Thomas (boggyb) wrote,

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Project frankenlaptop is go!

So I may have mentioned a month or two back that I have two similar laptops with failing screens, where the failures are different between the two (one has an entire column of stuck pixels, the other a failing backlight). And that I thought I could combine the two into one fixed frankenlaptop? Well, earlier this month I made a start on this...

The patient: a 11-year-old ThinkPad R50p. My, how technology has marched on - this was cutting edge when I started university back in 2004.

Anyway, the aim is to extract the LCD panel. Fortunately IBM publish the full hardware maintenance manual for it on their website and this gives the complete instructions for separating a laptop into its component parts and then putting it back together afterwards. This is useful, as getting at the LCD panel requires taking the entire thing apart.

First the keyboard...

...then the modem/Bluetooth daughterboard (bit of an odd combination)...

...then the keyboard surround...

...then the wifi card followed by the speakers (stereo sound was actually an optional extra - my R50e only has mono!)...

...then a plastic cable frame...

...and then a small bracket. Which wasn't supposed to have been glued to the graphics chip heatsink. Ah well, I've got plenty of Arctic Silver left over from the last graphics adventure...

...a few more brackets, and that's the base stripped down (and now very wobbly)!

A quick overview: the blue chip in the middle is the northbridge. Like on the graphics card, that's actually the back of the silicon die visible there. Random trivia: the reason for the squiggly traces on the chip carrier is to make sure they're all same length. Computer signal buses are clocked fast enough that this matters!

To the left underneath the metal plate is the processor - I think a 1.6GHz Intel Pentium M Banias. Below the northbridge and partially covered by thermal gunk is an ATi Mobility T2 FireGL graphics chip, and right at the bottom is the southbridge. Oh, and to the right is a cute little spacer board as otherwise the DVD drive wouldn't reach the motherboard!

Right, now for the screen. Undo a bunch more screws...

...and it lifts out. And leaves part of the hinge behind. That's not good (as talismancer will remember, from discovering a similar failure on his laptop at university).

It should look a bit more like this:

Hmm. I can probably swap the hinges over - both have the necessary cutouts for the antenna leads. Anyway, that's the R50p done. I actually took the R50e apart first, but didn't photograph it until I'd finished and ended up with a heap of parts:

Interestingly they don't quite have the same set of screws. The heap of parts for the R50p looks much the same, except that lot got piled on a chair because I couldn't be bothered to clear the rest of the table :)

Time to play spot-the-difference! Curiously the motherboards are slightly different, beyond the expected changes in populated components (quite often one board layout is used for multiple models with the only difference being which components are fitted to it). Possibly IBM did a revision between the two - the R50e was bought about a year after the R50p, and that's a very long time in computing!

Anyway, with that all done it's time to crack on (metaphorically, I hope!) with the screen.
Tags: computers, frankenlaptop

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