Rectify.IT – Fujitsu Lifebook P8110 Scroll Lock flashing

On Saturday, while doing a few things around the house, amongst other things – I was checking to see whether or not I could get a second drive caddy for my Fujitsu Lifebook P8110 notebook.  I was trying to remove the DVD drive and at the same time, decided to take all of the covers off the bottom of the notebook.  One cover hid a mini PCIe socket which I believe is for an optional wireless card – or perhaps even a small SSD.  Another slightly larger cover hid the memory socket, in which was installed a Kingston 4GB DDR3 1333 Sodimm, and of course the much larger cover was for the internal hard disk drive.

In due course, I put everything back together and put it back into my backpack since I use it for work as a Windows 10 machine from time to time.  To my surprise this morning, it failed to power up – well, actually the power light came on, the disk light came on then the Scroll Lock light started blinking.  I could still hear the hard disk drive spinning.  There was no display at all, not even the Bios POST screen came on.  I held the power button to force it to power off.  I did this a few times to confirm that I was not imagining it and eventually put it back into my backpack and went on with my tasks using my work laptop.

After coming home, and watching a short movie, I got my Lifebook back out and tried it again – the same flashing Scroll Lock light.  A quick check on the internet showed no solutions however one site did say that it may be power related.  I eventually got the battery removed, and connected the power adapter and still the same.  One site did suggest memory – and yes, I did remove the memory module on Saturday, so could this be it?

I opened the cover and removed the memory – a 4GB module as described above.  I had the laptop screen down and the main body up – i.e. the laptop was open so that I could reach the power button and see the screen but could also access the memory slot.  I pressed the power button, and the Lifebook came to life, as in the Bios screen came up then proceeded to boot to Windows.  I powered off and went in search for some memory.  I had another Kingston 4GB so tried that – no go.  Then I found two new Kingmax 4GB Sodimm’s and tried one – and yes, it worked.  Afterwards I decided to try the original memory – the first Kingston 4GB and while putting it in, I latched and unlatched it a few times since it could be just a contact problem.

So did it work, I can hear you all asking?

Yes, the notebook booted up!  I shut it down, then put the cover back on, then put it right side up and powered on.  Still working, so it appears that the flashing Scroll Lock light is indicating a memory problem.  The motherboard has 2GB of inbuilt memory, so the notebook will boot from this, and my 4GB brought it up to 6GB – more memory of course, is better for Windows 10.  At least I know what to do if this happens again.

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Reflow.IT – Toshiba Satellite Pro P6100 with graphics memory errors

I had this Toshiba Satellite Pro P6100 laptop sitting around. It had been tested some time ago, and it had errors in the video graphics memory. I had used VMT which is a Video Memory Stress Tool, to run diagnostics on the video graphics memory .

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This is what the screen looks like. What we see at the top of the screen with the greenish lines are artifacts on the display due to these memory errors. Now the memory errors are not stable, they appear at different addresses and affect different bits, so it could be a graphics processor problem or a memory problem. This laptop had a separate card which contains the graphics processor and its two memory chips but also interfaces to the keyboard, mouse pointer buttons and the system board. Due to my previous success with using my SMD Rework station to reflow a laptop system board, I thought I should try this again.

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I removed the graphics add-on board, and taped up the areas that I did not want to heat up. I also attached a thermocouple temperature probe, just like I had done previously.

I worked my way around the board, heating the three chips gradually, and then concentrated first on the graphics processor, and then afterwards on the two memory chips. After letting it cool down, I then reassembled the laptop and was rewarded by a clean display with no signs of artifacts.

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Another successful “Reflow.IT“. I suspected that due to the nature of the problem where the memory errors occurred at different addresses and different bits that it was an intermittent connection problem with the chips. The reflow helps to melt the solder and let it solidify “hopefully” making good contact on all the chip connection points. It looks like it worked. Now what do I do with a laptop with a Pentium 4 and 512MB of ram. It runs Windows XP and has a 40GB disk drive and has a serial port on it, which is quite sadly lacking from most modern day laptops.