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Thinkpad Trouble

Filed under: General — Thomas @ 22:48


At GUADEC, someone tripped very violently over my Belkin travel power supply for my laptop.  I don't know who, the guy was away before I had a good look at him, mumbling excuses.  This was at the spidery floor that was Etap's.

I couldn't get it to work anymore, so I quickly bought a replacement travel power adapter made by Trust.  It worked fine in Belgium.  This morning I plugged it in at work, then plugged it into my laptop, and after ten seconds it made a loud pop.  Now the blue light on the power supply won't come on anymore.  Sigh.

What's worse, since then, my laptop doesn't detect the power cable plugged in either - obviously not with the busted power supply, but it also does not work with the IBM one for this laptop.  I can still boot the laptop, since I have some charge left in the battery, so I don't think it's the motherboard as such.  I opened up the laptop completely, removing the screen, so I could tighten the power connector screw, but it didn't help.

So, intarweb, anyone else ever had this problem, and what should I do to fix it ? Is this a case of "take out the motherboard and resolder the connector ?"


  1. I’d wager the power conversion board (or circuit on the motherboard) got nuked. I’ve repaired a number of laptops that exhibited this behavior and that was the ultimate solution. On some machines, it’s actually a separate board that can be independently replaced. On others, it’s integrated into the motherboard and the whole shebang needs to be swapped. In some (very rare) occasions there is a fuse or some other protective circuitry that can be replaced as well. I haven’t seen that in _years_ though.

    Comment by Quentin Hartman — 2007-07-23 @ 23:08

  2. Judging by the “loud pop,” my guess is that you gave it too much voltage and the capacitors exploded. Is the voltage where you live the same as in Belgium? If that is the case, then you might have also fried your notebook’s internal power circuitry, so you may need to send it to the manufacturer for repair. This seems especially likely given that the original power supply doesn’t work.

    Comment by Alex — 2007-07-23 @ 23:10

  3. Alex,

    yeah, Belgium and Spain have the same voltage. How could it be too much in that case ?

    Quentin, any idea how I figure out if my T40 has a replaceable part I could do myself, short of opening it up completely ? Is there a site with laptop models and info like this ?

    Comment by Thomas — 2007-07-23 @ 23:15

  4. (I’m not the Alex above ;)

    Thomas – IBM (used to) publish the service manuals for each Thinkpad on their website. I’ve replaced my power connector by going through the manual, finding the part I needed, ordering it and following the disassembly instructions.

    A T40, being quite slim, is probably going to need a new motherboard though, I’m afraid.

    Comment by Alex Hudson — 2007-07-24 @ 08:30

  5. not that this will help, but in general I don’t trust Trust, their hardware always feels very flimsey..

    Comment by Maarten — 2007-07-24 @ 09:45

  6. Hi Ive experienced the same behaviour on a somewhat similar power supply. I got it back to life by using a 3 conductor power cable. The earth link made some kind of “intelligent” fuse turn back on.

    Comment by L — 2007-07-24 @ 11:48

  7. Can you try charging it with a docking station?

    Comment by fons — 2007-07-24 @ 12:15

  8. The maintenance manual for the T40 can be downloaded here: http://www-307.ibm.com/pc/support/site.wss/document.do?lndocid=MIGR-46464 I browsed through it real quick like and didn’t see any parts mentioned that sounded relevant, so it sounds like a motherboard replacement to me…

    Comment by Quentin Hartman — 2007-07-24 @ 16:30

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