Another wounded soldier

Edit: Unfortunately, the images originally included in this post are gone, because of hosting problems in late 2009. My apologies.

This place is starting to look like a computer repair shop again. Now I’m the recipient (notice that I didn’t say owner — just recipient) of a VAIO PCG-GRT100, US-keyboard, 2.6Ghz Pentium 4 with 1Gb, 32Mb GeForce4 420 at 1024×768, 40Gb and XP. It’s not a bad looking machine — mostly clean, free of damage, starts and runs smoothly.

The only problem is that you can’t see anything (take a look at the photo to get an idea). The screen is dimmed to ghostlike quality, and it’s not BIOS controls or Windows settings that are doing it. This is definitely hardware-based.

If you tilt the screen at an angle you can see a faint relief of the desktop, and it seems to be functioning normally. Aside from the fact that there’s almost no image, it’s fine. It’s just not usable.

I don’t usually tinker with machines that show defects of this nature — repairing is sometimes too finicky and expensive, and the value in a laptop like this is in its parts. Check ebay and you’ll see what I mean.

Apparently Sony wants a few hundred dollars to replace the guts and make it work again, and the owner, naturally, is a little squeamish. The price Sony demands could be recouped by selling the thing off, whole, on the Internet … and probably a profit could be made by splitting it up and selling it piece by piece.

But like I said, I’m only the recipient, not the owner, so I don’t get to call the shots. I did make the offer to help fix whatever thingamajig is blown in the display, and I feel confident I could get it working in a few hours, with proper replacement parts. And really, with this much of it working and functional, it’s worth investing in. Probably.

It doesn’t make my house look any less cluttered though. Oh well. Such is the price of being a geek.

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10 Responses to “Another wounded soldier”


  1. 1 Stalwart 2008/04/13 at 8:42 PM

    Sony is notorious ACPI breaker

  2. 2 TL 2008/04/13 at 9:31 PM

    Some thoughts:
    It could be the inverter that powers the backlight, the backlight itself, or maybe the switch that turns the backlight on/off when you close the lid.
    If it’s the backlight and you’re handy with a soldering iron, you could replace the backlight with white LEDs – CCFL-> LED backlight replacement:
    http://spritesmods.com/?art=ledbl
    http://www.keithwakeham.com/lcd.htm

  3. 3 K.Mandla 2008/04/13 at 9:43 PM

    That would just be wacky! :D

    Is there an easy way to tell which of those three components is at fault? I want to triage this for my friend, but I don’t want to suggest parts that aren’t going to fix the problem. And if it’s a question of repairing successive components until it starts working, the entire laptop might just be sold off. I doubt the owner would have the patience for that.

  4. 4 TL 2008/04/13 at 10:05 PM

    The switch would (relatively) easy to check, there would be two contacts. When the laptop is closed, the switch opens, and when it’s open the contacts are closed, so the backlight can be powered. Short out the contacts (maybe an alligator clip wire temporarily clipped to one terminal, and then touch the other?)
    The inverter you would have to check with a multimeter; there would be two wires going to either side of the light, measure across that.
    The lights I would guess could be visually inspected …
    Be safe!

  5. 5 leorockway 2008/04/14 at 7:23 AM

    The backlight on my (old) HP Pavillion died once and I got it repaired for 300 USD. I wouldn’t have got it repaired if my roommates (who were also using my laptop) haven’t chipped in.

    5 months later the backlight died again. I took off the screen and use the laptop with a monitor now…

  6. 6 K.Mandla 2008/04/14 at 10:53 AM

    I’m going to look into parts and replacements. The sad fact is, with shipping and so forth, it might be cheaper just to run it off an external monitor. Even the local computer shops with high-end prices are offering decent 1024×768 monitors for under $200. Sad, but true.


  1. 1 Ubuntu 8.04 on VAIO PCG-GRT100 « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2008/05/16 at 9:51 AM
  2. 2 Life at 2.6Ghz « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2008/07/12 at 8:30 AM
  3. 3 Begone, foul dwimmerlaik! … Leave the dead in peace « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2008/08/20 at 5:28 AM
  4. 4 The mysteries of life « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2010/01/06 at 8:54 AM

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