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The Nerd Show - Laptop RepairBeforeHere is an example laptop power supply repair I did recently. All 3 lights on the laptop would blink rapidly when power was plugged in but the unit would not power up. A faint ticking noise could be heard as the lights flashed. I took it apart and examined the board thoroughly but could find nothing wrong. The next day, I looked at the board under a microscope and noticed that one of the components was smoked and chipped. At right is how it looked prior to repair. I consulted with some friends in the #electronics channel and they told me it looked like a 30V P-Channel FET. I've never seen a FET in this type of package before so I was naturally skeptical but looking at the leads you can tell that only 3 are connected so it evidently is a transistor of some kind. It is also obvious that there has to be at least two regulators or DC-DC converters because the power jack is rated at 19V but everyone knows that computers run on 5V and 12V. Taking a chance, since a new motherboard would be at least $200 anyway, I called Frigid North, the local electronics retailer and they found a P-Channel FET but it was only 20V. I figured it would work, however, since the power supply is 19V. Another caviat, the new FET turned out to be much larger than the original so I had to get inventive in order to cram it into the limited space available. I nibbed off some of the heat sink with wire cutters to get it to fit around the power plug. It was then I noticed that the original component had burned a hole in the motherboard and I would have to find the gate on the reverse side. It wasn't too hard to locate but there was some trial and error involved since I wasn't able to find a schematic. I soldered the leads and it powered up nicely.

Wire as Heatsink


It's amazing how large the new component looks compared to the old one. You can see the gate wire running to the back side of the board. At first it might be difficult to understand why I used such heavy wire. You see, it is also serving as additional heat sink because of the crowded space in which it sits and since I had to carve off some of the original to make it fit. I finished the job by applying a small dab of glue under the component to keep it isolated from the rest of the board.

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