I purchased this projector new in late 2007 as part of my home theater build. As of today it has 1400 hours on it (original bulb). It's been working perfectly for the five years I've owned it, until a few weeks ago a problem started cropping up. It began as an occasional error during startup, requiring me to unplug the unit to reset it then try again. Then it quickly grew in frequency over the next week until I could no longer start up the projector anymore. So I started seeking a solution.
The error happens like this:
- I power on the projector
- Green light blinks as normal for a few seconds and I hear the faint rumble sound of the auto iris cycling
- Then I hear the normal louder motor sound, which I believe to be the optical filter being cycled. When a failure is about to occur, this sound is louder and longer than normal, as though the motor is struggling. Just by listening, I can tell when the error is about to happen.
- Then the projector kicks the fan up to the highest speed I've ever heard, and the red light blinks on and off at one second intervals. This blinking interval indicates an "internal error" per the manual. It is not a lamp or temperature issue, which would be indicated differently.
After this, the projector must be physically unplugged. Plugging it back in would sometimes result in a successful startup, but the rate of success decreased rapidly.
So I started by calling Epson. Of course, the projector is long out of warranty and I knew I'd be facing repair costs. I figured anything below $500 was worth the cost, anything above made the unit a throwaway. Epson referred me to two authorized service providers a couple of hours from my house. They also offered me discounts on their Loyalty website in case I decided to replace the projector. This turned out to be a cruel joke, since they are not currently offering comparable projectors on that site. But I can get a great discount on printer ink
Then I tried the more reputable of the two service providers. They were very helpful and spent a long time on the phone with me, called Epson themselves, then got back to me. But the bottom line was not encouraging. Basically, they would replace the most likely culprit, the auto iris, at a cost of $200. It would either fix the problem or not. If it didn't, then the next step was to replace the motherboard or light engine. In either case, the cost would be over $1000 and this would clearly not be worth it for a 5 year old projector.
I didn't like the odds. I'm reasonably handy with a screwdriver and have repaired electronics before, so I decided to try to fix it myself, and if I failed, I'd buy a new projector. I found two tips online that helped point me in the right direction:
1. A short discussion thread where two people discuss successfully fixing the optical filter:
2. A German website that actually tore down a unit and pointed out where everything was:
Right away I was intrigued by this optical filter. This was the first I heard that there was another motorized part besides the auto-iris (and of course the fans). I remembered the sounds the projector made. The auto iris sounds like a rumble. So the louder sound that occurs before the error must be this optical filter. The service rep never mentioned trying to fix that (or even that it existed). If this was the real issue, would the service rep consider that part of the optical engine and hit me with a $1000 bill? Hmmm. So that was my target for the repair.
I took my sweet time with the disassembly but it wasn't overly difficult. I took photos at various stages to carefully document the correct locations of cable connections and screws, and this was invaluable for the reassembly.
After removing the motherboard, my first step was to remove and check the auto iris. I wasn't certain I could eliminate this as a possible failure point. Removal was easy. I did have to push the motor gear to get the iris doors in the vertical position before I could lift out the assembly. The gears moved smoothly without any resistance, and the motor gear seemed firmly attached to the motor shaft. There was plenty of silicone lubricant. I did not see any problems. I did go ahead and clean a little sensor underneath one of the "half circle" black gears that detects the position of that gear. Used canned air and a lens wipe. Then I carefully repositioned the gears so that the one dot on the upper gear centered between the two dots on the lower gear, and reinstalled the iris.
Next I moved on to the optical filter. I removed the metal bar that covers the sliding filter. See photo. The filter can then easily be pulled straight up and out. I noted before removing it that it the back edge was exactly centered on the glass lens. This probably doesn't matter since I think the projector cycles this filter back and forth on startup until each limit switch (on the metal bar that I just removed) is activated, thus calibrating its position.
After removal, I blew out a light amount of dust with an air can. Then I visually checked everything out. I could not see anything wrong. I then tested the limit switches with a homemade continuity tester (flashlight bulb and battery connected to wire leads) and verified that they were making proper contact when closed. I had suspected the switches were the issue, because the bad sound I was hearing kind of sounded like the motor was attempting to move the filter past its limit, as though the switch wasn't giving feedback. But I could not detect a problem with them.
I put the optical filter back in the slot and meshed it with the gear, then slid it back and forth with my fingers. I felt what seemed like the proper amount of resistance from the motor, indicating that I probably didn't have gear slip on the shaft (gear slip was described in one of the links I provided above). I really didn't want to pull the whole optical engine to get underneath and inspect those gears directly. So I relied on this test to assume that I probably did not have gear slip.
To make a long story short, I actually did not find any obvious problems at all. I carefully reassembled everything in the hopes that I would get lucky. And I did! The projector works fine now. I've started it up at least 6 times with no issue at all. In fact, the motor sound during startup is quieter and shorter than I remember even when the projector was previously working okay.
So what did I do? I have to assume something was not in perfect alignment in the motorized optical filter (maybe it never was), and the reassembly fixed this. I did not grease it by the way (it was dry when I removed it, unlike the auto iris, so I didn't want to grease something that is not supposed to be greased).
If the problem does crop up again, I will try to order replacement parts for the optical filter including the motor and gearbox, and do the repair myself. By the way, after reassembly I turned the unit on with the top cover lifted up a little, and listened carefully to try to localize the sounds I was hearing. I'm almost certain the larger motor sound does come from the optical filter, not the iris.
Anyway, I hope this helps someone, because I know others have had similar problems with their Epsons. If you don't want to attempt this repair yourself, at least you can point your repair person to this thread.