Category: Laptop Repairs


While doing spring cleaning in my parts storage I found two old hard drives of mine, which had broken off SATA connectors. They were among broken hard drives and I wasn’t sure if they are still working. Apparently one of them had its’ port already soldered at some point and I didn’t remember why it didn’t stay that way:

Problem in it's glory!

Problem in it’s glory!

I tried soldering able to the pins, however that didn’t work out. Plan b it is!

Bend the signal pins out of the way

Bend the signal pins out of the way

Initially I only wanted to have pins on different levels so they wouldn’t stick to their neighbours. Turns out using one side for groun and other side for signail is best solution.

Than I flushed all the through holes on SATA port with solder to be able to attach signal cables.

Soldered straight to the board

Soldered straight to the board

It ain’t pretty, but it holds. Connecting ground wires after that was a breeze compared t it.

Looks much worse on the inside

Looks much worse on the inside.

I connected drive to the PC and it’s humming along nicely as it’s being backed up.

hard-drive-transfers

Transfer speeds are not so ghetto

Whith first drive working along nicely, I got on with second one. Finished much faster as I knew what I was doing and could prepare connection properly. Secret lies in pre-bending wire to desired shape.

With second one I knew what I am doing.

With second one I knew what I am doing.

Preparation equals results and… drum roll, here it is:

Looks much better

Looks much better

My friend asked me to look into his laptop that died without any warning. After checking motherboard i found out that chipset was fried. Unfortunately my soldering skills aren’t mad enough to resolder chipset, so i had to look for different solution.

After searching on eBay I could tell that buying replacement motherboard would cost almost half the price of the laptop, so this option was dismissed as unreasonable. After all my friend could add another 100 euro to get laptop with better specs.

Fortunately I managed to find motherboard from the same model of Dell missing just SATA connector. We decided, that despite purchase being bit of a gamble it’s still worth a try. Few emails later we managed to haggle price down to 50 quid including shipping – third of replacement motherboard price.

When it arrived, testing begun. I put radiator on the CPU, connected all the necessary cables and started praying to Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Dell Inspiron 1520 Motherboard during preparations to testing.

Fortunately lack of SATA port was the only problem with motherboard and it started nicely, showing us Dell logo. It went through POST and informed that cannot find hard drive to boot system from. After changing boot options to USB, Ubuntu started nicely.

Patient is alive. Waiting for transplant.

I shared great news with my friend. I used his dead motherboard as a donor of missing port and desoldered it. It came out much easier than I expected, but I didn’t have to worry about damaging motherboard. After all it’s hard to kill something twice.

After soldering connector to new board, we connected RAM, hard drive and pressed the power button. Laptop started straight away and booted Windows without any problems at all.

SATA connector soldered. Waiting for first boot.

And that’s what I call a bargain.