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Ice Tube Troubleshooting Guide
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Please be positive and constructive with your questions and comments.

Ice Tube Troubleshooting Guide

by adafruit_support_bill on Mon Mar 19, 2012 4:37 pm

Ice Tube Troubleshooting Guide:

Most Ice Tube problems can be traced to component placement or soldering. If you run into trouble, first verify component placement and solder joints as described below:

Verify component placement

Check color codes on resistors. These should match the corresponding part numbers in the parts list.

Check printed values on capacitors. Don’t go by the colors, since these may vary.

Beware of similar looking components:
    * F1 looks very much like a ceramic capacitor.
    * C8 & C9 are CRITICAL for accurate time and must not be mistaken for similar looking capacitors.
    * C5 is a special high-voltage part for the boost circuit. Do not mistake it for F1 or one of the other ceramic caps.
Check orientation of:
    * Electrolytic capacitors – The long lead goes in the ‘+’ hole. The stripe should line up with the ‘-‘ hole.
    * Transistors – These should line up with the outline on the silkscreen. Q2 has a bridge between two of the pins. Check the photos for the proper alignment of this part.
    * Other ICs Check the photos for proper alignment. Pay special attention to the orientation of any identifying notches and/or dots on these parts.

Check solder joints

Make sure that all joints are soldered.

Check that all leads are clipped close to the board.

Looks for solder bridges. Examine for possible solder bridging between adjacent solder joints and remove if necessary (one exception is between Q2 and D3. The pads for these are touching by design.)

Clean off solder spatters. These can work lose and cause a short.

Look for ‘cold’ joints:
    * The solder should have a smooth and shiny appearance. Rough or frosted looking solder is a sign of a cold joint.
    * Solder should be flowed well onto both the pin and the pad as in the diagram below. Gaps in the solder or solder that has balled up around the pin may not be good electrical connections.

Solder Joint.gif
Cross section of an ideal solder joint.
Solder Joint.gif (7.78 KiB) Viewed 15336 times

Retouch any joint that looks suspicious.

Simple continuity is not enough! Your meter may say you have a good connection, but cold joints are often intermittent and can deteriorate over time. If it looks suspicious, retouch it until it looks good.

Common Ice Tube Problems:

These are the most common problems people encounter when assembling this kit:

No 5v power. You should have 5v (or very close) on pin 3 of IC3 (the pin furthest from the edge of the board).

Check component placement and soldering for:
    * F1
    * IC3
    * D1, C1, C2
    * D2, C4, C5
Check that F1 is not hot.

Check that IC3 is not hot (warm is OK). Overheating components in the power supply circuit indicate a short circuit somewhere on the board. Disconnect power immediately and examine the rest of the board for possible short circuits.

No beep on power up

Verify the 5v supply (see above)

Check battery detect circuit:
    * Verify component placement and soldering for C10, R1, R2

Verify processor orientation
    * The notch should line up with the silkscreen

Make sure the beeper is installed

Low Boost Voltage. With no tube or VFD chip installed, you should measure between 40 and 70v on the striped end of D3. With a VFD chip installed, you should measure approximately 14-16v.

Check the supply voltage
    * You should have close to 9v on pin 1 of IC3 (the pin closest to the edge of the board)

Make sure there is a beep on power up (See above). The boost circuit will not work unless the processor is running.

Check the component placement & soldering for the boost circuit:
    * L1
    * Q2
    * D3
    * C5, C6, C7
Note the orientation of the bridged pins on Q2:

Tube does not light

Check Boost Voltage (see above)

Check Bias Voltage. You should have ~4.7v at the end of R3 closest to Q3.
    * Verify component placement and soldering for Q3 & R3.

Verify orientation of the VFD chip (IC2). The beveled edge with the dot should be on the side closest to the Piezo buzzer.

One or more segments is missing from all digits.
One or more digits is not lighting up.

These problems are almost always due to soldering problems between the VFD chip and the tube.

Check the soldering on:
    * Tube
    * Header on Tube Board
    * Header on Main Board
    * VFD Socket

Clock time does not advance.

Check the crystal circuit
    * Verify component placement and soldering for Q1, C8, C9

I've tried everything and it still doesn't work!

There is always help in the forums! :D Post clear photos of the front and back of the boards and describe the problem as precisely as you can.

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Please be positive and constructive with your questions and comments.