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February 08, 2018

Software Nerd Goes Hard

Result works but isn’t pretty

Patched pc

Q: How many programmers does it take to change a lightbulb?

A: Can’t be done. It’s a hardware problem.

I’m a software guy (58 years of programming) but I had a hardware problem.  Closed the screen of my almost new laptop on my portable mouse while getting up from my airline seat.  The screen was crushed and had only a shimmering rainbow on the bottom and the right side radiating from the ugly black imprint of the mouse.

The machine was useable at home where it’s docked to an external monitor but I have some travel coming up when it needs to be self-contained.  Sending the machine back to Lenovo was possible, but I know from experience that would mean being without it for two weeks and having to set up another computer.  There are no authorized Lenovo dealers within a hundred miles.

Tried a local computer repair place, hoping they could order a replacement screen and only take the laptop for an installation day. Apparently they couldn’t find parts from their distributor, probably because the machine is a new model and not many people have managed to break their screens yet.

Reluctantly decided to do hardware myself; after all, I did fix a vacuum cleaner after watching a video and two weeks ago I hung a window shade to Mary’s delighted surprise.  Searched YouTube for a how-to replacement video. Plenty of videos but all for older models. Googling “X1 Carbon fifth generation replacement screen” did lead me to LcdOLed on Amazon (surprisingly it’s often easier to find products on Amazon with Google than with Amazon’s own search).

I ordered. But LcdOLed contacted me through Amazon and said there are multiple screens for this model (touch, non-touch, different resolutions, WLAN antenna etc.). They advised me to open up the machine to get the part number.

“Can you point me to a video for that?” I asked.

They did and I ordered the tools needed to remove the screen. Fortunately, when I asked Mary to look over my shoulder, she diagnosed that the reason I couldn’t get the screen out is that the model in the video was different from my computer.

Serious googling. Found the Lenovo training video for its techs. Looked hard but doable. However, on the chance that once I took it apart I’d never get it back together, I didn’t want to liberate the screen until I had the replacement. Eureka, the Lenovo tech site could map my serial number to a part number.

“Send it,” I emailed to LcdOled.

“OK,” they said. “If it’s the wrong one, you can ship it back. We’ll get it out right away before Chinese New Year shuts our shipping down.”

Gathered my courage for a day after it arrived and started on the job last night. Lots of things to do in the right order. I watch each video twice on a spare computer before each step.

  1. Turn off the internal battery (software step to build my confidence)
  2. Remove the SIM holder (insert paper clip. I can do that.)
  3. Remove the back (last step which doesn’t void warrantee)
  4. Disconnect camera cable from motherboard (finally spotted the little clip that needed to be lifted by watching the video on how to put camera cable back.) Clip
  5. Disconnect LCD cable
  6. Disconnect hinges from case
  7. Remove LCD unit
  8. Remove LCD bezel (supposed to do with fingers but I had to use a tool)
  9. Remove LCD hinges (the other side of them)
  10. Remove LCD strip bezel
  11. Remove LCD unit
  12. Remove other end of LCD cable (now I’m good at the little clips)

Then you substitute the new screen and reverse all the steps. The bezel didn’t quite go back completely; that’s why the scotch tape in the picture above. One tiny nasty black screw disappeared. If you have a tremor, you should be sure you use a magnetic screwdriver. Hopefully the screw’s not rattling around inside waiting to short something. Hinge seems strong enough with two rather than three screws.

But, worth it all, its works!

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