Sunday, October 4, 2020

Digital Projection Lightning 35HD: Critical maintenance procedures

I volunteer at the old Loews Jersey theater in Jersey City. Our main digital projector is a Digital Projection Lightning 35HD. It’s about 15 years old now, and had been working until it failed the other month.

I’ll talk in another post about recovering from the white screen failure mode, but if you’re not experiencing that failure mode, and your 35HD is working, there are two big things you need to do to make your life easier in the future.

First, you need to image the 35HD’s Compact Flash card.

The 35HD uses a 128MB CF card as a boot drive. Replacements for CF cards are easy to come by, but if it fails, the problem is that the information on the card would be lost. The tech staff at the Loews Jersey has an image of our 35HD’s card; contact us if you are suffering from this issue and we’ll try to help you as best we can.

How to image the card? The card is pretty easily accessible. Turn off and unplug the 35HD, and remove the computer module by removing the large screws on the module with the touchscreen. On the back right of the computer module is a small access hole covered by a plate. Remove the two screws covering the plate, and you’ll have access to the CF card. Remove the card and image it with the usual tools.

Second, you need to put in a new CMOS battery before the old one fails.

The CMOS battery used in the 35HD is a 2032. I don’t know how much the drain is and how long to expect it to last, but if it’s been more than 3–4 years since you last replaced it (or if you’ve never replaced it), you really need to replace it now. If the battery goes dead, the projector will fail and boot to a white screen. That is a recoverable state, but recovering from it is an incredible pain, so aggressively keeping a good battery in the 35HD is preferable.

To replace the battery: Unscrew the computer module and remove the shield to its left. Unplug all the cables. Move the computer module to a table, and place it screen up. Remove all the screws holding on the metal cover.

Inside the computer module is the motherboard. You don’t need to unplug or unscrew anything; the CMOS battery is at the edge of the motherboard. Carefully replace the battery and reassemble the projector the way you took it apart.

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