Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Dell Laptop, Plugged In, Not Charging Problem - the Fix!

Dell Laptop owners are at a disadvantage to all other laptop owners - because Dell laptops have a system which checks to verify that you are using the proper charger before it will work.  If you have that problem, then it is annoying.  But also, it is important to get your battery charged again soon!  If you leave it in a discharged state for more than 3 days, you will greatly decrease the battery life.  I left mine at 0% for 2 months and now it will only power the laptop less than two hours. 

Each model of laptop is slightly different, and this post will focus on Dell Inspiron 14 R models - specifically N4010. 
To illustrate my point about the differences, check this out:

I've just managed to fix  my "plugged but not charging" problem with Inspiron 1525. All you need to do is  to replace power board (Part  number 48.4W006.021)  - looks  like  this http://www.laptopking.com/dcjack/999742.jpg   . Very easy to do ( takes 1,5 -2 h ) if  you know  how to operate screwdriver and use Dell service manual : http://support.euro.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/ins1526/en/SM/index.htm    You can  find this board on ebay - I paid for mine 35 pounds.
Model 4010 doesn't have a power board - it has a plug soldered to a wire, which is plugged into the Motherboard. 
For about 6 months I’ve been getting the infamous “plugged in / not charging” icon in the system tray.
  • I also get a power supply not recognised message when I look in the BIOS page.
  • Battery health supposedly OK.
  • Sometimes it would charge, sometimes it wouldn't
Things to try:
  • Tapping the Dell icon
  • Blowing into the adapter socket
  • Wriggling the power cable and twisting it to maintain some pressure on the jack.
  • Flicking between power plan options (balanced, high performance etc)
  • Removing and replacing the battery with the power on
  • Swapping the adapter
  • Replacing the power jack board
  • Slightly bending the centre pin of the power jack to ensure contact
  • Using the suspicious adapter on another Dell laptop
  • Flashing the bios to v A17 (via USB key and /forceit command)
  • Uninstalling the “ACPI-compliant control battery method” and then reinstalling.
I did everything on this list except update the BIOS and prelacing the power jack board.  I couldn't update the bios because my battery was less than 10%, and the bios would only install on windows, not DOS.  I tried booting to windows 98 CD, but that didn't work either.  That program will only run on Windows, so the /foreceit command is a no-go.  Also, I looked at the bios version I had and read the version updates to the succeeding versions and I didn't see any power modifications, so I figured that wouldn't work.  Also, since my laptop was going in and out, I figured it was an open rather than a software issue. 
I was right!  I took a few hours the other day and opened up the laptop and found the faulty connection at the signal wire connection to the AC jack. 
so in two hours I had a working laptop again, which is good because Fry's was going to charge me 160 bucks to fix it.  Thats 80 bucks and hour, because it only took me two hours to fix. 

If you have a similar symptom, then give this a shot! 
Here is how you dissassemble the laptop: go to this website and click on your model number : http://support.euro.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/
mine was InsN4010.  Downlaod all the files.  click on any .htm file and click on the link to the table of contents.  keep this handy when you disassemble and reassemble the laptop. 
Some hints:  I didn't have to remove the AC jack to fix it.  I also did not remove the motherboard, fan, daughterboard and wifi cards.  It saved me a lot of time.  If you want to add in a length of wire, or route a completely separate signal wire, then you'll have to remove the boards.  I recommend getting an egg carton or an ice cube tray and labeling them with each step on the Dell assembly manual.  Then when you do that step, put those screws in that compartment. 
Also, on my manual, I missed that there were three screws attaching the case to the palmrest.  I was having no luck prying the palm rest out.  There were another two screws in the middle of the rest.  I should have read the instructions closer. 
Lesson:  If you are having problems, then stop and read the step all over again.  I ended up cracking the plastic above the optical drive because it is so thin there. 
Tweezers come in real handy.  I used them to reattach the ribbon cables and to the remove the wire casing from the signal wire, after I used the knife to score it. 

 These two photo’s courtesy of laptopking.com

As you can tell from the photos, there are 3 wires used on the AC jack. The one in the lower left of the photo above is not used.  But the top prong is the orange signal wire. 

 the knife is pointing to th signal wire.  All I've done so far in this picture is peel back the self adhesive cloth.   Note that the WLan leads pop up to come off. 

This picture shows where the AC jack wire connects to the mother board.  I pulled it out to the right in order to test the connectivity with a Voltmeter.   On the wire, the
Yellow is outside of socket
Blue is the inside of the AC jack
Orange = signal wire
 The middle two prongs act as a hinge line and when the wire is bent, it pulls the top orange wire off the prong.Dell should have allowed at least a 1” bend radius on this wire.They allowed a .1” bend radius.Good job Dell!
 In the above picture you can see how the orange wire has broken off from the Top most AC jack prong. 

 Here I am testing the connection to make sure it charges the battery.  If this light stays on the in lower left, then I know the battery is getting charged.  At this point all I have is the battery, mother board, cooling fan and wifi chip and daugther board connected.

The photo below shows the solder job I did to reconnect the wire to the top prong.  I just put some flux on the wire and prong and then heated up some solder and it stuck to whatever was wetted.   Its only a .1" gap I'm spanning, so the connection should be more than strong enough to accomodate for the AC jack slop between the jack and the lower frame. 


Unknown said...

It’s not just Dell; any model will actually have lesser battery life if left uncharged for a long time. By doing so, chemicals in the battery will degrade. To avoid this, don’t leave the battery completely drained, and don’t expose it to extreme temperatures. Anyway, good job in tweaking your laptop!

Lakendra Wiltse

Anonymous said...

thanks for share.

Anonymous said...

I want to personally thank you for sharing your experience on fixing the Dell Inspiron 14r N4010. I had the exact same problem as you.
Here is what I did.

1)Upgraded BIOS to latest version. Did nothing

2)Tried a new battery. Did nothing

3)Tried another Dell power cord/adapter of the same type. Did nothing

4)Read your blog and investigated the orange wire connection to the DC power jack and sure enough it was off the soldering tab. Pulled out my soldering iron and resoldered the orange wire back onto the proper tab as shown in your photos and it is now charging the battery by proof of the battery charging LED light lit up while the laptop is off. I have been a Dell buyer since the early 90's and because of there of design with BIOS to power adapter I will never buy another Dell. My next laptop will be a Toshiba. Thank you again.

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing, I will bookmark and be back again

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Unknown said...

wat if the led light wont steady how to fix it?????????

napkom said...

Thanks! This was realy usefull!

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