My Toshiba M35X-S149 laptop developed a defect in its power jack for the 3rd time in 16 months, this after 2 repairs/replacements of its motherboard, and after a court-ordered extended warranty expired. Google searches on this issued indicated this is a widespread problem.
power jack. I used the guide to disassembly of this model mentioned in the comments. I was positive the power jack was the problem, since it had happened twice before, with a new motherboard & then a resoldered power jack repair which did not last. My attempts at desoldering weren’t of much use until
I did my repair fully aware that I might fatally damage the motherboard
in the process, but I was unwilling to pay for another “professional repair” in
a machine out of warranty.
Nice video showing the whole process on a laptop very similar to the one I have focused on in this post. The difference in this video is that the power receptacle was replaced with a new one, I simply bypassed it with a wire to supply strain relief, not to mention it was much cheaper than buying a new replacement receptacle.
Fast forward to Sept. 2010, things haven’t changed much:
Yet another power jack malfunction:
From PC Magazine: Toshiba is recalling 41,000 laptops due to concerns about overheating AC adapter plugs. “At issue is the DC-in jack, where the AC adapter plugs into the computer. In some cases, it has overheated to the point of melting the plastic base around the DC-in jack opening, the agencies said.
Toshiba Canada received 14 reports of excessive heat or smoke due to this glitch, with no reported injuries, Health Canada said. In the U.S., there were 129 reports of overheating computers, two reports of minor burn injuries, and two reports of minor property damage, according to the CPSC.
The affected devices were sold between August 2009 and August 2010.”
Update for 15 Dec 2011: I just serviced a Toshiba A105-S2001 purchased in mid-2006. Toshiba has changed its basic power jack design to include a power jack attached to a wire pigtail which is then plugged onto the motherboard. This way a physical failure in the power jack generally won’t mean the motherboard has to be serviced. This is very similar to the Lenovo power jack on a pigtail design. The Lenovo power jack, however, is much more robust than the Toshiba power jack.
This blog describes the subsequent problem in the new Toshiba power jack on a pigtail design. That power jack is simply clipped into place on the inside of the laptops case, and the clips and ridges holding the jack tend to break off with repeated make/break connections with the power adapter. So the laptop has to be partly disassembled to somehow stabilize this connection. The suggested means are replacing the Toshiba power jack with a substitute Radio Shack jack that is designed to be fastened to the hole in the case with a screw that wedges the jack fore & aft, a much more robust connection than the OEM. It appears to me that epoxy putty might be used to create a block of plastic around the OEM jack that will stabilize it without the need to substituting another power jack.
Other tools, materials, and devices which are of great assistance in doing this work.
Volt-ohmeter / digital multimeter: a basic electrical tool every householder should have. It measures voltages, checks batteries, indicates whether or not wires are continuous. Harbor Freight often gives these away with coupons printed in local newspapers to entice shoppers to their stores.
Head-mounted magnifier with lights: HarborFreight has the cheapest version, and this is the one I have. I hardly ever use the built-in lights, since my work ares needs more light than this can provide. These magnifiers are particularly useful when releasing the 1-millimeter size clamp devices on the ribbon clamps you have to release when disassembling a laptop.
Source of bright light.
Large flat work area: it is amazing how far a miniscule screw can bounce when you drop it.
Easy way to keep track of the different size screws you will be removing:
Find a photograph (or make one) of the bottom of your laptop. Print it out as a gray-scale image, make it fit the piece of paper you are printing to. (This printout with the tiny screws taped on, can be seen in the upper right hand corner of the image above.) When you remove a screw from the laptop case, simply tape it to the printout at the spot where you removed it, or punch the screw’s shaft through the paper & tape it. When it comes time to reassemble, picking the correct screw for a given spot on the laptop will be easy. Taping the screws down makes it harder for them to fall to the floor.
Rotary tool with variety of bits and cutting devices. Many people call these “Dremel” tools, although that Dremel is just one of many manufacturers of these electric tools, which are basically very small electric drills which can also grind, sand, chop and notch. On one laptop I repaired a Phillips head machine screw was so tight, I was not able to use my mini-screwdrivers to loosen it – the tips of the screwdrivers just bent & broke. I used a small cutting wheel on a rotary tool to cut a healthy notch across the center of the screw head, converting an impossibly tight Phillips head screw to a slotted screw that would accept a much larger and stronger screwdriver. Suddenly the screw was easy to unfasten. Unfortunately the cutting wheel also notched the plastic of the area around the recalcitrant screw, but this was really no problem.
Epoxy putty, sold at places like Wal Mart, Lowe’s, Home Depot. This starts with a two-color lump of soft resin, which after needing to a uniformly off-white color, turns into a lump of soft plastic which adheres to many other materials and hardens in 5-10 minutes. It takes a full 24 hours to cure completely. The cured material is about as hard as the plastic case of a laptop. It can be molded to fit a variety of spaces and applications, can be drilled, sanded, painted or tooled in many fashions, using small hand tools or the rotary tool. You can inset reinforcing pieces of wire, nuts or bolts to fasten other items securely to the cured material. Warning: epoxy resins are allergenic. Allergic reactions (usually skin rashes) get worse, the more exposures you receive. It would be best to buy a pack of disposable vinyl gloves when handling this material in its uncured form. See this image for an example of the gloves in use, and how to cut off portions of the uncured material prior to mixing and using it.
A set of small picks and hooks, such as these from Harbor Freight. Extremely handy for manipulating small parts and working in tight places such as those found inside laptops.
Thermal paste / thermal paste / thermal compound / – a specially formulated greasy material with embedded metal use to promote heat transfer from a computer’s CPU chip to its heat sink. It is sometimes necessary to remove a laptop heat sink when fixing a power jack. The photo below shows the CPU of a Toshiba laptop A105-S2001 after removal of its heat sink. The mottled silver patch is the leftover thermal paste after the heat sink was peeled off.
The old thermal paste needs to be removed, and fresh thermal paste needs to be reapplied when the heat sink is reassembled on top of the CPU.
91% isopropyl alcohol can be bought at pharmacies & Wally World. Use a Q-tip dampened with this material to remove old thermal seal paste from heat sinks and laptop CPU’s prior to apply fresh new thermal paste. This alcohol is a basic home medicine chest item anyway.