Introduction: Asus Eee PC 1000H Spontaneous Shut Down

Picture of Asus Eee PC 1000H Spontaneous Shut Down

This is my wife's Asus Eee PC notebook. It recently began shutting down spontaneously. An Internet search suggests others have also had this problem. Often the suggested fix has been simply to get a new computer. But, in our case, the problem turned out to be a frayed cord inside the strain relief, which is a very inexpensive problem to fix.

My wife noticed her computer seemed to cut out when she happened to bump the power cord. There is a blue LED on the power converter brick that indicates it is working. While she was showing me how moving the power cord often caused the computer to shut down I happened to notice the blue LED went out at the same time. Wiggling the strain relief on the load side of the power converter frequently caused the blue LED to light again. 

Tools used--
Hacksaw
Screwdriver for prying
Sharp knife
Soldering iron
Multi-meter
Third hand to hold wires for soldering

Materials--
Solder
Electrical tape

Step 1: Crack the Case

Picture of Crack the Case

I decided to crack the case on the converter brick. I used a hacksaw to cut along the seam. Then I used a screwdriver to break the rest of the case seam.

Step 2: The Case Opened

Picture of The Case Opened

This photo shows the case fully removed from the power converter. There really are no exposed conductors that might hold a shock hazard. The white wire has a nick in its insulation, but this did not seem to be the problem. There was no evidence of burn marks, nor of broken strands of the wire, itself. I decided to cut about two inches of wire around the strain relief out of the cable. Since I could not access the points on the circuit board where the black and white wires attach, I decided to cut about midpoint in the visible portions of the black and white wires. I stripped some of the white and black insulation from the wires connected to the circuit board. I soldered stripped ends of the freshly cut cable to the white and black wires. 

The connector that plugs into the computer is supposed to be center point positive (+), according to the label on the side of the converter brick. Do some checking with an electrical meter to be certain the polarity is not changed during reconnecting the cable.

Step 3: Soldered and Insulated

Picture of Soldered and Insulated

The ends of the cable have been soldered to the remains of the black and white wires after they were cut and stripped. I have used some green plastic electrical tape to insulate both as well as possible.

Step 4: Close It Up and Test

Picture of Close It Up and Test

I wrapped the case with black electrical tape to hold its two halves together. I forced hot glue into the opening where the strain relief had been and held it steady until the glue solidified. Notice the blue LED lights as it should now. 

I confess I accidentally reversed the polarity when I soldered the cable to black and white wires coming from the circuit board. It was easier to do than one would think because the internal construction of the cable was counter-intuitive. But, now the power converter that seemed to be defunct works. Whereas my wife's notebook computer worked fine when on battery power only, it now works fine on AC power without any spontaneous shut downs. 

What was the problem? A simple break in a wire inside the strain relief should not have caused a spontaneous shut down. The computer should simply have drawn from its battery. But, a short in the strain relief seems more likely to cause both the power supply and the computer to shut down. I say that because shorting a gray wire to ground on an ATX power supply for a desktop computer causes an immediate shut down by dropping a critical CPU voltage below a minimum standard. (Deliberately shorting that gray wire momentarily can be used to make a reset button on a computer that has no reset button.)

The most surprising thing about this solution to a spontaneous shut down problem is that the cause was not something inside the computer, but something in the power supply. Spontaneous shut down issues are usually due to an overheated CPU, which can be caused by dust plugging the cooling fins, or to a faulty RAM memory stick. An exception for a desktop computer is that a faulty power supply often causes shut down problems, but a desktop does not have a battery from which to draw operating power like a notebook does.  

Comments

susanrm (author)2011-12-23

This is great. I almost sort of could have used it. :-) Fortunately no. Yesterday I was at a student's house, and my netbook wouldn't charge on any of the outlets. You'd think it would be more likely to be the computer than the house, right? Finally, I tried the last outlet in the room, and it worked. So it wasn't my computer. Phew! Nice to know this is here, though, in case I run into trouble in the future.

I wonder if Sugru would be a good fixer to hold the case together.

Phil B (author)susanrm2011-12-23

Thank you for looking and for your comment. When we moved into our present home 16 years ago the outlets were so worn that plugs fell out of the outlets by themselves. I am glad to hear there was no real problem with your netbook. I have seen Sugru projects on Instructables, but have never tried using it. I am still enthralled with hot glue as my universal adhesive even more to be desired than duct tape.

Since you have looked at a minimum of one of my Instructables, and possibly more, I would like to recommend Everyone Needs a Multi-Meter in view of your inquiry about a meter to check your washer/dryer circuit board at another Instructable.

susanrm (author)Phil B2011-12-23

Yes, I saw it, and it's on my reading list when I have time!

Their outlets were all in good shape. My guess is a seldom-used breaker was off, or there is a switch that controls those outlets that I don't know about.

Sugru is great. I got a pack at the Maker Faire in NYC at the Instructables booth this summer, and a couple more packs are on their way to me as prizes I've won recently!

Phil B (author)susanrm2011-12-24

The Instructable I linked on multi-meters is aimed at removing the intimidation many feel about electricity just enough that anyone can make a few basic tests so he or she can analyse and solve a number of very common problems to save time waiting and money spent on a technician. You could read it in sections as you need those particular parts, although some of it builds a little on previous segments.

In the Boise area we are a long distance from any of the Maker Faires.

drissel (author)2011-12-17

A persistent fix. My commendations.

Phil B (author)drissel2011-12-18

Thank you. It is not the only reason why a notebook computer might shut down spontaneously, but it is something so simple that it ought be checked before sending a good computer to the scrap bin, or before spending a lot of money on repairs.

rimar2000 (author)2011-12-17

Great, Phil!

Often the notebooks, PC and other devices have fails that seems magic. Almost all can be fixed as you have done, with patience and ingenuity.

Phil B (author)rimar20002011-12-17

Thank you, Osvaldo. I once had a book on automobile repair. It said the driver of the car is the ideal person to repair it because he knows the exact conditions under which the problem appears, which helps to diagnose it.

pfred2 (author)2011-12-17

Phil, I never knew you were such a technical maven! I've gotten a lot of electronics out of trash that all they had wrong with them was a broken wire, or maybe a solder joint had gone bad on an input wire. So great fix!

To make new strain reliefs for cables I often like to use insulation I stripped off other, larger wires. Sometimes in combination with heat shrink wrap tubing, and electrical tape as well. Depends how involved I want to get, the situation etc. I keep stripped off insulation in my box of "rubber junk".

Phil B (author)pfred22011-12-17

Thanks, phred. It would be great if my Instructables followed some well-developed plan and strategy, but the truth is that they are governed by what broke down most recently at our house. A few years ago I read "Upgrading and Repairing PCs" by Scott Mueller (13th ed.). That is where I learned about shorting one of the two gray wires on an ATX power supply to make a reset button where there is none, but I would need to check which one it was on a chart. I think it was pin # 7 or 8, rather than the other one with a much higher number. You should do an Instructable on your style of strain relief. It would be good information for all.

knife141 (author)2011-12-16

Very good information, Phil. My netbook is a different brand, but I wouldn't be surprised if they all don't use power bricks made from the same factory. Thanks for posting this, and hope you and your family have a Merry Christmas!

Phil B (author)knife1412011-12-16

Thank you. On one level, what is in this 'ible is just another one on trimming out a frayed section on a cord, just like on any other set of earbuds, headphones, or on a phone charger. But, on another level, it is about an easy, yet unexpected resolution to a pesky computer shutdown problem that has nothing to do with opening up the computer. My wife has had this netbook for around four years and was not particularly hard on the power cable with wrapping it up too tight, yet, there was a problem inside the strain relief. Thanks for commenting. A blessed and merry Christmas to you and to your family.

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