Tuesday, January 15, 2008

MacGyver Strikes Again!

After the whole vehicle fiasco last week, you'd think that the repairs would be over. You'd be half right. The car is okay, but Kara's laptop is not.

A few months back, I performed a ghetto repair on her laptop because the power connector in the back of the laptop wasn't mating well with the power cord, resulting in a battery at the most inopportune times. So I snipped the connector off of the cord and desoldered the power connector from the motherboard. (Don't fret, it was a cheap laptop to begin with and has almost fulfilled its life expectancy. I was just trying to squeeze a few more months out of it.) Then, I soldered the cord directly to the motherboard and slathered it with epoxy. That worked pretty well up until a week or so ago when it started sparking.

See, with the cord wired directly, when people (or babies, or inattentive boys, or cats, etc.) tripped over the cord, it would stress the wires at the joint. Everything under the epoxy held, but where the wires left, they began to fray a bit and started touching each other. Touching each other can sometimes be a good thing, but in this case it's not what I'd call desirable.

So I figured I'd need to isolate the connections and add in a quick disconnect in order to relieve some of the stress on the joints. But what to use? I just so happened to have a power adapter and brand-new matching female connector for it, but they would be awkward to employ. I needed some new heat-shrink tubing anyway, so I made a trip to my local Wal-Mart to pick up a bag. On my way, I saw an Advance Auto and thought, "Gee. I bet they have heat-shrink tubing, and they probably have some quick-disconnect connectors, too!" I was right on both counts, but I had to get creative to find the latter.

Finding the tubing was easy. But I didn't see any easily disconnectable connectors at all. Maybe a larger store might have some, but I wasn't really in the mood to go all over town last night. Then, I heard a little voice tell me to turn around. There, behind me, were the cigarette lighter-style power plugs. Aha! I picked up a Y splitter (one male end, two female ends) and raced back home to implement my maniacal scheme. Mwuhahaha!

I started by muscling open the male connector and liberating one of the female connector's leads, leaving the single male connected to one female, as God intends. ;) Then, I severed their link and soldered the male end into the laptop and the female end into the wall plug. (I didn't want the male end energized...too easy for little Mike to pop it into his mouth and BZZZT!) I closed up the laptop, plugged the power into the wall, and connected male and female once again. No sparks! Yay! Green "I'm on wall power now" LED showing on the laptop! Yay! Score one more for Mr. DIY.


Teric said...

Hehe the electrician comes out of his cave and saves the day once again. :) Nice work, Brig!

~Sara~ said...

I wonder how many ways you could save the world with a toothpick, dental floss, chewing gum and a pop can...