Monday, June 19, 2006

Repairing a Fujitsu S2020 AC Jack

This blog shows you how to repair a Fujitsu S2020 Notebook computer with a bad AC adapter jack. I've owned two Fujitsu notebooks now and they both have the same design flaw. I just loved the first laptop I had and the S2020 is so nice that even though the first one had jack problems, I went and bought the S2020.

Well, it has the same damn problems. It is simply a bad design. The jack on the back has some space to the left, right, top and bottom. When you plug in your computer the jack gets wiggled a bit. The only supports the jack has is the solder connection on the board it is connected to. So, over time the solder wiggles away and your AC adapter jack becomes intermittent. Sometimes it works and sometimes you have to wiggle it to get it to work

As it gets worse and worse, you have to apply pressure to get it to work or it only works if the plug is in a certain position. I had my S2020 repaired for the jack problem when it was under warranty and then a couple months later, after the warranty period was over, the same thing happened again.

To fix my problem, I bought a Dell that has a different jack design. We'll see how that goes, it is has been fine so far.

But another member of my household has been using the S2020 and the bad jack has been a pain. It also seems to wreak havoc with the battery. When I got it repaired under warranty, I asked for a new battery because with the quick charge/discharge mess that goes on with the intermittent connection, it seemed to wreck the charge time on the battery. They wouldn't give me a new one.

I had some time today so I bought the computer to a local company to get repaired. They had quoted $100 on the phone. When I got there, they wanted $300 and said they needed to ship it somewhere else to fix it.

I called another store and they wanted $250 to fix the jack. I know there are online people who will do it for something like $100 if you ship it to them but I was fed up and I decided to do it myself.

One thing that's interesting is that I'm stinking rich. But I'm not going to pay $300 to fix an old computer when I can buy a new one for under $1000. It just doesn't make sense.

I now have a fixed notebook. Here is a how-to on what I did to repair the AC Adapter jack on my Fujitsu S2020. Now, if you aren't handy with things or aren't careful, you will break your computer when you do this. But if you can manage to do things carefully, slowly, step by step, you might end up with a working computer. Read through the instructions and see if you are up to it.

Good luck. I loved the Fujitsus but the jack problem is a deal breaker and I've been dealing with it for years on two different models and they both have the same problem.

Fujitsu, your design team is great but the guy working on your power jack needs to be fired. I'm not buying another Fujitsu until I see a writeup from your company on how you fixed this problem.

Step 1.

Assemble the right tools. You will need:

  • A pencil
  • Some small Phillips head screwdrivers
  • An Exacto knife or similar tiny blade
  • A tweezers with a fine tip
  • A small pliers with a small tip or a small socket set
  • A soldering iron, solder and possibly a desoldering wick

Do not even start on assembly until you have the right tools. If you don't have the right tools, go out and buy them, you will be much happier for it.

Step 2

Find a nice area to work in. You will want a chair and table. Put 6 or 8 white sheets of paper down on the table so you won't lose screws that you take out of the notebook and so you can jot down notes with the pencil as you perform each step.

Step 3

Put the notebook upside down on the papers. Pull out the CDROM drive by pulling the lever on the side and pulling it out. Then remove the battery by pushing the locking thing and pulling it out.

When you are done, things should look like this:

Step 4

Remove the hard drive by removing the two screws on the panel that covers the hard drive on the underside, sliding the panel off, carefully pulling the ribbon up and out of its connector and then pulling the hard drive out by pulling up on the little tab that is there to help you pull the hard drive out.

When you are done, things should look like this:

Step 5

Use a small phillips head screwdriver to remove all 10 screws from the underside and put them on the white paper and mark that they are the screws from the back on the paper with the pencil. In the image below, there is still one screw to be removed, the one in the middle of the lower right. That one should be removed as well.

In the picture above, you'll notice there are also 3 screws on the metal pieces in the upper right. They are up where the CDROM drive goes. You will want to remove those as well. Here's a close up of that area:

Step 6

Flip the computer over so it is right side up.

Then remove the two screws from the back side of the notebook. When I say the back side, I mean the side where the power jack is. There is a screw on each side you should remove. Here's one of them removed:

Step 7

Now open up the display so the display is upright (90 degree angle).

Then, with the Exacto knift and looking at the back, carefully put the Exacto knife in the area shown and just pry it up enough to that it slides over the tabs that are keeping it locked into place. Don't pry it too much or you can break it and then you won't be very happy.

Don't try to do this with a screwdriver, use something with a tiny blade like an Exacto blade shown here. You'll gouge the heck out if it using anything bigger than an Exacto knife.

Pry up each side like that. Again, just pry it up enough to slip over the tab that keeps them in place. Here's what the left one should look like:

Step 8

Now open the display until it is flat on the table. It should look like this:

And then carefully and slowly lift up the LCD display panel. It has 2 connectors below it, you don't pull it hard. You need to lift it up just a bit so you can see the connectors below it. There is a brown ribbon and then 4 wires. The ribbon is connected to the panel with one connector and the wires with another. When you lift it up, it will look like this:

Here's more detail on where the two connectors are that connect the LCD panel to the main board:

Step 9

Now we will remove the two connectors that are holding the LCD display panel to the main board. You need to be very careful with these. Use the tweezers to pry the one on the left (the one with the wires) by pushing up a little on each side of the plastic thing the wires are in. Do a little bit on one side and then move to the other side. Be careful, any of these little small things can snap and then you're looking at serious repair.

Here is the 4 wire connector after it has been lifted out of its socket:

And now we need to remove the ribbon. The connector looks a bit confusing. What you do is lift up the front to unlock it. You can use the tweezers to do that. Then the ribbon just lifts out. Don't pull on the sides, I did and I snapped one as I was trying to figure out how the ribbon was locked in. Again, you lift up the front of the brown thing to unlock it and then the ribbon just lifts out.

Be very careful, if you aren't sure exactly how to get the ribbon out, examine it before pulling on anything. Don't pull on the ribbon unless it is unlocked. Don't mess around with the things on the side of the connector.

When the ribbon is out of the connection, it will look like this:

Now you can lift off the LCD panel and put it to the side:

Step 10

Now we'll remove the keyboard. The keyboard is just held on by sticky things, it isn't screwed down. You can pry up the top of the keyboard until it comes off the sticky things. Again, do this carefully and listen for the sticky pieces unhooking.

Once it is off the sticky things, you can flip it up and over like this. There is a ribbon attached to it, don't strain it, just flip the keyboard up and over:

Now we have another funny ribbon connector. To unhook the ribbon, we need to unlock the connector. To do that, you lift each side of the connector (the black plastic thing the ribbon is in) until it is raised a bit. It doesn't come off, it just lifts up a bit on each side and then the ribbon is unlocked and can come out easily. Don't pull on the ribbon while it is locked in there.

When the connector is open and the ribbon is removed, things look like this:

Now you can lift the keyboard off and put it somewhere. Here I've put it above the notebook. You can also notice that I am taking notes about what I am doing on the paper so I know how to reverse all the steps properly.

Step 11

Now we'll want to unhook the display. We won't be taking it all the way off, we just need it out of the way. You need to be careful here because we'll leave it connected by some wires and we don't want to break those wires.

Unscrew the two screws that are holding the display down on each side. The screws are in the hinges. Then lift off the display and place it above the notebook, being careful not to stretch the wires that connects the display to the main board.

Here's the display lifted off and placed above the notebook:

Then we will just unhook 2 of the 3 connectors to the LCD display. We will still leave one of them connected but we will remove two of them to make things easier to move around.

Here's the first one to remove. To remove this one, we lift each side a little bit until it lifts out out of the connector:

The second one looks like of strange. I don't have a good picture of it because it was under the other one above. Here's a circle around it. It looks like the circle is around the one we just removed but that is because it is a bad picture.

To remove that connection, I lifted the metal bar that goes across it and then pulled up on it a bit and it slid out. Be careful here, these are the connectors for the display and if you mess them up then you won't have a display that works any more.

Step 12

Now remove the 7 screws from the top of the notebook. The one that might be hard to find is the one hiding just under the wires that go to the display panel. The other ones are pretty obvious. Remove all those screws and put them on the side.

Step 13

We're getting closer. Now we need to remove the video out screws. On the back of the notebook, there is a thing you open to get to the video out connection. Open that up (it just kind of dangles there when it is open as it stays connected on one side).

Now unscrew the two terminals that are on each side. Use the a small socket wrench if you have one. If you don't have one, use the small pliers to get them started and then just spin them off with your fingers. Here are the two things we want to unscrew:

And here they are unscrewed:

Step 14

Now the really tricky step and one where you have to be very careful. Instead of taking the whole notebook apart, I've taken enough things off to pull the board that contains the AC Adapter Plug on it. But just enough. You will need to pry open the case up on the side so there will be enough of an opening to pull out the small board with the plug attached to it.

Once the case is pried open, you can lift up the board off its connector and then slide it out. THERE IS SOMETHING TO BE VERY CAREFUL OF HERE.

When you lift it up and slide it out, watch out for that little tab that is connected to the wireless on/off switch at the back. That thing will snap with nearly no force applied to it. When you pull the board up, make sure that tab slips out of the on/off switch without bending or hitting anything. Don't put any pressure on that little tab, it will break if you do.

If you made it this far, you have the small board with the power jack out of the notebook. Here's mine on the ground outside. I brought it outside because the next step is to solder it to fix it and I didn't want the fumes in the house:

Step 15

So, what's wrong with the board? We'll here is the problem. The metal piece on the power jack wiggled around and wiggled the solder away from around it, making the connection intermittent.

So, we resolder the connection to look like this:

There, that's much better.

Step 16

This is the hardest step. Removing this small board was the second hardest step. Putting it back in without breaking the small tab that goes into the on/off switch is the hardest step. Luckily, if you do break that tab, you can just switch it to "on" with a pin or something and still use the computer. I never had it off anyway. But you won't be happy if you break the tab.

Here's the tab you need to worry about:

So, you carefully and slowly pry open the cover up again. Then you slide the board back in the way it came out. And then, before pushing it down into place, you really carefully line up that small tab that goes into the wireless on/off switch. You need to be really careful here and somehow push the board down into its connection while keeping an eye on that on/off switch tab and not breaking that thing. If you can do that, the rest isn't very hard.

Here's a pic with the case propped open with a screwdriver as I replaced the little board:

Step 17

We now just reverse the steps above to put everything back together. However, there are two things to be careful of. Both things have to do with brown ribbons. We don't want the ribbons to be pressed on their folds. Here is the first ribbon we need to be careful of:

When we put the keyboard back over it, you don't want the ribbon lying on top of the metal or the keyboard will crush it on its fold. So, make sure it is pushed into the hole in the metal as in the photo.

Explained in a different way, if you look at the ribbon in the circle in the photo, it is under the metal thing. That is where it should be, it shouldn't have any part of it on top of the metal or it will be crushed when you push the keyboard over it.

The second ribbon you need to be really careful of is the one of the LCD panel. Here it is:

Just like the other ribbon, this one needs to go under the casing. If you let it sit on top of the casing, it will be crushed when you put the LCD panel in and will likely break. Make sure it is pushed under the metal like this:

And make sure it stays there when you put the LCD panel back in. There should be no pressure on the crease of that ribbon.

Step 18

After reassembly, you should check to make sure the computer works. If it doesn't, contact someone who knows what they are doing and pay them a lot of money to fix it.

Step 19

This is for extra credit. I'd like to help prevent this from happening in the future for a couple reasons. One is because it is a giant pain in the keister. The second is I noticed some arcing marks (burn marks) in the area where the bad connection was from the power jack. I'd rather not have a fire because the jack goes bad. It's a low probability but its there.

To prevent the power jack from being wiggled so much, I built a small support out of plastic. I look for a piece of plastic that was somewhat thin and that had a 90 degree angle in it already. What I found that looked good was a plastic protractor case. From the protractor case, I cut the thing you see below:

I cut it to fit in the area of the power jack. It would slide into the sides and top to prevent them from wiggling so much. Then when you plugged and unplugged the computer, most of the the side to side and up and down force would be transferred to the case instead of being transferred to the pins on the AC jack.

Here's a closeup of the little piece I cut sitting on the logo on the lid of the notebook:

Here's a picture of it in a test fit to see how well it will work. Seems pretty good. All we need to do from here is trim the sides and tape it down:

And here it is trimmed and taped:

I didn't use paper or cardboard for the support because if it does arc, I didn't want the whole thing starting on fire.

Step 20

Do me a favor and add a comment if you have one. If you had problems with this or like it or whatever. Also, put a link to this somewhere so other folks can find it. I spent a lot of time on it to try and make it useful and my guess is everyone who has a Fujitsu laptop will end up with this problem at some point.

Good luck!