and the Digital companies WON'T REPAIR them...got a ballast go bad and its out of warranty...buy a new one. Rectifier repairs that were done for for under $100 in parts are now going to cost a few thousand to replace...not because it isn't repairable but they are refusing to. I think there could be a market on some of this stuff for a company that is willing to take on servicing DCinema equipment.

Then again, with some of the PCBs...if it is a board related problem, there are so many layers to them, they may not be practical to repair...especially if it is intermittent in nature. How many potential solder joints could be partially failing (just enough to causing a timing error)?

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Marcel Birgelen
Film God

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From: Maastricht, Limburg, Netherlands
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 - posted 01-05-2014 06:57 AM      Profile for Marcel Birgelen   Email Marcel Birgelen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I was indeed mostly referring to the "Series 1" DCI projectors, not those "pre-DCI" projectors, like those Kinoton consoles and lamphouses with diagonally mounted DLP head Barco sold for a while (DPx0). They will never do HFR 3D and yes, they're capable of playing 4K content being scaled to 2K, none of them are upgradeable to 4K (although the usefulness of upgrading a 2K projector to 4K can surely be debated).

Also, you never know for sure if the studios come up with some new security demands, that either requires expensive upgrades or won't work at all on "older" equipment.

The DP100 was indeed released in 2004 (and most of them are probably still in production), although a few of them already showed up in 2003 as prototype in a few complexes in Belgium.

In general, you would expect the stuff that has moving parts in it to fail first...

Repairing a PCB, even if it is one that has a multi-thousand-dollar list price is just not cost effective. And doing it yourself is also practically impossible, because of lack of diagnostic tools and repair manuals. Replacing a multi-pin SMD is also not something you can do without some good training. Maybe if the damage is obvious and visible, like a blown capacitor, you can still do something yourself.

I haven't seen much failure in multilayer PCBs itself (although, who can say for sure...), besides some cheap Chinese no-name stuff that had some lamination issues (layers actually letting loose), probably due to not built to sustain the heat.

The market for DCI equipment is considerably smaller than many others, but even then, there will be a lucrative market for refurbished equipment.

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Steve Guttag
We forgot the crackers Gromit!!!

Posts: 12207
From: Annapolis, MD
Registered: Dec 1999


 - posted 01-05-2014 09:01 AM      Profile for Steve Guttag   Email Steve Guttag   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Marcel Birgelen
Repairing a PCB, even if it is one that has a multi-thousand-dollar list price is just not cost effective.
Marcel, I'm going to call BS on that one. All of the refurbed boards that Barco, Christie and NEC have were indeed repaired when the boards were under warranty. Why then do they become unrepairable once they fall out of warranty? It makes no sense. The same goes for the power supplies where one doesn't have a bunch of SMT or multi-layer boards.

As to board failures. It all depends on trace construction and if the board has been flexed and so forth. The CP500 was known for blind via failures.

I think it is just a big departure from what this industry has established in the name of making equipment last longer (have greater value). We are not even talking about equipment that is over 10-years old or even out of production. It is just out of warranty.

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Marcel Birgelen
Film God

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From: Maastricht, Limburg, Netherlands
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 - posted 01-05-2014 11:38 AM      Profile for Marcel Birgelen   Email Marcel Birgelen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Having worked a couple of months for a PCB production facility about 15 years back (I'm aware a lot has happened since then), I know that many of those high-end multilayer PCBs don't come cheap (some of them cost a few thousand bucks a piece WITHOUT any components). Still, the price of even those "high end" PCBs for the likes of Cisco, Sun, IBM, etc. went down fast and it was no longer viable to have any kind of mass production in any western country, so that got moved to Taiwan.

I'm not denying what you're saying, but I would rather be surprised if Barco, NEC, Christie, etc. will actually repair their PCBs instead of just swapping them with a "refurbished one", which is all to often, just a still working component that has been pulled from an otherwise defective machine.

A broken blind via will in any regards trash your PCB, if you're even able to diagnose it as such. Maybe you can still recover some of the components from those boards, as long as they're not covered in some nasty epoxy resin.

But, I don't need to explain to you why most manufacturers do not even offer you the option to repair a broken board or otherwise easily repairable component like a PSU or ballast...

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Carsten Kurz
Film God

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From: Cologne, NRW, Germany
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 - posted 01-05-2014 11:48 AM      Profile for Carsten Kurz   Email Carsten Kurz   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I'm quite sure that a lot of these older boards are in fact analyzed and repaired at the factory. It's just that the manufacturers don't offer 'repair' as a 'cheaper' option to the customer - due to many potential issues, it is easier to just offer replacements or refurbished items at a fixed price. Because some boards may not be able to be repaired economically.

BTW - I know a technician who recently 'repaired' a Barco by resoldering the backplane himself. One of the HD-SDI inputs was not working.

- Carsten

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