A newer sony vpl-vw50 repair problem - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 03-05-2012, 04:44 PM - Thread Starter
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I recently sent my Sony VPL-VW50 projector back to Sony for repair of what appeared to me to be a simple mechanical problem. They returned an estimate of over $3,200 to replace the Optical Unit Assembly and the projector lamp. This does not seem to match the symptoms. I am hoping someone in the forum can shed some light on this.

Here is a description of the environment, symptoms and diagnostic steps I have taken:

My VPL-VW50 projector is suspended upside-down from a beam in the ceiling. In the five years I have owned it I have replaced the lamp once.

Symptom #1
- Over a year ago it began displaying upon turn on a red "Please replace lamp/filter" message at the bottom right of the screen. No amount of cleaning the filter, changing the filter, or re-seating or replacing the lamp would stop this from occurring. Pressing the power button one additional time makes it disappear until next power cycle.

Symptom #2 - More recently upon turn on the "On/Standby" indicator flashes green as normal. After many seconds it returns to red and the adjacent "Lamp/Cover" indicator flashes at a repetition rate of three, indicating either the lamp needs to be replaced or has overheated and required a cool down period. Changing the lamp does not change this behavior, nor does allowing a cool down period.

Diagnostic attempts beyond lamp and filter replacement:

Attempt #1 - Prolonged disconnection from power had no effect. I had it unplugged for days on end to no avail.

Attempt #2 - Un-mounting the projector but still operating it upside-down had no effect.

Attempt #3 - Operating the projector right side up cured symptom #2! AHA! This worked several times. However, turning the projector off and returning it to the upside-down position brought the problem back. Returning it to the right side up position cured it again.

Attempt #4 - Starting the projector right side up and turning it over by holding its body allowed it to continue to operate properly.

Attempt #5 - Continuing attempt #4 but then picking the projector up by the mount attached to the under side immediately brings symptom #2 back.

N.B.: When attempt #3 makes the projector operational, it nonetheless still displays the red "Please replace lamp/filter" message at the bottom right of the screen at turn on.
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post #2 of 12 Old 03-06-2012, 06:59 AM
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I am not a repair person, but it does NOT sound like an optical block. It sounds like a heat issue more than anything. I have seen situtations where the orientation can affect the heat dispersion...which is what it sounds like. I would bet it is related to cooling fans in some regard more than likely...

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post #3 of 12 Old 03-06-2012, 08:05 AM
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I just sent my VPL-HW30 in for a somewhat similar issue, at least in the sense that it is telling me my bulb has reached the end of it's life and I'm getting the 3 red flashes. Mine shuts down within a minute after startup. I tried it both upside down (how I have it mounted) and right side up (after I took it down). I just shipped it to Texas yesterday so probably won't know anything for a couple weeks. It's only 6 months old so I'm still under warranty.

I wrote about it here in the HW30 thread: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...4#post21739654
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post #4 of 12 Old 03-06-2012, 08:39 AM
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That may be a lamp issue... Did you use it frequently? Though lamps are rated for 2000 or so typically, it does not guarantee that is the case. They can die earlier as there are no for sures.

In the original posters situation it seems the lamp works aok in certain positions, so I still think that is a heat related thing...

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post #5 of 12 Old 03-06-2012, 08:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AV Science Sales 3 View Post

That may be a lamp issue... Did you use it frequently? Though lamps are rated for 2000 or so typically, it does not guarantee that is the case. They can die earlier as there are no for sures.

In the original posters situation it seems the lamp works aok in certain positions, so I still think that is a heat related thing...

Could be, but my lamp only had just under 900 hours (all on low mode, with the exception of about 5-10 hours of 3D). I also think my fan was louder since day one than it should have been, which is why Sony suggested I send it in. And the lamp seems to work fine until the unit shuts down, haven't noticed much if any dimming since it was new.
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post #6 of 12 Old 03-06-2012, 12:31 PM - Thread Starter
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Folks,

Thank you for the quick response. I believe I can confirm it is not a lamp issue. I always keep a fresh lamp on hand in order not to have to wait for a replacement when the one in the projector goes. As part of my diagnostics I tried replacing the lamp. It made no difference.

Yes, I do use the projector frequently, but I changed the lamp and filter when the picture became dim. Again, a new lamp does not change any of the symptoms.

Update I just spoke with Sony's repair center. The non-technical person who answered the phone read a report claiming the optical assembly is burnt! I asked them why the unit still operates right side up and all of the symptoms point to a thermal or mechanical problem like a malfunctioning heat sensor or fan sensor. She promised to have someone call me.
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post #7 of 12 Old 03-11-2012, 11:39 PM - Thread Starter
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Let me preface the remainder of this post with an observation. I have had many dealings with Sony over the years as both a consumer and an electronics engineer. In all cases my experience has been they are a classy organization offering fine products. I believe what I describe below is an anomaly.

At the end of last week I spoke with a tech at Sony's Customer Satisfaction Center in Laredo. I asked him why he wanted to replace the optical assembly and lamp when the symptoms and diagnostics clearly indicated a mechanical or sensor problem. He insisted my projector required those replacements. In fact, he said and repeated, they would not return it to me without those replacements because otherwise it would not operate at Sony's specifications! He added the optical assembly is only expected to last for 5,000 hours and my unit had over 5,300 hours on it.

I asked if he had found the cause of the unit not operating upside-down but working pretty well right side up. He said he had not noticed that problem. I asked him if he had read the cover letter containing essentially what was in my original post. He had not. He then asked me something to the effect of "are you sure you want us to look into that? It could cost you more money!" I asked him to please look into the problem for which I sent the unit to them. Once they identify it and its solution we can discuss Optical Assemblies.

I purchased this projector, one of the first units after its introduction, for $5,000. Before they went out of production, I believe they were available for $3,500. I have no problem with them lowering the price as they gain more production experience. This was a $1,500 premium I paid to be an early adopter.

What bothers me is they ask me to pay almost the cost of what a new unit sold for at the end of its product life cycle for a five year old unit and will not yet have fixed the only problem it has! I am certainly disappointed they are effectively holding my projector hostage. I expected Sony to treat a person who bought one of their high-end products a little better than that.

I welcome your comments and suggestions.
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post #8 of 12 Old 03-12-2012, 06:42 AM
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That sounds like pretty terrible service to me. I have an HW30 and hopefully don't have to deal with anything like that.

Is it true that the optical blocks are only supposed to last around 5000 hours? Because i have had my sony hw30 for probably 6 months, and already have around 1000 hours on it (lots of gaming and movies)
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post #9 of 12 Old 03-12-2012, 06:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ronPerloff View Post

He added the optical assembly is only expected to last for 5,000 hours

That's certainly discouraging to any owner of a Sony projector. Some people hit 5,000 hours in 2 years!
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post #10 of 12 Old 03-13-2012, 06:19 PM
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My concern is that Ronloff did not just follow the instructions a year earlier. I agree that it sounds like a fan failure but continuing to operate for a year damaged the light engine. The diagnostics of the projector most likely cannot tell the reason for overheating and only shows the most obvious cause. There may not be a fan failure indication message.
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post #11 of 12 Old 03-13-2012, 06:50 PM
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I stand corrected. There is an indication for a faulty fan. It is 4 flashes. But maybe the fan just slowed down enough to cause overheating. This will damage the optical light engine. I had a similar issue with an old Sharp unit. The fan sounded strange and the clean air filter light flashed. Replacing the air filter didn't help. It was time for me to get a new projector but I bet I could have replaced the fan and kept the projector going as I didn't operate the projector with the warning more than a minute or so.
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post #12 of 12 Old 03-19-2012, 04:10 PM
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5000 hours life on optical block is not acceptable for a $5000 pj. hope the tech has incorrect data.
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