Saturday’s Challenge

At a quarter ’til midnight last night, Alpha came to me with the dreaded question: “is my laptop still under warranty?”

She dropped it. When attempting to power up, she only got those telltale three beeps that mean, “I’m so broken I won’t run at all.” Though her father did translate the initial “three beep” diagnosis, he did not offer any assistance (beyond “you shouldn’t drop it”).
And no, since it’s over four years old, no, it’s no longer under warranty.

Inspiron2650 1 So after taking her for the usual monthly trip to Wal-Mart for necessities like toothpaste and such, I sat down by a window (for better light) and took it apart. I mean, if it doesn’t work now, and isn’t under warranty, what harm is there in looking?

Fortunately, as I’ve noted before, Dell posts their service manuals online, so that anyone with a reasonable level of technical expertise and a little courage can take it apart without breaking it.

I knew that it landed on the back side, so I focused on the components that seemed nearest the point of impact. I knew that it was still getting power, but that the LCD panel never activated. I tried powering it up with an external monitor to rule out something as simple as the panel connector, but that didn’t work either.

From that, I surmised that the video card might be the culprit. It backs right up to the back of the laptop (connecting to the external monitor jack), which made that a plausible problem.

Inspiron2650 video card It doesn’t look broken — no burned spots, nothing obviously loose, no broken solder points that I could see (with my trusty but seldom-used bifocals, no less). It was, however, full of dust and cat hair — so I vacuumed out what I could, cleaning the video card with some canned air.
Next, I re-seated it as carefully as possible, attached the LCD panel connector, and put it all back together (using as few screws as I could, in case I had to disassemble it all over again).


Yes, I did a victory dance, right there in the kitchen. The two super-smart college kids in the living room (MathMan, a math major; Alpha, an electrical engineering major) were duly impressed. For a few glorious minutes, I’m more than just the lady that washes towels, fixes supper, and transfers money to Alpha’s checking account.

For a few glorious minutes, I am the Geek Goddess who saved the world as they know it.

5 thoughts on “Saturday’s Challenge

  1. Damn! You are so cool!!! I have a dell lappy too. It is old. It as been dropped a number of times. Newest problem is that the battery has shorted again. — 180 bucks. What ever. That was the one after they recalled the one it came with. You are more that just a mom — you are da mama.


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