Hitachi CP-X301 Data Projector Fault

Hi Experts,

A couple of months ago we started noticing a fault with our data projector (Hitachi CP-X301) which we bought maybe 5 years ago, (so it's obviously well out of warrantee).  A slight yellow/green hazy circle is appearing in one area (near the upper-middle of the projection area).  The yellow/green is most apparent in darker conditions, but it seems to be becoming more noticeable.  It also results in a slight blurring of anything in the area of the projection area, which is noticeable even in light conditions.  (The projector is inverted and attached to the ceiling, and I can get it down if needed.)

Attached are 2 photos which will hopefully show you the problem.  One photo is a spreadsheet, it gets most blurry around the cell which contains “61”, and this blur is also noticeable when projecting song lyrics.  The other photo shows a “X” which is caused by a shadow from room lighting (no problems with the shadow), but just above the centre of the “X”, you should see the haze.

Our lamp had done 1700 hours so I replaced it about a month ago, and that helped with brightness, but not with this haze issue.

I tried cleaning the lens (for the first time), but that didn't help either.

I've only cleaned the filter a few times with this projector, because I've just realised that unlike our previous projector which prompted us every 100 hours to clean it, this one hasn't been prompting us at all, and I see the only prompt period options are: 500, 1000, 1500 and 2000 hours, and the factory default is 2000 which we haven't yet reached!  (I've now set it to 500 hours).  I did clean it when I changed the lamp, though.

I don't think this issue has anything to do with the cables, because it happens on both cables (VGA for PC and RCA for DVD) and even when displaying the menu (which uses neither cable).

What's the likely cause?  Dirty or damaged LCD(s) or prism lenses?  "Sunburnt" LCD(s)?
How could I conclusively confirm exactly what/where the problem is.  I have some experience with fixing electronic equipment, but haven't tried projectors yet.

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did you try another resolution yet, as suggested among the suggestions here:

here they suggest to change the refresh rate
tel2Author Commented:
Thanks for those nobus, but I doubt any of those apply, because:
- I don't see how it could be the cable (for the reasons I've given), and
- The blur is only in a small area, so I don't think it could be refresh rate, etc, and we're using the same settings we have for years without problem.
Thibault St john Cholmondeley-ffeatherstonehaugh the 2ndCommented:
Have you tried re-aiming the projector to make sure it isn't something on the screen it's being projected onto? Speaking as one who once spent ages repeatedly cleaning both inside and outside of the rear window on my car to find later that I had a mark on the rear view mirror.
A simple test, but it might save you taking the projector apart.
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I would again try cleaning the lenses and all the glass parts of the projector, if you can get to them safely. What you describe sounds very much like dirt, dust or smoke that has accumulated with use, and maybe burnt onto the glass surfaces, as projector lamps can generate quite a bit of heat. Use industrial alcohol to clean the glass surfaces.

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i never talked about the cable - about the RESOLUTION - if you care to read (yes the cable is mentioned there)

did you try to change the resolution or refresh rate - don''t think about it - try it
tel2Author Commented:
Thanks Mike, rindi and nobus.

Sorry nobus, I misread part of your post.  No, I haven't tried either of those, and I doubt they could be related for the reasons I've given, but maybe it's worth a try.
Thibault St john Cholmondeley-ffeatherstonehaugh the 2ndCommented:
I would say definitely worth a try. You say you have the exact same settings you have used for years and now you see it developing a fault. None of us can see your arrangement, you are our eyes and ears. If you try the things that have been suggested and report back it helps the people trying to help you narrow down where the problem might be.
tel2Author Commented:
True Mike, but the stronger point for me is that the blur issue is in one small area only, which is why I can't imagine settings like resolution or refresh rate being involved, but as I said, it might be worth a try.  Your suggestion in your first post seems slightly more likely to me, but I expect rindi's is most likely.  But it's good to try the quick and easy things first I guess, so stay tuned for my findings after I have a chance to test it again.

Meanwhile, if anyone's got any other suggestions, I'm all ears.
if you don't try it- you will not know..but it's your choice
tel2Author Commented:
Hi nobus,

Despite my doubts, I do plan to try your resolution and refresh rate suggestions, which is what I meant when I said:
    "...but maybe it's worth a try."
    "but as I said, it might be worth a try.  ...  But it's good to try the quick and easy things first I guess, so stay tuned for my findings after I have a chance to test it again."

I might get a chance to test things later this week.
tel2Author Commented:
Hi again rindi,

Is the "industrial alcohol" that you're recommending, the same as isopropyl alcohol, because I have some of the latter which is only about 20 years old.  If not, will isopropyl be adequate?
i thought changing the resolution, or refresh rate iqs fast AND easy..

>>i always use the isopropyl alcohol, and mine can even be older...
Yes, that should do fine.
tel2Author Commented:
Hi nobus,
"i thought changing the resolution, or refresh rate iqs fast AND easy.."
Agreed.  I was referring to resolution, refresh rate and direction changes when I said:
"But it's good to try the quick and easy things first I guess"
But I guess that wasn't clear.
I have now tried changing the resolution (was at 1024x768 and I tried everything up to the max of 1280x800), and no change to the problem.  There were no lower resolutions.
I see the refresh rate is set to 60Hz, but I see no option for changing it.
Thanks for the suggestion, though.

Hi Mark,
I tried angling the projector down, and the haze/colour moved with it, so I don't think it's anything to do with the wall that it's projecting onto.
Thanks anyway.
Thibault St john Cholmondeley-ffeatherstonehaugh the 2ndCommented:
That proves the fault to within the projector.
One thing occurred to me, with all this cleaning you are doing and about to do, the lens inverts the image so if you're seeing distortion on the upper tight, behind the lens you should be investigating the lower left.
It may not be on the lens itself, but on any glass surface the light passes through, (and usually there are more than one lenses, and the image can get inverted more than once). Besides, things like that often aren't visible to the eye. So it makes more sense just to thoroughly clean everything and hope you have been able to clean it properly. When doing this make sure you are wearing rubber or clinical gloves so that you don't contaminate the surfaces with fingerprints and fat.
tel2Author Commented:
Thanks guys.
What should I apply the isopropyl alcohol with?  A cotton bud?
tel2Author Commented:
And can I use the same cleaning method on the LCD panels?
A soft, lint-free cloth would be better, or the spectacle cleaning cloth you can get at opticians.

You can use the same method for LCD panels. But don't apply too much pressure on the panels. On the lenses you can use more pressure.
you can also use a mix of water and mild soap
tel2Author Commented:
Thanks guys.
Not sure if/when I'll be able to try this, because the projector gets used at least weekly, so I have to be careful because if I break anything I could have not much time to get a replacement.

Something I didn't think to say previously was that the yellow/green haze even shows after I push the "Blank" button on the remote, albeit not as bright.  Does that help to indicate anything new, (apart from further confirming that it's the projector itself and not the PC or DVD player or their cables)?  And how could dirtiness result in colour being displayed when the projector is on blank?
The light source is behind all other parts of the projector. Good lenses and clear glass allow all this light to pass through so it would appear white and clear. If there is any dirt in the path of that light though it won't appear as clean white in the dirt area anymore. Depending on the composition of the stain it will filter out certain wavelengths of the spectrum and no longer appear as white.

As I mentioned earlier smoke can get burned into the glass, but also just other impurities in the atmosphere, particularly in places where lots of people are. I've often seen this effect in bars or restaurants who had a projector. In your case you have used it for 5 years, and that weekly, that means you can probably account this to normal wear and the projector is amortized. So it would be a good idea to at least get a spare projector before you service it.
tel2Author Commented:
OK - thanks rindi.
tel2Author Commented:
Months later...

Sorry for the long delay in getting back to y'all on this.

I've finally had the opportunity to grab this projector and I have it at home now.

I found a service manual here:
(I clicked the "Get Manual" link under the "Document Preview" image.)
And it is helpful, but doesn't answer all my questions.

I also watched this inexperienced guy work on a CP-X201 (similar model) here:

According to this:
which seems to apply to similar symptoms to my issue, it is likely that the yellowish issue I'm seeing is caused by a burnt area on the blue LCD (caused by the ultraviolet that comes from the lens + mirror leading to it), causing no blue in that area, leaving red + green = yellow.  (Or that's what I took from it, anyway.)  So, if cleaning doesn't work, I guess I could replace the blue LCD.

Attached is a photo I've just taken of one of the 3 LCD ribbon cables, where it connects to the main circuit board.

Q1. How do I remove the LCD ribbon cables from the connector on the main circuit board?
Q2. Is re-connecting them just the reverse process to Q1?
Q3. Any good suggestions about where I can get a blue LCD if I need one?  I would hope Hitachi have them but maybe you have other ideas.
Q4. How does the LCD relate to the polariser, and should I try cleaning both LCD and polariser?
Q5. On page 1 of the service manual, in the "Service Warning" area it says: "The LCD module assembly is likely to be damaged. If replacing the LCD LENS/PRISM assembly, do not hold the FPC of the LCD module assembly".  Does FPC mean Flexible Printed Circuit in this case, and does this also imply that I need to take some special handling precautions when actioning Q1?  If so, what?
Q6. After removing and cleaning LCDs, I understand there's can be a lot of trial & error with getting them aligned (using hex nuts).  Can can each alignment adjustment be done without putting almost everything back together again (i.e. reinstalling the lens mechanism and the main circuit board on top of it)?

Please number your answers accordingly for clarity.

Thanks again!
1 - do the brown part of the connector move on both sides? if so it is a zif connector(see last pic here)
2 yes
no info on the rest
tel2Author Commented:
Thanks nobus.

> "1 - do the brown part of the connector move on both sides?"
I've just tried moving the brown ends, but I can't move them yet.  Which direction should they move?  Up?  

> "if so it is a zif connector(see last pic here) "
You're talking about this one:
If "the blue LCD" was bad, the complete display area would be missing the blue, and not just a corner of it. Besides getting the replacement parts would probably be far more expensive than getting a new projector, provided you can even find and get the parts.
tel2Author Commented:
Hi rindi,

Doesn't that depend on what the "bad" is?

I'm not sure what you mean by "corner", because it's an area around the middle that is yellowish, but are you saying that it is not conceivable that some portions of the LCD could get burnt (like sunburnt) earlier than other areas, by the ultraviolet light going through it?  If so, why?

Yes, I've discovered some hours ago that I can't just buy the blue LCD, I have to get all 3 + the prism, which would cost more than a new projector, as you have indicated.  Some day I hope to understand how parts can cost more than whole units.  There could be an industry in buying whole projectors and selling their parts cheaper than anyone else does.
The laser, if damaged, would have an effect on the complete display, not just part of it. It's light is focused as a pixel on the screen, and that pixel moves for every pixel. So it would have the same effect on every part of the screen.

The only thing that can cause your issue is the lens or prism or other glass surfaces.

The reason for the high price of the parts, is that they are usually custom built for a particular device like your projector, and the manufacturer of that device gets them in bulk. They usually aren't sold to others, and if they are, that is a rare case, which makes the parts rare on the market and therefore expensive. If it were a general part that everyone uses often, a mass product, then it would be cheap. But obviously your particular projector can't exactly be called a mass product.
yes - that's the kind of connector; but some do not have moving parts - so the cable has just to be slid out, and has a stiffener  there, to make that easier
if it has a lock, it can move up (from the board) or slide parallel to it
here an example moving up :
here you have them all - sliding = no 8
tel2Author Commented:
Thanks rindi.
I hope you're right.

And thanks for all that, robus.
I've had a look at all your links, thanks.
I was able to slide the 2 brown parts at the end towards the cable, thanks.
However, I have tried lifting the white part with 1 or 2 finger nails (a bit like in my attached photo), and it seems very resistant, to the point that one end started to crack, so I stopped.  Also tried with a knife blade, with sideways to maximise contact - no joy.
I also tried pushing the upper portion of the gold pins, to slide the connector towards the cable, but no joy there either.
I've Googled for various ZIF connector images, but none have helped me with this issue yet, and I'm doubting more force is needed.
See my updated photo, attached.
Am I doing something wrong?
Any other ideas?
tel2Author Commented:
News Flash:
I posted a question on another site and was told that once the blocks are moved, I can just slide the cable out, which I did, so that part of this mission is solved, thank you.
tel2Author Commented:
Thanks to all of you for guiding me through this.  I hope the points work out to be apportioned roughly right.

I tried cleaning 4 surfaces which lead up to the blue LCD - no joy.  I was not game to dig too far back into the lenses/mirrors which are closer to the lamp, as I couldn't easily work out how to get at them, and I think they are less likely to be the cause of the problem.  So, either I didn't clean enough surfaces, or didn't clean them sufficiently, or the problem is not cleanable.

The Hitachi technician says he is familiar with this fault, but it is not worth fixing (due to cost of parts, as we discussed above).  Unless of course you buy a 2nd hand projector cheaply which you can steel parts from, which hopefully don't die a similar death soon.

Today we ordered a new Hitachi projector which cost half the price we paid for this old one, and that excludes inflation.  It's also 3,200 lumens instead of 2,600.

FYI, attached are clearer views of the yellowish haze, while projecting at about 1m range on my office door.  Any ideas why the yellow is so apparent when the screen is blanked?  (Part of will be due to the camera being more sensitive because there's not much other light around.  In real life, I think blanking just reduces the brightness of the yellow by about 30-50%.)

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