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Intermittent shutdowns - why?


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#1
drew65

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Hi All,

Dell Inspiron 600m laptop, w/ 1400 MHz Pentium M 'Centrino' processor.

My computer will frequently shut off completely if I bump it or move it, such as if I lift it off my lap to move it onto the coffee table, or vice-versa...it's very irritating. Pretty much a complete power off with no warning. Usually, I can start it back up, but sometimes I can't...I'll keep bumping it and trying it again, then leave it for awhile, and it might boot up easier next time I try.

I've been trying to troubleshoot this for awhile, so I'll give you a bit of history. A few monthis ago, I joined the GIMPS prime number search, which is a distributed software program that keeps the CPU at 100% utilization. Because of this, I'll typically leave it running for long periods.

I don't want to rule out temperature problems because of the above fact, but it vary rarely, if ever, shuts down on its own while unattended. I'll come home from work after 9 or 10 hours and it'll stii be running from that morning. However, I'll pick it up to start using it, and it'll die. Also, today I turned the program off to see if it makes any difference, and it still shut off.

Also, a week ago, I completely disassembled and reassembled it to see if I could find/fix the problem. It seemed more reliable right afterwards, I had cleared a lot of dust and lint out of the cooling vanes, but within a couple of days it was back to its own unreliable behavior.

If anyone know anything I can check to see if it's causing a problem, I'd really appreciate. I really like this laptop, but as of late, it's becoming almost unusable for fear that I'll lose my work suddenly without warning.

Thanks,
Drew
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#2
audioboy

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hi drew65-
it sounds like there could be an issue with the connection to the battery. laptops typically draw their power thru the battery, and being plugged into the wall keeps the battery fully charged. since simply moving it causes the shutdowns, I suspect the connection from the battery is somehow loose or going bad.
when you had it opened up, did you notice if the battery connection is cabled or just some contact points?

if contact points, you could try wedging something in to hold the battery firmly against the contacts. make sure its something that can handle the heat, especially if that works. for testing purposes anything that wont melt would suffice...

if cabled, check the connectors to see if they have gotten loose somehow, at each end, and where it goes onto the board. if something is wrong there, you might be able to just recrimp or solder, or it might need a quick visit to a tech.

let us know what you find, and if any of that helps or not.
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#3
drew65

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hi drew65-
it sounds like there could be an issue with the connection to the battery.  laptops typically draw their power thru the battery, and being plugged into the wall keeps the battery fully charged.  since simply moving it causes the shutdowns, I suspect the connection from the battery is somehow loose or going bad.
when you had it opened up, did you notice if the battery connection is cabled or just some contact points?

if contact points, you could try wedging something in to hold the battery firmly against the contacts.  make sure its something that can handle the heat, especially if that works.  for testing purposes anything that wont melt would suffice...

if cabled, check the connectors to see if they have gotten loose somehow, at each end, and where it goes onto the board.  if something is wrong there, you might be able to just recrimp or solder, or it might need a quick visit to a tech.

let us know what you find, and if any of that helps or not.

View Post

The battery is removable, and I usually run it with the battery in and power cord connected. However, I can remove either of the two (but not both) while the laptop is on with no ill effects. So, it could be an intermittent power connection somewhere internal to the laptop, but I didn't find any connectors that weren't making good contact when I disassembled it.

There was one board that seems to maintain contact by being held together in the computer's chassis...this is the board where the power and volume buttons are attached. I don't think this transmit system power, though...it's just an interface. IOW, if I press the power button, it just sends a signal to the motherboard to shut down...it doesn't disconnect power itself.

It does seem like a loose connection somewhere, I just couldn't find it.

Drew

Edited by drew65, 02 July 2005 - 03:33 PM.

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#4
audioboy

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well, that blows my theory!

agreed, it sounds like a loose/intermittent connection problem somewhere. I dont know much about laptop innards, they can be kinda specialized.

it might be worth it for you to check out the dell site, there might be a FAQ or posting about your problem.

sorry I cant be of more help to you! perhaps someone else will see this and have an answer for you...

and please let us know if you find the answer somewhere else, we like to know that its fixed, and what the fix is.
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#5
drew65

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well, that blows my theory!

agreed, it sounds like a loose/intermittent connection problem somewhere.  I dont know much about laptop innards, they can be kinda specialized.

it might be worth it for you to check out the dell site, there might be a FAQ or posting about your problem.

sorry I cant be of more help to you!  perhaps someone else will see this and have an answer for you...

and please let us know if you find the answer somewhere else, we like to know that its fixed, and what the fix is.

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I tried the Dell site, and all of their troubleshooting guides point towards temperature-related problems, and I don't see anything that suggests any 'loose connection' type problems. I hate calling tech support, too, because they can't think for themselves...if my problem doesn't fit their troubleshooting 'formula', they get caught making stupid conclusions.

Here's what I'm wondering (not necessarily from audioboy, but anyone). How does the temperature sensor work, and where is it located? Is it a thermal-mechanical switch that opens or closes when it gets warm? Perhaps a combination of being warm and being bumped triggers it. If it's just a thermocouple and the BIOS 'decides' it's too hot, then this wouldn't be the problem.

Drew
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#6
lionelhutz5

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I have that question about the thermometer myself. But could not you do this to test the theory: Let the compuet sit for a while until cold. The turn it on and bump it. If it does it shuts down again, the thory is blown faster than Geroge Costanza's cover, but if not, then we may have a new champion.

Peace,
Jared
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#7
drew65

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I have that question about the thermometer myself.  But could not you do this to test the theory:  Let the compuet sit for a while until cold.  The turn it on and bump it.  If it does it shuts down again, the thory is blown faster than Geroge Costanza's cover, but if not, then we may have a new champion.

Peace,
Jared

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...and you want to be my latex salesman. :tazz:

It seems less prone to happen when I start it up cold, but it can still happen. So I suppose that's inconclusive because that's just my perception. It also could be something like the socket of a connector expanding when it gets warm and not making good contact anymore. Who knows?

I tried tech support. They had me flash the BIOS, run diagnostics, re-seat the LCD connector, and yadda-yadda...it still doesn't work.
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#8
macten

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This may or not have anything to do with your problem. On another board a guy had a Gateway laptop that wouldn't boot up. Turned out to be a loose screen/monitor cable.

Your description of it shutting down when bumbed sure sounds like something is loosly connected....
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#9
drew65

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This may or not have anything to do with your problem.  On another board a guy had a Gateway laptop that wouldn't boot up.  Turned out to be a loose screen/monitor cable.

Your description of it shutting down when bumbed sure sounds like something is loosly connected....

View Post

Yes, that's what the tech support person told me as well. However, I opened it up and reseated that cable, and it didn't help. Thanks for the suggestion.

Drew
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#10
Rockster2U

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While I don't want to sound too simplistic - if it shuts down when you bump it - well, it doesn't take a technician to figure it out - something is causing a loss of connectivity or a short in your system. And, if you are running for 9-10 hours unattended at 100% CPU utilization with no shutdown, its certainly not heat.

OK, you can't find anything thats loose - it could be that you have some oxidation built up on one or more connectors. You can start by pulling components and connectors and cleaning them, then check all wires, capacitors and surface mount chips with a magnifying glass ........ or send it out to a professional laptop specialist. Its doubtful that anyone here is going to resolve a problem like this without having your laptop in front of them.

:tazz:

Edited by Rockster2U, 04 July 2005 - 12:02 AM.

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