Archive for the “Repairs” Category

Here follows a procedure for the removal and refitting of the LCD panel on an Acer Aspire 5315 laptop.

The subject machine displayed a corrupted display with a ‘wave’ shape and verticle lines obscuring the image with the right-hand side of the panel blank. This indicated the the LCD panel itself had failed, probably due to impact from a foreign object or excessive torque being applied to the screen during opening/closing of the lid.

acer-5315-broken-screen

A replacement panel was sourced and fitted using the following method:

First the power lead is disconnected and the battery is removed. The battery has a two-stage lock and release mechanism as shown in the picture below.

acer-5315-battery-removal

Four rubber pads now need to be removed to expose the fascia securing screws. I managed to use my fingernail to remove them, it may be neccesary to use tweezers or a sharp implement to prise them out.

acer-5315-screen-removal

Once the four screws are removed, the screen fascia is carefully pulled apart. The circumferental clips are made of quite flimsy looking plastic so it’s wise to be careful.

acer-5315-screen-removal-2

There is a connector at each end of the inverter board. These connectors were pulled out now. They are keyed to assist reinsertion later.

acer-5315-screen-removal

With the fascia off, the remaining screen securing screws are visible. The bottom two plus the inverter-board securing screws need to be removed. The back of the screen can then be pulled down further and laid flat.

acer-5315-screen-removal-4

The video connector is held in place on the top of the back of the screen with a clear adhesive patch. I carefully peeled the patch away from the screen from the top downwards. Do not remove the patch from the connector itself. Taking a careful hold of the connector, I pulled downwards to free it.

There were now 8 more screws in the side of the screen holding it in place on the hinge frame. I remoed them from bottom to top so that the screen was supported as long as possible. With the screws out, the screen can be removed.

acer-5315-screen-removal-5

In the case of the replacement display I had, there was a clear cellophane protective cover taped onto it. I left this on while preliminary reassembly was performed.

I inserted the screen back into the hinge frame and refitted the screws, I worked from top to bottom to keep support on the screen, at all times being careful not to slip and run a screwdriver into the screen surface! ;)

Once the screen was secured to the hinge, I reinserted the video connector. In my case, a surprising ammount of force and care was required to get the connector all the way in. The likely symptom of a mis-inserted connector would be an all-white screen on power up. With the connector back in place, the adhesive pad was carefully pressed to the back of the screen. Bear in mind at this point that pressure had to be applied against some very sensitive electronics.

The inverter board was reconnected and refastened to the screen backplate. Care was taken to make sure all contacts are made and the wires taped back into place. This was the last opportunity for a test prior to final reassembly. I reinserted the two lower screws for the screen and the two upper screws which would normally also hold the screen in place before trying a test:

acer-5315-screen-testing-2

All was working, so I removed the battery again and the two top/front screws from the panel. I then removed the plastic cover that had come with my screen.

Care should be taken when refitting the fascia that all of the cables that pass through the screen hinges are located in the troughs and that they will not be pinched by the hinge or fascia. Replacement of the fascia is the reverse of the removal process. I gently pressed the fascia back together with fingers only and then reinserted the four retaining screws around it’s periphery. Finally, I reattached the adhesive rubber pads over the screw points.

Remember, machines under warranty should be repaired by service calls. Any work is attempted at your own risk.

To prevent reoccurrance:

The Acer Aspire chassis is by no means the stiffest/sturdiest I’ve ever come across so to stop the same problem happening again, I recommend:

  • Sweep hand across keyboard prior to closing the lid to check for foreign objects
  • Close and open the lid using both hands at the outer corners working in unison. Use the minimum of force required
  • Never place items on top of the laptop when it’s lid is closed (or at any other time for that matter)
  • Never touch the screen with your finger or any other object

Comments 70 Comments »

We recently had a Packard Bell Easynote (model identified as ‘Argo C2′ which seems to correspond with Packard Bell series MZ35 and MZ36 laptops) with a broken spacebar in for repair. We presumed it to be a complete keyboard replacement job so for your benefit, we detailed the procedure for getting the keyboard off the laptop.

easynote-c2

Tools required are basically a Phillips head screwdriver of suitable dimensions and a narrow, flat blade or similar prying tool.

We started out by turning the laptop over and removing the battery. The battery is located on the back edge and has a thumb-operated spring-loaded latch on the bottom surface of the laptop. The battery withdraws to the rear.

easynote-battery-removal

Next we needed to remove the keyboard retaining screw which (IIRC) is marked with a small keyboard legend. It is found roughly centrally on the underside of the laptop. Note that we had actually forgotten to remove the battery at this point /me smacks hands all round.

easynote-keyboard-retaining-screw

After putting the screw somewhere safe, we turned the laptop back over and with the lid closed, removed the hinge-cover retaining screws from the rear of the laptop.

easynote-cover-retaining-screw

Next, we carefully opened the laptop lid all the way.

easynote-lid-open

Once fully open, we used the prying tool to carefully lift the hinge covers which are an integral part of the upper cover on the laptop.

easynote-prying-up-the-cover

The whole cover should hinge from the keyboard side. We lifted the cover slightly and withdrew it away from the keyboard, towards the screen. The cover just removed acted as a secondary retaining feature for the upper edge of the keyboard.

The keyboard was lifted from the edge nearest the screen, slight screenwards motion was employed to release the keyboard from the lower edge.

easynote-lifting-keyboard

The keyboard ribbon cable is now visible. The ribbon is fastened using a black locking tab/collar.

easynote-keyboard-removal

We very carefully release the locking collar with a screwdriver. Usually working it back from each edge in turn works well.

easynote-keyboard-removal2

The keyboard could now be fully removed. The exposed internals of the laptop at this point are shown below.

easynote-keyboard-removed

The keyboard refitting procedure is the reverse of the removal procedure. Special care is to be taken when re-seating the ribbon cable and cover clips.

The usual disclaimer applies plus the caveat that it was a couple of months ago when this procedure was performed and my memory may be slightly rusty on it. Don’t forget, if your device is still under warranty, you’re best off getting a service call.

Comments 44 Comments »

We’ve had a Dell Precision M90 laptop kicking around here for a fair while now with faulty Quadro FX 2500M graphics output. When the machine is powered on, the laptop’s LCD remains blank although the backlight is obviously powering up. If an external screen is connected, a picture is displayed at the POST screen but it is overlaid / disrupted by strings of what look like dots, commas or exclamation marks.

Since the machine is out of warranty and what we clearly have is a faulty graphics card, the question is now – why?

On extensive searching of the web, it seems that this problem is common to many of Dell’s high-end laptops with discrete GPUs and to date there does not seem to be a solid fix from Dell other than to change the graphics card (which may again fail) and update the machine’s BIOS to alter the fan’s duty cycle in the hope of reducing the thermal load.

This post and selection of comments on popey.com gives a little insight with people who have had warranty exchanges on their Dell laptop graphics cards reporting repeat failures later on. One interesting comment mentions the possibility of the components expanding significantly due to the heat and coming into contact with one-another where they shouldn’t causing an electrical short. Having looking at images and diagrams of the graphics card installation which attaches to a socket in the face of the motherboard, I’d be inclined to agree that it is a possibility.

I will hopefully know more once I have dismantled the M90 and gone fishing inside.

Comments 10 Comments »

If you’ve got a slightly older notebook suck as the Compaq/HP Presario 2100 series, you might be feeling that the performance is somewhat lack-luster compared to more modern laptops. There are fewer upgrade options for laptops when compared with desktops but the most obvious upgrade is to increase or even ‘max-out’ the installed RAM.

Thankfully, the procedure for upgrading RAM on the Presario 2100 series is very straight-forward. The RAM bay is located on the underside of the machine and requires only the removal of two screws for access. The model featured here is actually a 2103EA which is a little known/unheard of model which resembles the specification of the 2103EU/2103US. Most of the other 210x models are generally similar.

The Upgrade

First, disconnect the power supply from the system. Then remove the battery by pulling up on the battery release catch while pulling on the battery itself as shown below.

Locate the RAM bay which is on the base of the machine underneath the touchpad. Using a fine Philips (cross-head) screw-driver, undo the two screws on this panel. Note that the screws are ‘captive’ and will not come all the way out (Top marks to Compaq/HP on this feature!). Only unscrew them enough to release the panel.

The panel then lifts up from the edge containing the screws and slides out of the locating lugs at the other end.

You will now see the two SO-DIMM RAM slots (one populated here). Insert your new SO-DIMM into the available slot(s) making sure to match the locator ‘key’ to the raised locator in the slot itself. This prevents reverse installation of the RAM. The RAM just pushes down until the two retaining clips at the outside edge clip it into place, holding it flat. In order to remove a SO-DIMM module, simply push the two clips outward and the module will spring up.

To finalise the job, replace the RAM bay cover and refasten the retaining screws. Reinsert the battery and reconnect the power supply.

On powering your machine up again, you can hit F2 during the POST and enter the BIOS config. On the first page, you should see the installed RAM figure. This will be less than the installed amount depending on how much is given over to (shared)video memory. The video memory amount is also displayed here and can be adjusted.

Hopefully, when you boot into your OS of choice, you should see an improvement in performance. RAM is relatively cheap in Europe and the USA right now so it’s probably the best time to purchase this kind of upgrade.

Maximum amount of installable RAM for Presario 2100 Series

To the best of my knowledge, the 2100 series laptops ‘max-out’ at 1GB of RAM due to each of the two banks being limited to 512MB by the 320M chipset on the motherboard.

The original SO-DIMM modules were apparently PC2100 units but I’ve now installed PC2700 units with no ill-effect. The PC2700 RAM simply runs at the lower PC2100 speed.

I strongly recommend searching for RAM specifically designed for your system. I used Offtek UK who supplied me with a Buffalo PC2700 512MB module for around £12 delivered.

Always check with the supplier that the RAM you are ordering matches your laptop (some laptops can be extremely picky about which modules they will work with.

Disclaimer: The above may be incomplete or inaccurate; attempt entirely at your own risk! ;)

Comments 14 Comments »

A little while ago, I was asked by a friend whether I could take a look at an Acer Aspire 5315 laptop which was suffering from the effects of a carbonated cola drink having infiltrated the keyboard. Basically, somebody had knocked a goodly amount of liquid into the keyboard and now it wasn’t functioning correctly.

The symptoms were as expected, physically sticky keys and keys becoming electronically stuck as well. Not good news.

So I set about trying to remove the keyboard without the benefit of a service manual (oh what fun). :roll: I started by immediately making a big mistake and removing the memory bay/mini pci cover. This is the biggest cover on the base of the laptop and it’s a right shunt to remove. If you ever need to take this one off, remove all the screws you can see in the cover itself and then carefully start levering from the edge nearest the centre of the laptop first. When I say ‘carefully’, I mean eggshells carefully. The plastic is thin and the whole circumference of the cover is fitted with small extrusions which serve as clips. These will bend to an extent as you free them (I had to gingerly run a fine screwdriver around the gap), just hope you don’t break them! You only really need this cover off if you are fitting a Mini PCI or RAM upgrade part.

Having discovered there was no access to the keyboard fixings from this cover, I refitted it (also very carefully!) and looked under the battery cover. There I found three black screws which appeared to correspond to the cover above the keyboard on the upper side of the laptop.

Aspire 5315 Keyboard Removal, 3 black screws (arrowed)

After removing the three black screws, I began levering up the edge of the fascia panel nearest the keyboard. This panel serves to hold the keyboard in place, it also comprises the button cover for the power switchgear and grilles for the speakers. I used a fine jewellers screwdriver to carefully lever the panel up. Again, it’s a series of brittle-looking plastic clips.

Aspire 5315 Keyboard Removal 1

Aspire 5315 Keyboard Removal 2

Once the bottom edge of the cover was freed, I lifted it away from the top edge revealing the clips that hold the keyboard in place (set of plastic tabs holding the top edge of the keyboard).

Aspire 5315 Keyboard Top Cover

Again, with my trust jeweller’s driver, I levered the top edge of the keyboard from the retaining tabs and not knowing how much ribbon cable existed, gingerly rotated the keyboard up.

Aspire 5315 Keyboard Removal 4

Aspire 5315 Keyboard Removal 5

As it turns out, there’s enough ribbon to fold the keyboard all the way over to allow removal of the cable. To release the ribbon cable, you have to carefully lever the dark/black locking collar back along the ribbon until it is out of the socket. After carefully memorising the way the cable fits, withdraw the ribbon.

Aspire 5315 Ribbon Access

Aspire 5315 Keyboard Ribbon Cable Removal Closeup

There’s not much else you can get access to from the keyboard bay, there’s no upgradeable parts here and you can only clean (not remove) the CPU fan from here.

The keyboard is a pretty much sealed unit, I had a little try at soaking it in isopropyl alcohol but to no avail. The sugar in the cola had aparently ‘eaten’ (dissolved) the insulator between the membranes and this was now an ex-keyboard.

Aspire Keyboard Soaking in Isopropyl Alcohol

Broken Aspire Keyboard drying in the sun

I managed to find a new keyboard at ‘Acer Spare Parts‘, a company in the UK who had the part shipped in to from Ireland. As my poor luck would have it, the keyboard was damaged in transit possibly because of not-stiff-enough packaging but more likely from ‘courier delivery’ ;) .

Aspire 5315 new keyboard, bent in transit

I managed to flatten the keyboard out by hand, the metal backplane was quite malleable and there was no physical damage to the keys. Refitting is pretty much the reverse of removal. Make sure you get the ribbon cable the right way round and push the locking collar back up. Then put the keyboard back with the bottom edge in first, press the top edge in (ensure that all the tabs are visible above the rim of the keyboard. The upper cover goes back on top-edge first and then presses down. Finally, three black screws go back into the battery bay and you’re done. (Boot and test the keyboard)

This method may work for other Acer Aspire models. Some of the Apire 5000 such as the 5050, 5520 and 5570 look very much alike and 7000 models certainly look similar but don’t quote me on this.

It’s a relatively simple procedure providing you are fairly dexterous and capable of being very gentle and little bit patient. Still, attempt at your own risk, don’t come crying to me if the whole lot disintegrates in your hands! ;)

Comments 113 Comments »

All methods and procedures shown here are carried out entirely at the user's own risk. Please read our disclaimer