Did I get lucky? (long)

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HP Pavilion dv9220

After a full year of intensive use as a replacement for a desktop I decide
to give the poor thing a break.  I get a new PC.

I visit my nephew who has a disc with pics I need. I insert the disc in the
HP, open Win Explore and attempt to read the disc.  Suddenly the screen goes
black, no blue screen, no sounds, no nothing.  The start button does
nothing.  Blue glow at the power connection as normal.  Try using the mostly
charged battery.  Nothing.  No sound, no boot, no blue color behind the
shortcut keys at the top of the keyboard as normal.  I admire my shiny new

Take it home, plug it in, fiddle around with no better results.  Decide to
let it sit there with the battery in, plugged in, and maybe charge.  It sits
there, silently, doing nothing, as expected.

Suddenly (what else?) I hear a 'snapping' sound from the direction of the
laptop.  I look at it and notice blue sparks (!) coming from under the
middle of the keyboard.  Using my years of experience in this kind of thing
the first thing that flashes through my mind is "this isn't good."  I unplug
the unit.  I continue to admire my shiny (and now dangerous) new doorstop.

With nothing to lose (expired warranty) I decide to locate that HP manual
shortcut I archived long ago.  Surprisingly, I actually find it!  I do have
some experience with electronic equipment, mostly in coin operated arcade
equipment, and in my many years of experience I learned that sparking was
usually a sign of something bad happening with electronic circuitry.  So, I
decide to remove the keyboard and see just how many crispy resistors,
transistors, board traces, etc. I can find.  Don't know exactly what I will
do when I find the burned parts, but I'm sure they're there.

I remove the keyboard and the first thing I do is turn it over and inspect
the bottom.  Sure enough, on the clear plastic barrier sheet there is some
'smoky' looking residue right in the middle, as expected.  I look at the now
exposed chassis of the laptop and notice there are only a few small openings
in it exposing the assorted parts inside.  There IS a board under the small
rectangular opening in the chassis.  I inspect, expecting to find
*something* burned.  What I find is  -nothing unusual.  No burns, no crispy
critter smell, nothing.  Well, SOMETHING burned!  Sparks don't appear out of

So, I do the only things I can do.  I reseat anything that can be reseated,
I use compressed air (hot breath, attempting not to spit on it) to clear any
microscopic debris, and then brush any accessible surfaces with a soft
brush.  I notice nothing loose, no debris, no bit of errant solder, no dust
bunnies, no rodent droppings, no spiders, not even any Cheeto crumbs or cat
hairs.  (Now the last IS surprising, my apartment has cat hair EVERYWHERE,
despite my best efforts to keep it under control.)

So, to make a long story even more boring than you imagined possible, I
buttoned the thing up, plugged it in (while shielding my eyes) and waited
for the expected small explosion, or at least an interesting light show.


I push the power button, it starts as if nothing had ever happened.  It's
worked perfectly for three months now.

All I can imagine is that some kind of conductive debris shorted *something*
and when I fiddled around inside I dislodged it.  What is surprising about
the incident is that the short was bad enough to cause sparking, and yet
nothing got cooked.

Anyone else have this kind of experience with a laptop?


Re: Did I get lucky? (long)

wtrplnet typed on Mon, 3 Mar 2008 05:35:56 -0800:
Quoted text here. Click to load it

Yes you did get very lucky! And yes, something could have fallen inside
the laptop and had caused a short until you removed it. And yes, sparks
can leave no trace they were never there.


Re: Did I get lucky? (long)

Thanks for the entertaining story. Enjoy your good fortune.

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