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How to fix "blank screen syndrome" on Sony Walkman WM-F2085

November 29, 2023
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Front-facing photo of a Sony Walkman WM-F2085
Today, I woke up and tried listening to FM radio on my trusty vintage Walkman only to find the LCD blank and the tuning/band/preset buttons completely inoperative (but the Mega Bass still worked, as well as cassette playback). Changed the batteries, no dice. Then fearing a torn ribbon cable, I carefully removed the four tiny screws that hold the Walkman together, then took off the plastic shell.
Photo of the circuit board in a Sony Walkman WM-F2085
Thankfully the ribbon cable to the Walkman's front panel was alright. What could be causing this?
I immediately began thinking caps. This Walkman dates back to the 90's, which as many retro computing/gaming folks know is when electrolytic capacitors were at their worst. Many devices from that era now suffer from caps that leak evil acid all over the PCB which'll cause shorts, dissolve traces, and eventually kill the whole unit.
Photo of the PRAM capacitor in a Sony Walkman WM-F2085
So I began discharging caps at random using my screwdriver, and I found the one [leads circled in photos] that keeps PRAM alive when the batteries are temporarily removed. The Walkman's PRAM stores user settings like the time, preset stations, etc. After discharging this cap the LCD lit up with the time as 12:00 AM (because PRAM is reset now), everything worked fine after that! This must've meant the Walkman's PRAM had somehow become corrupted. If this syndrome occurs and you're unable to disassemble the Walkman I think you could try removing the batteries and waiting for the PRAM cap to run empty.
Photo of a screwdriver discharging the PRAM capacitor in a Sony Walkman WM-F2085
Hopefully this article will help somebody who runs into the same problem! This fix should work for similar models.