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Replacing a DC Jack on an Averatec Notebook

My Averatec laptop stopped holding a charge and I realized that it was the DC jack that was bad. I've taken apart notebooks many times before so I proceeded to disassemble the unit despite not being able to find the schematic diagram anywhere. A couple of days ago, I located the DC jack and it was indeed cracked. I have a new one on the way and would like to know what tools you guys would recommend for me to resolder the new one in. A high-res photo is available at http://www.alcodesigns.net/images/averatecmainboard.jpg. It seems like there is solder and/or a metal piece that needs to be removed. I have not yet figured out how the board gets removed from the chassis. Additionally, I will need a new soldering iron and all the accessories because my old stuff has been sitting in my garage and rusted thanks to the tropical heat of Florida. Any suggestions on how to approach this and maybe a checklist of things to get would be greatly appreciated.  There are many Radio Shack stores near my house.
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alcodesign
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alcodesign
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2 Solutions
 
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Nice picture :-)    You seem to have this well-in-hand, but I'll toss in a couple of comments.   If you don't have a simple de-soldering tool, I'd suggest you get one => they are very handy.   If you don't want to spring for a de-solderer, at least get one of the little "solder suckers" that you use in conjunction with an iron to remove the solder (http://www.apogeekits.com/desolder_pump1.htm).   Radio Shack should have both de-solderers and the "suckers."   I have this, and it works very well (but is a bit pricey for a one-time job):  http://www.weisd.com/store2/WELDS40.html

Since you're buying a new iron, be sure it's a very low wattage iron (12-25w).  Ideally you should use a temperature controllered iron, but again that may be pricier than you want to buy for a one-time job.   Weller makes a nice micro-tip 12w iron you can buy for < $20.

The obvious keys to this job are (a) be careful and (b) have patience.   It's not "difficult" => but anytime you're soldering in such small areas you have to be very careful.

Finally, I'm not a fan of "dongles" -- but if you have difficultry removing the old jack (it's not real clear from the picture how difficult that may be -- you probably need to see the underside of the board to really know); then you COULD carefully solder a short length (1-2") of 2-conductor wire (probably 18-gauge) to the board, and attach it to a jack externally.
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alcodesignAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the quick reply, garycase.  I'm still going to continue trying to get the board out of the unit.  In the past when I've worked on other models, I've had the luxury of finding the technical manuals, but I can't find this one anywhere!  I definitely don't want to use a dongle.  Right now I'm trying to compile a Radio Shack shopping list before I head to the store.  Here is what I have so far:

Soldering Iron (w/Grounded Tip):
http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2062728&cp=2032058&pg=11&f=Taxonomy%2FRSK%2F2032058&y=4&categoryId=2032058&kw=solder&kwCatId=2032058&x=12&s=A-StorePrice-RSK&parentPage=search

Solder:
http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2062719&cp=&pg=2&y=7&origkw=solder&s=A-StorePrice-RSK&x=11&kw=solder&parentPage=search

De-Soldering Tool:
http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2062745&cp=&pg=5&origkw=solder&kw=solder&parentPage=search

Any comments are welcome...
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Your "shopping list" is perfect for this job -- now you just need to figure out how the board's mounted so you can get it out.  

Not sure what model you have, but check this out and see if it's useful:
http://repair4laptop.org/disassembly_averatec.html
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alcodesignAuthor Commented:
I have seen that link before.  Unfortunately, I have an Averatec 5100 which is not listed.  I have contacted Averatec, searched endlessly through the Internet, and sent several emails to various companies without any luck.  I wouldn't mind paying for it, but it just isn't available!  Anyways, I have read that some people recommend using paste flux.  Do you think that would be a good idea?
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ridCommented:
For electronics soldering I thought resin-core solder wire was the preferred material - flux and solder in the same wire as it were. Paste flux sounds like it would just add more work... If you really want to use that, make sure it's acid-free, though. Resin is better as it will not promote corrosion.
/RID
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
I don't do much soldering these days (a few times a year -- usually for some friend who's not comfortable soldering) => but I still use the trusty old 60/40 mix that the solder you listed above has.

But I do know a lot of folks prefer lead-free solutions => Kester 331 is a commonly mentioned product for this (http://www.hmcelectronics.com/cgi-bin/scripts/product/4800-0085), but I don't know where you could buy a small tube of it.   I'd just use the Radio Shack 60/40 solder myself.
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alcodesignAuthor Commented:
Ok.  I will skip the paste flux then and look to purchase the things that I listed.  I'll also continue trying to remove the mainboard from chassis.
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
I'm sure you've downloaded the user manual (http://support.averatec.com/images/pdf/5100-doc.pdf)  ==> I just did, and there's no useful info on disassembly.    ... and none of the places that usually have good disassembly info seem to have anything on this model !!   I'm sure you can figure this out -- as I'm sure you know it's usually something simple -- but not always evident :-)
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knoxzooCommented:
I've done many of these replacements, and have found a good butane soldering iron and some solder wick work great for getting the old stuff off.  The same iron and some small gauge rosin core silver solder rock for putting the new one on.  I've tried several of the butane irons, and the Snap-On one seems to be best.  Never had one of them rust, either.

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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
My first thought on the comment r.e. a butane iron was WAY TOO HOT => but interestingly the SnapOn can be set as low as 15w -- which is perfect.    Sounds like a very nice tool; doesn't require any electrical connection; and virtually instantaneous heat-up/cool-down  --  I might just have to get one.   However, for a one-time project the cost may be more than what you'll want to buy:
http://buy1.snapon.com/catalog/gift_item.asp?Item_id=53136&group_id=2&gift_NAME=GIFTS+UNDER+%24150&group_NAME=GIFTS+UNDER+%24150


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alcodesignAuthor Commented:
That Snap-On does seem a little pricey, but I guess you get what you pay for.  I stopped by Radio Shack today and picked up the iron, solder, and the desoldering tool that I had listed.  I'm still trying to figure out how to remove the mainboard.  I think I'll pick-up with this tomorrow morning.  Thanks for the continued assistance everyone.
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knoxzooCommented:
The butane kit has a lot of handy goodies in it, which greatly extend its usefulness.  Hot knife, torch and multiple sizes of soldering tips.  I use a couple of the tips for soldering, and the other two for wood burning and other projects.  And, I can't tell you how many times the hot knife and torch have come in handy on projects, including soldering small copper pipes.  It's pricey, but when you start figuring in all the other uses for it, the cost comes down quite a bit.  
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
... yes, it does look nifty.   I've bookmarked it ==> my kids (all grown & gone) are always asking my wife what they can buy me for Christmas [that they can afford -- I tend to like expensive toys :-) ].   This is perfect for that list.
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alcodesignAuthor Commented:
I'm still trying to get the mainboard out, guys.  It's proving to be a big roadblock, especially since I don't have the technical diagrams.  I've removed every screw and it won't come out easily.
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
... as I'm sure you know, CAUTION is very important here.   It's hard to tell for sure, but I magnified your diagram as much as I could, and it's not clear whether the jack is surface mounted or has pins.  Look carefully -- if it's a surface mounted jack it's only soldered on the side you already have access to (and you don't have to remove the board).   My guess is it has pins and is soldered on the reverse side - but it's worth a look.   Did you get the replacement jack yet?   ... that would answer this question for sure :-)
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knoxzooCommented:
Yes, the pins run through the board and are soldered on the other side.  I can't see from the pic, but pretty much every board I've ever had to pull out had screw nuts going through the back of the case into the board where the parallel, serial and video ports are.  And, there are usually some tiny screws somewhere around the pcmcia port(s) that have to come out.  Also, look under the wireless card.  There is usually a screw or two hidden under it.  If you haven't pulled the screws beside the CPU, yank them too.  And, one last place to check is under the insulating pads for the drives, touchpad and plug in components.  

After you're sure you've got all the screws, try bowing the back, front or side of the lower case to release that side of the board.  Then do one of the sides next to the one you just loosed.  Once you get a couple of sides moving, you can gently flex the board and get a really good idea where there might be additional screws or snap connectors.  

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knoxzooCommented:
One other thing...  I had a laptop a while back that I could not find a replacement jack for.  I don't remember the brand, but they were no longer in business and apparently had had the connectors custom made.  So, I snipped the old jack apart, found the contact points inside it, and soldered a short wired two pin molex from an old case fan to it.  I then reworked the end of the power supply cable, snipping the original end and putting a corresponding connector on it.  A couple of dabs of silicone to seal the case and lock the wire in place later, the customer was thrilled.  Until I got creative, he was certain he was going to be buying a new laptop.

So, if you can't get the board out, you can always use the above method.  The center pin on the original connector is virtually always the positive.  The lower case or the power supply should indicate +/- configuration.

Good luck!
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alcodesignAuthor Commented:
I'm still working on it and I'm sure that the DC jack must be soldered on the other side.  The replacement jack should be arriving later today via FedEx.  I'll keep you posted and take more pictures if necessary.
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alcodesignAuthor Commented:
I have taken a few more high-res photos with the hopes that one of you may be able to lead me in the right direction.  The files are pretty large so I hope you guys have broadband!

http://www.alcodesigns.net/images/backoflaptop.jpg

http://www.alcodesigns.net/images/laptopbackpanel.jpg

http://www.alcodesigns.net/images/laptopoverhead.jpg

http://www.alcodesigns.net/images/laptopsidepanel.jpg


The picture with the red region is the area where the board seems to be stuck to the mainboard.  It seems like it is either glued on or screwed on there but I cannot pry it free.  Also, the board can only really come out from the side closest to the user opposite the VGA port because of the VGA port itself and the firewire port on the other side.  I have unscrewed every area that I can find but it won't budge.
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knoxzooCommented:
Have you lifted the insulator pad under the red circled region to look for screws?  Have you checked the center of the raised "feet" on the bottom to make sure they're not actually screw holes with colored stickers over the hole?  Have you looked under what looks like the wireless card that's still screwed in place?  

Looking at laptopoverhead.jpg - Going straight down from the large spacer nut in the circled area to the bay on the right, is that the end of a screw I see on the left side of the bay?

Have you checked that spacer nut to see if it screws out?

If all else fails, you could dremel cut that section out of the bottom of the case and I can tell you how to repair it.  :-)
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Okay, on the left side of the laptopoverhead picture there seems to be a scren you missed at the bottom edge of the board -- where there's a loose connector with two wires connecting to the point where the screw is.  (there's an "N4" label on the board just to the right of the screw -- it may say "CN4" (the "C" is partially obscured).

On the right side of the same picture it looks like several metal strips are "clipped" to the edge of the case (just to the right of the "red" area).

There are several places it looks like there may be some sort of clamping arrangement (similar to the way a CPU clamps into its socket).   It's hard to tell for sure -- have you looked carefully to see if anything move "out and up" to unclamp?

Other than that one screw, I can't see anything you've missed.   This CAN'T be hard !!!



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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
"... dremel cut that section out of the bottom of the case ..." ==> Ouch !!   I would not do that :-)
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alcodesignAuthor Commented:
No dremel was needed.  I got it out!  There were two hex screws under the sub assembly covered by the black insulation lining just above the red region in the laptopoverhead.jpg.  I don't know why I didn't think of it sooner!  Anyhow, here is a pic of the underside of the mainboard:

http://www.alcodesigns.net/images/backoflaptopmainboard.jpg

I have circled the underside of the DC jack connection.  It seems to have 5 solder points and there appears to be a labeled component nearby.  I have not yet received the new jack but I think I can still begin desoldering.  Do you guys have any suggestions or comments before I begin?  Is there any way that I can cover or protect the component nearby this area?  I don't want to accidentally burn it.
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knoxzooCommented:
Very good!  I only had to mention lifting those twice.  :-)

Don't worry about the other component.  As long as you've got a fairly steady hand, you won't cook it.  Just lay your solder wick on the connection, put the iron on the wick and in a few seconds, the wick will start sucking up solder.  You may have to do this a couple of times for each connection.  If you're using a solder sucker, heat it, position the sucker and suck it up quick.  Again, you may have to do this twice.  Make sure you silver your new iron before you start.  Since they didn't leave an excess of lead sticking through, you might be able to just heat the pins and punch them through, which will make the desoldering job a lot easier.

You've got the hard part done already, so take your time, be cautious with the heat, and you'll do just fine.
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knoxzooCommented:
BTW, if you're really worried about the other component, put distilled water on a q-tip and tape it down over that component until you're finished with the pin beside it.  When you're completely done, use a few blasts of canned air to make sure it's absolutely dry before assembling.

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alcodesignAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the pointers.  As per an earlier message, I have a solder sucker and not a wick.  I'll go give it a try and let you know how it went.  I guess I'll just try and be careful.  Hopefully the FedEx truck will get here soon with the new jack.  Also, how can I hold the new part in place while I solder it?  Can I use scotch tape or something?  Also, once I get the new one in, is there a way for me to tell if the connection is fine without putting everything back together?  Perhaps an LED on the mainboard?
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alcodesignAuthor Commented:
I just finished trying to desolder the old jack from the mainboard and was unsuccessful.  I could not get the joints to liquify properly.  It's been a while since I have soldered, but I followed all the procedures such as tinning and so forth and could not get it to go.  A couple joints liquified a little but it was so little that the solder sucker didn't do anything.  I'm wondering if 15 watts is not powerful enough for this task despite being able to melt the new solder without a problem.  Perhaps the board was assembled with a different kind of solder that has a higher melting point.  I'm just not sure.  Maybe a 25 watt model such as http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2062737&cp=&fbn=Type%2FSoldering%26%23047%3BDesoldering&f=PAD%2FProduct+Type%2FSoldering%26%23047%3BDesoldering&fbc=1&kw=soldering+iron&parentPage=search would be better.  Any thoughts?
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Absolutely -- I should have thought of that earlier.   My DeSolderer is a 40w device (http://www.weisd.com/store2/WELDS40.html) => it doesn't overheat because you simply release the bulb and remove the iron an instant after the solder liquifies.   A 15w iron is good for soldering - it keeps you from overheating the connection;  but is too low for the desoldering task.

A 25w -- or ever 40w -- iron would be better for the desoldering ==> but be CAREFUL and remove it the instant you've "sucked" the solder from the joint.   (You can reheat it if you need to make multiple "passes" to get it all out)   The nice thing about the "real" desoldering tool I have is that the "sucking" is done through the center of the heating element -- so you're only heating the solder you plan to remove, and nothing around it.   With a separate iron and "sucker" you'll have to be very careful that you don't overheat any surrounding elements.    It's not hard -- just be patient and careful.

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alcodesignAuthor Commented:
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Looks fine -- and will definitely be better for the desoldering.
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knoxzooCommented:
Bet that butane unit I told you about is starting to look good right about now.  
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
I had the same thought ...  Nice thing about that is you just crank it up to what you need;  then back down to 15w for re-soldering :-)        ... It's already in my wife's notes for something to tell the kids about for Christmas :-)
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alcodesignAuthor Commented:
The butane one looks ok but it is over $100 and I'd have to order it online.  I can't see spending so much on something that probably won't be used again for a while.
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
... me neither ==> so I'll let my kids buy it for me :-)

... I may NEVER use it -- but I'll HAVE it :-)    (after all, he with the most toys ... )
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knoxzooCommented:
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
... Not a bad deal, but I prefer the 15-75 watt range of the Snap-On;  and I'd prefer a new one for a few extra $$  (the one above is "... Pre-owned in Great Condition ...").
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alcodesignAuthor Commented:
Well after two separate sessions of one hour each (since the 25 watt soldering iron says not to use for longer than an hour), I was able to remove the old DC jack.  However, I had to carefully pull it up with pliers and three of the five joints still have solder and a small piece of metal that needs to be removed.  I also broke off one of the tips to the metal housing that secures the power jack.  I don't have pictures of the broken metal housing, but I do have new pictures of the board:

http://www.alcodesigns.net/images/topsideremoved.jpg

http://www.alcodesigns.net/images/undersideremoved.jpg

I was very careful and I don't think I damaged anything on the mainboard itself.  I'll go at it tomorrow and hopefully be able to finish things up!
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
I guess there's a reason Weller makes the desoldering tool I have 40 watts ... but you did fine without it.   The board looks fine.   A small broken tip shouldn't make any difference in the stability -- once it's soldered in I'm sure it will be fine.

Sounds like a "done deal" after tomorrow ==> assuming, of course, you kept good notes on the DISASSEMBLY process so you can ASSEMBLE it all back together without any "now how did this go's" :-)  :-)
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alcodesignAuthor Commented:
I would have gone with the 45 watt desoldering tool from Radio Shack for $11, but I was under the impression that 45 watts is too much for this kind of job.  Anyhow, re-assembly shouldn't be a problem.  I've got all the screws labeled and its still pretty fresh in my head.  I'm more concerned with removing the old solder and resoldering it correctly.  And once I finish all that, I guess I will have to connect the front assembly with the LEDs to check if the board is receiving power.
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knoxzooCommented:
You can check if the board is receiving power with a multimeter and the battery charge pins.
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alcodesignAuthor Commented:
Well I just finished two more sessions of one hour each trying to get the remaining solder and metal pieces free.  I have only 3 out of the 5 done.  I'm not sure if it's supposed to take this long, if I'm doing something wrong, or if I have the wrong tools.  Either way it's a little frustrating, and on top of things, I think the electrical component by the jack looks a little warped.  Hopefully it's still ok.
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
A "real" desolderer (where the hole is actually in the middle of the heating element) is easier;  but what you're using is fine for a one-time job.   Sounds like you're about there :-)
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knoxzooCommented:
Wow!  3 hours and counting.  I'd have taken a torch to it by now.  :-)

Seriously, that's why I recommended the butane unit and solder wick.  I've done hundreds, if not thousands of these things, and those are the tools I've found work best.  (that's for future reference for others that might read this - it's pretty much too late for what you're doing).

There's more to soldering and desoldering than the wattage of the unit.  The size and shape of the tip have a lot to do with it.  A very narrow tip on any tool transmits far less heat than a heavy, wide tip.  

You can use a 150 watt gun to do this kind of work, and in many cases it will actually work better because it heats the solder joint quickly enough that you can move fast, and not allow the long term heating to heat up the entire unit.  

But, look at the bright side.  You'll be highly experienced by the time you finish with this beast.  :-)
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alcodesignAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the continued support guys.  I'll give it another go right now and hopefully I'll be able to finish cleaning out the old joints and put in the new jack.
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alcodesignAuthor Commented:
I just spent another two hours and got nowhere.  It is very difficult to remove the small amount of solder and metal pieces that remain.  I think I must be using the wrong tools because it shouldn't take this long and I don't think I'm doing anything wrong.  I'm all out of ideas so I think I'm going to take the board to a local repair shop and see if they can help me out.  Once they get the jack in and test the circuit, I can put the machine back together myself.
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Get some solder wick (from your local Radio Shack) -- like this: http://www.topmicrousa.com/hsw-15.html

This is like a "magnet" for solder => your 25w iron MAY be enough;  or you could also use a 40w iron.   This should easily remove the residual solder you have -- in at most one more "session" :-)
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alcodesignAuthor Commented:
I can try my 25 watt iron with the braid, or how about I go with a 45 watt desoldering iron like the one at

http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2062731&cp=&pg=1&origkw=desolder&kw=desolder&parentPage=search

The solder sucker I already have is just not effective at removing the small amount of solder and metal pieces left.
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
The 45w iron would be better with the solder wick.
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alcodesignAuthor Commented:
I stopped by Radio Shack today and picked up the 45 watt desoldering tool.  I worked quickly and was able to get one more joint out without causing any damage.  Now I just have one more to go, but it is almost flush on both sides of the board and is proving to be a problem.  We'll see what happens tomorrow.
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knoxzooCommented:
Stick a hat pin through the wick, hold the wick on the joint, heat it, then use the hat pin to push the pin out.  

Sometimes ya just gotta get creative.  
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alcodesignAuthor Commented:
Well the old jack is in now.  I received some assistance from someone.  Now I'm having trouble putting it back together.  The CDROM drive does not seem to go in straight.  It has a screw-nut on the end.  I'll try and post pictures a little later...
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alcodesignAuthor Commented:
I got the CDRW drive in and the unit comes on fine!  However, now the hard dirve is not being detected!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I checked the ribbon cable connection on the mainboard several times and I know the drive is fine because it works on my main PC with an adapter.  Any ideas?
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knoxzooCommented:
Have you got it in right side up?  Some of the adapters that are used on drives seem like they're the same both ways, but they're not.  If it uses an adapter, try flipping it over.
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alcodesignAuthor Commented:
It's a ribbon cable.  I think it can only go in one way because of how it is secured.
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knoxzooCommented:
Not the cable, the drive.  Does it have an adapter on it?  And, if it does, did you take it off at any point during this process?
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alcodesignAuthor Commented:
I never took the drive out of the cradle until last evening when I hooked it up to my computer after I saw it wasn't being recognized.
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knoxzooCommented:
Scratch that idea.

It doesn't happen often, but...  Have you inspected the receiver for the ribbon to make sure there isn't a little piece of fluff, or a hair, or something similar inside it.  It doesn't take much to kill the connection with those ribbons.

Too, I've seen people get the ribbons in place on the back side of the push down clamp.  It'll still clamp and seem perfect, but it isn't.  
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alcodesignAuthor Commented:
I got it working!  Thanks guys.
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Good -- With your obvious patience and perserverance I had no doubt you would !!  :-)
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knoxzooCommented:
Hot dog, and Congrats!  
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