I mend a Samsung NC-10 netbook with a dodgy screen

Taking small break on bible places and things in Israel, skip this if you are not interested 🙂

I fix laptops for people, as for some reason I like repairing them, and people have given me donations towards my volunteering work here.

  • Saves you buying a new computer! well yeah, er of course 🙂
  • You feel like a boss after fixing your computer, and feel and extreme sense of satisfaction of doing it yourself!
  • Stick your tongue out at the iPad crowd, as laptops are still way better than tablet computers, you can type on them, and angle the screen to a comfortable setting and are the best device for real work on the move.  🙂

Rather than throw it away when it gets a fault, if you have steady hands and the right tools, it can be revived again, give this a go!

You need, small philips screwdriver, spludger or some suitable plastic prising device like a guitar plectrum, a bowl or something to put the screws in safe.  Also have another working computer on your desk to follow these instructions and the helpful Youtube videos.

One of the leaders of my bible study had this quite popular Samsung NC-10 mini laptop, the problem with it is the screen on it disappears into a white background or flashes white lines on it, by adjusting the screen you can fix or make this worse.

It seems to be a popular problem, its caused by the cable that connects the screen panel to the motherboard going bad, it seems a poor design in this computer means the wires get pinched by the screen hinges.

If you do some Google searches you can see this model laptop suffers from this issue a lot.  I tracked down the part and read up how it dismantles and decided to try and see if I could fix it.

I bought a replacement genuine Samsung part from eBay.    Like all screen cables for laptops, its got a flat rectangular end and its thin in the middle and has another small rectangular end that plugs into the motherboard with an extra cable for grounding that is fixed by one philips screw.   This part cost me US$17 including shipping from China which took two weeks to get here.  You can buy this part from sellers from UK and US at a higher price too.

The sellers do not usually provide any help on fitting or how to do a repair.

 
I didn’t take much pictures of the work I did, regrettably, but check out these Youtube videos, someone has kindly made available that show a tear-down of this model computer.  Its actually quite easy to take apart, although fitting the cable is quite tricky, as it has to be routed in the exactly the right place through the hinges.

It seems if you take the laptop apart and make sure all the connections are in tight some people say this will fix it but then the problem may come back again a bit later.   Therefore I thought it would be best to replace the LCD cable.    Take attention to where the cables sits underneath the LCD panel other the screen will look wonky and this might pinch your new cable again.

One you have both sections of the NC-10 apart, you need to remove one more philips screw where the cable attaches to the board, give it a gentle wiggle for the cable to come free.   To remove it from the screen end, there is a piece of yellow tape to removed which you should keep safe or replace when you reassemble it.

The rounded chrome coloured screen hinge that houses the troublesome cable is made of two pieces and very gently with screwdriver you can prise it apart and get at the cable.   The tricky thing is that the centre of the cable is wrapped around the hinge along with the cable for the screen mounted web cam.  These have to go in a very specific way, so take a picture with a camera that can do close up pictures, so after you remove the bad cable you know how to fit the new one.

Once this is done, you can put refit the LCD panel in the screen lid and put in the bottom screws and loosely reassemble the laptop and see if the screen lights up, whilst holding F1 to go into the BIOS screen to prevent it from booting into Windows.   If all is well, you put it back together and enjoy your newly fixed Samsung!

If this has been useful to you, and you mended your own computer, please consider giving me a donation to the work I am doing providing volunteer IT support to a Christian charity in Israel.

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How to fix a laptop with overheating issues, like this Dell Inspiron 1150

IT repair stuff.   Skip to next articles if you just want to read about my visits to bible locations.

One of my colleagues asked me to look at old (about 2004) Dell Inspiron laptop, it needs to have the files moved over to her new Win7 based HP Pavillion laptop.   The Dell is being retired as it has some problems freezing upon booting up.    I suspect this is an overheating issue, so I decided to pull it to bits and clean and repair it.

This particular laptop like a lot of Dells is one of the easiest laptops to take apart and work upon.   Rather in the common tradition of throw something away I wanted to see if I can make it usable.   To get this machine apart it just needed a plastic strip and keyboard removed.   To do my housemate’s Toshiba Satellite and my old Compaq to fix clogged fan/overheating issues required the whole machine to be completely dismantled, ie: remove screen hinges and separate both halves of the base, which is fiddly and needs about three dozen screws removed.

Overheating issues are a common issue with laptops, Toshibas often get dust stuck in the fans causing the bottom to get very hot, causing a fault or shortening the life of the motherboard and processor chip.  HP were also plagued with problems with their Pavillion line.   Here I will show you the techniques I used to fix this Dell:-

Brief legal spiel: Warning, do this at your own risk. Additional, before taking computer apart, disconnect all cables and remove battery.  Work somewhere clear and put the screws in such a way where they wont get lost or get put back in the wrong places.  But hey, if you computer is too expensive to get done by a shop and otherwise useless, and you have not fixed a laptop before, you might as well try this for the first time. 🙂

You need:  Small (flat and philips) screwdriver set, patience, spray canned air, small tube of Arctic silver thermal grease.

Almost all Dells can be dismantled by taking out the plastic strip above the keyboard.  Left: Gently use a screwdriver to prise the small slot to the right of the plastic strip, one you lift it up, you might need to also prise a small gap above F12 key, then just jiggle it a bit around the screen hinges and the panel will gently come off.   Right: remove the four screws with the rings I have shown.

Left: I have flipped the keyboard over, detach the keyboard cable, it just needs a gentle wiggle to detatch.  Then, remove the screw marked and this metal panel can be lifted out. Right: there are four screws that hold the heatsink and fan assembly on.   These screws have numbers on as they should be removed and refitted in that sequence, as to avoid any weight of the heatsink putting too much pressure on one corner of the CPU chip.

Left: I have cleaned off the old dried up grease with a some kitchen roll and a small bottle of alcohol (CD player cleaning fluid or nail varnish remover) from the surface of the processor chip and the copper surface of the heatsink, so its nice and shiny.  The heatsink is sitting upside down ontop of the battery. Once the grease dries up, it loses its ability to properly dissipate heat from the processor chip. 

Right: I have put a layer of new thermal grease on the processor, I use this stuff called Artic Silver 5, which is one of the best thermal grease on the market for its thermal conductivity.  You need to adequately cover the surface of the chip, not too much or too little.  The empty space where the heatsink and fan goes can be sprayed with canned air to remove dust and dirt.

This the fan.   Another four screws were removed to get the motor out.   Towards my fingers you can see lots of fluff has collected inside fouling the vents of the copper heatsink stopping air from escaping.   Zoom in and you can see where the yellow arrow is and spray some canned air to clean all of this out.   Spray more air to get all the dust from the fan blades.

Reassembly is the reverse of disassembly.   Make sure the CPU fan is mounted on nice and tight but evenly.  When refitting the plastic strip, align the left hand side first, and work your fingers in snapping back in place towards the right hand side a bit at a time.   One thing I have not done is clean and replace the grease under the other heatsink where the graphics processor chip is.   This is worth doing at the same time though, as they can give heat problems, especially on HP laptops.

Enjoy your cooler running computer!

(shakes jam jar)   I am looking for funds to raise money for flights and insurance for my return to Israel in January, if you find this useful, or would like some advice, please consider donating me something, so I can continue to service equipment and resources for a Christian charity in the middle east.  If you would like your computer professionally repaired in UK or Israel please get in touch, I can do screen replacments or something minor like missing keys and software problems, I would be happy to do work in exchange for donations.   Thankyou.

At work, the Talpiyot food bank team, replacing LCD screen on Acer Travelmate laptop

Work has been busy this week, actually I am not often not busy, but had some trouble with a PC that sits in the Talpiyot food bank that is supposed to back up everything off servers, this essential running box was showed as off on my Spiceworks console, and after I went over and replaced the power supply, the next day it did it again.  The PC had to be replaced and took good few hours to get it running the same.

Talking of such, its been very very hot in Jerusalem, temperatures have been up to 37c (thats 100F)  so cycling 4 miles to the office in scorching heat is pretty tiring!

Other things I had to do with to set up new members of staff, get a Russian speaking colleague who is based in Karmiel access to a database, he works with immigrants from Russia and ex-Soviet states who live in the north.

But as well as this I managed to put a new screen in a friend’s (ie: not one my work’s assets) laptop.  This Acer Travelmate laptop had liquid that got in the LCD from an accident with some olive oil, great for your health but not for laptops, the screen works just has some weird blobs in between the layers of thin plastic inside the screen, this would eventually cause the LCD to fail altogether as they are fragile.   When I went back to the UK I ordered a new LCD display and carried it in a box on the plane, so I was a little nervous that this part was all right, it cost me UK£70 ($100) from a specialist laptop spares company in the UK….

Out come the little rubber pads on the screen fascia.  Then take out all four screws.  Gently prise and flex the screen fascia out, the old LCD is freed from taking out 4 tiny screws from the long steel hinges that give the top section rigidity and also double up as antennae for the wireless card, then the screen can put flat down has the ribbon cable disconnected and two little wires from the inverter that supplies voltage to the screen.  The new screen is put in its place and I put the screws in loosely and tighten them up one at a time, as it needs to be jiggled a bit into place….

Hooray it works!!!  The volunteer who asked me to fix this gave me a bit of extra money which paid for my Dead Sea trip before I went away, so it was a blessing I could get this fixed for her, and she could provide me with means to do some exploring I did with friends at a weekend a month ago.

The IT workshop has three desks and half a dozen PCs as this room has our database expert (Gilad) sat here, we also had Shirley our American-Chinese IT specialist who took care of a lot of problems at this site, but she has left now (we miss you, come back soon!!) and there is a bench with lot of stuff in pieces to be rebuilt and put back into service.  At my main desk in headquarters I just have one PC and few spare parts and a server room I look after…

There is another Acer on the pile of PCs in the background, this has a full hard disk and need some software tweaking to fix it. (change data around the two partitions on it)   I am going to order a new power supply for this as the one the volunteer as its a bit unreliable and held together with tape.

The food bank floor team are having a bit of cake and ice cream after lunch (why I look forward to site visits there)  but don’t let this deceive you, this team work very hard hauling food onto pallets, several tons a day that are shipped to some of the most poorest and needy Jewish people in Jerusalem.  People do come and go fairly often, as people come to the end of their commitment is always sad.   Here you can see these pictures shows staff ranges from the US, South Africa, Japan and Finland.   We have had people here from every continent.

Overall this week has been extra busy, but got most things done I needed to do and it has been fun.

laptop repair – Replacing a broken screen bezel on Fujitsu-Siemens Esprimo V5535

This week in my workshop, well my parents living room actually, is this Fujitsu Siemens laptop which looks rather battered, two of the keys are missing, Vista is dog slow with 1gb of RAM (the video card uses 256Mb of this)

Software wise, this computer had an antivirus client called System mechanic but I couldn’t test it for spyware as it would blue screen, seems like System Mechanic would cause AVG or Malwarebytes to crash horribly.   I decided to get rid of System mechanic, and AVG once installed showed the computer has two conventional viruses, Malwarebytes picked up over 26 threats though.  Once this was cleaned up I put on Service Packs 1 & 2 for Vista, to lock the machine down against future security issues.

An extra 1gb of memory was ordered and fitted, easily slots inside the trap door underneath the machine, a new keyboard is coming from a company in China, this will take a few weeks to get here though.

For now I noticed the screen bezel, the plastic frame surrounding the LCD panel has broken as it appears to have been dropped at some point.

Here I am going to show you how to remove and replace the screen bezel.

This is quite simple, remove the rubber pads which cover the screws as shown, these are just gently prised out with a small flat bladed screwdriver.  Next remove the philips screws, there are four in the top and two at the bottom, sometimes there are screws in the side that might need to be removed (like a Dell Latitude I once did)   Note the right hand side part of the bezel was cracked so badly, it came off in my hand.

DONT use a screw driver to prise off the broken panel.  You run the risk of scratching or damaging the LCD or the inverter (the long circuit board at the bottom which provides voltage to the LCD backlight)  use sharp fingernails or some wooden or plastic implement, for me this was easy as the bezel was already broken, but if its not coming out, I would use one of those wooden stirring sticks you get from coffee shops and cut and file the edge into a sharp point to prise it off, I would start by easing the top off, on this particular laptop the bottom piece needs to be bent slightly to get the two corners out of the screen hinges.

This can discarded now and we are ready to fit the replacement bezel.

This is very simple, bend the bottom gently to get it to fit inside the two hinges, the rest just snaps into place, double check all the edges feel flush, you may need to slide the screen latch to get the hooks aligned with the gaps in the new screen bezel.  You can now re-fit the screws and the rubber pads.   Removing the LCD panel is quite easy, its is very fragile, so it would need to be gently removed by holding the edges of it only and the flat cable on the back of the LCD and the wires for the screen backlight can be disconnected.

Here is the laptop done with the broken bezel next to it.   The cost of the new bezel?   £5 including shipping!   The company I bought it from on ebay appeared to have too much stock of this part I think!

Jonathan is not working at the moment, but welcomes any offers to do laptop or PC repair work in return for a donation towards his second trip to Jerusalem to carry on doing IT support and administration for Bridges for Peace.   This is purely a voluntary position and not waged so would appreciate any kind of rewards for IT consulting or donations of course.  He is hoping to fly again possibly early March.