Fixing Stuff is Good… Failing to is Bad

laptop-microswitch-circuit-vertIn the last few days I’ve experienced both sides of technical repairs, the good (fixed) and the bad (still broken).

To start with I was on fire.

“Dave can you have a look at this fax machine?” (NFPDN); Bang bosh fixed.

“this scanner?” (MoHSS); Zap and cured.

“this network terminal?” (Medicos del Mundo); Badda-bing and seeing the network.

“this un-networked laptop?” (Medicos del Mundo); flailing of wires, swapping of network ports and an “Abracadabra!” later… on the network.

Along with a few other heroic moments (well, vaguely successful moments at least).

Then it all came crashing down.

“Can you have a look at this laptop?” (MoHSS); “Of course”… dribble… unscrew… prod… poke with multimeter… remove battery… “Yep, it’s broken”.

“What about this external hard drive with various bits of important data on that we haven’t backed up, obviously, because we know you like a challenge?”; More dribbling… fighting with screws (having left proper toolkit at the NFDPN office like a fool)… more multi-meterage… “Well the good news is the caddy will probably pull through but, ahem, the actual hard drive with all that data on has gone to a special place in the sky“.

On a slightly more serious note here is an illustration of one of the problems out here in the sticks – the laptop won’t turn on. Having disassembled it I am pretty confident of the problem, the power micro-switch (what the power button actually presses) is broken. This is a teeny-tiny part on a teeny-tiny circuit. On the same circuit board are five other micro-switches which start your email application, turn on wireless (not fitted), start your browser and, erm, whatever “P” does. Murphy’s Law dictates these micro-switches continue to work perfectly.

Circuit in Question - Power Switch on the Right

Circuit in Question - Power Switch on the Right

I am pretty sure this board is the cause of the woe. Sadly, unlike a desktop, the connections are so fiddly that I can’t jury-rig a paperclip or similar in as a temporary replacement to confirm it’s at fault.

Acer Spares UK can get me the board, for £25, but will (a) only ship within the EU and (b) not tell me a part number so I’m resigned to emailing SADC suppliers for “you know, that circuit board that sits under the power switch with the micro-switches and LEDs on, here’s a photo”.

In the UK I’d just buy it, not too expensive and certainly better than writing off the laptop. Actually in the UK I would have probably just sent the laptop to a certified Acer repair place and let them worry about the whole thing.

Here, even if I could get the part, £25 (N$ 325) is still cheaper than a new laptop but the ordering process is long and tortuous. And what’s the bets even if I find it it’ll be a lot more than £25 delivered to my door (“yes mate, past the Etosha game park, third Himba hut on the left”).

So… anyone got a power switch board for an Acer Aspire 1413WLMi?

One Sick Laptop

One Sick Laptop


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