Sharp Model 3LS36 Miniature Color Television (1986)

              

              

The Sharp 3LS36 television has a quirky design and a tiny color screen. It's the sort of TV that people either love or hate at a glance. Mine happens to be bright pink, and I like it a lot.

Description

Introduced in 1986, the Sharp 3LS36 is a marvel of miniature engineering and it performs very well for such a tiny set.

It's interesting to compare the Sharp with my 1958 Philco Predicta. Both TVs have a pedestal design, with a screen that can swivel back and forth.

  

In the Predicta, the picture tube is separate and the entire television chassis is contained in the cabinet below. The Sharp, on the other hand, contains the entire tuner/receiver chassis in the upper portion.

This TV came in other colors, including black, but in my view, the "Pepto-Bismol" pink edition is the coolest.

The base, or lower portion, contains an AC power supply, which connects to the upper case through a flexible cable. If you want, you can detach the upper part from the base and power it with a 12-volt DC source. The base adapter is listed as an optional accessory in factory literature, but it's hard to imagine anyone actually bought the TV without it. Besides supplying power, the base allows you to tilt the screen for convenient viewing, rather than laying it flat on a table.

The Sharp has a surprising number of input/output connections for such a small TV. You can use it with an external antenna, plug in an earphone, or even watch a movie using an external source such as VCR or DVD player.

The next photo shows the restored Sharp playing the movie Napoleon Dynamite from a DVD.

The picture quality on this miniature set is outstanding . . . if you get close enough to see it clearly. I am currently using it as a bedside set, which allows me to watch late-night TV using headphones after my wife has gone to sleep.

A note regarding the photos. I found it difficult to get the colors right using my automatic-everything digital camera, which tends to make the cabinet look too orange when the TV is playing. The most accurate representation of the cabinet color is in the photo showing the input/output connections on the side of the TV.

Several years after I first published this article, a fellow collector gave me a copy of the factory service manual. To download it, right-click on the following icon and choose Save Target As...

Restoration

The restoration story for this television covered a lot of time and territory by the time it was finished. I bought the TV over the Internet from a seller who stated that the case had no cracks and the television "worked perfectly."

Famous last words. When I received the set, I discovered that the bottom case was broken around the gooseneck stand. Either it was broken in the first place, or it broke because the seller shipped it standing upright in a flimsy box with little or no packing.

Okay, at least it's mostly in one piece. I propped up the half-broken set and plugged it in. Nothing. No picture, no sound, nada. Investigation revealed that the original power cable, which connects the lower power supply to the upper tuner/receiver, was either broken or internally burned out, and in any case, unrepairable, since it is encased in heavy molded plastic.

Okay, the seller couldn't possibly have tested the TV, but perhaps it works anyway. Hope springs eternal! I built a substitute power cable and again tried to power it up. Here's the result.

On the plus side, the CRT was not a dud, I could see colors of a sort, the tuner worked, and the sound was fantastic. On the minus side, the picture was severely squished in the vertical direction. So much for "working perfectly."

The TV passed through more than one set of hands in the process of restoration, so let's take them in order, starting with me, Repairman Number 1.

Repairman Number 1

Time to open it up. In older tube TVs, vertical problems are very common, and frequently caused by (duh) old capacitors. Glancing at the schematic, I noticed some electrolytic capacitors in the vertical circuits, which might be prime candidates for replacement.

Here's a view into the tuner/receiver chassis. Tightly packed! The main PC board is below the picture tube, with smaller boards mounted vertically on the sides.

As with many consumer electronics of this era, getting inside the cabinet is a bit of a pain. After loosening the case screws, you have to gently pry the case pieces apart, taking care not to break the little plastic pressure tabs that hold it together even after the screws are removed.

Here is the TV with the chassis fully removed. You can actually operate the television in this state, as long as you keep your fingers well away from high voltage sources.

Getting access to the electrolytics in the vertical section was quite a trip for me, since I'm used to much older tube electronics, which are huge and widely spaced by comparison.

  

Simply locating the component you want to replace is a challenge on this kind of PC board. I used a magnifying lens and strong light to get a better view. This TV uses a large number of miniature "surface mount" components—often smaller than a grain of rice!

  

Here I have unplugged one of the side boards and replaced two electrolytic capacitors in a vertical circuit.

After replacing a third electrolytic, I tried the TV again, and found no improvement in the picture.

Repairman Number 2

Okay, I'm done. I don't have the experience or the right kind of equipment to fix this kind of television.

Time to call in more muscle! I packed up the TV and shipped it to a friend in a nearby state who has a lot of experience repairing radios and TVs both old and new. He worked on the set for some time, even calling in a pal of his with more solid-state experience. They finally threw in the towel, noting that some vertical circuitry was contained in a "jungle chip," a custom multi-purpose integrated circuit that is no longer available.

They repacked the TV and shipped it back to me. At this point, I thought I was dead in the water, unless I could possibly find a junker TV of the same model with a bad case or CRT, and try swapping out boards in hopes of a miracle.

Repairman Number 3

Not long after that, someone who had read one of my questions in an online forum offered to fix the TV. Once again, the TV was packed up to travel, this time to the Midwest.

This chapter of the repair story did not end well.

I shipped the TV to him in February, and, after a long interval of waiting for news, spent several more months sending emails and letters and leaving voicemail messages to ask whether he intended to try fixing the set at all. I also heard from a couple of other TV collectors who were in the same pickle, with their TVs his hands and apparently no intention that anything would be fixed or returned.

Finally, after sending a letter to the local police chief, I convinced the "repairman" to simply send the unopened package back, using the prepaid return shipping label that I had provided.

The package arrived back home in one piece and sat in my workshop for a while. This was pretty discouraging.

Repairman Number 4

Enter Andy Cuffe. After I whined about my predicament in an online forum, Andy contacted me and offered to try his hand at the job, noting that he liked the challenge of trying to fix things that others considered unrepairable.

With little to lose at this stage, the little pink TV made yet another 1500 mile trip.

One day after receiving the TV, Andy had it working perfectly! Here is the story in his own words.

Phil,

Good news on the TV. It's now working like new.

To cut a long story short, the yoke was bad, but I was able to repair 
the yoke.

Now for the details...

First, I compared things to the schematic and noticed that the vertical 
saw tooth wave form was highly distorted at the yoke and at the vertical 
drive output from the jungle IC. I also noticed that those voltages on 
pins 15 and 13 of the jungle IC were way off.

After throughly checking the vertical output circuit and not finding 
anything I took another look at those suspect voltages. The voltage on 
pin 15 (the feedback pin) was labeled as 8.7v, but there was nowhere for 
that voltage to come from other than inside the IC. It would be unusual 
for a feedback pin to supply current to a circuit. Also, since this pin 
was grounded through a 680 ohm resistor, it would be a lot of current.

The vertical drive output from pin 13 was labeled as 6.8v, but if it was 
6.8v the vertical drive transistor (the one you replaced) would be 
driven into saturation and not pass the vertical drive signal at all.

It turns out that those voltages should have been labeled 0.87 and 0.68 
and that they were correct the whole time!

I was still confused by the distorted vertical signal. One odd thing 
was that the picture wasn't filling the screen even though the vertical 
output transistors were being driven to clipping. Even if distorted, 
the vertical circuit was giving as much signal as it possibly could, so 
it should have at least filled the screen.

Next, I disconnected the vertical yoke and tried feeding it a 60 Hz 
sawtooth from my signal generator. I found that the picture was still 
collapsed across the middle, but if I moved it up, or down with the DC 
offset, it looked ok.

I disconnected one end of the two parallel halves of the vertical yoke 
winding. One of them was open circuit, but fortunately after a little 
digging I found the break right near one end. There was enough slack to 
simply solder the new end to the terminal strip on the yoke.

After reassembly and a little adjustment it was producing a good picture.

I also repaired some cracked plastic in the base where the metal 
mounting attaches. I'm not sure if this happened in shipping to me, or 
before that. It's made of ABS plastic, so a little super glue provided 
a strong repair. Just to be safe, I reinforced it with some plastic 
epoxy. There's a small visible crack, but it's not too noticeable. The 
metal mounting bracket should be removed from the base for shipping.

I'd like to test it for a few days before I pack it up and return it to 
you, but unless something else goes wrong, it should be on its way this 
week.

Andy Cuffe

Here are Andy's before-and-after photos of the repair.

  

Wow!

What can I say . . . you gotta be impressed with a repairman who not only solves the problem, but also fixes things you didn't ask him to fix (the broken case).

Final Thoughts

After several cross-country trips and various attempts, the long saga came to a happy ending. The Sharp currently sits on my bedside table, where I can watch it late at night. (The bedside table is actually a desk which holds my favorite boatanchor radio, but that's another story.)

Here is a final snapshot that shows the accurate color rendition of this tiny TV.

So, kids, what did we learn?

Something I have known for a long time is that you can never be too careful with packing when sending electronics long distance. Before bidding on this TV, I referred the seller to my article on packing old radios and asked whether he would pack the TV that way. He said yes, but that was a lie. His poor packing job caused damage to the lower case, but at least I tried! I don't know what more I could have done, short of driving cross country to pick it up in person.

I thought it would be fun and informative to work on a type of TV that I had never attempted before, and I certainly learned some useful things about working on this kind of modern solid-state device. I also learned that I was in over my head when it came to fixing a non-obvious problem.

Never be afraid to ask for help. In hindsight, it's a good thing that I quickly recognized I didn't have the right equipment or expertise to fix this TV. Nobody knows everything, after all. I was lucky to find a couple of pals willing to help with the problem, and one of them eventually solved it.

These TVs are fairly common, so it should not be difficult to find one, if you're interested. If you buy one at long distance, the seller should ideally separate the top and bottom pieces before shipping. All you have to do is unscrew the metal collar on the gooseneck that connects the two cases, and unplug the power cable that runs between them. If even that is beyond the seller's ability, he should lay the TV on its side in the box, so that the weight of the upper module doesn't break the bottom case.

I've always been somewhat drawn to radios and TVs with unusual cabinets. Besides the Predicta, mentioned earlier, I own a "space helmet" shaped JVC VideoSphere television, a pyramidal JVC Video Capsule TV, a Colonial Globe radio in the shape of a world globe, a Trophy Baseball set shaped like a baseball, a Weltron 2001 "space ball" radio/8 track set, and even a Suntory whiskey bottle transistor.

©1995-2017 Philip I. Nelson, all rights reserved