Lenovo Thinkpad Tablet repair

One of the first tablets that I have owned is this Lenovo Thinkpad 183826U tablet. It was one of the pioneer during its time, with Android ice-cream sandwich OS, full USB port, SD card support, WiFi as well as 2G/3G support, stylus etc. But within about an year of use battery power dropped and eventually the volume up and power buttons started to act up. Even charging this device started becoming a pain, as it led me to believe that the charging mini-usb port might have widened due to which the connection might not be snug.

At any rate, my elder daughter found the device in my closet and wanted to start using it and call it her own. So thus started the expedition to repair it. I tried to switch it on and it wouldn’t come on, and volume up key seemed to have sunk in, whereas volume down seemed fine.

Few years back I had done some research and had found a site which had instructions on how to open it up. I couldn’t find it, most probably did not bookmark it. But did find a video on youtube as always, and I could open up the device without much fuss.

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The key shown in the picture above comes right off and then there are 2 screws under it which need to be removed. Then just pry open the frame from the glass front. Do not separate the 2 pieces as there are cables connected between them. The slot used for storing the stylus seems the easiest starting point to separate the backing from the front.

So I just slid or move the top piece just enough to expose the buttons in question which are to the left top of the device. I did connect the charger in the meantime to see if it charges up and it did, so maybe the charging port is fine, and the earlier problem that I mentioned might be due to the cable used. I am using a wall charger which actually came with the Amazon Kindle fire HDX which fits snug to this device too. Not sure where the charger is for the Lenovo now. After doing some research found out that I need a charger with 2 amp current rating, and everything that I had lying around at home came max up to 1 amp. So purchased a new one on ebay for $5.71.

So as you can see in the images above the power and volume up buttons are basically broken, the electronic button itself has chipped off the circuit board. This tiny little piece has 3 prongs, most probably +ve, -ve and ground is what I am guessing which is soldered to the circuit board. I did not have a solder gun, so initially I tried to hot glue them in, but that did not work. So why not I bought myself a solder kit from amazon. Good kit for beginners. Went through a few videos on youtube on how to solder in order to understand the basics as I had never done this before. But this was hard, the piece is so damn tiny that there is hardly any room to work with. After a few tries and I am sure there are some (read as many) mistakes but the keys work.

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That’s it, tested the keys that they stayed in place and did what they are supposed to do. Snap fit the device back up, and we (my daughter) has a working tablet.

Ran into this link a few days after I fixed the tablet. Looks like this is a well-known issue with the whole part (power button, 2 volume buttons and even the camera) is sold for $71.50. My cost was the $21 solder kit.

Next step – upgrade the android OS to marshmallow. Searched around a lot and ran into a lot of different ways and a million posts but I wasn’t sure what would really work not brick the tablet. So finally found a couple of posts which detailed upgrade steps from 4.0.3 to 4.1.2 jelly bean (also updated the kernel to CWM 10), so decided to go with that for now. Looks like its not possible to go all the way to marshmallow on this tablet due to hardware limitations.

Upgrade steps link1 and link2.

Summary of steps

  1. Backup
  2. Data wipe
  3. Install
  4. Boot

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After a couple of days of use found out that the battery was very weak and lasted barely 2 hours of normal use, and maybe an hour if I played a video. So decided to buy a replacement. Bought replacement at amazon.

So open up the tablet as before and then to remove the old battery there are four screws that need to be removed. To get to a couple of them you need to remove at least one end of 2 cables as shown in the pictures below. The cables are stuck to the battery so carefully loosen them. Also there is another sticky cover over the bottom right of the battery area that needs to be loosened and there is a connector connecting the battery to the circuit board which has to be released by sliding it out upwards.

For releasing the cable, flip up the white colored plastic bar and then slide out the cable.

Insert the battery and plug the cables back in and screw in the screws and snap fit the screen to the base of the laptop.

 

 

 

 

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