Inspiron 1526 black screen - boot failure

Discussion in 'Dell' started by micman, Sep 19, 2010.

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  1. micman

    micman Notebook Evangelist

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    A friend just gave me their Dell Inspiron 1526 laptop thinking it is completely dead and hoping I could part it out or possibly fix it. She provided precious little information, so I can only go on what I've seen so far. Basically, when powered on, the laptop's fans spin up, the dvd drive reads, and the power led lights up. Also, the scroll lock, caps lock, and num lock are on, flashing, and flashing, respectively.

    I can't find any helpful Dell documentation to describe what that system flash code means. I found documentation for another Inspiron, but Dell's error database doesn't include a situation where the second and third led's flash persistently, while the first led stays on. At least not according to the way Shaun Howard says it should be read on this website (scroll to the middle).

    What I did find is a lot of other Inspiron 1526 owners with motherboard issues. Too many have just replaced the whole motherboard. This is a low budget operation (I'm doing it for someone in my church), so I need to avoid spending money. I'm searching for a more specific cause to the black screen and flashing led error with no subsequent boot.

    So far I've tried starting the laptop with only AC power with the same result. I tried the battery power only, to the same end. I tried both plugged in, no difference. And finally, I reseated the memory, tried only one module in both slots, and replaced the memory, still with the same result. That just about rules out a power or memory problem, but I'll test it a little bit more next time I get around to it.

    If further testing and research doesn't bring any new information, I'll try something I found on another forum. According to a few people on this website, the cmos battery goes bad on a lot of 1526's. Replacing it fixed the problem for several users. Dell documents the process here, calling the part a Coin Cell battery. It looks like a standard cmos battery, replaceable for less than $5.

    I plan to document my results whether they are successful or not. I can't get started yet because I'm still recovering from back surgery, but hopefully in a few days I can get my camera rolling and tear this piece of junk apart. This isn't my first Dell or my first laptop repair, but please throw your suggestions my way if you have an idea about what's wrong.

    I hope this post can eventually help others with the same problem if we can solve it. I did not find any similar posts in a thorough search of the forums here.
     
  2. micman

    micman Notebook Evangelist

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    I got some information from my friend. This laptop's hard drive has been replaced before. It also started having issues about 5 months after purchase. Average laptop life is supposed to be 2-3 years, and hard drives are supposed to last 3 or so years. This Dell just couldn't make it I guess.
     
  3. micman

    micman Notebook Evangelist

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    I got a chance to tear the Dell Inspiron 1526 apart today to find out if the boot failure (black screen, no boot screen) was being caused by a faulty CMOS battery. The CMOS battery, or Coin Cell battery, is a standard CR2032 battery which you can find at your local drug store, grocery store, electronics store or anywhere that sells batteries.

    The credit for this fix goes to Steve Vlaminck at ifixit.com. His post led me to the idea to replace the CMOS, and it worked like a charm. I wasn't sure if we had the same problem, but I think the error codes can be different depending on whatever the error report decides is most important. I linked to ifixit.com two posts above so you can check it out if you want.

    As usual before taking apart a laptop, I made necessary precautions. If you are planning to take your laptop apart, I hope this guide is helpful to you, but please understand the risk involved. There are lots of ways to break your laptop when you're taking it apart: applying too much force, electrostatic discharge and electromagnetic interference, and accidental water damage to name a few. I am not responsible for any damage you might cause to your system. You should also consider taking your own pictures both for reference, and possibly to post in here to help others see how you did it.

    With the disclaimer out of the way, lets get started. You'll want to make sure you have a clean, open workspace with room to place the laptop parts as you remove them. Also, try to find a way to organize all the screws that you take out and if you need to, label each container. You'll notice I used recycled bottlecaps to hold the screws and sticky notes underneath to label them.
    [​IMG]


    Start by unplugging the laptop from AC power and removing the battery. The sliding switch in the upper left of the picture below ejects the battery for removal.
    [​IMG]

    Then you can take all the screws out that hold in the plate covering access to the memory, processor, heatsink and WiFi antennas. You'll end up with the laptop looking like the picture above. You can leave the screws in the cover plate and set it aside.

    Now you need to remove the two optical drives. The dvd drive is held in by one screw, which you should see just to the side of the exposed memory in the center. After removing the screw, simply slide out the dvd drive. Don't use your screwdriver to pry it out, you'll mar the plastic.
    [​IMG]

    The hard drive is on the opposite side towards the front of the laptop and is held in by two screws. Remove them and slide out the hard drive just like the dvd drive. Keep the screws with their respective drives and set them in a safe place that is static free and away from magnets.

    Now it's time to remove the flat panel display. The first step is removing two small screws on the bottom where the battery used to be.
    [​IMG]

    Before you flip the laptop over, remove the two screws near the back edge of the laptop labeled with a "D." You should see them just inside the very back outside corners of the laptop when looking at the bottom. Remember to keep screws organized so you can put them all back where you found them.

    Now you can place the laptop with the keyboard facing you, like this:
    [​IMG]

    Remove the access panel above the keyboard by lightly prying it up with a flathead. You can only remove it if the screen is tilted all the way back. From there you can pull it up gently with your hands, making sure not to pull farther than the ribbon cable beneath allows.
    [​IMG]

    Now you can see the two screws holding down the keyboard. Remove those, then pull the keyboard up so you can see the ribbon cable beneath it.
    [​IMG]

    Release the ribbon cable by lifting the black hinge holding it in place. The hinge swings up toward the front of the laptop. Now you can set the keyboard aside. Note that you can clean it while you have it removed more thoroughly than with it still attached to the laptop. Just use compressed or canned air.

    With the keyboard out it's easier to release the ribbon cable connecting the access panel's switches to the motherboard. A small flathead or your fingernails can push out the latch holding in the ribbon cable. Just be careful, you'll be replacing the whole panel or your motherboard if you push on the wrong part. The latch is the part that moves.
    [​IMG]

    Now would be a good time to flip the laptop upside down, close the lid, and fish the antennas out. There are five, and in this model only two are connected, the black and white wires. They pry up very easily from the WiFi card. You don't have to remember which one goes where, there are colored arrows designating the black and white sockets. Pull the wires out of the plastic notches until they are completely loose from the bottom of the laptop.
    [​IMG]

    In the photo above, you should see a wide, white connector that runs up into the flat panel display from the motherboard. This is the webcam cable, and it slides right out, no latches to push on this one.

    You can flip the laptop back around. You should see on the top where the wires come up and snake into the screen. You can pull them through so they aren't hanging out of the bottom anymore, and you have to so you can eventually pull the screen assembly off.

    You need to remove one more cable and 4 screws to free the screen. Disconnect the screen cable from the motherboard here:
    [​IMG]

    Now remove the four screws on the two hinges that are holding the screen to the case. They look like really flat, wide screws. Sorry I didn't get a picture. I already had them out. I get ahead of myself sometimes :p

    The screen will pull right out when you have all the screws out and the cables pried from the case. You can set it aside. Here it is by itself:
    [​IMG][​IMG]

    We're almost done. Ok now we need the top casing and the bottom to separate. This calls for all the screws on the bottom to be removed. Don't miss any, there's one right in the middle that's hard to see. Note, you don't have to remove the heatsink to expose the processor, but I did just to check and make sure the thermal paste wasn't too spotty and clean the dust out of the fins and fan. It's easy to remove and clean, and you get a chance to re-apply paste if you want. Google it if you need to.
    [​IMG]

    Remove the two ribbon cables pictured below:
    [​IMG][​IMG]

    The top case should pry away from the bottom now. You'll notice a difficult spot by where you slid the dvd drive out. I pulled the top case away from the bottom while using my flathead to push the thin plastic out. See what I mean in the pic. Other than that, if you can't separate the halves, always check for screws you missed.
    [​IMG]

    Congratulations, you've exposed the motherboard, I hope. Now you have three ribbon cables to remove. They have latches just like the small one holding in the access panel. Here they are pictured below.
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    And now remove the Expresscard caddy. Three screws hold it in.
    [​IMG]

    Now nothing is stopping you from pulling out the motherboard but five screws (if memory serves, already sent it back to my friend) and the translucent plastic front piece where the memory card slot is. You can pull this out by pushing the middle out and pulling it upwards. With all the screws removed and the plastic piece out, the motherboard is almost free. You may need to gently pry it up in certain places with a screwdriver. GENTLY. I had to pry it near the power jack, in the upper right corner, and the bottom right corner. Then it slid out away from the side where the power jack, ethernet port and headphone jack were.
    [​IMG]

    Carefully flip over the motherboard once you have it free. Remove the CMOS battery and replace it with a CR2032. Wasn't that easy!
    [​IMG]

    Now reverse your steps and put everything back together. It's key to remember that if it doesn't seem to fit right, it probably isn't. There is only one right way to reassemble everything. If it won't snap in place or the screw doesn't fit, look for something you're missing. When I got it all back together, it booted first try. I reset the date and time in the BIOS, set the video memory from Auto to 256mb, and optimized and updated Vista. The computer my friend thought was absolutely dead is alive and well. I hope she never buys a Dell again.
    [​IMG]

    It's worth noting that this teardown guide will be very helpful for a lot of the Inspiron series of laptops. The few that I've taken apart have been much the same. I hope this helps someone. If any part is unclear or there are any questions, feel free to post them. I'll try my best to answer even though I don't have the laptop in my possession anymore. Good luck.
     
  4. cjkmusicluv

    cjkmusicluv Newbie

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    hello; I have a similar problem but instead my laptop aka inspiron 1526;
    when it starts up everything seems to be working but the screen was just blank. But i leave the laptop on for at least 5 minutes before unplugging all the power. Well after 5 minutes, I start up the laptop again for the second time. The screen starts to come back up and everything goes back to "normal".
    Do you know what kind of problem this is? Please and thank you;
     
  5. micman

    micman Notebook Evangelist

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    How many times have you restarted it since? You need to restart it a few more times, like maybe ten just to see if the problem comes back.

    You might just have a loose screen cable or your LCD could be dying. It's not necessarily the same problem as described above. Do some testing by restarting it and if everything seems fine I wouldn't worry about it.
     
  6. dommafia

    dommafia Newbie

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    I just registered to thank you micman for the guide with pictures. I havent gotten around to doing it yet but from what i read elsewhere everyone found it very useful... on another note WHY WOULD THEY MAKE IT SO HARD TO replace small battery... I have to do more work for this then to remove the display, harddrive, memory. Wow.
     
  7. micman

    micman Notebook Evangelist

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    The main reason for the difficulty is so you'll send it to a Dell technician who will charge double, triple, maybe even quadruple what it actually costs to fix the problem. Good for you that you're circumventing Dell's tactics and doing it yourself. Let me know if you have any questions, I'll be glad to help.

    Welcome to NBR
     
  8. nerakcota

    nerakcota Newbie

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    Thank you for the extensive information on the repair. I googled my problem and found your post. Within 2days my husband repaired the computer. Thanks again.
     
  9. chadjikkou

    chadjikkou Newbie

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    Dear micman,

    I have the same problem with my dell laptop
    The scroll lock, caps lock, and num lock are on, flashing, and flashing, respectively.

    I have replaced the battery but still the same problem ,can you help ?

    Thanks in Advance
     
  10. micman

    micman Notebook Evangelist

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    First I would try ruling out your power supply and battery (the main battery, not the CMOS battery) by following the method from my first post. Then you could reseat the memory as I tried. Those are the easiest troubleshooting methods to try at first. If none of that fixes it and replacing the small, watch-sized CMOS battery doesn't fix it, there is something deeper at fault.

    Let me know if none of the above helps and I'll try to give you some tips from there.
     
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