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DIY YLOD Fix for Sony PS3

Updated on March 22, 2013

Update

Just going to mention at the top here...I have an original 60 gig 'fat' that I reflowed at the end of 2011, it's still going strong today! I've had no further problems, and I stream movies, play games, and play around on PShome a lot, there's no drop in performance that I've noticed at all.


Check out this guide on 'different flashing colored lights' if your ps3 has blinking lights that aren't ylod.

What Is YLOD?

The Sony PlayStation 3 console was launched in November 2006, first in Japan, then progressively rolled out internationally. Sony's main rival at the time was Microsoft Xbox, which was known for its "Red ring of death" issue which rendered the Xbox completely useless. The only option was to return it to the manufacturer for repair.

Although nowhere near as prevalent, the Sony ps3 has it's own hardware issue, known as the Yellow Light of Death. Named for the fact that the console's power light flashes yellow and then beeps 3 times, turns off and flashes red. This symptom is the only outward sign that something has gone haywire with your hardware.

Sometimes the YLOD seems to just happen out of the blue, in some cases, the ps3 may freeze up when starting or during gaming, or it may refuse to start all together, these are usually indications that some hardware component may be malfunctioning and the dreaded yellow light of death may be on it's way. Once you have YLOD, the unit will not start and any disk that may be in it will be in there forever, unless you take apart your console and manually take it out.

A high percentage or YLOD cases are caused by a faulty power supply or by solder cracks and breaks due to overheating of the unit. The thermal compound used on the motherboard in the original manufacturing doesn't handle heavy usage very well in some models.

The YLOD itself is just a sign that something is wrong, although it can't be specific about where the problem is. So it may be the fan, the Central Processing Unit, the Graphics Processing Unit, any one of the ribbons may need re attaching, the thermostat may be busted, or there may even be a problem with the Hard Disk Drive, you just can't tell, but the general concensus is that the solder is usually the problem.

Hard Drive Problems

If the problem is the Hard Drive, you might want to consider getting a new one....

There are a few things that happen when a hard drive is on it's last legs...

  • Keep an ear out for loud noise

Not the loud fan winding up, (that thing can be quite loud) think "clicks and whirring", clicking means 'replace me!!!!!!'

  • Corrupted data

Check your saves in the XMB, if corrupted data is showing up there continuously then you may have a problem

  • Freezing

Yeah....freezing is probably the first sign something is up.

If you think your hard drive is on the fritz, you need to take care of it before you lose your game data altogether. Once it's gone, you can't get it back.

Here's a list of the top 5 compatible hard drives for ps3 with the best reviews on amazon.

What Causes YLOD?

The main causes of YLOD

- Overheating
- The CPU or GPU seperates from the motherboard
- Faulty bluray drive
- Faulty component on the motherboard
- Faulty HDD or fried HDD

If your PS3 has the Yellow Light of Death, it is had-it. No two ways about it. You could leave it to cool down for a bit and try it again but you will not get much out of it before it happens again. It is broken in a very definite way.

Some of the older models seem to be more susceptible to YLOD, while the newer slimline models don't have many reported cases at all. There is no model that can be guaranteed to never get YLOD, only models that may be less prone due to re-engineering that causes the newer models to use less power and so are less prone to overheating.

Looking into cooling accessories may be worthwhile if you want to prolong the life of your ps3 console.

What To Do About YLOD?

Once you have YLOD there are a few options available.

  • Buy a new PlayStation 3
  • If the unit is still under warranty, send it back to sony to have it replaced for free. Information stored on the Hard Disk Drive that has not been backed up may be lost in the process. Attempting to repair a ps3 under warranty will void the warranty.
  • If the unit is not under warranty, send back to the manufacturer and pay a fee usually around the $150 mark, to have it repaired or replaced with a refurbished model, again, information stored on the HDD may be lost, also, they are generally refurbished from having YLOD as well.
  • Look around on the net for one of the many repair it guides. They teach you to "reflow" your PlayStation 3 with round the house tools, the repair it guides usually consist of step by step manuals and dvd's to ensure you have the best chance of getting your unit to work again. They generally cost between $25 and $40.

You could also look on youtube for step by step video tutorials that are free. The tools needed are mainly phillips head screwdrivers, size T-10 torx screwdriver, a heat gun, some rubbing alcohol and thermal compound paste. The most recommended thermal paste being 'arctic silver 5.'

A few people ask if they can use hairdryers instead of heatguns, in this case, the heat gun is to melt the old thermal paste off, so it can be replaced with the new compound, hairdryers just don't get hot enough to achieve this. The tools will set you back the same amount as the repair it guides, so if you think you can follow a few youtube tutorials, you could save yourself a bit of money, and if you've decided to repair your PlayStation 3 yourself instead of buying a new one, you are definitely looking to save money.

What's Involved If I Fix It Myself?

If you're looking to fix your PlayStation 3 yourself, the method you will find the most info on would be reflowing.

Reflowing is basically heating up the motherboard to reconnect broken solder points. Broken or cracked solder in a ps3 is due to overheating or a physical shock, such as dropping the unit. Heatguns are recommended because they can heat the solder enough to reconnect it, but they do not always give an even reflow. Sitting the motherboard on 2 pieces of crumpled aluminium foil in the oven will give an even reflow, but you might really need to know what you're doing to attempt putting a motherboard into an oven. Infra Red Machines have also been mentioned, but they cost over $1000 so unless you already have one lying around, buying one to repair your PlayStation 3 seems a little redundant.


djwhetzel YLOD DIY Fix Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

How Long Does A Reflow Last?

There are 2 video tutorials on youtube that seem to be the most popular when it comes to this problem. Both are free and very thorough. They do a good job of explaining the process to beginners and seem to have the most success when it comes to the PS3 repair. One is by Djwhetzel and the other by Gilksy.

How long the fix lasts depends on the job you do. It may only fix it for a few days if you've warped the board with the heat gun, warping will cause more cracks in the solder eventually. Or if the only problem was the solder, and you've taken steps to ensure over heating won't happen again, such as installing better cooling methods, the DIY YLOD repair job could last for quite a long time.

Attempting to reflow your motherboard is worth it if you want to retrieve any information from the unit. Removing the old HDD from one ps3 and placing it into a new one won't save your gaming info, the new ps3 will reformat the drive when you put it in, so if you have no info backed up this is probably one of the only ways to retrieve it, unless you're very, very techy.

Reflowing is a temporary fix, it's just that sometimes temporary can last quite a while. Taking a heat gun to your ps3 will melt the solder on the board, that's easy enough. But the chips also need to be heated to allow the solder to navigate them, and using a heat gun doesn't guarantee you will achieve this. But it's not like you're trying to make the ps3 a brand new unit again, and it's near death anyway so it's worth a shot.

You can also end up with problems you didn't have before, maybe the problem was the solder and after you attempt a reflow your bluetooth and wireless don't work. Because the YLOD is not hardware specific there's no way of knowing if this will happen, but in most cases it's the solder and a DIY reflow job will get your PS3 going long enough to save all the hours of gaming information stored on the HDD.


What To Do After Repair

If the reflow worked for you, take the steps to back up all your gaming information as soon as you can.

Moving the unit a lot after repairing yourself is not recommended as it could cause the solder to crack again.

Sony PlayStation 3's cooling system leaves a lot to be desired, those who are into modding their own systems generally do an overhaul of the cooling system all together. If you were looking to get a newer model anyway then a cooling system overhaul wouldn't be a priority, the system is still on borrowed time and it's impossible to put a deadline on it. At least this way you saved all your info saving months possibly years of progress and a lot of heart ache.

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