My wife has a Dell Inspiron 1200 laptop/notebook computer that recently started having trouble. We use her laptop quite a bit to watch movies (Netflix and Youtube) all the time, and I also use it to make blog posts quite frequently as well.
What was the problem? The computer’s LCD monitor screen kept blinking on and off (from light to dim lighing). The problem was that the component (power plug jack) in the back of the computer was not making a good connection. At first I thought perhaps it was the AC power adapter that plugs into the wall. But after a little research online, I figured out that it must have been the power plug.
Now, I am a good with computers, but the most I have ever done to a computer was simply installing Ram (I upgraded Ram on my HP Pavilion 513x and the Dell Inspiron Laptop). So taking a laptop computer almost completely apart was a big challenge. However, I felt up to it!
Here are the Tools Needed to Repair the Laptop Power Jack Plug for the Dell Inspiron 1200:
1. Rosin-core electronics solder (to repair the jack)
2. A soldering Iron
3. A set of presicion screwdrivers (the really tiny ones)
4. About 2-4 hours time (depending on your level of experience).
So I got off and started to disassembled all the parts. I kept all the different sized screws in different cups to keep track of them (I recommend you do the same or you will have a mess). I also got online and dell has a great tutorials with pictures on their website on how to disassemble virtually all parts of the laptop until you get down to the motherboard.
So I started to remove all the parts. First the back cover. Then the hard drive. Then the CD/DVD optical drive. Then the extra Ram. Then the lcd monitor, keyboard, etc. I was actually starting to get a little nervous as I didn’t think it would take that long. I literally had to take the whole thing apart, even the processor!
So I got down to the power jack and inspected it. I felt like the jack itself was good, it just wasn’t making a good connection and the monitor kept blinking from a light setting to a darker setting. It was really annoying!
So I looked at the jack and wiggled it a bit. Aha! It wasn’t making a good connection. In fact, it didn’t look like it had been soldered very well at all.
At this point, I knew I could have taken the whole thing off, cleaned it, then re-attached it and soldered it. But I am lazy and inexperienced and I didn’t want to risk damage to the part. So I felt like instead it just needed some more solder on all the connections.
So I whipped out the old solder iron, and went to work. I am a newbie in soldering, but I found a great video on youtube on how to solder. So I carefully cleaned the tip of the solder iron, and then turned it on and let it get hot. Then I “tinned” the tip with a dab of solder and flicked it onto a piece of cardboard to rid the excess solder.
I then carefully heated each small leg of the power jack, and then added a good dab of solder. I worked on each leg and made sure it had a good layer of solder on it. One on leg, I accidentally got the green motherboard coating melted a bit, but it didn’t harm anything.
I then spent the next 30-40 minutes re-assembling the laptop. It wouldn’t have taken me so long, however, I accidentally left a small screw inside when assembling, and heard it rattle and thought, “NOOOO.” So I had to take it back apart, get the screw, and then continue putting it back together. All in all it was easier to put back together than it was to take it apart.
I plugged in the Dell Inspiron 1200, crossed my fingers, said a prayer, and hit the power button. I got a scare because at first it said, Invalid configuration. I thought to myself, “oh no I screwed it up.” But then it booted fine. It worked like a charm!
No more blinky laptop LCD screen! All it needed was a better solder connection to the motherboard. And I feel so accomplished and like I know more about computers! In fact, I now realize how easy it is to replace things such as a hard drive, etc. If anything else breaks, I will be ready to fix it! Except for the one loose key that always wants to pop up!