Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Logitech / SlimDevices Squeezebox Classic Display Replacement Guide

Squeezebox Classic (3) Display Replacement Guide

Hi folks! With the Squeezebox Classic 3, a rather rare item was here today for a display refreshment. I'd like to share the experience with you of course.
Please take a look here for general information on VFDs and what is their problem.
If your Squeezebox Classic display has faded or has shadows, you've come to the right place.
An example of what I mean:

You'll see the new display in comparison later.

Tools Needed

What you need for this repair is:

  • a T10 torx screwdriver
  • a spudger or flat but stable piece of plastic to get off the grilles and remove adhesive pads
  • Noritake MN32032-type VFD glass module (MN32032A is current)
  • desoldering station (~ 320 °C, no more than 60W)
  • soldering iron with fine tip (~ 285°C, no more than 40W)
  • isopropylic alcohol (95% pure or better) to clean things up
  • recommended: 3M 08984 adhesive remover  

Tools Not Recommended

The solder pads on the main board should get as little stress as possible. So they should not be heated too much or they will easily come off the board, adding a completely new level of difficulty. So please use temperature-regulated soldering equipment, the reliable / expensive sort if possible.
I do not recommend using solder wick to desolder the old display. It takes too long and will not completely remove the solder in order to loosen the display.
When it comes to cleaning, avoid paint thinner or any other stuff that harms plastic surfaces. It is probably no good for the mainboard, too.


Steps to get down to the mainboard:
  1. remove two TX10 screws at the back of the device
  2. remove four (shorter) TX10 screws holding the mainboard in the back half of the case

Disassembly: Open the Case

Remove the two screws indicated here:

You can remove the front piece of the housing now, if it didn't fall off already.
It reveals this:

Please take a second to check the inside of the front cover. It is typical that it collects a very fine dust on the inside due to static charge. If you move your finger, or a cloth, over the surface, and it is then grey or even black, some dust has accumulated. It causes the display to appear milky so it should be removed for the desired like-new experience.
What you may also see is that people before you have tried to remove the dust. I would say that was not a perfect improvement though. The dust is gone but the surface is full of thin scratch marks:

Again, this photo is from is the inside of the display cover. It may look similar on the outside though.
Be aware that we are dealing with plastic here, no glass, and the surfaces are absolutely delicate so if you go off and clean it, use the softest materials available. We will come back to this later.

Disassembly: Loosen the Mainboard

Undo these four TX10 screws indicated: After that, a slight push on the connectors at the back of the device is all you need to get the board out of the case completely.

A quick view of the back side of the mainboard in all its glory: 

Now, similar to what you can find in the Boom repair blog, you will have to follow these steps:
  • desolder the display (18 pins, 2mm spacing)
  • cut the adhesive pads beneath the display
To desolder the display pins, my recommendation is you use a quality vacuum desoldering station. Alternatively, you may try one of the manual one-shot vacuum pumps but it's considerably more work. As the old display isn't worth anything, you can also cut all its connections with a side cutter, then get rid of the display, and eventually desolder each pin one by one. You will still need to free up all the 18 holes one way or the other to put the new display in.
While in the Boom repair guide I tried to explain how to desolder with a vacuum station in pure text, I have created a video here that shows the desoldering process on the Classic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDod-obw6Iw

Once the display pins are free, we can go ahead and remove it entirely.
First off, the display is stuck to the mainboard with two adhesive pads, one on each side, about 4cm away from the outside edge. Luckily we do not have any SMD components directly under the display. Still, there is no need to be careless.
Use a spudger with a sharp edge to cut through the adhesive pads on both sides.

Viewed from the side; observe how the spudger is slightly bent and the cutting edge stays close to the glass, not the board (to avoid accidental damage to PCB traces):

See here the remains of the adhesive pads once the display is out:

I can totally recommend the following to remove the pads. Isopropylic alcohol will do it but more slowly. The 3M chemical is a powerful agent that softens up almost any sort of adhesive:

You'll probably have a lot of trouble removing the pads without a solvent. While it is not vital to clean it up perfectly, why not take the time?
Using the 3M stuff is easy. Just soak up the remains of the adhesive pads and give it some minutes to do its magic. Soak it up another time and let it sit for a minute. After that, the pads can virtually be pushed off from their position even though I would advise you to pull them off to avoid smearing the adhesive remains.
And there will be some remains once each pad is gone. The adhesive layer is still there but now you can wipe it up with a cloth. If need be in multiple steps, and with another application of 3M. Eventually clean everything up with Isopropyl.
The result rewards you with a board good as new:

The adhesive pads mainly serve the purpose of keeping a little distance between the display and the board (about 2mm, I would guess), and ensuring that the display cannot move. You could set the new display flat on the mainboard with no distance at all, and use double-sided adhesive tape to secure it, however, that spacing might make sense, so this is a nicer alternative:

This is basically double-sided tape with a foam layer in between. It is available in all shapes and sizes and thicknesses. Try to find one that has about the same thickness as the original pads. Craft shops are usually full of them, otherwise eBay or Amazon might be your source of choice.
Before you put the adhesive pads down, please exercise placing the new display. Its 18 pins need to go straight into the holes, none of them should be stuck anywhere. If that works out, stick it down with as many adhesive pads as you desire.
Now we can start soldering the pins. After you soldered the first three pins on one side of the display, take a look at it from the side to ensure that the distance between board and display will be the same on both sides. Therefore, it is best to solder down the other three pins on the far end before turning to the twelve pins in between.
Logitech's production process is mostly automated but the display was hand-mounted. You can see that from solder flux residue around the pins of the old display. As it is likely that your solder wire has flux built-in, more flux will accumulate. Besides looking ugly, it may also be pretty aggressive to the board so my recommendation here is to remove it all after you are done soldering. Isopropyl is ideal here again, best combined with a toothbrush.
With little effort, you can make it look like this:

Please inspect your work carefully. The outer sets of three pins may be shorted. That's not a problem because they have the same potential anyway. All of the other 12 pins must not be shorted together. If you have a multimeter or other means of continuity checking device, use that to ensure that each pin is a different potential than its neighboring pin(s).
Once that is done...
Testing time!
For the first test, I left the board outside of the case so I could quickly intercept if anything goes bad. Greeted with a logo so bright it is almost blinding:

Nice! Putting it all back together is basically doing the disassembly in reverse. Don't forget that the four shorter TX10 screws are the ones fixing the mainboard inside whereas the two longer ones are applied from the back of the device to hold the front piece of the case.

Taking a look at the poor little old display, I noticed a considerable amount of burn-in! See how you can easily read text here?

So that display had the worst form of aging. The pixels covered by the text have burnt so bad they actually went darker than the surrounding ones.
It probably sat around uninterrupted for years, just showing the first step in the setup process. So that Classic wasn't even used most of the time. Why the owner had it plugged in at all remains a mystery.

I hope you liked this guide.
If you want to have this repair done for your Squeezebox, feel free to contact me. I am available as JoeMuc2009 in the US-based SlimDevices Forum, or  as JoeMod2015 in the German Squeezebox Forum. Or just drop me a note here in the comments. I have collected experience with Squeezebox devices for some years now and can fix more issues than just the displays. Always glad to help so don't hesitate :o)


Final Words

Some legal stuff because you never know: please bear in mind that I am writing this as a hobbyist, not a professional. I describe personal ideas here which is only one of many ways such a repair can be achieved. I cannot guarantee that following this guide will lead to a good result, and cannot be held liable for any personal, physical, or monetary damage anybody suffers by following this guide.
I am open to advice if anything described here is wrong or can be done better. Please let me know in the comments if you find there is anything left to be desired.
Thank you!


  1. Great guide lots of details, any idea on where I could get the VFD for the SB Classic from in the UK.

    1. You might want to try this phone number: Itron UK: +44 (0)1493 601144
      If they cannot help you or pricing is beyond reason, let me know. I can also supply you.

    2. Hi,
      It seems that my Classic has totally lost the display, so I cannot configure it anymore just now when needed. The display got darker and darker and now it is totally black. I suppose I should change the display, but how to get in touch with a new one in Finland? Do you have any links to supplier?

    3. Hi Lenni, most of Europe is supplied via the central Noritake sales office in Germany, phone number +49 (89) 3214-290. Besides the UK office stated in the reply above, It's the only source around. They also sell small quantities, however, the shipment pricing is kind of hilarious. So you might be better off when I send you a replacement display. It's a Noritake MN32032A, the exact same model that Logitech used.
      Please see here also because I suspect that it's not the display that is failing but rather the power supply circuitry. The post is about the Boom but the Classic should be pretty similar:
      You can give it a try as 3 diodes are cheap enough for the attempt. Just be sure to find a proper GND spot on the mainboard. Unlike the Boom, the Classic PCB does not have GND potential on the screw holes so you will have to route a cable from the display, the safest connection point could be where the power connector comes in.
      If that fix does not help, or the display still looks bad, I can help whichever way. If you can do the replacement yourself (good equipment is key here), I'll send you the display. Otherwise I can also repair the unit which adds just a little to the price. The repair including the new display is 75 EUR plus shipping expenses. If anything goes bad, I can send you a replacement unit.
      You can find tons of information about Squeezebox and VFDs here in the blog entries. If you have any questions, just give me a note here, or send a mail to jf@jf-it-services.de

    4. Great stuff, I also have a display problem but it's not fading or anything. My SB3 just went dark from one day to the next. After some research I found that removing the wifi card would bring back the display and the SB would work just fine over Lan. So I bought a new wifi card in China - problem solved. Now my SB3 went dark, again. After more research I found that plugging and unplugging would sporadically bring back the display, but only only if the SB was warm. Which leads me to believe it's a power problem. Any ideas anyone?

    5. Sounds to me like either a bad power supply, or aged electrolytic caps on the mainboard. It's certainly easier to check a different power supply first. Changing the electrolytic caps requires some skills with SMD (de)soldering which is not for the faint of heart as the lead-free solder requires excessive heat, and the pads are partially hidden beneath the caps. The soldering pads are easily ripped from the board during this process.
      If you can, try a new power supply first and let us all know how that turned out. Thanks!


    6. Hi Johannes, thanks for the advise. As I unplug my SB when I'm away i've just spend the morning playing in the dark after a long pause. Now the SB is warmed up, unplugged and replugged it a couple of times and voila, all working again including display...

    7. All right, but don't celebrate yet. Squeezeboxes don't usually recover by themselves. There is an issue, it is sporadic now but will become worse. I think I'll post a blog entry about the cap replacement once I have the next unit here that needs it. This will give everybody a chance to find out whether they are up to the task or not. Inside EU, I can offer this repair as well. Beyond EU boundaries it's probably too expensive to send the unit around.

  2. hello johannes

    as i just found your website, i just cant thank you enough for all your instructional guides for the squeezebox devices. i can honestly say that if you were here in the states, you would be bombarded with squeezebox repair work. thank you for making all this information available. i do see now that the vfd's are now available in the states after googling:


    i am not so technically savvy but will one day use your tutorial. thank you for providing all with just a great repository of help for the squeezebox devices.



    1. Dear tinman,

      thanks for the appreciation, it's always nice to know that this actually helps people. As far as I know, Noritake is charging crazy amounts for displays in the US (around 80 USD when I last heard of it). I can offer you to send you the same item a lot cheaper (46,20 EUR, shipping and tax included, which is currently 55.40 USD). If you are interested, let me know, my e-mail address is johannesfranke74@gmail.com.

      Wish you a happy and successful new year!

  3. Hi Joe, I would like to have a go at changing the VFD on my squeezebox 3. I should be ok with doing it but can you possibly advise as to where I could get a new screen or is http://www.noritake-itron.com with a store in Great Yarmouth the best option. Or do you have one you could sell to me..
    Many thanks, also thanks very much for your post and help.
    ( Cheshire in England)

    1. Dear Fred, please send me an email to johannesfranke74@gmail.com. I have displays in stock and probably it's way cheaper than the official Noritake selling points. We can discuss the rest via email. Thank you.

    2. Done the screen replacement, works a treat :) thanks.

    3. Hey, thanks for the feedback! Have a lot of fun with the rejuvenated Squeezebox!

  4. Joe, do you have any experience with a SB v3 that won't power on? (It had a problem with rebooting back to the Logitech screen each time I tried to play a song, but now will not start at all--blank display, only dim light from toslink, does not appear on network). I tried all the standard fixes: removed the wi-fi card, tried a different (new) power supply, tried xilinix reset. Any other ideas, or should I just use it for parts?
    Thanks! Chris

    1. Hey Christopher, up to the point where you mentioned you have tried an alternative power supply I was really certain that is it. Now that that is ruled out, I'm thinking of the electrolytic SMD capacitors, a lot of which can be found inside the SB3. They tend to become unstable especially in units which are constantly powered (this includes standby). I would recommend measuring their ESR and replacing the ones which are obviously bad. You can do this one by one and power the SB3 up in between to see whether it's getting better.
      The main suspects are in the DAC area. They are rather small and probably driven close to their specified maxima. In most of the SB3 units I had here for repair for capacitor replacement, these were done for sure whereas the others are mostly good. There might be exceptions though, it is still advisable to check them all.
      If you need help, contact me at johannesfranke74@gmail.com :o)

    2. Joe, I was also hoping it would be as simple as the power supply, but no luck. I'll either try the capacitors as you recommend, or just keep this unit for spare parts for my other Squeezebox (the faulty unit does have a good, bright display). Thanks so much for your generous help!

  5. I just received four displays from Johannes. They were reasonable in price. We had some shipping problems with DHL (avoid!), but they eventually arrived.


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