Adventures with a dead Dell

Riverglen

Larry
Thread Starter
It's My Birthday!
Joined
Aug 28, 2006
Messages
549
I don't have a problem that I need help with, but I'm posting this in the hope that it may help someone out. Plus I need to rant a little.

A friend recently gave me a computer to fix. It is a Dell Inspiron 1526 laptop. The problem description was simple. Dead on power up. The only result of powering up the machine was the power on led came on.

A little internet research turned up several instances of the same symptoms, and the suggestion that the cause could be a bad Bios battery. I'd never encountered a machine that wouldn't produce any screen output whatsoever because a bad coin cell, but what the heck for a couple of bucks it's simple to try.

Then I found the Dell support page and discovered what it was really going to take to change the battery. Turns out you have to COMPLETELY dismantle the entire machine to get access to the battery. There is literally nothing that can be taken apart that you don't actually have to take apart to get at that battery. Remove the drives, remove the memory, remove the keyboard, remove the display panel, split the case, remove several subassemblies like the wi-fi card.... You even have to remove the CPU chip from it's socket. Having read what it was going to take, I almost decided to bag the whole idea. But if you don't replace the battery, the machine is worthless anyway, so what the hell. By the time I got the thing apart, it looked like an unassembled Heathkit.

And a warning to anyone else brave or foolish enough to try this. Multiple cables have to be disconnected to free the system board. Several of them don't have real connectors. Instead the flat ribbon cables are inserted into "connectors" on the board and held in place by tiny little flat wedges, that have snaps on each end to make them secure. The things do not come off easily, but they do break easily. I managed to break two of them. And if you don't live close to a DELLicatessan, you're not going to find replacements in your local Radio Shack. Best I could do when reassembling everything was to jam the wedge pieces back in as tightly as possible, and pray. I'm not optimistic that they are going to stay put over the long haul.

But, I did get the thing back together, and the battery change was in fact the cause of the problem. I don't thing I've ever seen a more outrageous example of lousy design than this machine represents. To have to completely destroy and then rebuild a machine to change a $2 battery is beyond criminal incompetence. The mickey mouse method for connecting the ribbon cables is a distant second, but at least in a rational world you wouldn't be likely to have to mess around with the.

But the good news is that I was able to return a nicely working computer to the owner, that otherwise would have been useful only as door stop.
 

managed

Allan
Moderator
Joined
May 24, 2003
Messages
15,187
Makes you wonder if they want you to pay them lots of money to change the battery for you. ;)

Well done anyway, try to see this as a learning experience. :rolleyes:
 
Joined
Jul 22, 2006
Messages
8,450
I've done similar things to salvage older machines, but this was above and beyond the call.
 

Riverglen

Larry
Thread Starter
It's My Birthday!
Joined
Aug 28, 2006
Messages
549
Yeah. A big part of the reason I enjoy being the fix-it go to guy among my friends is that I never fail to learn something useful when I work on another machine. Makes it all the easier to solve my own problems.

I can't even imagine what you would have to pay the "Geek Squad" to do it. Probably could buy a new machine cheaper.
 
Joined
Aug 1, 2003
Messages
51,988
Not sure why you would post this in a tech forum if you have no problem. It certainly doesn't belong here. Your blog maybe.

Moving to "Random".
 

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