Monday, July 20, 2009

Dell Yinspiron put-it-back-together guide..

If it just so happened that you came across this blog while your laptop's LCD display decided to go hunting for the Yeti, and your laptop happens to be a Dell Inspiron 1520/1521 (and most recent Dell's), guess what?'re in luck! What you'll see here is a step-by-step pictorial guide to pull apart/put together the display of your Inspiron. If the above is not applicable to you, but you'd like to see a laptop torn open...lucky you.

As always, I am not responsible for anything that may happen to you/your laptop, as a result of following this guide. If you still have any warranty left on your Dell, I'd recommend you get in touch with them (obv). That being said, if you're out of warranty AND are brave enough, you can follow this guide and save a ton of money and a good amount of time too. If you happen to be the user of a Sony or heaven forbid, an Apple laptop that is out of warranty...LOL...unless your local pawn shop is willing to trade-in human organs, you're better off buying a new laptop.

What I'm going to start off with is an already opened up display and try to put it back together. Obviously if you read the blog bottom-up, you'll get instructions to open up the display. In this case, I will be replacing the LCD power inverter in my display, but most of this guide is applicable to anything that might warrant opening up the display section (such as replacing the CCFL, the webcam unit etc.).

What you'll need is a Phillips head screw driver for opening up all but 3 screws. For the 3 screws that directly attach the inverter board to the rest of the LCD panel, you'll need the kind of screw head that most watch repairmen use. Since I'm not one myself and I don't know anyone who happens to repair messed up time-keeping devices, I went ahead and used a kitchen knife that was lying around.

What you'll need next is, obviously, a replacement LCD power inverter board. I bought mine off of flea-bay for less than $15 shipped. I've heard that Dell charges anywhere north of $100 and OEM boards cost around $50. Obviously I don't know how long my replacement board is going to last, but with my laptop already being about 2 years old, I'd much rather risk spending another $15 in the next few months and replace the laptop in another year to year and a half when it starts acting up, than spend a lot of $$ to fix it now. Replacement parts are aplenty for Dell' look around.

It took me a sum total of 5 minutes to get through the packing!!! :/

Bad inverter (top), Good inverter (bottom)

Ok, now the first thing you would want to do is pull out the laptop power cable and disconnect the battery.

Next, remove the display frame and keep all the screws ready (assuming you didn't throw these away in a fit of utter rage when your display bid you farewell..). And no, I did not use the frame as "scratch-paper". All that jibberish was already on there...

Now, place a newspaper, t-shirt or some other similarly soft material on the frame so that your LCD panel won't get scratched when you invert it and place it on the frame. Remove the old inverter board attached to the bottom of the LCD panel, held together by 2 tiny screws. This is where the knife/watch screw driver will be helpful.

Following this, plug out the power and interface cables from the old inverter board and remove the old board from the metal frame around it. You will have to unscrew one screw and carefully lift the board from the frame. You will encounter some resistance as a part of the board will be taped to the frame. I carefully ran the knife between the board and the frame to free it. You may also need to bend the small metal tab at one end of the frame to get the board out. 

Now, mount the new inverter board onto the frame, screw it in and connect the interface and power cable carefully. Note that both these cables will plug in correct only if inserted in one particular way. If you're encountering resistance, you're most likely trying to plug it in the wrong way. After this is done, mount the metal bracket (with the new board in it) back onto the bottom of the LCD frame and connect the thick cable at the back of it.

Now carefully line up the LCD panel screw-holes with the ones on the plastic back-panel. Do remember to plug the webcam/mic ribbon cable back in. This is a little tricky as the cable is a bit short and you need to carefully hold the LCD panel while fitting the cable. Once the cable is in the correct position, push the black tab on top of it so that the ribbon cable is held in place securely.

Once this is done, screw the LCD panel back onto the back-frame (4 screws on either side).

You may now clean the LCD panel carefully, if you choose to do so and attach the display back to the chassis. Be warned, little children might wet their pants upon seeing one of the pictures below and electronics and pee don't like each other...much.

Once the LCD frame has been secured onto the chassis via 4 screws (2 behind, 2 at the bottom) may now attach the bezel around the LCD carefully. Make sure it is firmly in place before you screw in the bezel.

You can follow this up by putting the rubber/mylar screw covers on the bezel.

Following this, you should route the mic/webcam cable carefully along the plastic channels provided and connect it to the motherboard. Follow this by carefully connecting the LCD interface cable to the graphics card onboard.

You can now attach the plastic panel on top the the keyboard. Now, attach the battery and do a diagnostic boot-up (Fn+Power button). Of note here; incase you didn't get a Dell OEM inverter board, the diagnostic test may spit out an error saying the inverter cable is not attached ( :| ). However, you can dismiss this since you're able to see the message in the first place!...which means the cable is very much in place and attached. Also, don't be alarmed if you see your screen or parts of your screen flicker...this should stop after a couple of minutes. Also, the screen may flicker again when you attach the power cable. Once again, don't be alarmed, it should stop on its own after a couple of minutes.

Once the tests are done and you don't notice anything abnormal (apart from the semi-retarded cable not being attached message), you're good to go! You may now proceed with setting your old power inverter board on fire (optional)!

I hope you found this blog useful!

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