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Laptop stopped working (turned itself off) and now it sparks under keyboard

Posted on 2010-09-03
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Last Modified: 2012-05-10
Today my wife was typing away on our HP Pavillion DV9000 series (17" | 2 HDs, both 500GB, 4GB RAM, about 2 years old) when suddenly the laptop turned off by itself.
We tried all the usual tricks, remove battery, battery only, plug into a socket we knew worked, etc. but nothing seemed to revive it. The power button is completely unresponsive. The LED where the power cord plugs in is on (blue circle) but otherwise it looks completely bricked.

While working on it I noticed that below the keyboard there was a bright white flashing light approximately under the letters Y-U-H-J. I tried pressing those keys and nothing seemed to happen when all of a suddenly I saw sparks coming out and the color definitely shifted to red (as in electrical spark) I saw a tiny bit of smoke come out and I smelled burned electrical.

I immediately unplugged the power supply and  I left it alone. The only thing I did was to remove the C drive and move some files off it so my wife could keep working on them.

I should not that this laptop has been mainly stored in a drawer and has not see a lot of use. I bought it to use as a roaming Music composition unit (for where I keep my Digital Grand) and it served double duty as backup workstation for my work (meaning I have loaded  the bare minimum for me to keep working on it (Adobe CS4 suite and other web development tools) and as a backup music recording station.

As either it hasn't seen a lot of use, since my main work computer has been working consistently and as a music station... let's just say that pro Sound cards and Vista never worked very well together and especially couldn't work well on that laptop, so I sort of gave up.

Bottom line: it has been lightly used and almost never traveled.

What could have happened to it? And what was the flashing light and the spark all about?

More to the point: is it toast or is it worth trying to repair?

Thank you
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Question by:conticreative
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Mark earned 84 total points
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You could remove the keyboard and inspect it for damage, but I would suggest that once the magic smoke(not a technical term) has left the motherboard, it is impossible to put back in and the laptop motherboard is toast.
DV9000 service manual.
http://h10032.www1.hp.com/ctg/Manual/c01311536.pdf
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by:Grant1842
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What ever component shorted out should be easy to spot.
I have taken apart a laptop before and are comfortable with it I would take it apart enoung to see what is shorted, I could be on of the flat cables and not anything on the mother board. It may be something that you can replace . Its worth a shot.
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by:Grant1842
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Wow some typing mistakes in that post. Sorry for that.
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by:legendary1
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The DV9000's have had known issues and I would check to see from HP if yours qualify's for a discounted repair. The total will come to around $260 if you do around $350 if you don't. As you can sell one on ebay for $250-$450 depending on specs. I would question whether it's worth that or not. I'm okay doing a repair I can get my money back out of if I decide to sell.

http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?lc=en&dlc=en&cc=us&docname=c01087277

Hopefully that's helpful. You could look for a junk system with a cracked display for parts and do the work yourself, but I would advise that it's worth the time savings to have them fix it, if you think that it was a good system.
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by:conticreative
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Thank you guys for the help. Indeed one of the first things I did was to check Ebay for a unit  with a cracked display. No luck, but I found a new display, meaning some other bastard had theirs fails.

Indeed I will take it apart and check what smoked in there. It should be easy to find. Unfortunately, I am in the process of setting up a new desktop I just bought and since I am a web developer and multimedia producer I have more programs than God to install and configure. This is the third day and I am still not close to seeing the end of it. The laptop will have to wait until I am done.

As far as the laptop being worth the repair, yes and no. It's a good machine and I have installed 2 500GB hard drives and good quality memory for 4GB. Given that in my experience each time I buy a new computer somehow I cannot use the upgrades I made to the old one I think it would be worth spending $250 on this machine. But not a penny more.

The model of my Pavillion is DV9500 and naturally it's not listed in the HP discount repair page thatLegendary1 kindly provided. That pretty much is in tune with my luck :)

I'll take the keyboard apart and let you know what I find. Thank you all. For now.
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by:RohitBagchi
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Hello,

Just saw your question, and though you are working on it, I wanted to share my two cents.

The keyboard is a separate unit - simply put - you will not be able to see sparks from the motherboard through the keyboard. Which means the sparking will most likely have been from the keyboard circuitry itself. Which by itself is a simple component to replace. The underside of the keyboard is a full length circuit board from end to end of the keyboard.

If you are confident about tinkering with laptops, just remove the wire that connects the keyboard to the motherboard and try booting up. It it does, you can either get yourself a new keyboard or simply connect a USB keyboard to the laptop and continue working as usual. There is a definite chance that the keyboard circuitry short is not allowing the mobo to boot up based on what you mentioned in your question.

Since you mention the laptop has not seen much use, it is likely that there was buildup of some type of moisture / mould on the internals which caused the shorting in the first place.

I sure hope the problem is this simple, but that\s on your luck mate :) If the keyboard is not the issue, and its your MB thats fried, in my humble opinion, its usually a better idea to just get yourself a new laptop at about the same cost of the replacement / repair or scour EBay for other dead laptops of your model for a working mobo.

Fingers crossed.
RB.
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by:nobus
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i doubt it's the keyboard. more probable ar e problems with the chipset.
i would take the good parts out, and sell them on e-bay; UNLESS you see what exactly is bad (could be a cable shorting a  ram chip)
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by:conticreative
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Thanks guys, unfortunately over the weekend I had to go out of town and I didn't have a chance to take apart the laptop. But I'll try to get to it later today and I'll let everyone know.

Naturally, I hope @RohitBagchi is right. It would be great and I have changed and taken apart many a laptop I am batting 1 for 4 so far (one repaired, 3 were a bust) but I changed many keyboards on laptops over the years and it is very easy.

Also one more bit of info:

Before the sparks, I wrote that I saw a bright white light flashing. My wife was beside me at an opposite angle to the keyboard and she saw a green light flash. Maybe some quantum thing, the cat alive and dead at teh same time. Who knows?

Thanks again for the help. I'll make sure to let everyone know how this turns out.

PS: If any of you finds a HP dv9 series with a broken screen anywhere, send me a holler, just in case.

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by:conticreative
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Well, I have bad news. The keyboard is fine (at least  it's not the culprit).

I have taken the machine apart and pretty much in the same area where I saw the sparks the back of the keyboard has a nice burn mark.
Right below there is a access point to what I think is the motherboard. There you can see some circuits and a couple of elements look burned up.

I am going to take a picture and try to upload it.
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by:conticreative
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Here are the pics, a large view to show where the area is and a close up.
hp-pavillion-9000-01.jpg
hp-pavillion-9000-02.jpg
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by:nobus
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yep - that is conclusive: mobo burned..
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by:Mark
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That would be a toasted motherboard alright.
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by:conticreative
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Thank you guys. I guess I have a new laptop in my future....
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