The Electronics Repair Cookbook


From the author of The Car Stereo Cookbook

What is this book about?

Baking a cake shouldn't require you to be a professional baker. And fixing your TV or laptop shouldn't require you to be an engineer in electronics. That's the idea behind The Electronics Repair Cookbook. The information in this book can save you time and hundreds of dollars with a single repair.

This book will give beginners the confidence and know-how to repair electronics. It starts from scratch with the basics and advances to more complex repair techniques. It's filled with photos, diagrams, and charts to make the material easy to understand, but even experienced repairers will benefit from the know-how inside.

Who is this book about?

This book will give beginners the confidence and know-how to repair electronics.  It starts from scratch with the basics and advances to more complex repair techniques.  

It’s filled with photos, diagrams, and charts to make the material easy to understand, but even experienced repairers will benefit from the know-how inside.

Download a sample

Download this free sample. It contains 92 pages (PDF), full table of contents, and several full chapters.

Key learnings

  • General repair methods including taking things apart, identifying likely suspects,
  • tracking down intermittent problems, in-circuit component testing, and troubleshooting
  • How to identify parts, tell if they're working, and find substitutes
  • Tools and supplies to make repairs faster, easier, cheaper, and better
  • Soldering and desoldering techniques
  • Using digital multimeters and oscilloscopes
  • How to safely work on electronics

Book format

You can purchase this book in paperback or eBook format from Amazon.


  • 268 pages.
  • Black & White
  • Order from Amazon
  • ISBN 979-8-6863-4381-8
  • First printed October 2020


  • Compatible with Kindle ebook readers.
  • 268 pages.
  • Black & White.
  • Not Printable.
  • Instant download on your Kindle device.

How is this book organized?

If you have no electronics background, start with Chapter 2 and work your way forward. If you do have some electronics experience, you’ll be able to move quickly through the material in the early chapters. But don’t skip them entirely; there are useful tips for experienced repairers in every chapter.

Chapter 2, “Safety.” This chapter discusses safe working practices for electronics repair. Some hazards are obvious, but others, such as charged capacitors in electronics that are unplugged and off or high voltage in battery-operated devices, are not so obvious.

Chapter 3, “Electronics Basics.” If you’re new to electronics, this chapter will introduce you to the basics of electronic components, block and schematic diagrams, and electricity.

Chapter 4, “Equipment and Supplies.” Repairing electronics requires some specialized supplies and equipment. You may already have some of what you’ll need. The real value of this chap- ter is that it lets you discover something to make repairs faster, easier, cheaper, or better. It’s organized by basic supplies, hand tools, and equipment from basic to advanced.

Chapter 5, “Soldering and Desoldering.” Knowing how to solder and desolder is a necessary skill for electronics repair. With some knowledge and a little practice, everyone can learn to solder well enough for basic repair work. This chapter provides the knowl- edge; you’ll have to do the practicing on your own. This chapter also covers printed circuit board (PCB) trace repair, replacing heat-sinked devices, and special techniques for surface-mount devices.

Chapter 6, “Using Test Equipment.” This chapter explains the basics of how to use the two most important pieces of test equipment for electronics repair: digital multimeters and oscilloscopes. This chapter shows what the equipment can be used for and its ease of use.

Chapter 7, “Part Identification, Testing, and Substitution.” This chapter is about how to identify parts, tell whether they’re working, and find a substitute, if needed. The procedures for checking parts in this chapter assume that the part is out of circuit.

Chapter 8, “General Repairs and Troubleshooting.” This chapter provides repair guidance that can be applied to any electronic device. Topics include poor candidates for repair, taking it apart, what to look for in a visual inspection, likely suspects, intermittent problems, and in-circuit component testing. The second half of the chapter is devoted to the art of troubleshooting. Topics include resources for understanding the system, troubleshooting strategy, power supply troubleshooting, and transistor circuitry troubleshooting.

Chapter 9, “Product-Specific Repairs.” This chapter provides specific repair advice for the most commonly repaired products, including audio receivers, rechargeable battery packs, flat screen TVs, laptops, and remote controls.

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Full table of contents

C H A P T E R 1

Before You Begin   1
Introduction 1
How This Book Is Organized 2      

C H A P T E R 2
Safety    5
High Voltage 5
Electrolytic Capacitors 5
Inverter Circuits 6
Lasers 7
Solder and Soldering 7
Solvents and Chemicals 7
Eye Protection 8
Childproof Your Work Area 8
Don’t Work Alone 8
Electronic Waste Disposal 8

C H A P T E R 3
Electronics Basics    9
 Introduction to Components    9
Resistors    9
Potentiometers    9
Capacitors    11
Inductors    11
Diodes    12
Transistors    12
Integrated Circuits    14
Transformers    14
Relays    15
Introduction to Schematics    16
Block Diagrams versus Schematics    16
Component Symbols    18
Introduction to Electricity    19
Basic Units of Electricity    19
Ohm’s Law    20
Power Formulas    20
Batteries in Series    20
Resistors in Series and Parallel    21
Capacitors in Parallel    22
AC versus DC    22

C H A P T E R 4
Equipment and Supplies    25
Basic Supplies    25
Electrical Contact Cleaner Sprays    25
Air Duster    26
Freeze Mist    27
Solder    28
Solder Wick    28
Heat-Shrink Tubing    28
Electrical Tape    30
Heat-Sink Compound    30
Nail Polish    31
Wire Ties    31
Solvents    32
Glues    33
Clip Leads    35
Crimp Connectors    36
Hand Tools    38
Needle-Nose Pliers    38
Wire Cutters    38
Wire Stripper    39
X-Acto Knife    40
Precision Screwdriver Set    40
JIS (Japanese Industrial Standard) Screwdriver Set    42
Security-Bit Set    44
Solder Sucker    45
Tweezers    45
Hemostats    45
Pin Vise    46
Dental Pick    46
Crimper    46
Strain-Relief Pliers    47
Nut-Driver Set    47
Basic Equipment    48
Soldering Iron/Soldering Station    48
Digital Multimeter    50
Magnifiers: OptiVISOR/Magnifier Lamp    51
Antistatic Mat and Wrist Strap    53
Intermediate Equipment    54
Heat Gun    54
Digital Calipers    55
Panavise    56
Dummy Loads    56
Advanced Equipment    58
Power Supply    59
ESR Meter    60
Oscilloscope    62
Function Generator    64
Isolation Transformer    64

C H A P T E R  5 
Soldering and Desoldering    67
Soldering    67
Proper Tip Size and Temperature    67
Use the Right Solder    68
How to Solder    71
Flux Removal after Soldering    72
Desoldering    72
Solder Wick    73
Solder Suckers    74
Flux Pen    74
Add Solder    74
Use a Pin Vise    75
Clip Instead of Desolder    76
PC Board Trace Repair    78
Heat-Sinked Devices    80
Heat-Sink Compound    80
Thermal Pads    81
Mica Insulators    83
Bolt Down, Then Solder    83
Soldering and Desoldering Surface-Mount Parts    84

C H A P T E R  6 
Using Test Equipment    87
Using a Digital Multimeter    87
General Measurement Procedure    87
Continuity Mode    90
Current Measurement    90
Diode Test    91
Using an Oscilloscope    93
Scope Probes    93
Probe Compensation    94

C H A P T E R  7 
Part Identification, Testing, and Substitution    97    
Counterfeit and Off-Brand Parts        97
Resistors        98
Identifying Resistance Value and Tolerance        99
Power Rating        102
Substitution        102
Potentiometers        103
Pots Used as Controls        104
Pots Used for Calibration        104
Other Pot Parameters and Substitution        105
Capacitors        106
Electrolytic Capacitors        106
Discharging Electrolytic Capacitors        108
Replacing Electrolytic Capacitors        110
Tantalum Capacitors        111
Film Capacitors        113
Ceramic Capacitors        113
Replacing Ceramic Capacitors        115
Inductors        115
Replacing Inductors        116
Diodes        117
Signal Diodes        118
Rectifier Diodes        118
Schottky Diodes        118
Zener Diodes        119
Varactor Diodes        119
Transistors    119
Transistor Packages    120
Transistor Failure Modes    121
Transistor Substitution    123
Voltage Regulators    124
Checking Regulators    125
Integrated Circuits    125
IC Packages    126
IC Testing    126
IC Substitution    127
Varistors    128
Varistor Identification and Replacement    129
Thermistors    129
Thermistor Identification and Replacement    130
Fuses    130
Fuse Failure    131
Fuse Replacement    131
Switches    132
Pole and Throw Terminology    133
Switch Function    135
Try Contact Cleaner    135
Replacement and Substitution    135
Transformers    137
Transformer Failure    138
Transformer Replacement and Substitution    138
Relays    139
Relay Testing    140
Replacement and Substitution    140
Analog Meters    141
Stuck Needle Fixes    142
Meter Replacement and Substitution    143
AC Adapters    144
AC Adapter Basics    144
Testing AC Adapters for a Bad Cable    145
Testing AC Adapters for Correct Output Voltage    145
AC Adapter Repair    146
AC Adapter Substitution    149
Component Test Summary    150

C H A P T E R  8 
General Repairs and Troubleshooting    151    
Is It Worth Fixing?        151
Poor Candidates for Repair        152
How Did It Break?        152
First Things to Check        153
Is It Getting Power?        153
Check the Fuse        153
Unplug for a Few Minutes        153
Factory Reset        153
Taking It Apart        154
Screws under Feet and Labels        154
Hidden Tabs        155
Cutting It Apart        156
Keeping Track of Which Screws Go Where        158
Take Pictures        160
Board Connectors        160
Visual Inspection        164
Bulging or Leaking Electrolytic Capacitors    164
Signs of Liquid or Corrosion Damage    165
Burned Components    165
Deformed Components    165
Melted Insulation on Wires    166
Components with a Hairline Crack    166
Bad Solder Joints    166
Components with a Chunk Missing    167
Discolored Areas on the PC Board or Cabinet    167
Likely Suspects    167
Electrolytic and Tantalum Capacitors    167
High-Power Components    167
I/O Components    168
Mechanical Components    168
Intermittent Problems    169
Get the Problem to Show Up    169
Likely Suspects for Intermittent Problems    169
In-Circuit Component Testing    170
In-Circuit versus Out-of-Circuit Testing    170
Measure In-Circuit    171
Lift One Lead    172
The Joy of Sets    173
Power the Circuit    173
More Joy of Sets    176
Troubleshooting    176
What Is Troubleshooting?    177
Understand the System    177
Divide and Conquer    179
Fix the Cause    180
Power Supply Troubleshooting    180
Transistor Circuitry Troubleshooting    182
Keeping a Repair Log    187

C H A P T E R  9 
Product-Specific Repairs    191
Flat-Screen TVs    191
What’s Inside a Flat-Screen TV?    192
Taking a Flat-Screen TV Apart    194
Diagnosing Flat-Screen TV Problems    196
Laptop Computers    202
Finding Replacement Laptop Parts    203
Laptop Cracked Screen Replacement    203
Laptop Keyboard Replacement    205
Rechargeable Battery Packs    207
Replace or Repair?    207
Identifying Cell Types    207
Rebuilding a Battery Pack    209
Audio Receivers and Power Amps    211
Electrical Contact Problems    211
Blown Output Amplifier Circuitry    212
Loudspeakers    217
Driver Damage    217
Driver Replacement    218
Listening Test and Fine-Tuning    219
Additional Considerations for Woofer Substitution    220
Woofer Surround Repair    221
To Shim or Not to Shim    222
Surround Size and Edge Type    224
Shimless Surround Repair    227
Remote Controls    228
User Error    228
Battery Problems    229
Keypad Problems    230
Replacement    231
Part Suppliers    233
References    235
Index    237

Who is this book for?

This book will give beginners the confidence and know-how to repair electronics. 

It starts from scratch with the basics and advances to more complex repair techniques.  

It’s filled with photos, diagrams, and charts to make the material easy to understand, but even experienced repairers will benefit from the know-how inside.

About the author

I’ve always been interested in how things work. When I was a kid, people would give me their broken stuff and I’d take it apart to see what was inside. I was especially fascinated by electronics. How could all those tiny parts with wires sticking out of them make a radio or TV? I yearned to understand.

It wasn’t until studying electrical engineering that the mysteries really started to be revealed. Following my sophomore year at Purdue, RCA offered me a summer engineering internship at their Indianapolis headquarters. This is where RCA televisions were designed. Little did I know that this would be the start of more than 25-years of design work with them.

It quickly became clear that designing circuits for consumer electronics required a lot more expertise than what was taught in the engineering classroom. Fortunately, the RCA technical culture was very nurturing and experienced engineers were eager to share their knowledge with a beginner. Designing products to be reliable was a business necessity and required an intimate understanding of why circuits fail.

Once the word is out that you can fix things, there’s no shortage of repair projects that come your way. This is how it worked for me, and I’ve had the opportunity to fix an incredible number and variety of devices, I never say no.

Why did I write the Electronics Repair Cookbook? I read the top-selling books on electronics repair and thought I could do better for the reader. I believe that basic electronics repairs are within reach of most people given the right information and presented in the right way. The material needs to start from scratch then advance to more complex topics. It needs to be up-to-date and complement online information resources like YouTube and iFixit by filling the gaps. And like every cookbook, it needs to be easy to follow, have plenty of photos and a great index.

Thank you for considering my book, I wish you many successful repairs!

-- Mark Rumreich

Not only does this book give you a clear understanding of what components are and what they do but it also shows how to diagnose a repair problem with simple and inexpensive test gear. If you have ever looked at a circuit board and wondered where the heck to start, this book will arm you with the tools, knowledge, and guidance for success and understanding in an electronics world

Dennis Petruzzi

President, lnfiniti Force Power Solutions