A31p - common issues - fix?

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theterminator93
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A31p - common issues - fix?

#1 Post by theterminator93 » Thu May 05, 2016 6:40 pm

A little background here first, before I go into the meat-and-potatoes of the topic at hand. Those who have or have had an A31p are almost certainly aware of the usual fate these meet... death by GPU.

Ever since reading ajkula66's A31p review thread I've wanted to get my hands on one to experience the unit personally. So far I've laid my hands on (and am currently in possession of) two different specimens and three separate UXGA IPS LCDs (of which all work; two are slightly yellowed at the edge and one has a pink backlight). The first one I bought is a little rough cosmetically with cracks in the plastics and a worn keyboard - but it has a good GPU and the screen is only slightly yellowed around the edges. However, the LEDs on the inverter don't work (motherboard problem - they work when I connect the screen assembly to my second system), one of the USB ports is broken and the speakers don't work, despite the headphones jack being fine. The latter I understand is also a problem common to these units.

This machine only had the 1.6 CPU, so I picked up a 2.5 off feeBay for a few bucks and slapped it in. Quite a noticeable performance improvement - not necessarily modern, but... more modern. Now if only I could get the speakers to work...

Unit 2 I bought off feeBay as a parts unit after finding one up for sale (quite a rare occurrence nowadays it seems) with the hope of getting some of the needed plastics to freshen up unit 1, which arrived this afternoon. To my surprise and pleasure, it is in fantastic cosmetic shape with Panasonic battery, (rare?) Zip 250 Ultrabay drive, a screen which is even less yellowed than the last one I got, and it still runs... but it has a dying GPU on an already-once-replaced-by-IBM motherboard (serviceable used part sticker present). I've tried a couple variations on GPU pressure and such and it gets better sometimes, but not always. It doesn't always boot up with a readable screen either - but if you get it to start with a screen you can read, it will stay that way while it's on. The speakers work, the USB ports are in good shape, and the LEDs on the inverter card (whichever screen or cable I hook up to it) work.

Not withstanding the screens which are slightly yellowed around the edges, these look to be fine machines. My first ThinkPad that I called my own was an A22m, so working on this A31p feels very natural. The problem is I have two which seem to have opposing problems. What works on one doesn't work on the other, and vice versa.

I understand there's a glimmer of hope for GPU issue-plagued machines for those who have courage, a high-temp IR thermometer and a heat-gun; a homebrew band-aid to temporarily address the GPU issue is to heat the GPU slowly to a certain temperature to reflow the solder BGA under the chip. I'd eventually like to attempt this, but I haven't got the right tools right now and financially I'm going to be pinching my pennies for the next month or so. To be continued, I guess - but I'll ask this now: has anyone reflowed their A31p with GPU issues and successfully brought it back to life? If so, how long did (has) it last(ed so far)?

Now, back to unit 1. The LEDs on the inverter card aren't THAT big of a deal; the busted USB port is saddening but also something that I can live with... but I would like the speakers to work. Has anyone ever delved into the problem to determine the actual point of failure regarding this infamous problem? Is it a fuse on the motherboard somewhere? A MOSFET somewhere? Or an issue with the audio chip itself?

In the end I'd really love to have two fully functional units, however I'd be nearly equally as content to be able to repair just one of them. Any thoughts, insights or advice would be much appreciated. :)
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Re: A31p - common issues - fix?

#2 Post by kfzhu1229 » Thu May 12, 2016 6:16 pm

Are you sure the speakers are to be blamed by the mb but not its connection? I own many old IBMs and all except one which died completely do not have any fuse or capacitor problems at all.
I personally own a A30 and it's prone to the same GPU problem, so use TPfancontrol and set the fan to 7.
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Re: A31p - common issues - fix?

#3 Post by ajkula66 » Thu May 12, 2016 6:28 pm

theterminator93 wrote:Or an issue with the audio chip itself?
Most likely. The fact that the headphone jack works does provide a glimmer of hope. Have you tried swapping the speakers - along with the cabling - from unit #2 to unit # 1?
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Re: A31p - common issues - fix?

#4 Post by Saucey » Fri May 13, 2016 9:23 pm

Not sure what OS you are using but years ago my A31p had working speakers that randomly busted when running XP or W7 (can not remember).
I wasn't sure if it needed a motherboard to be swapped but it worked when I got rid of Windows for CrunchBang.

Good luck on getting it revived... A3x units are pricey and risky to buy, but are sweet typewriters! :thumbs-UP:
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Re: A31p - common issues - fix?

#5 Post by theterminator93 » Thu May 19, 2016 5:08 pm

Well, I finally mustered up the motivation to disassemble these last night to do some investigation.

Sure enough, the speakers themselves are what's keeping the audio output from functioning on unit 1. I am quite pleased it was that, though somewhat surprised as this has been the first time I've seen a set of speakers totally die like that. Never too late to experience something new, I guess!

I delved into the LEDs on the inverter card not working as well and found a fuse (F8) near the docking connector that wasn't passing continuity tests, so I replaced it with a 0.5A fuse. Now I have no LCD display (screen is on but black) or LED lights. To be continued, I suppose... but at least I have sound! :lol:
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Re: A31p - common issues - fix?

#6 Post by ajkula66 » Thu May 19, 2016 5:23 pm

theterminator93 wrote: I delved into the LEDs on the inverter card not working as well and found a fuse (F8) near the docking connector that wasn't passing continuity tests, so I replaced it with a 0.5A fuse. Now I have no LCD display (screen is on but black) or LED lights. To be continued, I suppose... but at least I have sound! :lol:
If you need a fuse map for an A3x system email me and I'll send you a rough one compiled by a fellow forum member many years ago.

I'd try removing that "new" fuse and take it from there...
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Re: A31p - common issues - fix?

#7 Post by theterminator93 » Sat May 21, 2016 9:18 am

Well, this one was an easy fix.

As it turns out, the way I had routed the WiFi antenna cables past the LCD connection on the system board caused the cable to not fully seat in the connector. A quick adjustment to get the wireless antenna out of the way and re-seat the cable fixed the "no image but powered up backlight" issue - and allowed me to see that my replacement of F8 did indeed resolve the issue of the LEDs being out on the inverter card.

The only little thing left for this A31p is repairing the USB port - something that can wait another day.

At last I now have my fully functional A31p. :)
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Re: A31p - common issues - fix?

#8 Post by ajkula66 » Sat May 21, 2016 9:34 am

theterminator93 wrote:
At last I now have my fully functional A31p. :)
Great news indeed! Enjoy that oldie now!
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Re: A31p - common issues - fix?

#9 Post by kfzhu1229 » Sat May 21, 2016 5:33 pm

theterminator93 wrote:The only little thing left for this A31p is repairing the USB port - something that can wait another day.

At last I now have my fully functional A31p. :)
Good for you, but my A30 never had any kinds of fuse problems.
Also for the broken USB port, if you are just way too lazy to fix it, you can always buy another USB 2.0 PCMCIA card off from eBay or get a dock/port replicator for your computer. I mean USB 1.1 isn't worthy to fix.
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Re: A31p - common issues - fix?

#10 Post by theterminator93 » Sat May 21, 2016 9:59 pm

kfzhu1229 wrote:
theterminator93 wrote:The only little thing left for this A31p is repairing the USB port - something that can wait another day.

At last I now have my fully functional A31p. :)
Good for you, but my A30 never had any kinds of fuse problems.
Also for the broken USB port, if you are just way too lazy to fix it, you can always buy another USB 2.0 PCMCIA card off from eBay or get a dock/port replicator for your computer. I mean USB 1.1 isn't worthy to fix.
What are you trying to say? You're coming off as very condescending and rude - and it's really not valued here.
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Re: A31p - common issues - fix?

#11 Post by kfzhu1229 » Sun May 22, 2016 3:05 pm

I mean like the USB 1.1 ports are the only things I don't like from a A3x. Not to be mean or anything
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Re: A31p - common issues - fix?

#12 Post by theterminator93 » Mon May 23, 2016 1:19 pm

Agreed; I had the thought about not bothering with fixing the one broken port and just using a PCMCIA USB 2.0 card like you mentioned, but I know myself too well to know that I'd be permanently satisfied with that.

I only had fuse issues on one other system - my W520 - which happened only as a result of my fidgeting to get the IPS mod going. The A31p had a blown fuse when I got it from the previous owner.

I have a heat gun and IR thermometer on the way, so I'm going to see if I can get the other system board working 100% now. If I end up bricking it... then I'll cannibalize it for the USB port and transfer it to the good system board I have.

Then I just need to decide which of the two screens I like better. One is less yellowed overall and is a little brighter, but has some light pressure marks near the bottom. I do have another but it has a pink backlight. I should probably install it and see how it looks once it warms up, I might be pleasantly surprised. :)

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Re: A31p - common issues - fix?

#13 Post by ajkula66 » Mon May 23, 2016 1:23 pm

theterminator93 wrote: I should probably install it and see how it looks once it warms up, I might be pleasantly surprised. :)
You should, IMO. Do bear in mind that even if you were to swap the CCFL - much easier done on these panels than on the later ones but still not for the faint at heart - not all of the yellowness is likely to go away.
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Re: A31p - common issues - fix?

#14 Post by kfzhu1229 » Mon May 23, 2016 8:03 pm

theterminator93 wrote:I do have another but it has a pink backlight. I should probably install it and see how it looks once it warms up, I might be pleasantly surprised. :)

http://i60.photobucket.com/albums/h30/t ... gz10ve.jpg
Last time when I was trying to remove the pink CCFL tube for my T43 and discovered that one side of the tube is burnt like it lights up as orange color. I got frightened so much that I put it into rest forever. You are going to be so scared that you do not know when exactly it is going to break and spill mercury when you use it. If you know how to put the pink light in, you can just buy another one on eBay. Also keep in mind that even when their dimension is the same, different screen companiea/models may have different rubber heads on ends of the tube which may prevent it from being properly installed. I switched out that pink tube from a Samsung SXGA+ and put in a good one from Toshiba XGA (also managed to crack the screen when taking it out :-( ). Both of which are 14.1' but the rubber head is still different but I squished it in fine and worked fine.
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Re: A31p - common issues - fix?

#15 Post by theterminator93 » Mon May 23, 2016 8:35 pm

I'm going to probably try to order a new CCFL off feeBay and replace it. I tried powering up the spare screen I have and all it did was make a whining noise (assume that's the CCFL failing to start) this time, so that's my cue that the bulb is dead.

I'm sure the yellowing is more a plastics-of-the-panel aging issue than it is a bulb issue too.
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Re: A31p - common issues - fix?

#16 Post by kfzhu1229 » Tue May 24, 2016 3:30 pm

I think pinkish CCFLs are quite dangerous. The one I took out looked like it already leaked mercury inside the bulb...
And yes, I also think the yellowed display isn't anything to blame into the CCFL, since the Toshiba XGA display that I took out a bulb and broke was also a bit yellowed and I squished it into a Samsung display and it worked fine - except that I kinda scratched the internal display by dirt and fingerprints which looks kinda ugly especially in white backgrounds.
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Re: A31p - common issues - fix?

#17 Post by thinkpadcollection » Tue May 24, 2016 6:48 pm

aged CCFL has darkened ends inside the tube, mercury just still there absorbed from heat and age inside the tube's internal components that causes pink light issue. To work properly, there needs to be yet enough mercury to excite internal fluorescent coating, otherwise pinkish light as mercury starts to be absorbed into internal components then end up with strong pink even total startup failure.

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Re: A31p - common issues - fix?

#18 Post by kfzhu1229 » Tue May 24, 2016 6:59 pm

Also that one was the only faulty one I have ever had. Even for my dead ThinkPad 770ED and working ThinkPad 600 from 1998, the LCD and backlight works as good as new (They've probably spent more refinements on these screens since they were the very first XGA screens! In the case of 600, it is designed to be slim back in the days and is still slimmer than my T530i), no yellowish issue either. I also have a T23 XGA screen which looks brand new just as my replaced T43 UXGA one (You can feel the black is more black and white is pure cold white but the light is still milky like all CCFL tubes) Also do you know where to match my screen cable part numbers (unlike T4x cables, they do not label the resolution)? The part I would want to know is: 27L0682. I would like to upgrade my A30's resolution into SXGA+ IPS and my current one is the 14.1" XGA. I already know where to buy a new bezel and I am looking for an IPS screen as well since it is hard to find for cheap.
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Re: A31p - common issues - fix?

#19 Post by ajkula66 » Tue May 24, 2016 9:32 pm

kfzhu1229 wrote: I already know where to buy a new bezel and I am looking for an IPS screen as well since it is hard to find for cheap.
You're better off just grabbing an entire lid from a higher-end A31, containing all the parts that you need along with hopefully wireless antennae. FTR, you can use any of the IPS panels seen in later models (T4x/R5x/T6x) as long as you have the proper cable and inverter.
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Re: A31p - common issues - fix?

#20 Post by kfzhu1229 » Wed May 25, 2016 10:30 pm

ajkula66 wrote:FTR, you can use any of the IPS panels seen in later models (T4x/R5x/T6x) as long as you have the proper cable and inverter.
No, I tried a T43 15" panel before, and the connector is not the same. The 2x and 3x series use a 20-pin CCFL connector while the T4x/R5x and T/R6x series use 30-pin CCFL connector. I have a 14.1" SXGA+ panel which I took out from a T41's screen and a 15" XGA panel which I took out from a T43 15" lying around in my house and I already did fully utilize them into these kinds of experiments. Also I am located in Canada which means I pretty much have no other way than buying from eBay. I already searched up on eBay and did not find any 15" SXGA+ screen with the correct connector for A3x series. Even its cable is easier to find than its screen which is a pretty weird tendency.
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Re: A31p - common issues - fix?

#21 Post by ajkula66 » Wed May 25, 2016 11:43 pm

kfzhu1229 wrote:
ajkula66 wrote:FTR, you can use any of the IPS panels seen in later models (T4x/R5x/T6x) as long as you have the proper cable and inverter.
No, I tried a T43 15" panel before, and the connector is not the same.
You did something wrong. Period. I've done it *both* ways, more than once. The cable does require some finagling since the connection points are in different spots.
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Re: A31p - common issues - fix?

#22 Post by kfzhu1229 » Fri May 27, 2016 1:30 pm

You mean the connector on the motherboard is the same or the connector on the screen itself is the same?
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Re: A31p - common issues - fix?

#23 Post by ajkula66 » Fri May 27, 2016 1:41 pm

kfzhu1229 wrote:You mean the connector on the motherboard is the same or the connector on the screen itself is the same?
Motherboard - no. LCD - yes.
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Re: A31p - common issues - fix?

#24 Post by kfzhu1229 » Sat May 28, 2016 10:21 am

Or does the 14.1" and 15" use a different connector on the LCD?
I tried my T43's 14.1" SXGA+ screen on a 14.1" A30 and the male plug is bigger than the female plug therefore it won't plug in
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_________________________________
T23 PIII 1.13ghz 1gb W7
2xT43 14.1" 2.26 SXGA+ 2gb 1*fp W10
T530i 15.6" i7 16gb fp W10
Flexview UXGA:
A30p PIII 1.2 1gb W7 (IDTech)
T43p 2.26 2gb fp W10

ajkula66
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Re: A31p - common issues - fix?

#25 Post by ajkula66 » Sat May 28, 2016 11:13 am

kfzhu1229 wrote:Or does the 14.1" and 15" use a different connector on the LCD?
If you're referring to a 14" A3x system I'll have to admit that I don't recall. Haven't touched one of those in years, and I don't believe that I've ever swapped the screen by itself on any of them.
I tried my T43's 14.1" SXGA+ screen on a 14.1" A30 and the male plug is bigger than the female plug therefore it won't plug in
OK the real question here is: which cable are you attempting to use?

Here's what I've done in the past, and all of this has been on 15" systems...

a) UXGA LCD from an A31p in a T43p. Works OOTB, cable modification required since the original A31p screen is 1mm thicker than its T4x cousin.I believe that I've gotten away with using a (longer) cable from R50p, but can't recall with 100% confidence

b) UXGA LCD from a T43p in an A31p. Works OOTB, sponge bumpers needed, cable modification may or may not be needed, A3x cable used.

c) SXGA+ panel from a T43 into A31. A3x cable used. Sponge bumpers required.

This is just off the top of my head...

I'll repeat my original piece of advice: just grab a higher-end A31/p LCD assembly and take it from there. For any meaningful upgrade you'll have to move on from 14" to 15" anyway, since your current 14" LCD cable only supports XGA...
Last edited by ajkula66 on Sat May 28, 2016 9:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
...Knowledge is a deadly friend when no one sets the rules...(King Crimson)

Cheers,

George (your grouchy retired FlexView farmer)

AARP club members:A31p, T43pSF

Abused daily: T61p

PMs requesting personal tech support will be ignored.

kfzhu1229
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Re: A31p - common issues - fix?

#26 Post by kfzhu1229 » Sat May 28, 2016 8:31 pm

Well I have a spare 14.1" XGA T43 cable lying around and I tried to compare the port on A30's motherboard
A30 uses a port that is much longer than T43's so there is no way for me to make it fit.
I don't think A31 changed the port by any way from A30 or something
Patience, boys. All good things to those who wait. – Mother Gothel (Tangled)
_________________________________
T23 PIII 1.13ghz 1gb W7
2xT43 14.1" 2.26 SXGA+ 2gb 1*fp W10
T530i 15.6" i7 16gb fp W10
Flexview UXGA:
A30p PIII 1.2 1gb W7 (IDTech)
T43p 2.26 2gb fp W10

ajkula66
SuperUserGeorge
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Re: A31p - common issues - fix?

#27 Post by ajkula66 » Sat May 28, 2016 8:42 pm

kfzhu1229 wrote:Well I have a spare 14.1" XGA T43 cable lying around and I tried to compare the port on A30's motherboard
A30 uses a port that is much longer than T43's so there is no way for me to make it fit.
I don't think A31 changed the port by any way from A30 or something
Please re-read my previous two posts. Pretty please. I've even gone back and underlined some of the stuff to make your life easier.
...Knowledge is a deadly friend when no one sets the rules...(King Crimson)

Cheers,

George (your grouchy retired FlexView farmer)

AARP club members:A31p, T43pSF

Abused daily: T61p

PMs requesting personal tech support will be ignored.

kfzhu1229
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Re: A31p - common issues - fix?

#28 Post by kfzhu1229 » Sun May 29, 2016 12:40 am

I mean I have no idea how IBM did for the screen connectors back then as in the A3x series 14.1" and 15" connector may be different? But either way the motherboard from the 14.1" unit is the same as a 15" for sure as screen upgrade from 14.1" to 15" by swapping around with A3x parts is definitely fully compatible. Then does that mean that 14.1" LCDs have different connectors from the 15" LCDs? This is not true for T4x/R5x for sure. If it is only that they use different screen connectors, is it possible to use a 15" SXGA+ cable for A30 to work with a 14.1" SXGA+ LCD from a T41?
Patience, boys. All good things to those who wait. – Mother Gothel (Tangled)
_________________________________
T23 PIII 1.13ghz 1gb W7
2xT43 14.1" 2.26 SXGA+ 2gb 1*fp W10
T530i 15.6" i7 16gb fp W10
Flexview UXGA:
A30p PIII 1.2 1gb W7 (IDTech)
T43p 2.26 2gb fp W10

ajkula66
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Posts: 15986
Joined: Sun Feb 25, 2007 11:28 am
Location: Brodheadsville, Pennsylvania, USA

Re: A31p - common issues - fix?

#29 Post by ajkula66 » Sun May 29, 2016 1:00 am

kfzhu1229 wrote:Then does that mean that 14.1" LCDs have different connectors from the 15" LCDs?
I don't have a 14" A3x screen to compare, but would highly doubt that the connector is different when compared to 15"
If it is only that they use different screen connectors, is it possible to use a 15" SXGA+ cable for A30 to work with a 14.1" SXGA+ LCD from a T41?
Most likely not. You may want to compare the pinouts so nothing gets blown in the process.

Let's try this: what is the end result that you're trying to accomplish?
...Knowledge is a deadly friend when no one sets the rules...(King Crimson)

Cheers,

George (your grouchy retired FlexView farmer)

AARP club members:A31p, T43pSF

Abused daily: T61p

PMs requesting personal tech support will be ignored.

kfzhu1229
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Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2015 10:59 pm
Location: Toronto, Canada

Re: A31p - common issues - fix?

#30 Post by kfzhu1229 » Sun May 29, 2016 11:21 pm

I wanted to upgrade my A30 into SXGA+ but I can only find a screen cable that is SXGA+ according to the part number and I am not sure, and a SXGA+ display that has the same connector as my T4xs (screen bezel is easy to find). I don't want to buy stuff that I cannot make use of. The connector on my A30 is around 5-7cm long, how about your A31p?
I have a 14.1" SXGA+ and a 15" XGA + cable for T43 lying around and I do not know which one of them can I make use of
Patience, boys. All good things to those who wait. – Mother Gothel (Tangled)
_________________________________
T23 PIII 1.13ghz 1gb W7
2xT43 14.1" 2.26 SXGA+ 2gb 1*fp W10
T530i 15.6" i7 16gb fp W10
Flexview UXGA:
A30p PIII 1.2 1gb W7 (IDTech)
T43p 2.26 2gb fp W10

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