Can this laptop be saved?
January 5, 2007 1:28 PM   Subscribe

Can this laptop be saved? eMachines M2105 bought refurbished from Tiger Direct outlet near Toronto two years ago (90 day warranty). Recently the power cord developed the "jiggle it to make it work" disease. Only it turns out that it wasn't the cord but the jack inside the computer that had the problem. Now the jack is completely loose from whatever it had been attached to and so the computer doesn't go. While online third-party parts dealers seem to have jacks for just about any other eMachines laptop, no-one seems to have this one. And the official eMachines parts supplier says I need to replace the mainboard (which costs about two-thirds of what I paid for the laptop for the part alone).

My friendly local computer shop basically gets shot down when they inquire with eMachines/Gateway about parts. It seems that the aforementioned parts supplier is the only authorized service provider. I can order the part and then bring it to the local shop -- but the supplier says it only comes attached to the mainboard.

An alternate approach might be to find some other way to charge the battery, but, as far as I can tell, there is no OEM stand-alone battery charger for this machine
posted by winston to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you're willing to open up the laptop it's fixable. Likely the jack needs to be resolderd to the board, possibly reinforcement necessary. It's not terribly difficult but laptops are a pain to take apart and get back together. Do you have a soldering iron and the willingness to do the job? If not do you have any friends into electronics?
posted by 6550 at 1:49 PM on January 5, 2007

We're having the same problem with one of our laptops. Our friendly neighborhood geek doesn't trust his soldering abilities when the jack is so close to the main board, so we have something wedged under the plug to get everything inside to make contact. When it no longer works like that, Friendly Neighborhood Geek will attempt the repair.
posted by Soliloquy at 1:55 PM on January 5, 2007

I agree with 6550. Find a skilled hardware geek with a soldering iron. Or... Just today, I asked my local skilled electronics geek to solder a small item for me. He says there's a product that acts a lot like solder but does not require soldering. So, maybe Radio Shack can help, if you're confident in your open-the-laptop-case skills, which are non-trivial.
posted by theora55 at 1:57 PM on January 5, 2007

I had the same problem with my Dell Inspiron 9200. Two service people gave me the same advice you have -- replace the motherboard -- but wanted to charge too much. We ended up buying a used scrap laptop from eBay and cannibalizing parts to make mine work.
posted by Robert Angelo at 2:31 PM on January 5, 2007

I myself fixed an Apple Pismo with the same problem.
I personally did the soldering, and it wasn't that difficult. I just used a nice sharp soldering tip.
The lugs where the power jack attaches to the motherboard are usually quite large. They were in this case. Whole task took about 30 minutes from start to finish.

That was before disassembly instructions were all over the web!

Good luck
posted by asavage at 3:17 PM on January 5, 2007

This is one of the few things that can kill a laptop, short of major physical damage. My Sharp Actius developed the same problem, and a very skilled local repair place had major problems with the multi-layered motherboard, particularly with tracks lifting from the board as they attempted to solder the socket back.

Even if you get it fixed now, it's likely to fail again soon. Sorry.
posted by krisjohn at 3:31 PM on January 5, 2007

I fix these all the time, I work in a service center for BB.

It ultimately depends on the condition of the motherboard. Most commonly the DC jack will come free from the board, leaving the pads on the board in place. If the pads have lifted off you will most likely have to replace the motherboard.

There are a couple of ways to handle it. Either find someone that is comfortable with that level of soldering (it's not terribly difficult, you could even do it yourself) and find the correct DC jack (there are different sizes, and different numbers of leads that connect to the board) or you can pay a company to do it. I know (since I work for BB) that anything we do is covered under a 90 day warranty, so if the repair is unsuccessful they'll fix it no matter what. I've seen where it's gotten to replacement of the motherboard (at no additional cost to the customer).

Now I know BB doesn't have the best reputation, but I know what I see on a daily basis. If you'd prefer to go a different route, I would totally understand. If you do decide to send it to BB, and you live east of the Rockies, I know the team that will see it. Heck I can even give you a rough price if you're interested. My email is in my profile if you're interested.
posted by jackofsaxons at 3:36 PM on January 5, 2007

Winston, if you can't find any one. I know a person in Markham (near Tigerdirect) who may be able to help. My email is in the profile. I will look for the contact now...
posted by strangelove at 5:36 PM on January 5, 2007

Allow me to elaborate; this person is a laptop repair person.
But really, if you work near any engineering companies, a friendly inquire my turn-up someone competent who will be happy to help. I find that co-op students are the best.
posted by strangelove at 5:41 PM on January 5, 2007

6550 and Adam Savage have the right idea... it can be intimidating at first, but your cheapest route is to bite the bullet and do the soldering yourself. It really is not that hard to do.
posted by fvox13 at 7:08 PM on January 5, 2007

This would result in an end-product that would look a little ... Mad Max-ish (for lack of a better word), but if soldering a new jack onto the board is too hard, maybe you could just solder some pigtail wires onto it? Replace the current jack with some type of strain relief, and then put whatever kind of jack you want on the end of the pigtail.

Just from personal experience, it can be a real bear to get exact replacement parts, and ones that were originally designed to be soldered by robots, or in a reflow oven, can be difficult to do by hand. If you don't care about a "stock" repair, you might be able to DIY if you think outside the box.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:22 PM on January 5, 2007

This website might be some help in getting a jack.
posted by Orb2069 at 9:01 PM on January 5, 2007

Here in the UK there are companies that specialise in this type of repair, because the problem happens very, very often. We haven't used them ourselves because my husband has just done the soldering himself -- using totally different connectors on one occasion.
posted by Idcoytco at 8:27 AM on January 6, 2007

Can you buy a docking station/ port replicator for it that includes charging built-in?
posted by Four Flavors at 1:16 PM on January 8, 2007

Response by poster: Thank you for the suggestions everyone. I'll look for someone to do the soldering.
posted by winston at 6:44 PM on January 9, 2007

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