(and 9 things to look at before we do)
We often receive equipment in for repair, with the nebulous explanation of “it doesn’t work.” Here are some suggestions to make the troubleshooting and repair process easier:
Before you send your unit in, first check four things. These account for 15-20% of root causes of items we receive, and checking them might save you some headache:
- Did you check to see if the batteries are good? Even though we advise to use fresh batteries at the start of projects, not everyone does. Dead batteries = dead equipment.
- Did you check the frequency that you intended to tune to? Transmitters and receivers sometimes “don’t work” or don’t communicate with each other because they’re not synched to the same frequency. Or, the frequency that the user is attempting to use is unavailable or is full in that city or country (frequency scans sometimes lock into what is available, not what is allowed or optimal!). We recall one customer who was working onsite and inadvertently tuned to the local Public Safety band! Some specifics on these issues are detailed in Wire List #2.
- Are the compatibility modes the same? Just like with frequency, incompatible modes can make transmitters and receivers perform poorly or just not work.
- If there is firmware available for your unit, did you check to see if an update is needed?. Not all firmware updates are necessary to the functioning of the unit, so you’ll want to read through the list for your product to see if the behavior you’re seeing was addressed with an update. To make sure that you stay on top of new firmware releases, sign up to receive the RSS feed alerts.
What if you checked the above and your unit is still inoperable or not working properly? Before you call us, it would be helpful to write down the exact model number, serial number and the actual firmware version that is installed on the unit. We will look up your unit, then provide you with a Repair Order number (RO#) and instructions for sending it in. Also, we’ll ask you what kind of batteries you were using, and information about the rest of the signal chain, so please have this information available as well.
The following details will be extremely helpful to the technician that works on it, and it will save them from having to spend valuable time playing CSI:
- Did the unit expire during use? Did you turn it on and get no signal or power? Or did you turn it on and it didn’t work (after checking the above)?
- What’s the symptom of your issue? Many people report what they think the cause of issues to us (i.e. – “I think the battery contacts are the issue”). What we need to know is the symptom (i.e. – “The unit has fresh batteries. I turn the knob and it does not come on or light up”).
- Where was the unit physically when it failed and what was the environment like? Detail is important, and more is best. In the case of a transmitter, was it on a belt or on the talent? What were the operating temperature and humidity level like (hot or cold, dry or humid)? What was the application (A concert stadium? Movie set? Theater? In the wild?)
- Did it fall into water…or something else? You can tell us – we truly have heard it all (talent dropping units into the toilet happens a lot). Knowing that the unit got wet, sprayed or submerged – and knowing in what – might guide our repair process. Some liquids are more damaging than others.
- Is the problem constant or intermittent? For example, are you not getting any signal at all…or is it cutting in and out? How often is it happening (Once an hour? Every 15 minutes?)? Please be aware that in the case of an intermittent problem, a rush repair is almost always impossible, since we need time to assess, duplicate and trace what you are seeing.
- Did you open the case or tinker with the unit in any way? This doesn’t necessarily void the warranty, so don’t be afraid to tell us if you opened the case to assess the situation.
- Do you notice any specific smells coming from the unit? Does it have a heated plastic smell? Or does it smell burned or like a chemical? Is it leaking any fluid, without having come in contact with any?
- Make sure that you write down the serial number of your unit and have not intentionally removed it. It goes without saying that you shouldn’t purchase any Lectrosonics equipment without first verifying that the serial number is legible and in place. We maintain a database of units that were reported lost or stolen, and if the serial number is missing from a unit we receive, that is our first suspicion that it might have been stolen or misplaced at some point. Resales are not normally an issue, but please be aware that our Authorized Service Centers cannot repair units that have had the serial numbers intentionally removed, and we will return a unit to its rightful owner if we receive one that has been reported stolen.
- If the unit is making a noise, try to get a recording of it and save that recording as a WAV file, which travels easily through email. Similarly, if you’re getting an error message, a video of it happening would be helpful. You can use a cell phone to make these recordings. These are extremely helpful to us, especially when we’re unable to duplicate the complaint in our testing. Our techs may recognize the sound as something they’ve heard before – this will likely cut down on the time it takes to evaluate the course of action.
While we’re discussing repairs, did you know that sending problem units to the Mothership is not your only option? We have factory authorized service centers. Oftentimes, their lead times are shorter than sending them to HQ:
In New York City – Jaycee Communications – 718-428-7818 or
In Canada – Lectrosonics Canada – 416-596-2202 or
We also have Lectrosonics-trained personnel around the world that we can refer you to for simple component level repairs, such as a knob that broke off. You can see a full list here. If the problem is complex – like a board assembly or a tuning and alignment – the unit needs to come to us or an Authorized Repair Center.
We proudly build our products to withstand nearly anything that you can subject them to. But if they’re not working as designed, we or one of our Authorized Repair Centers can help. Also make sure you check out our Service Bulletins and Tech Notes. There is a wealth of information posted that might shed some light on your issue.