Dell Inspiron battery charging, but possibly not the batteries

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Got the laptop in a bankruptcy sale, so the price was right :) Issue
with the batteries is, yes, they do not charge, but what makes me
suspect it's not just the batteries being old is that if you leave
them in while on the AC adapter, the adapter will eventually shut
itself off (tried other adapters, too), then I get a "battery
critical" error. The laptop dies. Only then can I remove the adapter,
plugging it back in and getting it to work again. My short term
solution has been to pull out the batteries and run exclusively on AC.
Then the laptop works fine. Someone suggested the DC charging board
may be bad. I hate buying parts in an unsure mode. Although that board
is less expensive than batteries. Someone else said it could even be
the motherboard, but that being the case, I'd likely throw in the
towel and find another laptop. Wondering what anyone else has to say
about the 8200?

Oh, and one of the battery latches fell out. I'm looking towards a
computer boneyard for scrap parts (rather than whatever Dell might
want for some small plastic). Any tips for good laptop recycling

Re: Dell Inspiron battery charging, but possibly not the batteries


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Well,  the I8200 isn't really a bad system,  it is made form mostly
the same parts as a Latitude C840.  Mobile P4m processor, up to 2GB
RAM, fixed optical drive (can be upgraded to DVD writer), etc.

From what you describe,  it is either the system board or the battery
charging board.  It is hard to say for sure.  The power adapter
shouldn't shut itself off at all on your system,  and it doing so says
that the power adapter is sensing a current over-draw (or short
circuit) in the system and is shutting off to prevent doing more
damage to your system.  You could check the DC board to make sure that
it is fully seated.  I had a C840 where that board came loose and it
wasn't until the Dell tech came out to replace the system board (under
warrantee) that we learned the cause of the problems.  You can pull
the keyboard and check the DC board.  It is in the general area of the
"K", "L", and "," keys (near the back of the HD tray when inserted).
Make sure that it is fully seated.

If your system is still under warrantee,  you might be able to get an
ownership transfer and have Dell fix it for you (at no cost).  My C840
I still under warrantee until this December,  so you may have a chance
here.  Lastly,  if you're in the Chicago area,  we might be able to
get together to try swapping your DC board with the one from my C840
to see if that really fixes it for you,  then you'd know before you go
ordering any parts.

Re: Dell Inspiron battery charging, but possibly not the batteries

On Sat, 17 Sep 2005 11:27:04 -0500, Jerry Bloomfield

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Thanks for the response. Unfortunately (or fortunately weather-wise)
I'm not in the Chicago area, but in the San Francisco Bay  area.

I might try your suggestion of checking to re-seat the DC board.
Today, however, the following...

Since I'm in Silicon Valley, there's a few computer surplus places. I
found some batteries that showed good charge on their status lights,
although these are the lesser capacity 3600mAh batteries. The manual
says you can get away with using them, and at $5 each it was a good
thing to test with (btw...I never had the floppy drive, and this place
has the Dell for $10 in perfect condition, so why not...for $10 I get
the floppy added when/if I need it!).

The batteries only show one status light out, but will not boot the
system. Perhaps they are just weak enough. Putting the AC adaptor on I
momentarily get a green charging light, then a rapid orange (status of
a weak battery). I would think the charging light should remain green
if the system's charging circuit is working.

Also interestingly, when I put the original batteries back in (no
status lights, they are dead), the green charging light comes
on....but then I started to hear a smal "zap" or crackle sound and the
charging LED began to flash green. If the charging board is just
loose, fine, but a replacement will likely cost between $50-$90 from
the suppliers I've talked to (shows you the variance in prices they
quoted...but if I replace the board I'd prefer a name product, not a
cheap imitation that is supposed to be compatible.

The laptop is not under warranty. If I didn't mention prior, I got it
from a business liquidation/bankruptcy sale (a lot of those around
Silicon Valley). The price was too good to pass up, and the laptop
otherwise works fine when on AC power (and the batteries removed). I
just added a wireless NIC which allows me to take advantage of high
speed Internet in restaurants, coffee houses, etc, both around home
and when I'm on the road.

Batteries would be convenient, though I've never had them work with
this system. What is the maximum working time with them? I've heard 2
hours is about average for laptops, but I'm not sure.


Re: Dell Inspiron battery charging, but possibly not the batteries

OK, let me respond to my own message.

Here's what I've found....

I disassembled the laptop, checked all connections. I thought the DC
board *might* have been a little loose. Still, upon reassembly, not
much difference but....

In BIOS I look at the battery charging status page. The system does
recognize batteries inserted. The original 4460 mAh batteries cause a
rapid charge/discharge display (along with the slight zap sound I
mentioned in my last post). The 3600 mAh batteries don't cause the
sound, but the green charge LED only stays green for a moment, then
goes flashing orange. The BIOS page shows the battery is charging, but
the charge status (despite 3 green LEDs on the battery, with one green
flashing LED) shows 0% charged and does not increase.

It appears the charging in the laptop is not happening. Perhaps the DC
board is fried.

Any thoughts? With the system recognizing the existience of the
batteries, and readout that it is/is not charging I might hope says
the motherboard isn't the issue, but perhaps the DC board.

Further comments welcome,it's obvious I cannot use any batteries in
the laptop at the present time.

Re: Dell Inspiron battery charging, but possibly not the batteries


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OK,  well,  an orange light on the system flashing,  or any status
light on a battery that flashes indicates that the "smart circuits"
think that there is something wrong with the battery.  Regretfully,
this can sometimes be the small circuit inside the battery pack,  and
have nothing to do with the battery cells themselves.  Once a cell
gets bad enough,  it will actually prevent the system from booting
while it is inserted,  but that is usually the case when it has been
at 0% for some time...

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Well,  the sound you are hearing might be normal,  but I wouldn't like
it if it were my system.  I know that on the Dell support forums,  a
number of users had issues with their notebooks making buzzing or
crackling sounds.  I only noticed a "whine" which appeared to be due
to a capacitor discharge if I suspended the system and pulled the
battery.  As long as I got a replacement battery in while I could
still hear the sound,  the system would resume with no problems,  but
if I took longer to replace the battery,  the system would lose the
standby and have to full boot to get back running.

When you hear your sound,  can you tell where it is coming from?  Is
it he battery itself,  or form the DC board?  Based on your other
post,  and my past experiences,  I would guess it is the DC board.  Of
course,  like you,  I would also want to be sure before I spent the
money on the part.  I would suggest trying to find someone who is
willing to let you try their part in your system before you go buy
one,  or if you can find a vendor willing to work with you,  let you
verify that the part fixes your system before your deal is complete. I
know some folks who have doen that before.  They charge a little more
than other vendors,  but they will let you install (or have them
install) the part to verify it works before you buy it.  There are not
many places around like this,  but they are great when you need them.
If you need a replacement system board,  you might be able to get one
on eBay for a reasonable price.  If it is guaranteed to work,  you
might just want to go this route to fix your system,  and have a few
spare parts in case something else breaks in the future...

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Well,  this part does not necessarily mean that it is out of
warrantee.  Many Dell systems are sold with a 3 or 4 year warrantee,
so you might still have a chance here,  albeit a slim chance.  The
harder part here would be getting Dell to perform the transfer of
ownership to you so you could use any warrantee the system has

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Well,  from what I recall,  I got about 1.5 hours of "normal use" and
a little over 2 hours of "frugal use" when running on a single
battery.  I recall that a friend of mine watched a DVD ("Hunt for Red
October") while running with dual batteries and still had about 10-15%
battery charge left afterwards.  Not the best,  but hey,  he got to
see the whole movie.  Later,  I found that if I used NVDVD (from
NVidia) I could do better because that player would take advantage of
the hardware mpeg decode of the NVidia video board in the system and
need less CPU,  and therefore,  less battery to play a movie.  Running
dual batteries in that system should get you near the same life as a
Pentium M system (that is running on a single battery).

Re: Dell Inspiron battery charging, but possibly not the batteries

As far as the crackling sound, hard to be sure, just somewhere under
the case.

In BIOS I watched the battery status. It registers when a battery is
inserted, and with the smaller capacity battery I see it say
"charging", although it never seems to charge. With the original 4460
mAh battery it rapidly goes from charge to discharge (and makes the
crackling sound - so I really doubt anything is normal here). If I
keep the higher capacity battery in, the AC power pack LED fades out
and goes off, and the system shuts down.

I did the disassembly last night right down to bare bones. I now know
how to get the boards out (and put them back in). I found a parts
warehouse that has the DC board for $35, so I went ahead and ordered
it. Hopefully it is the DC board. Nowhere have I found a motherboard
for less than $350, and that's more than I want to spend.

With a replacement DC board I will see what happens. I should have it
late this week. Meanwhile I run the system without batteries.

One other odd thing I noticed. The startup splash screen of Win2K and
the progress bar loading Windows is very small on the screen now, yet
when Windows fully boots the resolution and screen size is my normal
setting. I did not see anything in BIOS that might affect default
screen size (before the video drivers load). Is there something amiss?
Since I'll have to open the box again when I install the new DC board,
I'll be taking out the video card again. I'll look everything over for
proper reassembly.


Re: Dell Inspiron battery charging, but possibly not the batteries


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Actually,  it is nothing that you've done,  it is an odd thing that
Dell does.  By default,  the system will display in 640x480 resolution
(non-expanded so it is small fonts centered in the LCD panel).  This
can be "resolved" by hitting the Fn-F7 (Font) key combination during
boot-up.  This should cause the system to expand to use the entire
screen.  Of course,  the next time you remove the video board,  or at
a minimum remove the BIOS backup battery,  it will reset back to that
default setting you see now.

Re: Dell Inspiron battery charging, but possibly not the batteries

Thanks, I'll give that a try.

In the meantime I went to Dell's site last night, downloaded a BIOS
update (The laptop was still running A03, now I brought it up to A11),
and downloaded the diagnostics, running them complete. The only thing
it couldn't complete is running on battery only, which, of course, is
no surprise as I don't have any batteries with sufficient power.

I did notice that after the BIOS update, when I go to BIOS page
showing battery status, it now shows that the 3600mAh batteries have
69% charge. The system then goes into mode stating it is charging, but
it is not, no further increase in battery power. Yes, I supposed those
batteries might now be taking a charge (they were purchased at a
surplus parts house used for next to nothing), but I am hoping it
furthers the likelihood that the DC board is bad. As I mentioned, I
should have a replacement board later this week.

On Sun, 18 Sep 2005 23:33:24 -0500, Jerry Bloomfield

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Re: Dell Inspiron battery charging, but possibly not the batteries other odd glitch (thanks for the fn-F7 tip, that fixed the
startup screen).

I find that the laptop often does not recognize my 1GB USB thumb drive
(a Lexar Jump Drive). The device manager will likely show an "unknown
device" in USB. It works on every other system I put it in, and many
times works in the Inspiron. Anything special to look for to cure that
oddity? I don't really want to zap and reformat the drive, but will
ultimately do what it takes to make the laptop 100% useful to my

Re: Dell Inspiron battery charging, but possibly n

I have a Dell Latitude that does this same thing.. I bought a new
power supply for it (actual Dell power supply, not generic) because I
was getting an error message with the universal one I was using.  The
error message said, and still says, I am using a 70W power supply,
and the computer needs a 90W power supply.  But even after purchasing
this new power supply, and verifying that it IS, in fact, the correct
one for my laptop, I am still receiving this message...

Anyway, the point I'm getting to is this:  When I get the error
message, I have two options.. press F1 to run in "battery optimized
mode" or press another key (F2 I think) to shutdown.  I always choose
F1, and then it will run fine... yet I always have to have the AC
adapter plugged in.  Actually about one week ago, for some reason, I
left it in suspend mode and it was plugged into the wall for a whole
day... and when I opened it, there was a battery in the tray that
said I had 32% battery life remaining.. but even then I unplugged it
in and it lasted for only about 10 minutes.  But that's still better
than it has ever been..

Now I'm back to having to plug the stupid thing into the wall when I
want to use it.

Do you also receive this 70w error message?

I have also updated the BIOS.  I, too, am wondering about the DC
board.  Could you let me know if this works for you?

Good luck! And sorry, didn't mean to hijack your thread!

Re: Dell Inspiron battery charging, but possibly n

Sounds like you do not have enough power to run the laptop and charge the
battery.  Try shutting the thing down and let it sit plugged in, see if the
battery charges in a shorter period of time.

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Re: Dell Inspiron battery charging, but possibly n

I don't get any error messages regarding the AC power supply. Witht he
lower capacity batteries I tried, the system does recognize them as
smaller and warns me. Still, they don't work at all. It's reported at
69% charge, and never charge more than that.

I got a confirmation that my replacement DC power board arrived at my
PO Box. I'll pick it up in a day or two, install, and see what

Re: Dell Inspiron battery charging, but possibly n

Here's a follow up for those watching the thread.

I installed the replacement DC charging board this evening (and after
having disassembled the laptop last week to check if the DC board was
tight, and thus learning how to disassemble it, tonight's board
replacement procedure took at most 10 minutes....gang, IT'S EASY!
Don't pay to have someone do it...unless it's me :) )

I am pretty sure the old board was toast. One of my 4460 mAh batteries
seems to not take a charge, but the other one is now slowly charging
up OK. Prior, either 4460 batteries would cause a rapid
charge/discharge to read on BIOS battery page, along with a slight
zapping sound. Not so any more. I'll know for sure how it goes after
the one battery charges as far as it can.

My experimental surplus store batteries (which are lower capacity 3600
mAh) each had about 70% charge on them when I got them, but do not
seem to be taking any further charge. OK, they might be bad. At $5
apiece at the surplus store it was a worth while experiment.

I saw an eBay store selling 4460 mAh batteries (not Dell brand, but
fully compatible) for $47 each (rather than around $120 for true
Dell). The eBay store has thousands of positive responses (if we can
trust all those feedbacks). Has anyone tried those batteries? I
wouldn't be adverse to getting 2 new ones at $47/each, but dropping
$240 on a pair (when they last less than 2 years from what I hear)
seems steep.

over and out....

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