[svlug] Laptop horrors: AC Power supply breakage

Karsten M. Self kmself at ix.netcom.com
Mon Nov 19 22:52:01 PST 2001

on Mon, Nov 19, 2001 at 07:07:55PM -0800, Rafael Skodlar (raffi at linwin.com) wrote:
> 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.  
> Dropped computer? And you expect them to cover it under warranty?
> Sorry but that looks like abuse to me.

Best I recollect, the system hit the carpet.  Once.

There's this thing called a design envelope, Raph, and laptops falling
off of desks should fall within this.  Not frequently, needs be, but
some basic shock tolerance.

As I recall, the fall happened in March.  My first notes of power supply
issues are in May.  That's two months for the effects to propogate.  The
problem also evolved -- there was an increasing incidence of system
lockups, which would seem indicative of a gradual joint failure rather
than a sudden event.

There are several inconsitancies in what I've been told by ARM, and I've
heard similar stories elsewhere.  I'm currently pursuing other

> If it's a simple resoldering job then it's worth doing it yourself 
> assuming you have some experience with it. Power connector is the easiest 
> thing to replace. high density chips is another matter.

> > 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
> That's not common if you don't drop the computer.
> >     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.
> > 
> EVERY computer I've seen in my career has annoying or in some cases a 
> fatal design flaw.

A design flaw is by definition a workmanship error, not a customer

You'll note that automobile manufacturers have these little events they
call "recalls".  That's not 'coz they want to do them.


> >   - 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?
> Dell design sucks too. Apple computers, as much as I try to avoid them,
> have some nice design touches.

The more I know about women, the more I like my cat.

The more I know about laptops, the better ThinkPads look.


Karsten M. Self <kmself at ix.netcom.com>       http://kmself.home.netcom.com/
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