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How can I fix a dead laptop?

Discussion in 'Electronic Repair' started by Paul M, Jan 8, 2006.

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  1. Paul M

    Paul M Guest

    Hello,

    My friend's laptop died several months ago during an
    electrical storm. He gave it to me after he bought
    another one. Being a little tight on budget, I would
    really appreciate any help with bringing the laptop
    back to life.

    The laptop in question is a Dell Inspiron 4150 (model
    number PP01L). Absolutely nothing happens when I press
    the power button. No lights, no sounds, nothing.

    I did some searching on the web and the newsgroups,
    and it seems there is a slight hope I might be able
    to save the laptop if I replace the power board.
    I haven't opened up the laptop yet so I really don't
    know if the laptop has a separate power board (i.e.,
    not built into the motherboard).

    Also, in order for me to more specifically diagose the
    problem I need to get a (digital) mltimedter.

    Here are my questions:

    (1) What are the chances of saving this laptop by
    replacing the power board (if any)?

    (2) Could the BIOS have fried, or maybe some other
    electrical component on the motherboard?

    (3) Can someone please recommend a multimeter for
    this kind of work? (Some of the decent multimeters
    on the market cost above $100 and a lot more, like
    the Fluke models.)

    (4) How can I use a multimeter to determine any
    dead electrical components on the motherboard?

    (5) Any general comments or recommendations?

    Thank you for any help and guidance.

    Best regards,
    Paul
     
  2. Kevin S.

    Kevin S. Guest

    It's got an external power supply doesn't it? Did you check to see if
    the power supply was putting out? Any cheap multi-meter will do for
    that. I doubt that the power surge did more than whacking the power
    supply and/or battery, but it's possible. The fact that it does
    completely nothing is actually good... probably something simple. You
    probably won't be able to open the power supply (most of them are
    sealed) but it it's not putting out you could just get another one.
    Check that first.
     
  3. From your questions, I'd say that YOUR chances of fixing it are near
    zero. Don't take that personally, but this is a task that requires
    skills that take years to learn, and about which you have no knowledge
    (when you ask "how do I use a multimeter", it's clear that you have no
    skills in this area).

    Before you do anything to the laptop itself, however, verify that the
    external power supply (AC adapter) is working. That would be the place
    to start, it's either working or it's not, and if it's not, you replace
    it and that might fix the problem.
     
  4. Bob Shuman

    Bob Shuman Guest

    Since nothing happens when you try to turn it on, I'd start by making sure
    that the external AC power brick is working. Measure the voltage on the
    connector and compare to what is stamped on the supply. If that is good,
    then remove the laptop's battery and measure the voltage on the battery as
    well. If the battery is low, then attempt to charge it before you turn it
    on again or find a working battery to try instead. If the supply and the
    battery are both good, then take the laptop to someone who can open it and
    check the input power protection circuitry and measure the voltage on the
    motherboard before and after you press the on switch. From the tone of your
    post I would not suggest you attempt to open it yourself.

    Bob
     
  5. James Sweet

    James Sweet Guest



    First, check the AC adapter and make sure it's putting out the correct
    voltage, ideally into some sort of load. If the laptop still doesn't
    work, you could open it up and look for anything obvious, but honestly
    your best bet is to watch Ebay and find a laptop in the same series with
    a cracked screen and then swap parts around to get a good one.
     
  6. The power adapter is about the only hope. If it wasn't connected to
    the phone line at the time of the lightning strike, that may be all
    that blown out.

    There really isn't anything else that would be relatively easy to
    troubleshoot, especially if it was caused by lightning.

    I bet many of the experienced repair people on this newsgroup would
    rather go to the dentist than try to repair a lightning damaged
    laptop. :)

    --- sam | Sci.Electronics.Repair FAQ: http://www.repairfaq.org/
    Repair | Main Table of Contents: http://www.repairfaq.org/REPAIR/
    +Lasers | Sam's Laser FAQ: http://www.repairfaq.org/sam/lasersam.htm
    | Mirror Sites: http://www.repairfaq.org/REPAIR/F_mirror.html

    Important: Anything sent to the email address in the message header above is
    ignored unless my full name AND either lasers or electronics is included in the
    subject line. Or, you can contact me via the Feedback Form in the FAQs.
     
  7. Paul M

    Paul M Guest

    Hi Barry,

    Thanks a lot for your confidence in my abilities. Just so you
    know, I have an M.S. in physics. I used multimeters many years
    ago while an undergrad, so I do have some cursory experience with
    them. Perhaps my question ("how do I use a multimeter") was not
    the best one to ask. A more appropriate question would be: "what
    measurements should I make with the multimeter to locate any
    defective parts in the laptop?"
    I used the AC adapter of a friend's Dell Inspiron i5100 laptop to
    test the dead one, and it was still dead. (The AC adapter had the
    same output voltage of 20 V. The output current was 3.5 A or 4.5 A,
    I don't remember exactly.) I guess that narrows the problem to the
    laptop itself.

    Thanks for the help.

    - Paul
     
  8. Notan

    Notan Guest

    You'd be amazed at how many "brilliant" people, forget to plug in
    whatever appliance they can't get to work.

    Not that I'm suggesting that you're brilliant <g>, but the best
    place to start is at the beginning. (Pretty profound, huh?)

    Take care!

    Notan
     
  9. Lloid Bell

    Lloid Bell Guest


    OK. You asked for it: Get a 5 lbs sledge hammer and hit the laptop as hard
    as you can and then throw it away. I guarantee you'll have peace of mind :)
     
  10. Asimov

    Asimov Guest

    "Paul M" bravely wrote to "All" (08 Jan 06 12:16:16)
    --- on the heady topic of "How can I fix a dead laptop?"

    PM> From: Paul M <>
    PM> sci.electronics.repair:354510


    PM> Hello,

    PM> My friend's laptop died several months ago during an
    PM> electrical storm. He gave it to me after he bought
    PM> another one. Being a little tight on budget, I would
    PM> really appreciate any help with bringing the laptop
    PM> back to life.

    PM> The laptop in question is a Dell Inspiron 4150 (model
    PM> number PP01L). Absolutely nothing happens when I press
    PM> the power button. No lights, no sounds, nothing.

    PM> I did some searching on the web and the newsgroups,
    PM> and it seems there is a slight hope I might be able
    PM> to save the laptop if I replace the power board.
    PM> I haven't opened up the laptop yet so I really don't
    PM> know if the laptop has a separate power board (i.e.,
    PM> not built into the motherboard).

    PM> Also, in order for me to more specifically diagose the
    PM> problem I need to get a (digital) mltimedter.

    PM> Here are my questions:

    PM> (1) What are the chances of saving this laptop by
    PM> replacing the power board (if any)?

    Your chances are 50/50 and that really isn't bad odds, considering.


    PM> (2) Could the BIOS have fried, or maybe some other
    PM> electrical component on the motherboard?

    It isn't typical for a bios to fry. Usually it is the powersupply
    components which give up their little lives to save the rest.


    PM> (3) Can someone please recommend a multimeter for
    PM> this kind of work? (Some of the decent multimeters
    PM> on the market cost above $100 and a lot more, like
    PM> the Fluke models.)

    Spend what you can afford. A simple $5 dmm can get the job done.
    What costs extra is precision and ruggedness. If you have need for
    either then you can justify spending more.


    PM> (4) How can I use a multimeter to determine any
    PM> dead electrical components on the motherboard?

    If you are familiar with Ohm's Law and how components behave then how
    to use a dmm should be obvious. Basically a dmm lets you see what the
    electricity is doing at the moment. An oscilloscope does even better
    by showing an image of what electricity is doing over a period of
    time.

    PM> (5) Any general comments or recommendations?

    No doubt there is a steep learning curve but the concepts are
    basically simple enough that anyone can grasp but don't expect too
    much if you have zero knowledge of the subject at hand. Dig into some
    library books about servicing stuff to get an idea. As analogy: you
    don't need to know how to drive a car to be a mechanic and you don't
    need to be a mechanic to drive a car. Ditto with the engineer.

    Philosophically speaking, it all really boils down to how much your
    investment in time is worth to you. Good luck!

    A*s*i*m*o*v

    .... I am Ohm of Borg. Resistance is V/I...
     
  11. James Sweet

    James Sweet Guest


    Though on the same note, I would argue that the best mechanics are very
    familiar with driving a car, and the best drivers are very familiar with
    the mechanical workings of a car. It helps a great deal to know what one
    is actually doing when manipulating the controls of a car, and at the
    same time it's much easier to track down many types of car problems if
    one is an experienced driver.
     
  12. DW

    DW Guest

    You seriously think that having an M.S. in Physics is going to help you
    to service a dead laptop?

    Thanks for giving em a good laugh this evening!
     
  13. DW

    DW Guest

    Adding to this excellent advice, ensure that you are wearing safety
    glasses PLEASE!
     
  14. Hi!
    Lightening damage is just about the worst thing that can happen to any piece
    of electronic equipment.

    Further, in all honestly, no matter what you know and understand, if you've
    never been in a laptop computer before, then you may be in for quite the
    surprise. Things inside there are very highly integrated, space is tight and
    many things are quite fragile.

    If you want to try to resurrect it, then give it a try! You've got nothing
    to lose, but I don't think a DMM will help you much. Spend some money on a
    good set of small tools. You will need them more than anything else,
    especially if you must go deep inside the computer after a failed part.

    Having the right power supply would also be a good idea. Some laptops work
    fine as long as the voltage and current levels are about correct. Others
    behave strangely. A very few won't even work if the power supply is not
    exactly right.

    Finally, smell around for anything burnt. I've found that the modem is
    usually what gets blitzed in an electrical storm. If that's the case then
    you might find it on a separate card that could be removed if you don't need
    it. I'm not sure that would cause the machine to not power up though. (Most
    bad modems I've seen would let the machine come on, but they'd hold the
    machine down dead.)

    William
     
  15. mc

    mc Guest

    Google for "Pico fuse" and learn to recognize them.
     
  16. If everbody knew as much as you and me, then there would be no need to
    come into a group like this and ask questions. Therefore, there would
    be NO REASON for these newsgroups, would there be you butt plugging
    asshole?
     
  17. Considering it was a Dell, one can only hope for it to get struck by
    lighting. A direct hit might just be the only thing to rid of the
    spyware they put on their systems.
     
  18. Mike Berger

    Mike Berger Guest

    Yet must airplane mechanics never fly a plane and most pilots
    never work on them. If it were true, you'd think the crossover
    skills would be much more important with airplanes where the
    risk is so great.
     
  19. Asimov

    Asimov Guest

    "James Sweet" bravely wrote to "All" (09 Jan 06 00:18:03)
    --- on the heady topic of "Re: How can I fix a dead laptop?"

    JS> From: James Sweet <>
    JS> Xref: core-easynews sci.electronics.repair:354549

    JS> Though on the same note, I would argue that the best mechanics are
    JS> very familiar with driving a car, and the best drivers are very
    JS> familiar with the mechanical workings of a car. It helps a great deal
    JS> to know what one is actually doing when manipulating the controls of a
    JS> car, and at the same time it's much easier to track down many types of
    JS> car problems if one is an experienced driver.


    True, Eddie Shoemaker did know which end of the horse was which.

    A*s*i*m*o*v

    .... KPLA: Klingon Radio: All Klingon Opera, All The Time.
     
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