troubleshooting steps

This is a wide open question and I expect I'll get alot of varying opinions, but here goes. What would you consider to be the 4 or 5 most crucial steps in electronics troubleshooting?

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Not necessarily put exactly as I'd like and certainly not limited to - but here are some that come to mind "quickly". I'm sure there are others who will repeat and add to - those I've listed.

  1. Having a sound knowledge of electronics to know parts workings and interactions.
  2. Having a decent idea of the circuits you're going to be working on - as to what to expect
  3. Being able to look at the unit and get an "Educated guess" on the area the problem lays in - with respect to it's symptoms
  4. Being able to use equipment and tools - as simple as a VOM and screwdrivers - up to the most complex - one can afford or face using.
  5. Being able to "actually" repair the unit with the first 4 involved.
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The old Navy way always seemed to work:

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Of course, an understanding of electronics in general and familiarity with the equipment you are working on and the test equipment you need to use are the key to being able to make these six steps work. There is no magic bullet.

Even if you are not all that familiar with the equipment you are working on, electronics and test equipment knowledge will get you there, eventually. Forty years ago, as a young Navy tech, I troubleshot an unfamiliar piece of equipment for 4 hours, only to discover a switch was in the wrong position, Familiarity with system would have gotten me there a whole lot faster. Of course, reading the operator's manual would have also helped! Learned something from that.

Good luck.


Reply to
Richard Seriani

  1. Describe, as fully as you can, ALL of the symptoms. What isn't working, what IS working, when are they working or not, when did they stop, etc.. And especially note if anything ELSE changed at or about the same time the problem started.
  2. List all the possible causes of the problem you're seeing.
  3. Check your list of possible causes against the list of symptoms; see if the information you have rules any out, or at least makes some more likely than others. Rank the remaining causes in order of likelihood.
  4. Now tackle the likeliest causes in the order of the complexity, cost, and/or time required to check them. (I.e., if "the framistat modulator IC on circuit board B-28 is intermittent" and "the power cord is unplugged" are both on the list, you shouldn't be reaching for a screwdriver to get at circuit board B-28 FIRST...:-))
  5. As you check the possible causes in this order, use the information you gain to regularly revise your list of symptoms, causes, etc..

The above can be made quite formal - you can come up with forms, checklists, etc., to guide you through the process - but more often it's going to simply be the way a good troubleshooter organizes his or her thinking.

Bob M.

Reply to
Bob Myers

Depends ... is the device stand-alone? Is the device hooked to a network? Is the device using any imbedded software? Is the device a high-power unit or battery operated?

Generally, one should ask:

1/ What changed recently? 2/ Is it plugged in and turned on and are the cables all connected? 3/ Was there any anomaly noted before the failure? 4/ Can the device be reset? If so, try it! 5/ What have others experienced with this device?
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John Mianowski

Thanks guys for all the responses.

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