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Need expert troubleshooting help!

by bige40wings / June 13, 2010 3:09 AM PDT

This is not another novice laptop computer issue. This is one of those issues where you might suggest shipping it off to the manufacturer for repair, but that is not an option. I intend on repairing this myself, but have run out of ideas, and need some suggestions.

My parent's Gateway laptop is about 6 years old. For years, the primary issue has been a faulty power jack, forcing you to hold the plug to the right to get any charge. A few weeks ago, I set out to repair this by purchasing a replacement jack, and soldering it into place.

I disassembled the laptop, as I have done a half dozen times, all the way down to removing the motherboard. After inspecting the old power jack, I realized that it had been brazed, not soldered, which means I would have to postpone the repair work. So I started to reassemble the machine.

Upon completion, the system would not power on at all, with a full battery. After testing the plug, and the battery, I decided to take everything apart again to see if I forgot to connect something. Everything was in place, so I unplugged all components, from the hard drive and LCD screen to the CPU fan, down to the Wi-Fi card. With everything unplugged, I carefully connected the power, and booted the motherboard. All the LEDs came on, except the HD LED, which is understandable with the Hard Drive being unattached. So I unplugged, hooked up a component and tried again.

It worked up to the point that I plugged in the CPU fan. I even had the LCD screen plugged in and powered on. Without the CPU fan attached, I'd get a post error saying "CPU fan failure" and an immediate shut down. With the CPU fan attached, I'd get a quick flash of the main power LED. Sometimes the main power LED would stay solid, but no other LEDs lit up, no LCD screen, and the fan would make a short attempt to come on, but to no avail.

I tried pulling the RAM, resitting the CPU, resetting the CMOS, starting over from having no components connected, and finally decided to replace the CPU fan. The new fan seems to be working, but new problems have come to the surface.

Now the computer powers on, the power LED stays lit, all the other LEDs flash once at start-up except the HD LED, and the LCD screen does not come on. That made sense to me when the Hard Drive wasn't attached, but now it doesn't make sense to me. I tried removing the Hard Drive from it's sleeve and checking the circuit board. I even plugged it back in and had it power up once, even boot into Windows, only to shut off once Windows had loaded, and not work again.

So now I'm stuck at this point. It seems that everything wants to work, but it's not reading the Hard Drive. Also, the CPU fan will start up slowly but then it revs up for a few secs before shutting off completely. This happens every single time I power on the system, except for the one time it actually booted normally into Windows.

I still need to replace the power jack, but will need to rent the right equipment first. But obviously something else is wrong. I get the same results whether the plug is attached, or if I'm running of the fully charged battery.

First thing I would love to find is a website specializing in all the LED codes and beeps for all the different manufacturers to troubleshoot post errors. I just can't seem to find that on Google for some reason. And hopefully someone with some real expertise might have some advice for me, other than ship it off to Gateway.

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Laptop jacks
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / June 13, 2010 4:18 AM PDT

Even if brazed on could be milled off, then a normal jack soldered on. But here's the rub. Look around and there is no site with such codes and nearly no repair shops that repair motherboards beyond jacks and maybe a capacitor or other connection.

This upsets those that think there should be such things.

Today the ugly truth is there is no such documentation available. When a board fails and the simple repairs can't be done then you replace the board.

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thanks for your post
by bige40wings / June 13, 2010 8:39 AM PDT
In reply to: Laptop jacks

I will look into replacing the board, but as a last resource. I just don't have the money for that right now.

I found the beep codes in my old CompTIA A+ text book. There's also a note suggesting to check the BIOS manufacturer's website for more specific codes.

I still think there is something to the way the LED's are acting, and how the HD LED doesn't light up. Next step, re-check the Hard Drive circuit board.

Any other ideas?

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Let's look again.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / June 13, 2010 12:16 PM PDT
In reply to: thanks for your post

If you look for this information you find it amazingly missing. There's a reason for this. Repair rates for circuit board repair exceeded the replacement board cost years ago. To save even more bucks the documentation with schematics, beep code, LED patterns was also not published.

Even the service centers are little more than board changers. There is no deep documentation there except what screw sizes are used where.

--->>> At the top of this forum is some free to access content about laptop repair. I hope you read that.

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That's a good start.
by bige40wings / June 13, 2010 1:36 PM PDT
In reply to: Let's look again.

Ah, your Laptop Troubleshooting Sticky post has given me 2 new things to try.

I'm going to try the reset by holding down the power button first, and replacing the CMOS battery is cheap enough.

At least I have some things to try before looking at new boards.

Thank you for your help. I'll be back.

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PS. Remembered what those old documents were called.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / June 14, 2010 9:23 AM PDT

Read about the good old days of electronics repair at

There was never such a fine publication as the Sams Photofact when you wanted to work on your Predicta.

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fix the fan.
by Seaspray0 / June 23, 2010 5:20 AM PDT

if your fan is hard to spin by hand, remove the sticker from the fan circuit board. You should see a little c-clip. With a toothpick, apply a small amount of machine oil. The fan should spin easily now.

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