Computers don't last

My mother called me the other week and complained about her computer not working so I arranged to go visit and check out the problem. Kayaking on the lake in front of their house was at best a secondary consideration. Really!

Anyway, the problem, as was succinctly explained to me, is that the computer wouldn't come on. Okay. That's a start, I guess. Actually that did turn out to be the problem. Mostly. The computer would not come on when I hit the power switch--however the fan inside was on. None of the peripherals were recognized either. I opened the box and saw that the fan over the heat block on top of the Pentium chip was not on, only the fan in the power supply was. Not good. Further investigation revealed that when you disconnect the power cord and then reconnect it a while later--the computer, oddly enough, doesn't have a reset button--this situation reoccurs. Power supply fan on, Pentium fan not on. My conclusion was that the BIOS wasn't loading and so I tried to find out why.

This is the inside of my mother's computer.

This is the power switch from the perspective of inside the box. It's a crude way to arrange things and seemed to cause excessive friction. By this time I'd decided that the computer was always "on" and for that reason when power was resupplies the BIOS didn't run. What I needed to do, in the absence of a reset button, was to convince the computer to power down.

Between the outside of the box and the inside area was a switch for the "on button". Once I took a few plastic parts off I was able to access it and the following two pictures illustrate the parts of this switch. The first picture is the faulty part. The thin metal on the switch had worn off on the outermost area and that kept the computer from being switched on externally.

This picture shows the parts of the switch. There's the black piece which is the "button" that is pushed down into the white piece with the metal strips. This is what normally would turn on the computer. The spring allows the button to depress and pop back up. The small metal piece is a retaining pin and the braided wire connects the start button to the motherboard. The metal strips in this are so thin that I suspect that this part is supposed to wear out quickly. Not many people would take it apart like this and the only symptom would be that one day the computer would just no longer activate when you press the 'on' button. Dastardly, huh?

This is a picture of the motherboard where the 'on' button would normally go (the "DC" legend in white appears, upside down, where the lead plugs in). Now that I had figured out what was wrong I simply closed the connection at the pins with a handy screwdriver and the computer was working once again! This was done in the wee hours of the morning so I waited until the next day to announce my findings.

To my dismay neither parent liked the idea of poking a screwdriver into the computer each day so instead they went with me to a shopping center and bought a new computer. *sigh* All that diagnosis and repair wasted! Anyway, the new computer is below:


Robin said…
Glad you put pictures because you lost me about halfway through the technical talk. I just need to be able to sit down and hit the power switch. Anything worse than that and it's hubby to the rescue. The new computer is nice. I'm jealous. How was the kayaking?
utenzi said…
I really need to edit these entries before I post them. My writing is too muddled when it first comes out of me. But I never take the time and it's all comfused this way. Sorry, Robin. As for the kayaking, it was very good. I didn't have much time but I did get out there on the water for 7 hours over the 3 days. And I have the deep brown tan (formerly sunburn) on my arms to prove it!
I have NO idea how to fix a computer. That's why I have my boyfriend do it. He's ripped into my computer and fixed my problems a lot. That's how we actually met to be honest. I hahd problems with my computer and he fixed them.
utenzi said…
That does seem a good way for techy guys to meet women. Obviously it worked for Paul. I wish computers were commonplace when I was in college.
Miss_Vicki said…
Hey, thanks for stopping by!! I'm so bad with computers, I barely know how to turn the damn thing on. I am like that dork on the commercial, "I fried the motherboard, and I think the fatherboard too" :op I wish I knew this stuff!
utenzi said…
I got lucky with the computer. Actually the software side turned out to be more troublesome than the hardware. Due to the numerous reboots without proper shutdown the OS (Windows XP) was quite pissy. Much of the time involved that night was getting Windows happy again. By the way, the old computer was from E machines and that on switch was really cheap and wore out way too early.
GPV said…
First time I opened up a computer I was surprised by it's emptyness,
I had forgoten a stupid pass word so I removed and put back the battery and that fixed it.
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