21 October 2008

Inside the Belly of the Beast

A while ago the screen on my trusty laptop, an IBM T42 that has served me well for the past four years, started to go pink. Research showed that it was the result of argon gas depletion (or some other inert gas that I can't quite recall right now) in the compact fluorescent bulb that serves as a backlight for the LCD screen. That bulb costs about $15 but requires soldering and opening tape that says "DO NOT OPEN!!!!" Instead, given the scratches and general abuse that the screen has taken over the years, I decided to replace the entire LCD. That would cost about $100 from a Malaysian guy on eBay, but would require me to totally dismantle the computer, including opening the screen housing itself. I had never been that far inside of my computer so I decided that it would be a good educational experience. And if anything really went wrong, there could only be one result, new computer!

I printed about 40 pages out of the T42 service manual, borrowed a set of small (but not small enough) screwdrivers from Ilan, and got to work. All in all it took about five hours to complete with only relatively minor frustrations along the way. Those frustrations were surprisingly similar to those that you run into when fixing a car (stripped screw heads, real life situations that don't match the manual, a manufacturer that loved thread locker a little too much, etc...)

The end result is that I now have a fully functioning, perfectly clear screen. And, this is the important part, the pride of having gone into the belly of the beast and made it out the other side.

Here are some gory pictures:


  1. Anonymous2:35 AM

    Four years? Isn't it closer to 2.5?

  2. If memory serves, I bought it around Christmas of 2004. At the very least, the 3-year warranty is long expired.