Saturday, September 12, 2009

A busy week kept me from updating

I will post the details of some of the Week's Best after I get the pictures organized.
Dell Inspiron 1525 - Works on AC, Won't charge battery.
Avertec 6400 - Random shutdown
Dell Vostro - Works on AC, Won't charge battery
Gateway M350 - Dead!

Friday, September 4, 2009


One of the local stores brought over 3 Dell's. (2) Latitude D600, and an Inspirion 1150 all needing DC jacks. So this was an excellent time to try my new (and previously untried) speedy jack removal method. Thank Goodness it worked, I was able to remove a single jack in 3 min versus the old way that took about 20 min, and a good 6" of solder wick. So 17 min saved x 3 =51 total minutes saved. [image show is Dell Latitude D600 bottom after removal]

Even Techs Have Bad Days

Before attempting to post this morning, my system failed. So not wanting to delay others getting their units repaired I left mine in an unrepaired state until I got home this evening. So items posted later than usual.

Nothing fantastic, just had to clear the CMOS and then make changes to my tweak settings. Like disabling floppy boot, and looking for a floppy. (Does anyone even use floppy disks anymore?) And making sure the buss is running at 125%.

Toshiba A-205 No USB Ports, No Volume

Unit arrives with USB1 broken and USB2 not working Also the volume control thumbwheel was rattling around inside the unit.

Replace the USB ports, replace the Audio control potentiometer.

Exact Replacement:
Yes, from an existing dead unit

This unit has the cheapest USB ports available. By the company saving 13cents, it winds up costing you $$$. There is no front support on the USB ports, so all the insertion and removal force is placed on the back of the connector, first the anchor supports fails, then the upon the next insertion the power and data pins of the USB connector are folded under the connector. This can either short the motherboard, or short the USB chips which the data lines are connected to. You can remove your USB device, but the existing USB connector will remain unconnected from the board, and may cause serious damage to the whole unit. Beware.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Knowing what you have

Here's a suggestion.
Get the detailed information about your PC/Hardware/Software and keep it in a safe place. Then if you need to go to a shop, you will have all your licenses ready. Windows/MS Office, Quicken and all your legit software that was expensive to buy!.
This can be done online at

Why do I say this?
I've noticed since Windows XP is no longer sold on newer computers, the Vista license is nothing more than paper glued to the unit. And is no longer a laminated sticker we've become accustomed to. So the average Vista license sticker lasts about 6 months under casual use, and less for the road warrior making it unreadable. Then that subjects you to the shop's option of possibly of having to buy a new copy of Vista or installing a bootleg copy that won't muster the Authentication agent giving you a pester screen, or limited use/access. Some shops just don't know how to get your licenses, from a dead machine.

Run Belarc online, print it out and store away. Then, get some Scotch® Brand Invisible Tape and cover your Vista COA license. If not the whole COA, at least cover the serial numbers. Then when you have to wipe or re-install Vista because you forgot to print out your Belarc report you'll be able to read what you covered. Eighty Eight cents saves $88 later
- When I say Scotch Brand I mean Scotch Brand, not the Grocery or Dollar Store version. There are reasons this type is recommended, so you won't have to learn the hard way, thinking 'Oh It's OK''.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Thinkpad T40

Customer arrives with IBM Thinkpad T40 stating that it will work from a charged battery. But it will not work with known good AC Adapter.

Works on battery, will not work on AC Adapter

The problem is caused by 2 things in this case. First the Toshiba TPC8014 MOSFET was reading bad when I checked it with a meter. After I replaced it, the unit was only supplying 10.4v to the charge section of the board. Which is not enough to trigger the adjacent mosfet to supply power to the charge section. So then; checking the Fuse [F2] found that it was blown (open circuit), most likely by the MOSFET being shorted. click on picture to see larger view

Replace MOSFET TPC8014, replace fuse.

30V N-Channel MOSFET ~11a max rating

Exact Replacement:
Toshiba TPC8014
comment: The funniest wording of what happens under constant use.
Using continuously under heavy loads (e.g. the application of high temperature/current/voltage and the significant change in temperature, etc.) may cause this product to decrease in the reliability significantly even if the operating conditions (i.e.operating temperature/current/voltage, etc.) are within the absolute maximum ratings.
To me this translates as. If this MOSFET is used continously under heavy loads it will stop working or properly (like: your computer being ON all day). In technical terms "It Will Break".

Cross Reference:
Fairchild FDS6690AS

Fairchild Semiconductors FDS6690

When replacing the MOSFET, be careful not to use too much solder or you may short exposed pads under the chip (This is a typical practice of the Chinese board manufacturers to keep unskilled techs oblivious and discourage them from repairing at the component level. Computer techs eventually buy another motherboard where electronic techs fix them). Again, this is my opinion because that is not a test point under the chip and you do not have access to it under a normal repair situation. If you are not be skilled enough at micro soldering, you can pre-insulate the holes with a small piece of mylar tape to prevent solder from bridging the holes before replacing the MOSFET.

Since it was an easy solution, I am trying to be as clear as possible with the solution and the diagnosis.

Dell Inspiron 6000

Finally a breather! I got the opportunity to do a relative easy repair. This 6000 problem was software bloat. So much software and huge registry slowed this system to a crawl. Though commercial software are in all the ads you see on the internet. All of them are not really as good as they say they are. Removed a MAJOR BRAND 'subscription' anti-virus/firewall/pop-up blocker. This program was only fair when it came out, but over hype and advertising made it one of the most popular. The customer came stating that her subscription expired that day. She seemed almost in a panic, and I had to reassure her that it was nothing much to worry about. I removed the "software" and replaced it with AVG Free. [make sure you click the FREE version and not the Full or Trial versions. The full version costs, and the trial is only for a limited time].

Why would I replace a commercial version of the number 1 seller with a free version? Well as it turns out, about 7 years ago I was having unknown problems with my system. It was shutting down, rebooting and a number of other issues that I just could not find out why! I was using a yellow box anti-virus, and I consider my technical skills exemplary. But I still could not find the problem. After new hardware, upgrades and numerous hours troubleshooting I decided to try this new upstart company GRISOFT AVG anti-virus to see if it could help. Sure enough, it caught the 3 additional offending Trojans/Virus that was killing my productivity.

So as it goes, I installed AVG and have been swearing by them since.At the time I was completing the final changes to some niché software that I was writing because I needed it for my record collecting hobby. With the number of reboots, lost data, lost time I was quickly falling behind in an unscheduled release product [had no official release date but I wanted it finished].

If you wanted to know everything about Motown's early recordings

I cannot see any reason to pay for protection, when you are not being protected. It's kind of like finding out the seat belts don't work after you needed them.

Here's the kicker! The previous machine still had 3 virus on it, and about 3,000 tracking cookies after running the yellow box software prior to installing AVG . So do you really think you're protected? Better check.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Acer 5000 Series

Third party repair

Keyboard and mouse not functioning, customer stated that USB failed prior to touchpad and keyboard failure.

Though the heat and fan issue may not be directly related, it is something that should be corrected when the unit is disassembled. Though it could have caused enough internal heat to warp motherboard (hmmmm)

09/01 -------------This will be an on going repair
To make a determination whether the keyboard/mouse controller should be replaced or the whole motherboard. Flatpak VLSI chips are really complex to remove and replace. And have to weigh in cost/time/customer factors to get a balance that is acceptable to everyone.
  1. The customer
  2. The store owner
  3. My time.
After additional tests...
This board was heated to see it could be the notorious nVidia/AMD North/Southbridge problem where solderballs were losing contact, [typically on HP/Compaq units made by HannStar]. When warming the unit the motherboard did a kinda pop, like the board leveled out and was flat again??!

It seems the board was bowed from heat. This means that the motherboard material was too thin and insufficient mounts in various points of the board to keep it rigid. With the one section repaired, this may lead to another or additional repair, as there are several VLSI & BGA chips on the board. So this board design and casing gets a "D" for average/casual user. I cannot recommend this laptop to anyone. Even though it is a relatively new and inexpensive laptop.

Checking eBay for parts: There are several, and many have the same issue. The motherboard alone is not available except from the manufacturer (or 'wholesaler') at a price not worth it, (in my opinion). Since this may be a manufacturing/design flaw it would only happen again with the next replacement. Caveat Emptor

The ball now in owner's court.

HP ZE2000 Series

This unit came in with problems with keyboard.
-Some keys not working
-Sometimes the keyboard will not work at all

Upon inspection, I found that the retaining clip for the keyboard ribbon cable was not locking into place. But when held manually, all the keys functioned normally. So a decision was made in the most economical sense.

Options are:
Replace the motherboard [cost ~ $100]
Replace the connector [cost $75 for 2 hours labor]
Glue the connector in place [$50]

Using a Hot Glue gun and only gluing the edges of the connector does several things.
  1. Saves the customer money
  2. Allows existing parts to be used
  3. Keeps the keyboard connector in place
  4. The hot glue can easily be removed and not damaging the motherboard any further