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Dimension 8400 orange light

Posted on 2006-04-19
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I have a dell dimension 8400 which has developed a problem.  The problem is when I try to turn it on, the power button light turns solid orange and nothing else happens.  I can't hear any HD or fans running and none of the diagnostic lights on the back panel are on.  Just the orange light on the paower button is on.  I have read this may be a processor or motherboard failure, but I want to know how I can test which one it is to avoid throwing expensive parts at the problem.
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Question by:firemanrob
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Author Comment

by:firemanrob
ID: 16494123
Update:  I have found a burnt power connecto (P2) a four wire connector with two black and two yellow wires.  Both yellow plugs are discolored and one of them is completely black.  PS or MB?
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Expert Comment

by:PCBONEZ
ID: 16494192
All that really means is the board didn't make it through POST.

There is a blurb in your manual that reads: [If the power light is steady amber - a device might be malfunctioning or incorrectly installed.” It suggests to reseat the memory modules, the graphics card, and the add-in cards in the case.]
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Expert Comment

by:PCBONEZ
ID: 16494195
P2 means nothing to me.
Is this a 2x2 pin connector or 1x4 pins?
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Expert Comment

by:PCBONEZ
ID: 16494203
If it is 2x2 pin and plugged into the mainboard it is power to the Processor.
I HAVE seen those burn simply because of a bad connection there in the connector.
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Expert Comment

by:PCBONEZ
ID: 16494211
~PART~, of the power to the processor. P4's take more power, they added that connector to make up the difference.
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by:PCBONEZ
ID: 16494266
I found a clarification:

amber light (orange, amber, whatever...)
-- Blinking amber indicates a problem with an installed device;
-- solid amber indicates an internal power problem

Solid (not blinking) is consistant with your burnt plug.

Connectors will burn like that if there is too much resistance in the connection.
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The last time I ran into this all that was needed was to clean up the connectors on the wire and on the board and put it back together. Then we checked the connection with a ohm meter to make sure we had good contact. It worked fine.
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Note: That one was a Dell too.
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by:firemanrob
ID: 16494384
Yes it's the 4x4 next to the processor.  Is it advisable to attempt to replace the jack (desolder/solder)?
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by:PCBONEZ
ID: 16494626
That's really the best thing to do....
If you are GOOD at soldering and have the right equipment that would be easier than cleaning it on the board.
But unless you are good at it I wouldn't try that on a motherboard.
If you wanna try it let me know first and I'll blurb on about soldering..

The motherboard side has the male pins in the connector.
There's various things you can use.
One you might not think of is to get a thick sandpaper fingernail file and slice it so it's thin enough to go in the connector. (You will go through a bunch before you are done.) residue on the board.
Some jeweler's needle files might help.
Dremel gadgets. (probably by hand without the Dremel.)
Rolled fine grit sand paper. Perhaps rolled into the end of something tubular.
A dental pick.
A female metal connector can serve as sort of a scraper.
One of those tooth brush sized wire brushes can help by pushing some of the wires into the connector and spinning it.

Clean up real good after you are done. You will be leaving various 'junk' on the board.
In particular is sand (silica) from sand paper and possibly metal filings.
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Author Comment

by:firemanrob
ID: 16494741
I feel comfortable with hoe to clean the jack, but what can I do to make sure the connections are tight enough to prevent this from happening again?  I was thinking putting a small piece of tin foil on top of the female connector and pushing the male through it.  Not sure if that will work though.
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Author Comment

by:firemanrob
ID: 16494745
Please excuse my error on 4x4.  It is as you said, 2x2.
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Expert Comment

by:PCBONEZ
ID: 16494784
What works well is simply squishing the female connectors a little so they are slightly out of round.
That way when you push them on they grab tight. (It's harder to get them on there too...)
It doesn't take much.
You just want an 0 shape instead of an O (perfect circle).
Not just the tip though, you want to get them most of the way down.
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Expert Comment

by:PCBONEZ
ID: 16494817
I can't prove it but I suspect someone is manufacturing that 2x2 connector used on the motherboard side with the diameter of the male pins slighly undersized.
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Expert Comment

by:PCBONEZ
ID: 16494821
Or the other way around.. The female slightly oversized..
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 16495665
you can also try taking out the pins from the connector; in ùost cases, they are held with 2 little piece plied outwards from the pin, so close both sides with  a round tool you insert over it, or use pliers. Then you can work pin by pin
I want to not that if the connector was burned, you better replace the connector - look for a bad power supply in a shop, and cut it .
also, if the burn was not caused by loose connectors, this indicates a too high current passed there, and probably you have cpu or mobo problems.
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Expert Comment

by:PCBONEZ
ID: 16495824
I was refering primarily to the motherboard connector.
Nobus is talking about the wire end and he's correct about being able to work the pins out of the plastic.
Cleaning inside the female pins.... it's pretty tough to get them clean or even to tell if you did.
In so far as the connector on the wire if you have another around anyway I would cut it off and replace it all together.
Note: It only goes in one way so pay attention to which color wire goes where relative to the shape of the plug.
In case it matters later, both the yellow wires are +12 Volts DC and both the black are ground.
Other than that which is which doesn't matter because they come from the same place inside the PSU.
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Expert Comment

by:SpheroidUK
ID: 16496027
unfortunately, your problem is a faulty PSU. You'll need to replace the power supply for this machine...
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Accepted Solution

by:
PCBONEZ earned 2000 total points
ID: 16496266
The symptom was too much heat in a connector.
Usually when PSU's fail it is with no or insufficient output.
You can't get too much heat with no output.
Too much heat in a connector is either due to too either:
much resistance in the connector (which I've see before and recently on a Dell P4 system)
or there is a short down stream of the connector (which could have been due to a number of things).

And there is no real way to explore other problems until the connector is fixed.
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Author Comment

by:firemanrob
ID: 16499272
I will just clean and crimp as PCBONEZ suggested.  I'll try the simple solution first.  I think the connector burned due to not making enough contact for the current passing through it.
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Expert Comment

by:ascottnj
ID: 16543318
Had the very same problem just the other day with the P2 plug on my 8400. After a little research inside the case and finding the burned connector I contacted Dell via the online chat. Obviously aware of the problem, Dell simply shipped out a system to me. Apparently they are aware of something that is going wrong.
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Author Comment

by:firemanrob
ID: 16549365
Ascott-

Was your system in or out of warranty?
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Expert Comment

by:ascottnj
ID: 16549747
Ou of warranty by more than 1 year. Contact me at artscott@comcast.net for additional info.
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