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Solder Joints and the XBox 360 3 Red Lights Fix


As mentioned near the end of this article the connections between the electronic components (solder joints) begin to irreversibly fail when the XBox 360 simply gets too hot for too long and does not shut down in time. Even if the your XBox 360 does shut down in time, if the overheating “cycle” happens too often the connections will eventually fail anyway.

Here’s a detailed explanation and solution:

If you’ve ever looked inside your PC case, or any other electronic device, you’ll see a (typically green) colored board with square black components (chips) all over it. The board is called the circuit board and the chips, of course, are the little “brains” that tell the electronic device (or your XBox 360) how to work.

When you look closer at the chips, especially around the edges or underneath, you’ll see little shiny silver legs coming off of them. The actual legs of the chips themselves are dull gray or brown depending on what metal they’re made from. Nevertheless, the shiny metal you see on the legs is called solder.

Solder begins as a hot liquid and is applied between the legs of the chip and the circuit board during manufacturing. When the solder cools down, it hardens up and permanently holds the chips to the circuit board. Now everything is connected to one-another and game play can begin on your XBox 360.

Now, bring heat into the picture:

Heat causes expansion (and cooling causes contraction). When you turn on your XBox 360 and begin play things begin to heat up and expand. The circuit board will warp ever so slightly and this starts to place stress on the solder connections as they try to pull apart from the board. When the XBox 360 is turned off the board will return to it’s original shape and the stress between the connections is relieved. All is well.

However, over time as the XBox 360 is constantly being turned on & off the cycle of expansion and contraction begins to weaken the solder joints – similar to moving the lid of a tin can back and forth – and separation will occur. To further speed this process up, when massive overheating takes place the circuit board can warp so much that he joints can break apart right away! 

Up until the late 1990’s solder was made out of a mixture of tin and lead metals. This gave solder a significant amount of flexibility which made it highly resistant to the constant warping of the circuit board.

Unfortunately, the lead portion of the solder poses safety and environmental hazards. This became a matter of increased concern and the trend was to rid solder of as much lead as possible.

New mixtures of solder were experimented with and a new formulation is now used with almost zero lead. As with any compromise though, the elimination of existing problems introduces new ones – in this case, flexibility. Low lead solder is much more brittle than the old tin/lead mixture.

Since the XBox 360 was born in the early 2000’s the solder used on the components inside the console is most likely the new low lead mixture. When heat is introduced as explained above and hot new video games are working (and heating) the components harder than ever it becomes clear that connection failure is inevitable.  This will cause the XBox 360 Three Red Light Error to come on and stay on! 


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XBox 360 Three Red Lights - Causes:

 

How to Repair XBox 360 - Quick Checks

XBox 360 Failure due to Overheating

Solder Joints and the 3 Red Lights Fix

Microsoft XBox Repairs - Knowledge Base

 

 

More XBox 360 Three Red Lights Info:

 

XBox 360 Console Repair for the Red Ring of Death

How to Repair a XBox 360 with 3 Red Lights

Is XBox 360 System Repair Possible?

The XBox 360 3 Red Light Fix

How to Fix XBox 360 Game Consoles

What are the XBox 360 3 Blinking Red Lights?

 

 

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