September 27th, 2003



Not to be steadying the soldering iron tip with my finger. No no no. Not good.

(Luckily, it's only a very small burn, and should heal without issue.)
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    sore sore

Another day, another computer fixed.

So why exactly is it that laptop manufacturers insist on using cheap power plugs -- and ones that mount on the circuit board? It's a hard life for a plug of any sort, and the three miniscule metal tabs that hold it to the motherboard can only withstand a very finite amount of metal fatigue....

The power plug on suzanne's laptop finished breaking apart yesterday. In this case, it seems that it wasn't so much that the metal fatigued, but that the connector itself cracked. Anyhow, it was no longer functional at all, and the battery was now essentially dead.

This isn't the first time I've had to do this; I had to do it to the last laptop we owned, too. On that one, I ended up soldering a few inches of wire onto the motherboard, passing it through the power-plug hole (with a knot to keep it from pulling on the solder joints), and putting an inline plug on it to make a pigtail. Not particularly pretty, but it worked.

This time, I couldn't find an inline plug of the right size, and I didn't want to put a new one on the power supply. However, I did find a case-mount plug of the right size, so I bought it, and when I got home, I discovered that it was exactly the right size to fit in the blanked-off keyboard plug hole, which was conveniently located right next to the power plug hole.

So, I spent the afternoon taking the laptop apart, photographing each screw before it came out and again on a numbered square on a sheet of paper, soldering the wires to attach the new socket onto the motherboard, and going back through the previous pictures as a reassembly guide. I also cut down the blanking plate from the keyboard plug hole and used bits of it to blank off the original power plug hole, so it doesn't look like a gaping emptiness. The job took about three hours from beginning to end, I think.

I'm actually quite pleased with the results. It looks reasonably professional, it should be much sturdier than the first version (and easier to fix if it does break; no more need for soldering directly on the board!), and most importantly, it works.
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