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Laptop - Infamous "Plugged In, Not Charging"


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#1 PastorGeiger

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 10:19 AM

Howdy guys!

This one is for my wife's laptop. There's another thread open about it - her CD drive is having problems - but this one takes precedence all of a sudden!

Dell Inspiron 1545, 64-bit Windows 7 (possibly Vista, I could be wrong - I'm not there currently).

Around November 2011 the battery stopped holding as much charge. Eventually, it would only run off of the battery for a few minutes at a go. This wasn't a big problem until the charger stopped charging. So, I ordered a replacement battery and charger. Of course I couldn't shell out for the Dell products, so I did as much research as I could and wound up getting these off-brand guys:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003U8HTMG/ref=oh_o00_s00_i00_details - This is a charger that claims compatibility with the 1545.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004FP7BKS/ref=oh_o00_s00_i01_details - This is a battery that claims compatibility with the 1545.

When the products arrived, the result was perfect. The new battery held so much charge by comparison to the old that it felt like magic, and we saw no problems charging. Problem solved.

Then, in February, we stopped charging again. At first, it was subtle - you had to wiggle the ac adapter in the slot for a second, or plug, unplug, and re-plug, and then it would start charging fine. But after a week of that, we have no charging ability. "Plugged in, not charging." - we can run the laptop off the AC, which we've been doing for weeks now. Of course, the laptop gets unplugged and moved around, and our 35% reserve battery finally dwindled to 0% last night. So here I am, asking for solutions.

The Internet says this is extremely common. I've read a lot about BIOS flashing to solve this problem, but it makes me nervous. Additionally, we're under 10% battery now, so I'd have to force the BIOS update and risk bricking the machine if we get unplugged. Not cool. Also, the Internet seems iffy about the effectiveness of flashing. Which leaves me with:

1) I just need to man up and buy a Dell charger. I have read that they apparently have proprietary markers and won't charge with non-Dell adapters. My bank account will not be happy, but if it's what we gotta do, oh well. I think it's probably NOT this, since the off-brand charger worked well for a month or so before crapping out.

2) The adapter-jack-pin-hole-thing is busted. We have dogs, and careless humans, so the charger does get occasionally knocked around or stepped on whilst plugged into the computer. It could easily be this. Would it be feasible to open 'er up and re-solder that pin (for a moderate-amateur who hasn't worked inside a machine in several years)? Or would this require a motherboard replacement. I don't even know what a motherboard runs for this machine, but I wouldn't be thrilled to buy or replace it.

3) There's some software-hardware-interplay issue here. That's the best I've got. Maybe this is what a BIOS flash would correct?

Anyway, sorry for long post, but I could use the help. Thanks!

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#2 rotor123

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 11:58 AM

Hi,

Before digging into the laptop see if you can borrow another Dell AC adapter just to double check.
On the bottom of your laptop it will say what AC adapters you can use. Example would be PA-10 Family, or PA-12 Family or PA-10 and PA-12 family.
Any Adapter within the matching family will work.

To eliminate the Battery from the equation. Try running the Laptop with it removed. The laptop will work with no battery if the AC adapter is working and the DC in jack is working.

I do not recommend flashing the BIOS it most likely isn't broke, It was working fine.
Losing power while flashing will kill the motherboard, hence the do not do it.

This is the link to the Dell service manual.

http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/ins1545/en/sm/index.htm

You could take a look at it and decide from there. Look at System board section.

I should mention that it is easy to damage the connectors on the system board.

If you do decide to tackle it use something with compartments to help keep the screws form the different steps separated.

Good Luck
Roger

Edited by rotor123, 20 March 2012 - 12:01 PM.

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#3 PastorGeiger

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 09:11 PM

Hey-

I am currently running the laptop with the battery out. My charger says it's "PA-21 Family", and the laptop wants PA-21, so I'd think that would work.

I can't think of anybody who could loan me a charger, but I'll keep an eye out. It sounds like the next step then would be to open it up?

I looked at the system manual. Looks feasible. You say that it's the System Board that I would be replacing if it came to that? Am I to assume that that's what connects to the adapter jack?

Thanks a ton for your help already.

#4 dpunisher

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 10:26 PM

Power board: http://www.amazon.com/DELL-INSPIRON-POWER-CHARGER-BOARD/dp/B005CLMRO4

Service Manual: http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/ins1545/en/index.htm

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#5 rotor123

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 09:40 AM

Hi, No I'm not saying system board. What I was saying is you could try resoldering the DC in Jack.

dpunisher's link to the power board is the easiest way to go if it is a bad jack.

In the service manual it is this page. http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/ins1545/en/sm/chargerb.htm#wp1179886
Dell calls it the Charger Board.

You said "I am currently running the laptop with the battery out" does it cut in and out still or is it reliable with no battery?

The reason to test with a different charger is to be sure the problem is internal rather than a bad wire from the charger.

Good Luck
Roger

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#6 PastorGeiger

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 02:29 PM

Howdy-

Thanks for the clarification. I wish I had access to another adapter. We could try the old one, in case it spontaneously works again. I'll check that tonight. With no battery and the adapter plugged in, the computer runs just fine, doesn't cut out. But when the battery goes back in, we're still "plugged in, not charging".

So, how would I go about resoldering the DC-in jack? Forgive me, I'm just not seeing it in the Dell manual. My guess is that I'd be getting to and taking out the Charger Board, then looking where the adapter jack connects to the board, and if that seems broken, just re-solder the connection. Is it something I'd be able to tell visually without much difficulty?

If I'm understanding this all correctly, I'll:
#1 - Try our old charger to see if it works.
#2 - Open it up this weekend and look at the connection. If it's visibly broken, I'll try soldering it.
#3 - If I can't see a problem and it still won't work, I'll buy a charger board and replace.
#4 - If that doesn't do it, I'll tear my hair out and go buy a Dell charger.

Sound good? Unless I hear otherwise I'll proceed.

#7 rotor123

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 03:24 PM

If it doesn't cut out it doesn't seem like soldering or changing the charger board would work. Slim possibility that only the center pin is loose where it solders in. That's why I'd love to see you be able to borrow a Real Dell adapter and then go into the Bios setup and see what it shows for battery status and AC adapter detected. F2 when the Dell logo shows on the screen after being turned on.

That AC Adapter has three pins Two are for the DC supply voltage for the laptop and one is for signaling. The signal one is what tells the laptop what adapter you are using. Typical is it won't charge with a unknown adapter. Which could be your problem. Which means it could be the AC adapter or the DC IN jack problem. Thus the need to test with a real Dell Adapter.

Do the new parts have warranty?

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#8 PastorGeiger

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 04:18 PM

Haha about warranty.

Another note, we found the old charger and plugged it in (with the new battery). We are currently charging!

It may be that this charger was never bad in the first place. Truth be told, I can't remember for certain why we replaced it. It seems, though, that a legit Dell charger is the issue. If this one craps out again we may just have to replace it with the real thing.

Thanks for all your help. Sorry most of it seemed to be moot. Any final suggestions before I call this case closed?

Thanks much.

PS-My wife just made me make sure and mention that the charger port still feels "a little too wiggly" with the Dell charger in it, a problem we hadn't really noticed with the replacement.

#9 rotor123

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 05:11 PM

Hi, Don't wiggle them. When you unplug pull straight out by the plug and not the wire.

If it keeps charging.....
And Yes Dells can be picky about having a real Dell Adapter plugged into them.

Not to worry about the moot points. It is the only way to get to the bottom of things remotely like this.
The problems cause is always the last thing we check. Why? We always stop looking once we find it.

I look at things like that port feeling a little wiggly as being the same sort of thing that happens with many things.

Until you notice something, it doesn't bother you. But once you do.

Like a loose tooth, once you notice it you gotta keep wiggling it.

Good Luck
Roger

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#10 Hhackerz

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Posted 25 February 2015 - 03:51 AM

i need help on this. i think my signal connecting pin to the mother board is broken somewhere and i need a jumper to get it fixed. thanks




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