[svlug] Laptop horrors: AC Power supply breakage

Mark S Bilk mark at cosmicpenguin.com
Mon Nov 19 16:27:01 PST 2001

In-Reply-To: <20011119133204.K1322 at navel.introspect>; from kmself at ix.netcom.com on Mon, Nov 19, 2001 at 01:32:04PM -0800

Before paying $325 for such a repair, I'd attempt to solder
it myself (never admitting to the company that I'd done so
if it didn't work).  You'd have to use a transformer-powered,
grounded, pencil-type soldering iron.  I've got one and 
would be happy to do it for you if you want.  Maybe there'd
be space to put in some short U-shaped wires across the gap 
so the junctions wouldn't be strained by the mobo and ps 
bouncing around when the unit is moved.  That kind of stress 
can pull the copper foil off the board (especially if it's
been soldered to more than once), and then you've got
real trouble.

You're talking about a power supply that's inside the unit, 
right, not the socket where you plug something external in 
to power it or charge the battery?  We could fix it either
way; shouldn't take more than an hour.  Might have to go to
Radio Shack or a hardware store for the right wire; I think
I have eutectic solder -- 67/37 alloy, makes the strongest

Another approach would be to threaten the vendor that you'll
blast the story all over Usenet and cost them a lot of 
business.  Tell them you're well known in the Linux community.  
Show 'em that article in the Reg.  8^)


On Mon, Nov 19, 2001 at 01:32:04PM -0800, Karsten M. Self wrote:
>I'm having one of those interesting "customer service from hell" stories
>at the moment.  The key plot element is the laptop I purchased earlier
>this year.  Appears one of the problems is that the internal power
>supply connector has broken loose from the motherboard, the connectors
>being three solder points.  The problem dates to the first few months of
>use of the system.  It has been dropped once, from about three feet,
>onto a well-carpeted floor, after which the system seemed fine.  
>The service vendor is ARM Computers (http://www.armcomputer.com/).
>The system is a TuxTops Amethyst 20U, also sold as the King by QLITech
>and carried by ChemBook.
>At least one vendor no longer refers customers to ARM for repairs
>following numerous complaints.
>The warranty service vendor is calling this damage, with a total repair
>and shipping cost of $325, so far.  "You were lucky not to damage the
>motherboard".  I've a number of reasons to believe 
>My questions:
>  - Anyone have similar experiences?  How common is it to have an
>    internal power supply come loose?  Anchoring to the mobo with solder
>    points rather than a more solid connection to the laptop frame
>    and/or case itself seems like a failure-prone design.  This would be
>    a workmanship or design flaw.
>  - What are the design characteristics of laptop power supplies in
>    general?  Is a mobo anchor typical?  What's common for, say, Dell,
>    Compaq, or IBM ThinkPad systems?
>Other information that might be useful is appreciated.
>Karsten M. Self <kmself at ix.netcom.com>       http://kmself.home.netcom.com/
> What part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?             Home of the brave
>  http://gestalt-system.sourceforge.net/                   Land of the free
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>Geek for Hire                     http://kmself.home.netcom.com/resume.html

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