I am not a hardware guy

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Repeating the title, I am not a hardware guy. I also have fat fingers, and my hands aren’t all that steady. I would never even consider soldering anything, etc.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I am the tech support guy for many people, including our cul-de-sac neighbors, who we are very friendly with.

Last night, the teenage daughter called to say that her laptop lid was broken, and the replacement parts had arrived that day from Dell. I told her that I’d come over this morning to take a look.

Previously, the keycap for the “`” key (where the shift of that is “~”) broke off. It didn’t just fall off, the clips broke so the key couldn’t be put back. Kids don’t tend to use that key much (programmers do) and you could still press the flat part to produce the right keystroke, so I advised them to leave it alone.

Since they were ordering a new laptop lid, they also ordered a new keyboard.

When I showed up this morning, I saw that the hinge for the left hand side of the display was broken off. They told me that the night before, the laptop actually sparked. I could see that the cable connecting the LCD to the motherboard was slightly frayed, which is probably what sparked. This was out of my league, but I knew I was still better equipped than they were.

So, the LCD itself was fine (other than the possibility that the frayed cable was useless), but the lid that it was attached to was broken. That’s the part they bought, plus the keyboard. Ironically, you have to completely remove the keyboard to fix the display panel, so I was going to be killing two birds with one stone anyway.

I used the mom’s laptop to log in to Dell’s site, because, unbelievable as this sounds, no instructions come with the spare parts. The online manuals are excellent though, and I was able to follow the hundreds of steps necessary to take everything apart.

In no particular order, and in no attempt to be comprehensive, here’s what I had to do:

  • open the mini-card housing and detach the antennas for the mini-WiFi card
  • remove tons of screws
  • pop off the hinge above the keyboard
  • remove the keyboard
  • detach the cable for the webcam and microphone
  • detach the cable for the display
  • detach the ground cable
  • remove the display bezel
  • remove the LCD display from the housing
  • remove the webcam and microphone from the housing

After tossing the old housing and keyboard, reverse all of the above steps, first putting some tape over the frayed part of the LCD cable. The toughest part was getting the keyboard ribbon plugged back in and locked into place.

I could not believe it when the laptop booted up and the LCD worked perfectly. The laptop looks brand new. I guess I’m now officially a hardware guy. 😉