Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fixing an Infoglobe

One of the Infoglobe I have, started to have problems time ago.
Initially the problem was random, one row of the message, was missing for few seconds, then working normally.
But on time, the missing row problem become permanent.
Then another row started to dim and then disappeared.

At this point I decided to open the Infoglobe and discover the cause of the problem.
Here a description of what I did, hopefully it can be useful to somebody else.

Opening the Infoglobe

As described in my first article on the Infoglobe, I opened the Infoglobe.
However, I just removed the dome. There is no need to remove the 4 screws on the bottom since the problem is located only on the rotating arm.

Once removed the dome and unscrewed the rotating arm, I removed the rotating arm for a detailed inspection.

The rotating arm removed from the Infoglobe

The problem

The rotating arm is composed by two PCBs connected at 90 degrees.
The small PCB at the end of the arm is hosting 8 LEDs (in my case, 8 blue LEDs).
In the picture, note the arrows indicating the side exposed during the rotation.

The first thing I noticed was a dark color on the side exposed in the rotation.
I think is was dust mixed to small PCB particles. The high rotation and vibration, during the years, probably caused a partial disintegration of the PCB and conductive material.
The rotation itself allowed this dust, probably also electrically charged, to deposit on the LEDs side exposed to the rotation.

Note in the picture above the dust deposit around the LED.  When the dust touched two LEDs, a short circuit happened, forcing the LED off.
Initially only for few microseconds, thus the "dimming" effect, then with enough dust, permanently.

Fixing the problem

With a very soft old tootbrush, I removed the dust from the rotating arm, especially from the PCB with the LEDs, and then I put it back the rotating arm.
It worked perfectly.

I was worried to have to re-do some soldering on the LEDs, but I didn't found any sign of detachment, so for the moment I put it back the rotating arm and close the dome again.


  1. I have an Info globe also, except the difference of mine is that it has 3 colors. Mine used to have a problem where one line shut off, then another until blank. All what had to be done is on the back, use a soldering kit and solder the pieces back together and then good as new. Now what happens, (I'm hoping your post helps and not an electronic board issue/data corruption) is several things. Sometimes it shows random text instead of what I programmed it to, or just some text. Sometimes it is showing text, and then all the sudden it completely goes blank. I 10 - 60 seconds later, it comes back on and happens random. When the text becomes still to replace the text with something else, the text is very shaky. Oh, also, I currently have my color set to blue, but sometimes, rarely, it turns the color to red then back to blue. I will follow your steps here, and hope that it get's this working again (I've had it since I was 6 and I'm now 13 and it was a display model where it was bought. So maybe it's just dying.
    Thank you for posting this blog.

  2. Ian, the Infoglobe multicolor has a rotating arm little bit bigger of the normal one, since the "head" has 3 set of LED instead of one.
    Other than that, the same principle of the standard arm apply.
    The problem you describe it could be generated by a defective base board or also from a IR link problem.
    The data to display, what color to use, ecc., is trasnfered via an IR link.
    A diode on the base is sending up the info to the rotating arm. If the diode is misaligned or has problems, or if the photodiode on the rotating arm has problems (i.e. dust that cover it) I would expect the kind of problems you describe.
    I would try to check if the photodiode on the rotating arm is clean.
    Check also the alignment of the diode on the base.

  3. Stefano,
    Thank you so much for posting how to fix the Infoglobe. The bottom rows of lights were not working so I thought my Infoglobe was dying. But I tried your suggestion of cleaning the LED and it worked!! Am so happy! I hope it lasts another 10 years for I love that silly thing.

  4. Hi,

    I have the Olympia Infoglobe Plus, which is the globe and handheld telephone. I have had it since it was new. I had to move a couple times and after my third move, I plugged it in and it needed a new battery for the handset. I found one and replaced it. Then it seemed to work pretty well. Except that about a year later it suddenly set the time and date back about 30 days, as if someone hacked it through the phone line and reprogrammed a chip inside. Then a day or two later it went back to normal time.

    Now it is about 2 years later and the globe is losing time. About a week ago I reprogrammed the time and it lost about a minute a day. Today I reprogrammed it and it lost 5 minutes in about a half hour.

    Any ideas?

    I currently have it unplugged to discharge any capacitors. I have also noticed it retains caller ID numbers for quite a while, so whatever is supplying power for that I also want to discharge, and then plug everything back in and hope this resets the timing circuit as well.

    Does anyone have a better idea?

    I have no issues with the display except it did seem to get stuck in a loop of only showing the last number called in. Which is why today I pulled the plug to help it reset.

    1. Charles, unless your model is totally different than the others, the date and time used are the one received from your phone line when a call is received.
      If for any reason your provider has the wrong time set for your line, you can see on your caller ID (ANY caller ID, not only the Infoglobe) the wrong date/time.
      So basically any caller ID doesn't track the time precisely since every received call the internal clock is refreshed with the received value.
      Wrong date/time usually is due from a wrong date/time sent from your provider.

      Showing the last number received is also a normal behavior for the Infoglobe unless is the only thing showed :) A reset sometime could be necessary .. honestly I don't even remember when I reset mine last time :)

  5. hola, me acaban de obsequiar un infoglobe pero no tengo idea de como configurarlo. tienes algun manual o video en español para hacerlo?. te agradezco de antemano.

  6. Great instructions and I was able to repair the globe successfully. Popping the globe off the base was the hardest part.
    Thanks Michael

    1. Hi,
      How exactly did you Pop off the globe? Did you use a small screwdriver and slowly insert it between the base and the globe while prying it up a little at a time?
      Thanks, Fred

    2. Basically yes, very very gently and better use some tool in plastic rather than a screwdriver.

  7. Hi Stefano,
    I just stumbled across your blog. In my case, my InfoGlobe has stopped spinning and all LEDs are dark. The power adapter still seems to be providing power. Any ideas on what could be wrong?

    1. Well, if the arm is not spinning I would first verify the motor.
      The LED are dark because the power to the LED bar come from contacts on the rotor. No motion, no power.
      Maybe on ebay you can find some infoglobe with other problems and you can just change the motor.
      It is also possible is some electronic component burned, I'm sure the motor is controlled by a transistor or mosfet, possible it burned off.

    2. Sadly, I didn't see your reply before I gave up. After a lot of poking around inside my dead infoglobe, I went to Amazon and bought a new one for a hefty chunk of money! Blue LEDs this time (the original was orange). The new one worked fine until it stopped lighting up although the arm continues spinning! Could this be also due to the dust issue? I'm going to have to figure out how I opened the dome up the last time. Sigh.

    3. The dust problem is forming after years of daily use. Unless the infoglobe you bought is used I would think about other possible problems.
      If the arm is spinning and no messages are coming out is possible the board below is fried, or the infrared LED is burned out, or the arm is not receiving power .. i.e. is not easy to diagnose the problem.
      Sure, go ahead and open it and try to clean the LEDs but also consider that the dust problem happens gradually, i.e. one LED having problems, then two, etc.
      If it just stopped to work altogether I would look elsewhere.

  8. Hello Stefano! I have an Olympia Globe OL3000.2 that I've had a few years. Lately it has been shutting down all a sudden. The first time it shut off I thought it was due to a power outage, but it turned out the unit was the only item no working. So I decided to unplug it and plug it back it back in. It worked for 24 hours. After 24 hours it shut down again. It now appears that I need to unplug and plug the power back in daily. Any ideas of what might be happening.

    1. I would try to change the power supply. These things with the age often simply start to have problems. If after changing the power supply (the wall wart, 9v 300 mA) still has problem, is necessary to take apart the unit and look for damaged capacitors (the most other common problem due by the age).
      But first change the power supply. I have the feeling that you will solve your problem juts doing that :)

      Good luck

  9. My infoglobe's Caller ID (CID) just quit woring. I put in fresh batteries. I took out batteries and unplugged hoping that a complete drain might somehow "reboot" it. No such luck. Any ideas?

    1. Well, thank you for the trust, but I really can't guess what the problem can be :)
      "Just quit working" is quite generic description.
      The motor is running ? If yes, it could be the arm with a lot of build up or can be the base with problems. It could be the infrared LED fried, so no signals are coming to the rotating arm, can be the power supply with problmes, etc.

  10. Here's a weird one. Have an OL3000 Infoglobe that has been working just fine for a decade or so. However, one morning I noticed it was spinning, but not displaying anything. I thought maybe wall wart had gotten weak, so I connected it to a regulated external power supply set for 9V. Same problem. Decided for no particular reason to try varying the power supply up to 10V and down to 0. Strange thing happened when I reduced voltage to 5V... it started working. When I increase voltage to 6V, it quit working. If I leave it 5V, it stays working. Only hypothesis I have right now is maybe it has a blown voltage regulator, but I've never seen such a weird symptom from a blown VREG. Any ideas?

    1. Seems to me that maybe the internal 5V regulator short circuited, so if you supply the 5V all OK, over and everything is out of spec.
      Probably you need to open it totally, locate the 5V power supply circuit and replace it.

  11. Hello Stefano,
    I have an Info Globe similar to yours and I'd like to know what the procedure is to remove the dome? I have one line out on my display & I'd like to try the cleaning tip that you posted. From what I understand it is not necessary to remove the four screws on the bottom of the unit. Does that mean that I can carefully pry the cover off with a small flat blade screwdriver? Once the cover is removed is it necessary to remove the arm or can I carefully try brushing the LED's with a toothbrush as you suggested?
    Thanks for the great information, Fred

    1. Correct, you need to remove the 4 screws on the bottom if you want to access the circuit below the rotating arm.
      Once you remove the dome (BE SURE TO DON'T RUN THE ARM WITHOUT DOME !! Quite dangerous thing to do !!) you can evaluate if you can clean the arm on the spot or if you have to remove the arm for a better job.

    2. Dear Stefano--After reviewing the above information, I was able to restore my Globe to normal by brushing the LED. Thanks for having this information online.

  12. I cleaned my leds like you said and it came up great for about 15 minutes then went to the darker mode with the leds not as bright.What is this problem?

    1. Mmm let me turn on the magic crystal ball :)
      Well, the crystal ball is not telling me much. My guess would be that the board is more damaged than appears and the vibrations are causing some detaching of the LEDs. You could try to solder back all the LEDs and see if there are improvements.
      Or maybe when you did put back the arm, the board was not well coupled with the motor and thus there is less power coming to the arm. Very hard to make an hypothesis, many different things can go wrong.
      I did repair about 3 units so far and after the cleaning everything worked for years. But again, maybe the arm is more damaged than appears and some re-soldering is necessary.
      Good luck !

  13. Stefano
    Here’s-one picked one up at a thrift store, spins no problem, displays all menu info, you can cycle through the menus and even put in a message, but when called no caller I’d appears, it’s an Olympia ol3000.2 . Any ideas also have an older one in closet doing same thing.

    1. Hi, well, seems the telephone interface has problems.
      I don't know what kind of phone interface the Olimpia guys used, but very probably there is a discharger somewhere and maybe some varistors.
      It is possible that an overcharge, maybe due by a thunderstorm, damaged some components if not even the CID chip.
      Again, I never analyzed the PSTN interface on the Infoglobe but I did work on PSTN modem for many years, so I know it must be present some protection circuitry and good chances are that is enough to replace such circuitry to restore the unit.
      Unfortunately there are many many ways to protect a PSTN interface so I can't give you any suggestion without analyzing the circuit.
      Take a look to this picture for example :
      Is one way to protect a modem from the line. There are some diac, impedences, sometime there is a transformer.
      If I have to repair something like that I would start to check all the components around the RJ11 especially if varistors, or diac, or discharger.
      If a component is in parallel to the PSTN line, just remove it and see if is the unit is working.
      If is in series you need to replace it or maybe just short it.
      Of course I don't recommend AT ALL to leave the unit without protection.
      When a surge arrives (not if, but when) you can say goodbye to the chip if there are no protections.
      But to quickly see if the chip is working, just bypass the protections.
      Good luck

    2. Oh .. of course I'm assuming you DO have the CID service activated from your PSTN provider right ? :)

  14. Your posts have been so helpful. Mine was spinning but no display. I took the dome off as per your instructions and all seemed to go well. I could not see any dust, etc. so I placed it back together, didn't put dome on it yet, and plugged it in and now it seems to be completely dead. Everything looks like they are still connected. Do you any suggestions for me? Thank You so much!

    1. The dust can be hard to see, try use a very powerful magnifying lens or just do some clean up.
      Without the dome the arm is not spinning, there is a safety switch that prevent that.
      The arm can spin fast enough to be very dangerous, can have a finger cut, so DON'T FORCE IT TO RUN without the dome or just be aware that can be VERY dangerous !!