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Samurai Appliance Repair Man posted a blog entry in Samurai Appliance Repair Man's BlogI used to do board level repairs on state of the art computer controlled radar systems where there was real troubleshooting involved with signal generators, digital probes, oscilloscopes, and a fully stocked bench. Yes, you had to understand how electronics circuits work and how to read electronic schematics. I did this all day long for several years in the Navy and with Delta Air Lines. And by the way, almost all the electronic failures in these units were completely invisible— you had to find the problem with skillfully selected electrical measurements. That ain't what we're talking about here with PCM (parts changing monkey) field repairs on electronic control boards. What we're talking about here is PCM stuff- finding visibly burned triacs or bulging capacitors on a board and replacing it. No troubleshooting, just monkey see monkey do. In their shortsightedness, many guys are spending time on this rather than learning how circuits work and how to troubleshoot. And they think that because they can change a bulging cap, they know electronics. The impulse to improve their expertise is good, but this is the wrong application. As I've shown in other posts, board-level repair should be done rarely and only in very particular circumstances. The notion that board repairs can improve your bottom line is also wrong-headed... Question: How often do you run into electronics boards with a visibly failed component and is a good candidate for a field repair (no urethane coating, damage contained to one or two parts, no damage to the chips that store the software program)? Answer: Less than 5% of total call volume. Electric circuit troubleshooting, on the other hand, applies to about 85 to 90% of the total call volume. Put your time into gaining expertise where it’s needed most often. Meanwhile, many techs can’t even tell from the schematic when loads are in series vs parallel. Some of these same techs think that L1 and L2 are in phase with each other and they'll prove it to you by looking at the output of a sound generator on an oscilloscope. This is the depth of understanding about basic electricity that is ubiquitous in the appliance repair trade today. This is where idiocracy meets appliance repair. It’s like this: if you cannot pick up a schematic, read it and understand how electrons shoot through those circuits, troubleshoot problems with your meter and properly interpret what your meter is showing you, then you have no business wasting time learning PCM board repairs. First things first- spend your time learning skills that will serve you on almost every service call you run. Learning how to troubleshoot and think analytically is hard. But the PCM game is easy-- that’s exactly its appeal. This is why field repairs on electronic control boards is the new PCM frontier.