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Dell Inspiron 3800 will not power on.

Posted on 2006-10-24
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I have two Dell Inspiron 3800 notebooks and am having the same problem on both of them.  When I press the "on" button, the LED's for the on/off, caps lock and scroll lock all light up for about 4 seconds, then goes off.  The machines never even show the BIOS info screen.  These machines have been sitting around for a while unplugged, so I suspect that there is a dead CMOS battery.

My questions are:

1) Does my guess of the CMOS battery being dead sound correct?
2) Is this something someone handy with a soldering iron could do themselves?
3) Where can I get a CMOS battery for this model?

Any links as to how to take this thing apart would be appreciated.

Thanks!
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Question by:ErnestForman
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9 Comments
 
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by:ParadiseITS
ID: 17797188
1. A dead CMOS battery would not cause the laptop to not boot.  You would get a time/date warning during POST and maybe in the OS, but should boot.
2.  The CMOS battery should be easily removed and repaired.
3.  You can generally get them at any decent computer store (CompUSA, Staples, etc) but you should remove it and take it with you.  I tried to track down the actual Dell part number for it but without the ESC I can't find it.  Go to support.dell.com and put in the ESC of the notebook and you should be able to get the actual Dell part number -- which may or may not be helpful.

It is more likely that the LiIon batteries are dead and perhaps your AC Adapters aren't working properly or maybe the connector between the AC Adaptor and the motherboard is no good, VERY common -- that can be fixed with a soldering iron in most cases.


Good luck!
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Author Comment

by:ErnestForman
ID: 17798181
The strange thing is this is happening on two identical machines.  They were both unused for a long time.  Does that suggest anything?
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by:ParadiseITS
ID: 17798817
It could be the AC Adapter/Battery problem.  And those machines with the PA-6 power adapters are very prone to problems with the AC Adaptor plugging in to the motherboard.

Where were they stored?  It could be that the system boards were subjected to heat then cold then heat then cold, which is bad for them but also really terrible for batteries and AC Adapters.  If you have an meter to test the current, plug in the power adapter and put the wand on the end and see how much current is going through... if you remove the bottom of the case you could do a similar test (I think, depends on how much room you have -- you might have to remove the keyboard and try to get the wand in that way) with it plugged into the notebook.

It's very difficult to give you an exact answer without seeing them -- one thing is for certain, the CMOS battery failing can't cause this kind of behavior by itself -- there has to be something else, and it's possible it's motherboard related.  It's a bit of wishful thinking to say it's the battery or AC Adapter, but it's a place to start and eliminate possible problems.

I guess another question might be, were these laptops fully functional the last time they were used?
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ParadiseITS earned 400 total points
ID: 17798837
I have another question for you, Dell builds in a system of flashing lights on a lot of their models (not sure if it's on this one or not).  When you turn it on, do the Power/Caps Lock/Num Lock keys flash?  or do they just come on and go off?  If they flash, how many times -- it could tell us what the issue is.

Also, try it with the LiIon batteries out of the system, that's a good way to test if the circuit between the adapter and battery is bad or not and also will tell us if the adapters are functional.
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by:nobus
ID: 17802276
I'm not so sure that replacing the battery is simple; in most notebooks, it is nearly impossible, and to my knowledge, never replaced.
here a link to "how to replace the keyboard" ; it may give you insight in the laptop :
http://www.powerbrixx.com/reference/dell/cpx_keyboard_removal.htm
you may have to try the boot procedure for some time, it can be that at a certain point it starts, but this looks like a motherboard problem to me.
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Expert Comment

by:ParadiseITS
ID: 17803151
Yes, taking the laptop apart is a daunting task for this model, however the battery itself should not be.  And as I said in my last post, it is likely a motherboard issue.
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