Sunday, April 30, 2006

It's Fixed!

I'm typing this post on my freshly-restored Thinkpad T23 laptop. On Tuesday, the backlight on my laptop ceased its merry operation.

It was not unexpected- for several months the screen had been progressively drifting farther and farther into the red end of the spectrum, and lately had been given to flickering wildly at random intervals.

Saturday, though, was the last straw. The flickering had gotten so bad that I had to connect it to an external display device (A beautiful 17" LCD monitor- magnificent!) because of the flickering.

Late Saturday night, I researched the problem and found that the symptoms my laptop had been showing were consistent with either a burned out power inverter for the backlight, or a burned out Cold Cathode Flourescent Lamp (the backlight). Between the two options, the power inverter would be the cheapest and easiest to replace, so early Monday morning I went to ebay and bought a replacement power inverter.

I didn't get around to installing the new inverter until last night, when I started the journey to the center of the machine. I learned quickly that when a laptop is the machine, the center is protected by an inordinate number of layered components, and the journey is very circuitous.

To get to the power inverter, you first need to detatch the front bezel of the screen;
To detatch the front bezel of the screen, you must remove the screen from the laptop;
To detatch the screen from the laptop, you must remove the fan from the processor;
To remove the fan from the processor, you must separate the keyboard bezel from the laptop;
To separate the keyboard bezel from the laptop, you must remove the keyboard;
To remove the keyboard, well, you get the idea.

Thus, to replace the power inverter residing on the interior of the screen, you must take off virtually every removeable component of the laptop.

The trip was made possible through the excellent documentation IBM makes available on their website, the Hardware Maintenance Manual series. There's one for just about all the hardware IBM/Lenovo manufactures. It would have been very difficult, if at all possible, to replace the appropriate component without the Manual.

All that to say, at about 4:05 this afternoon I successfully replaced the power inverter. And then found out that the power inverter wasn't problem. The CCFL (backlight) was burned out, and I wouldn't be able to get a replacement bulb probably until the end of next week.

And then it hit me:
I have a non-functioning thinkpad somewhere in my room. The thinkpad has a screen. The screens are the same size. The bulbs are the same length. They're interchangable.

So I took the second laptop apart and removed the bulb. It took about an hour or so, I think. Mabe an hour and a half.

The "new" bulb matched the dead bulb almost exactly. The length was the same, the connector was identical. The only real difference was the connector wires- the "new" bulb's were about an inch and a half longer than the dead bulb's. Fortunately, there was enough extra space in the screen bezel that everything fit.

So, after spending another hour or so reversing the disassembly process, it's fixed!

Total dollar cost: $8.99
Remaining parts: 1 Power inverter, slighly used; most of an i1400 laptop, sans backlight.

The experience: Priceless.


The_Wandering_Gypsy said...

Thank you for that information... I'm sure in my 43rd life, I'll need it at some point. *wink*

Shannon Hodges said...