How to replace a failed power connector on a PCG-C1VR with a nifty Lego connector. Includes disassembly instructions!
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Step 1: The Starting Point
I was up late one night, and as I was putting away my laptop I dropped it, breaking the power connector. The plug split, and the connector inside the laptop was also damaged. I checked online, and the replacement parts were fairly expensive, in that they cost more than I paid for the laptop. This was clearly less than ideal.
I looked about the house for an acceptable connector, hoping that I'd find something with the same pin spacing, but it is an uncommon layout and spacing. I decided that the best route then would be placing the connector on the exterior of the laptop, and hopefully adding in a breakaway feature to prevent damage from similar accidents. Ultimately I settled on a lego technic wire, as it pulls apart under stress, can handle the amperage involved, and is a modular low-cost solution. (Keeping in mind that they aren't liable if your project catches fire or other harm befalls it.)
Tools and Supplies needed:
Needle nose pliers
Jewelers screwdrivers in a variety of sizes, Phillips head.
Flathead jewelers screwdriver or similar prying device.
Soldering iron with fine tip.
Labeling or masking tape.
Razor blades or wire stripper.
Shrink wrap tubing, in sizes appropriate for the wire you are using.
Wire, capable of handling 2.5 amps @ 16v DC.
De-soldering braid or equivalent.
Step 2: Disassembly
The power connector is located on an internal daughter board; we need to remove this to solder on the new connector. However, since this is a subnotebook, and made by Sony, the layout is tight and there are lots of tiny screws and ribbon cables. Reference the attached pictures for clarification of each step. Ground yourself during this process as well, you will be in close proximity to vital components.
1. Remove the power cord, battery, any cards in the PC or memory stick slots.
2. Remove the hinge caps. These are held on by 3 little tabs on their inside edge, use a flat implement to gently pry them off. Leave the caps attached to the screen in place, they don't have to be removed.
3. Remove the indicated screws from the bottom of the laptop. Some of them are of dissimilar lengths, so mark which screw goes where. I use write-on labeling tape from Fisher Scientific (ask your local chem lab for some), masking tape works as well. Note that the finish on the bottom of these older notebooks can be flaky, so the lower tack the better.
4. Flipping the notebook right side up again, remove the keyboard. It is held in by two little tabs in the front; use a jewelers screwdriver or other flat instrument to push the front edge of the keyboard back, and it will pop right up. It is connected to the motherboard by two ribbon cables. Disconnect these from the motherboard by pulling gently on them straight up. These cables are impossible to repair, so be careful.
4. The metal shielding over the PC slot just comes off, put it to the side.
5. Unscrew the screws holding the keyboard tray and front bezel in place. The indicator lights and buttons have a ribbon cable to the motherboard. Disconnect this prior to removing the tray.
6. The tray is held by a few tabs around its edge. The tray should be easy to gently pop off at this point.
7. Remove the side of the ribbon cable that plugs into the board on the right side of the hard drive. This is the board that we are trying to remove.
Note that the hard drive brackets screw through the board into the chassis. Also note the metal bar that runs along the top of the daughterboard. The bar is screwed into the chassis through the daughterboard as well, but it has an additional screw that holds it in place, which is located on the underside of the hinge cover. This screw attaches to a little metal bracket, which sits under the daughterboard, and it will move with the screen once unscrewed. Thus it is imperative that the hard drive screws be undone before doing anything with the bar, as there is potential that the board could be damaged when the screen shifts if it is still held firmly in place.
8. Remove the hard drive screws. You might have to undo both sides (daughter and motherboard) if you cant lift the side of the drive enough to sneak the daughterboard out. After that undo the screws holding the bar in place. At this point the screen will not be anchored and will flop in some direction, be aware of this. The daughter board is now only held by the connectors at the back. Separate them and remove the daughterboard from the laptop.
9. Put the laptop in a safe place, and proceed to the next step.
Step 3: Adapting the Power Supply.
The Sony power brick is listed for a fairly hefty 2.5 amps at 16 volts DC. So while you don't need to run jumper cables for this thing, it needs a larger margin than say a USB cable. I figured that the stock wire attached to the lego was fine. For the laptop end of the connection, where I had to extend the contacts, I used some standard stranded speaker wire.
The cable for the power supply is coax, the outer layer is ground, the inner is +16v. The rest of this assumes that you are already familiar with the basics of soldering.
Strip the power cable, being careful to not mar the inner insulation. Pull the outer strands over to one side and bundle them, then strip the the inner conductor. Cut the lego connector, and strip the ends of the wire. Slip on some heat shrink tubing and solder everything up. The orientation on the the connector is important, so keep track of which side of the lego is hot. You can reverse the polarity if you rotate the connector. (Thats both a tip and a warning.)
Step 4: Back to the Daughterboard.
The last part is to get the extension hooked up to the daughterboard and a connector on the extension
De-solder the connector on the daughterboard, taking note of the polarity. The desoldering braid is useful here. The shielding on the connector is aluminum and will wick the heat, watch the temperature on the board, it will heat up.
The vias on the board are small, too small to solder directly to with the size of wire I'm using. I snipped the pins off the connector, and resoldered them into the vias, so that there is a larger pad to solder to. The speaker wire is straightforward, again, strip and solder the wire. Trim it to the length you want, for the location where the final connector will be. I picked the back of the screen, where it is out of the way.
Prep the lego connector the same as before, but this time match the connector with the power one, so that the orientation will be the one you want in the final installation. Mark the polarities, solder everything up. Remember to pass the cable through the hole prior to soldering. Hopefully at this point everything should be in working order, so reassemble the laptop and see if it boots. Be careful with the ribbon cables, as they are fragile.
If everything works, use some CA glue to route the external cable and to affix the laptop end of the connector where you want it.