Intro: How to Fix the Power Cord to My Dell Laptop That Time
These instructions show how to fix the power cable to a Dell Vostro laptop, when it will plug into your computer but won't charge your battery or register as plugged in at all. This particular cause and solution haven't been covered online yet.
All i needed for this was
- sharp blade
- (cutely colored) electrical tape
- piece of lace, or anything abrasive (like my old boss' personality- OHHHHHHHH!)
- vinyl letters (semi-optional)
Step 1: The Problem
The charger to my Dell Vostro laptop stopped connecting to my computer reliably. It got worse over the course of a few weeks: at first it would connect if i gave a jiggle, but by the end i had to find the perfect position and then like breathe in another direction in order for it to stay connected. At one point i sat an anvil on top of it to keep it connected! Then for 2 days i couldn't get it to realize it was plugged in at all, not even for a moment- how would i know if anyone updated their livejournals! A recent embroidered creation of mine came to mind. (photo below)
The part of the cable that responded to coaxing was the part that plugs into the computer, and the first few inches of wire beyond. The adapter fit normally into the computer, not loosely at all.
Past experience fixing my phone charger told me that the thumbelina (thumb-sized part you plug into the device) had probably strained the wire over time and the wire had broken inside, without any visible damage to the rubber outside, as is the way. I figured i'd fix it cause "not like it works now! as long as i'm not super aggro about it, i can't make it any worse!"
Step 2: Knifin' Around
I complained, then i searched online to see if people had done this before. They had. You can see their postings if you search words like "laptop cable," "repair," and "Dell." Basically they all had problems in the same spots on the cord: spots where the cord attaches to a heavier element. Spots like the thumbelina and the next few inches of cord. But none of these how-to's told how to find where the problem was, so for a second i was all DDDD-: cause i should tell you, my knowledge of electronics is way caveman. I'm just really confident and get pissed when companies don't fix products they know are faulty.
After trying to pry the thumbelina down the cord a ways without slicing it, i got fed up with that waste of time and sliced it. My ex boyfriend who rules at this stuff told me that the little part that looks like a honey dipper, that every cord has, the "strain relief," used to be functional but is not only not functional on modern products, but a problem spot for like all electronics with cords that get moved a lot! God that makes me so disgruntled.
Step 3: Continuing to Knife Around
Then i sliced the cord "the right way" to see if i could find a break in the wire. What i found was not an obvious break in the wire like i was expecting, but this scary kind of confusing wire that i never even knew about! It was many delicate wires spiraling around a core that seemed to have another wire inside. (The internet told me that this is a "coaxial" wire.)
How the eff would i know where the break was?! So I stared at it and feared it for a few days. Look at that baloney, what the hell right? It might as well be a magic eye.
Step 4: Spoiler Alert: It Was Just Soldered Cheaply
I decided to start with the thumbelina, since i could see all of it. There were 2 solder points that i could see, and it was all sealed with very pliable, translucent, molded plastic.
I pried some of the plastic away and one of the solder points just sort of lifted off! Convenient! There was all this dirtiness there, so i scraped the crud off the solder point with an x-acto knife, and buffed the crud off the thumbelina with a piece of lace.
Step 5: Testing It
With a rubber glove on, I pinched the broken solder point really hard and plugged it in. Green battery light! Thank goodness i hadn't gone messing with that cool hypnotic cord right away!
Step 6: Letting Success Get to My Head
Thing was, if i let up on the pressure even a tiny bit, the light went out. So i took a pair of pliers to pinch it as hard as i could. The moment the pliers touched the thumbelina metal there was a spark and the LEDs went out- both the battery light LED on the laptop and the plain LED on the transformer.
You all though i was like DDDD-: before! You should have seen me then! I was like "Oh no now i'm gonna have to come crawling back to that guy at Staples who i said "fuck" to (oh yeah, i looked to temporarily buy a new cable at Staples but it was $108 so i said, "Whoa, fuck that i'd never pay that much"). Now i'd be lucky to only spend $108 cause my computer is probz fried!
I started like smelling everything, trying to see if i'd fried my computer or the adapter or both. But duh i had no idea what either of those things smelled like to begin with, so my imagination ran wild! So wild that i even tried unplugging the cord and plugging it back in, which worked wildly well! Green lights all around! Boy was that lucky.
Step 7: Not Including My Trip to Staples, and the 4 Days of Fearing, This Probably Took a Total of 20 Minutes
I'd planned to solder the point back where it belonged but realized I don't have flux. So I just electrical taped it all down really tightly (including the thumbelina casing I removed in step 1, cause what else am I gonna use it for).
Then I charged my computer in ways you never thought possible.
A while later I looked at the cord and the green light turned off. I attributed this to that I've manipulated physical objects with my mind before. In addition, it may have been cause it was just taped in place, and also maybe cause the battery was fully charged and that somehow matters now. Anyway, I just gave the thing a break cause it'd had a big night. If the success reverses I'll let you know.
Plenty of things are better than you, but your laptop cable's not one of them (probably)!
Step 8: 9 Months Later...
I figured i'd give an update on how it's been holding up.
Well, it's been great. After a couple months, the cord would occasionally not carry power to the laptop. I figured the electrical tape had stretched out so i wrapped a rubber band around the thumbelina/tape and it worked perfectly. When the same thing started happening a few months later, i was like, "No sweat," and added another rubber band. The laptop cord was also like, "No sweat," and has kept it coming.