The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


July 6, 2012

Joe Hadsall: Internet, hair dryer help save broken PlayStation

JOPLIN, Mo. — This is not news, but still true: The Internet is awesome. Thanks to several good YouTube videos and a lot of bad ones, I was able to resuscitate our beloved PlayStation 3.

A few weeks ago, our PS3 suffered a hideous, ganky death heralded with a flickering, amber light, which then changed into a steady red light. This is known as the Yellow Light of Death (why not Red? Because Xbox did it first? Who knows), or YLOD to those who don’t have the time to type out the words.

Basically, what happens is that the entire thing refuses to run. It won’t fire up, won’t load the operating system, and won’t spit out the disc in the BluRay player. That last part kinda freaked me out, because the YLOD occurred while I was loading up my level 48 Nord.

I should back up: A few weeks ago, we watched “Cowboys and Aliens,” then left it running for a while. After a while, I fired up “Skyrim,” heard the opening music and loaded my game. During the first loading screen, when it was showing me a picture of one of Skyrim’s shaggy cows, it ganked. Shut down. Yellow light, beep, nothing.  

Sad Joe.

Sad Mitchell and Duncan, too. Mitchell has been working on “Gran Turismo 5,” which he calls the “Skyrim” of driving games. He has quite a collection of rare vehicles worth millions (in the video game. For a kid who loves cars, that’s particularly awesome and cruel at the same time). And Duncan had countless saves in “Little Big Planet” levels and much more.

All that time, all those hours I spent finding Riddler trophies in “Batman: Arkham City,” my perfectly 100 percent good Cole McGrath in “Infamous,” my “Half-Life 2” saves and the 100-plus hours spent on “Skyrim” -- all of it was on a non-fuctioning hard drive.

And that’s just the games. The actual PS3 is one of the 60gb older systems that plays PS2 games. It’s a hoss.

We hated to lose it. Which brings me back to that part about the Internet being awesome.

The Internet is where I learned about the YLOD, and how to fix it. I learned that it was caused by the solder on the motherboard degrading from repeated heatings and coolings. See, the processor in the PS3 gets hot -- so hot that it requires a fan the size of a CD.  Thinking my problem might be caused by dust, I took it apart and cleared the dust out (gave myself the sneezes and wheezing, there was so much dust). Thanks to a website with great instructions and pictures, I detached the components, looked at that gargantuan fan, put it back together and hoped for the best.

No change. The YLOD teased me like it was a Range Line traffic light.

So I looked up another solution. And, in another testament to the awesomeness of the Internet, I learned that fixing the YLOD problem required one of The Lovely Paula’s often-used tools.

A hair dryer.

I fixed a PS3 with a hair dryer, thanks to the Internet.

The hair dryer gets the temperature inside hot enough to melt the solder back onto the motherboard, apparently. I used the dryer according to detailed instructions from another website, then fired it up again.

The light was green. The blue one flickered on, too. All better! “Skyrim” ejected just fine.

There’s probably another PS3 in our future. The YLOD is a recurring problem, after all. And new PS3s come in a slimmer version with a bigger hard drive for cheaper and with a game. And the new ones have better WiFi antennas, and I need that in our spread-out house.

But the notion that I could fix complicated electronic components with a beauty aid is fantastic. Thanks, Internet! Great job!

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