Introduction: How to Repair an HP DV9000 - Series Laptop
I received an HP DV9260US laptop as a high school graduation present. It worked well until 13 months after I received it, one month after the warranty ran out. To have it commercially repaired would cost on the order of $800, about the cost of a replacement laptop. As such, I decided to repair it myself. When one knows how to repair it, it is not that difficult of a task. The only part that could cause real problems is the problem of organizing the parts and screws. The organizational system I used was to place all the parts and hardware in a labeled ziploc bag whenever a part was removed from the laptop. As there are over one hundred screws, an organization system is critical.
Step 1: Symptoms
The symptoms I ran into were indicative of a video chip failure. My laptop became increasingly unreliable, and I ran into strange visual artifacts, such as flickering, oddly colored horizontal lines on the screen. After about two weeks of this, it refused to start up Windows at all. Another symptom is that it got very hot, even more than it used to, and this series of laptop is infamous for overheating. What was happening, I have since learned, is that the cooling system had become somewhat clogged with dust, and so was unable to cool the video chip adequately. This video chip, as well, was designed such that it has only a minimal tolerance to overheating. This confluence of variables led to the video chip being permanently destroyed.
Step 2: Liability
Before I start, I need to say that anything done to your laptop based on this Instructable is done at your own risk. That said, if you're trying to repair an HP DV9000 - series laptop, it's probably completely nonfunctional right now, so anything should be a step in the right direction.
Step 3: What You'll Need
Odds are what needs to be done to repair an HP DV9000 laptop is to replace the motherboard. There are many ways to have it done professionally, but between the material and labor costs they will charge about the cost of a new laptop. As such, it made more sense to me to repair it myself. To replace the motherboard, you'll only need a replacement motherboard, some basic tools, and a repair guide. Everyone will tell you that it is impossible for someone who is not an expert to replace a motherboard, which is patently untrue. It is completely possible for anyone with basic mechanical skills to replace a laptop motherboard. The only thing you need to do is be careful to organize all the parts and screws removed. What I did is label a new Ziploc bag for each part removed, and place the part and screws associated with that part in the corresponding Ziploc bag. The one thing that is most important when replacing the motherboard, however, is having a guide that walks you through it, step by step. Luckily, HP has posted their repair and maintenance guide for the HP DV9000 series of laptops. It can be found here: http://h10032.www1.hp.com/ctg/Manual/c01311536.pdf
Step 4: My Process
There are essentially two ways to replace the motherboard: simply replace it, leaving the cooling system the way it is, or improve the cooling system to perform better. New motherboards don't come with a cooling system, a CPU, ram, or number of other things, so these need to be transferred from the old motherboard. I chose to improve the cooling system, to ensure that I wouldn't fry another motherboard. In the process of improving the cooling system, I went through a great deal of trial and error. It took me quite a while to improve the cooling system properly. Before I came to a workable solution, I fried two replacement motherboards, and ended up completely disassembling and reassembling my laptop around 20 times. Fortunately, I can explain where I went wrong. If you don't have any experience with thermal grease and heat sinks, I would recommend that you mount the old heat sink stock onto the new motherboard.
Step 5: The Easy Way
If you just want your laptop repaired to a stock level, it is relatively simple. Just follow the guide, and retain all the cooling system components. Make sure not to damage all the thermally conductive pads. Do make sure to clean all the dust off the cooling fins, though; it is because the cooling fins become clogged with dust that this series of laptops has an affinity for failing spectacularly. If you want to improve the cooling system, though, I can show you how. It is quite a bit trickier, but it keeps the laptop a lot cooler. The stock cooling components are shown below.
Step 6: Where I Went Wrong
When I first tried replacing my motherboard, I figure it would be a good idea to replace all of the thermally conductive pads with thermal paste, which I figured would conduct heat better. In doing this, I had a layer of thermal paste about 1/8" of an inch thick. It turns out that while thermal paste is quite conductive when a thin layer is used, a thick layer is an effective insulator. This is why I fried out my first motherboard. Something that was thermally conductive had to be used to fill most of the space in between the heat sink and the chips. What ended up working was replacing the thermally conductive pads with a solid piece of copper. By using a thin layer of thermal paste to link the copper pieces to the cooling system and the chips, I achieved a much better thermal connection, allowing the system chips to be cooled much more effectively.
Step 7: Making the Copper Pieces
To make the pieces of copper plate that I used to thermally link the heat sink and the chips, I first bought a sample pack of 5 different thicknesses of copper sheet from www.onlinemetals.com. The sample pack is listed here: http://www.onlinemetals.com/merchant.cfm?pid=12634&step=4&showunits=inches&id=155&top_cat=87 . I measured the required size of the copper pieces, and marked that out on the copper sheets. To cut out the copper rectangles, I used a 90 degree angle metal cutting machine; it works kind of like an extremely durable pair of scissors, it has a 90 degree angle piece of tool steel that is forced down to pass right by a correspondingly shaped tool steel notch. It is very useful for cutting out rectangles. Unfortunately, it warped the pieces of copper quite a bit. To flatten them, I first clamped them tightly in a precision milling vise. This squashed them to be moderately flat. The flatter they were, though, the better they would contact the two surfaces, and the better the thermal connection would be. To flatten them even more precisely, I placed a piece of fine-grit sandpaper face-up on a piece of precision-machined aluminum. By sanding the two contact surfaces of the various copper pieces, I was able to flatten them very precisely and give them an excellent surface finish. I made sure to keep the sandpaper wet during this process, wet-sanding yielded better results here than dry-sanding would have.
Step 8: Preparing the Heat Sinks
The chips were adequately prepared to have the heat sink mounted to them, but the heat sink itself had a relatively poor surface finish where exposed. Additionally, there was a foil sheet mounted to the video chip's heat sink. To resolve this, I carefully removed the foil sheet with a razor blade and polished the surfaces of the heat sinks using fine-grit sandpaper again.
Step 9: Mounting the Copper Pieces
To mount the copper pieces in between the chips and the heat sink, I mounted them to the heat sink first. To do this, I spread a thin layer of thermal paste on the surface of the heat sink, and pressed the copper sheet onto it. The thermal paste I used was Arctic Silver 5, a very high quality thermal paste that is available from Radio Shack. To spread it onto the heat sink, I placed a small amount of it on the heat sink and spread it around using a razor blade, but it should be possible to use anything tough and flat, like an old credit card. The trickiest part about placing copper plates in between the heat sinks and the various chips is choosing the right thickness of copper plates to use. I cut out pieces of various thicknesses for each section of the heat sink, and used a trial and error method to fit them properly.
Step 10: Reinstalling the Heat Sinks
Once copper pieces had been mounted to the heat sinks such that the heat sinks fit well without the original thermal pads, the heat sinks simply had to be reinstalled in the motherboard. After coating the contacting surfaces of the chips properly, it is simply a matter of following the instructions detailed in the HP maintenance guide, found at http://h10032.www1.hp.com/ctg/Manual/c01311536.pdf .
Step 11: Finishing Off
Once the heat sinks have been reassembled, it is only a matter of reconstructing the laptop. Simply follow each step outlined in the maintenance guide in reverse, and follow the steps in reverse order.