My laptop is broken again. Yes, I dropped it. I guess technically, since I was ten feet away at the time, it fell. But I was the one who left it sitting so precariously, so I take full responsibility.
It landed on its “back”, and the AC adapter’s plug bore the brunt of the impact, which it kindly transferred to the laptop’s power socket, which is now only barely connected to the motherboard (that 12″ PowerBook, with the power socket on the side, is looking better every day). The laptop is mostly intact and works fine, except that it only intermittently charges. From experience, I know that trying to power it in this condition leads to Bad Things. Unfortunately, not powering it at all will make it rather difficult to use the computer for many more hours.
I’ll get out my screwdriver and open ‘er up to ascertain the damage, but I expect that the system board needs to be replaced. From experience, I know this will cost me $968, plus tax. At this point, I doubt it’s worth it. One option is to get an external battery charger and just forget about the built-in one, although that’s not cheap either. Also a little annoying, since you can no longer run the laptop off of AC power.
Eric’s PowerBook screen cracked recently, and someone offered to sell him cheaply an intact screen from a dead PowerBook of the same model. I don’t suppose anyone out there has an otherwise-dead Dell Inspiron 4000 with an undamaged system board they’d be willing to sell me?
Sounds very similar to a problem I had with an ancient Compaq that I bought, although in its case the problem was that the power socket wasn’t all that solidly on the motherboard in the first place, and eventually cracked from fatigue.
As a common problem, though, there was in fact a web page detailing a solution — which was simply a matter of disassembling the thing, removing the power socket, soldering on a section of multiconductor wire where the socket had been, and putting a new socket on the end of the wire. It turned out to be a fairly simple exercise, and worked quite well (although I couldn’t find a new socket the same size as the old one, so I ended up having to get a different one and put a matching socket on the power supply). The only trick of any note was tying a knot in the wire before running it out the case, so tugs on it wouldn’t pull it off the motherboard.
Admittedly, I had rather less to lose than you do, considering that mine also had a dead battery and thus was useless without AC power, and it had only cost me $250 in the first place….
My laptop has a similar problem: the power socket has either itself broken, or its connection to the motherboard has become undone. So I could remove it and re-solder on a new connector or some sort of cable I could attach to the power adapter (I’m not sure if sockets of this type are readily available). Although this part of the motherboard is hard to get to: it’s covered with metal brackets that I’m not sure how to remove in such a way that I’d be able to reassemble the thing. Also, I’d have to acquire a soldering iron; I haven’t used one in a while.
Complete Inspiron 4000 system boards sell on eBay for about $250, which is certainly a lot less than Dell charges ($699, plus $269 for diagnosis and labor), although still a little more than I’m comfortable paying to fix this thing for the fifth time.