Saturday, January 09, 2010

Lavie’s Laptop Teardown

Gentle readers of this blog may recall a few previous posts regarding laptop hardware shenanigans in the Valca home.

In that case the DC plug in the laptop had broken the solder-connection to the mainboard and I ended up taking it to a local shop down in Webster.  They fixed it up (not cheap) and it was almost good as new.

So it was with some disconcertment that Lavie called me at work about three weeks ago with her Compaq Presario laptop.  Basically, it was dead and wouldn’t power on.

That night when I got home I realized the power was completely drained.  playing around with the AC plug into the DC jack finally got it going again (sign of either a bad cord or damaged DC jack).

I got it charged to 25%, removed some key files off it for her, then shut down to consider the options.

  • Get a new laptop (not really…budget is exceeding tight now).
  • Take it back to the Webster shop (almost as much as a good $ chunk towards a new one).
  • Try to do the repair myself.

In the end I decided to do some research on the last option.

Lavie’s laptop is a Compaq Presario CQ60-215DX model.  Nothing amazing but dependable and good home-use performance.

After some research I was delighted to find that most of these Compaq Presario models don’t have the DC plug directly soldered to the mainboard but use a removable cable module.

Heck.  I’ve built a few systems and field-strip our desktop systems at work.  While stripping down a laptop is highly delicate work, I felt confident I could take it on if budgeting enough time (a whole morning to be safe).

While for my laptop I wasn’t willing to do on-board solder repairs, swapping out modular part is no biggie. (hopefully).

Order Up!

First place I looked was the HP PartSurfer.  HP does allow for ordering of component parts for their systems.  Unfortunately the particular part I was interested in wasn’t carried.

Fortunately I found it at out in California: Laptop Repair and New Notebook Parts – Part Number 486835-001.  Just what the Dr. ordered!

I had come across them before when considering just replacing the entire main-board of my laptop but figured I wasn’t quite confident at the time to do so.

After quadruple checking the part was correct (no return policy unless of defect) I placed the order. One really nice thing about the outfit is that they ship UPS with mandatory signature of receipt required.  I can’t say how many times we’ve had other places deliver to us and drop off PC parts and electronics on our doorstop without even bothering to knock or ring the bell.   Once we were sure of the delivery date (via tracking #) Lavie made arrangements to be at the house all day.  


In the meantime I continued to gather how-to material and study it profusely to make sure I understood what I was doing:

These videos started out good but Part 3 never got delivered and I was a bit worried when the tech had to stop because the monster-screwdriver he was using wouldn’t fit in a chassis hole and he couldn’t get the screw out.  Always have the right tools on hand man!

Compaq had a bunch of manuals on-line for the Presario CQ60-215dx notebook.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find a field technician’s guide.

The have even more user-guides listed off these links for Presario notebook systems: Compaq Presario Notebook PCs

However, to get the field-tech’s guide I had to search quite a while until I hit pay-dirt: c01602064.pdf

Compaq Presario CQ60 Notebook PC
HP G60 Notebook PC
Maintenance and Service Guide
Document Part Number: 488764-002
November 2008

This guide is a troubleshooting reference used for maintaining and servicing the computer. It provides
comprehensive information on identifying computer features, components, and spare parts; and performing
computer disassembly procedures.

This is pretty much everything you need to reference (down to screw types and sizes) when servicing your CQ60 class notebook.  (More notebook model links available here at Laptop Repair Help: HP Compaq laptop manuals with step-by-step disassembly instructions.)

The real “score” was finally at  this “inside my laptop” blog post How to remove motherboard from Compaq Presario CQ50, CQ60 or CQ70 laptop.  It was a gold-mine of photos and annotations, step-by-step.  It clearly showed where my DC plug module was at and all the “gotchas” along the way.  (Although I didn’t have to also tear-down the screen, that is covered as well in this post: how to remove the LCD screen, inverter board and hinges.)

I also knew some of the ribbon connectors are very delicate and tricky.  Nothing like the kinds on a PC desktop system.  So I made sure I had memorized this post at  Laptop Repair Help How to fix broken keyboard connector on laptop motherboard.

On the Bench

The part quickly came in about 7 days after the order.  Everything was great so my confidence in the source is high now and I will use them again, in case any other laptop parts need replacing.  Quite a lot of parts are in stock but many specialty parts on older models in particular are out of stock, so your luck may vary.

This morning I got up, had loose-leaf green tea instead of coffee to steady my hands.  Made cinnamon-rolls and eggs for me and the girls.  After that I warmed my hands up and meditated on the detail work ahead of my by doing a Toy Story Green Army Men Lego Mini-Fig kit by bro had got me.

The actual tear-down and rebuild was almost 100% like in the guide.  I only noted a few potential gotcha’s.

Pulling some of the cable connectors was delicate work.  I found using a pair of tweezers to push them out worked best.  I was afraid of crushing them if I used pliers.  I was only really concerned about slipping and gouging the main-board.  In most cases steady but firm gently rocking the plug loosened them up enough to slip loose.  Also I carefully studied each of the ribbon-cable connectors.  Two types here.  One is a flip-up kind like in step 8 and the other was the push-release kind like in step 7.


Notice the yellow-lined pie-tin on the right.  I spayed the yellow paper lightly with aerosol glue and used it to stick the screw heads down on to keep them apart.  (That’s iTunes visualizer in the 2nd monitor with some relaxing Te Deum playing as performed by Arvo Part while I worked—by the way)

I also made a guide to help me keep track of which screws went to which assembly unit as they corresponded to them in the cake-tin.  Yea, I know, kinda OCD there…


On Step 10 of the guide, I found an additional wire not included in the model used for the guide.  It appeared to be going to something on the case itself and I couldn’t tell how to remove it. So I kept it together at first which was awkward which meant when I pulled the screen display and laptop’s plastic cover off the chassis frame, I had to keep them together by this single wire.


Once I had it all off and could inspect it closer, turns out it was an LED light and was held in by really dark sticky tape.  Gently pulling it away from the plastic housing let it slide right out.


imageAnother “gotcha” can be seen in Step 14 of the guide when the cover is separated from the bottom base.  Don’t let  the silver plastic trick you.  The top cover also consists of the laptop’s screen rotation area which is black.  Look closely at the photo in Step 14 and you can see what I mean.  If you think the silver and black parts are different you might pry incorrectly and break the silver/black part join..

Just take your time and the entire top cover part will unsnap OK. Don’t force anything but work around the edge gently with a guitar pick or hard-thin plastic spludger tool and you should be safe.  Patience is a virtue here!

Upon reaching the end at Steps 17 and 18 of the guide Lavie’s Presario CQ60-215dx showed one final deviation from the guide.  Her laptop had a system-board extension fastened to the bottom shell that wasn’t present in the guide’s model.  This is for the DVD-ROM module connection.  Two screws there must be removed.


Also noted in Step 17 is to remove four cables. That’s fine until the bottom one which seems to be covered by a wide square of hard plastic glued to the main-board.  Don’t peel it all off.  Look carefully and you will see there is actually a tab of plastic over the wire plug.  Raise that up (might by sticky) and then you can access the connector without any more peeling.

At that point the main-board could easily be removed!


And finally for the money, the DC power-plug module finally accessible and ready to be removed and replaced.


Re-assembly was much easier and exactly the reverse.  No gotcha’s this time.

Once all together I tested it with a power-up and everything seemed up and operational again.  The DC plug worked again and the system was fully charging.

Since I had to pull the BIOS battery, I had to reset the BIOS settings again.  No biggie.

However, now, for some reason, when the system is powered on, the Wi-Fi no longer automatically comes on.  You have to press the amber Wi-Fi button next to the power button to turn it on manually to “blue”.  Not sure why as that wasn’t required before.  The BIOS is very simple but it is possible something in there for “auto-on” got reset.

I’ve checked all the applicable Win-7 power and network device management options but no fixes so far.  It now acts like Lavie’s old (and now Alvis’s new) Compaq Presario V2575US Notebook PC which has the same behavior.

Not sure but I’ll recheck the BIOS again later.  I might have missed a setting there.

So Lavie is good to go and I’m even more confident after my Operation game on her laptop.


--Claus V.


ffextensionguru said...

Wow, never realized how complicated notebooks are to disassemble. Kinda makes me glad I didn't buy myself a NetBook or Notebook for Christmas. You can now add 'Notebook Surgeon' to your list of accomplishments.

victor said...

Well such a nice article and i really appreciate you well such a complicated method to disassemble the need a much concentration for that am i rite?