Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Dell Latitude D800 Dead Display

Hey everyone, here are my notes on replacing the display inverter on a Dell Latitude D800. I'm not a repair tech and know enough to get in trouble. Hopefully this posting will help prevent you from doing the same!

The problem: Dell Latitude D800 display suddenly quit. After having developed the vertical line problem (and partially being repaired by Dell) the vertical lines stabilized and didn't get worse. But, the display did suddenly fail.

Step 1 - Consult Dell's support website and get the service manual.

Here, I booted the laptop with the 'fn' key depressed to put it in an autodiagnostic mode. After a period of time, it started beeping a morse code that can be decoded by using Dell's support website.

The answer was: Bad display inverter. I didn't know what that was.

Step 2 - Find replacement part on E-Bay and figure out if the laptop is worth repairing. This is the part, and it cost $20 bucks with expedited shipping. The one I found was used, but hey, its a used laptop.

Here is what was advertised and what was received. Not bad!

Dell Latitude D800 LCD Inverter LP154W01-B3 YPNL-N015A

Step 3 - Prepare the work area! I used a bathroom towel to help prevent parts from getting lost. This technique IS NOT good ESD practice, but this is not an expensive part and there are a bunch of small screws that have to be managed.

Step 4 - Follow the Dell Latitude service manual exactly as it states to prepare the laptop for display removal. But there were some specific experiences that I had that are important to point out.

a) I was hoping to keep the laptop plugged in as a ground, but the manual recommended against it. So instead, I just used my Bass (which delivers excellent static shocks) as a grounded metal surface to frequently touch before manipulating the laptop.

b) The service manual suggested removing the HDD, Memory and other expansion devices. This was not necessary to remove the display, therefore I left those parts alone.

c) Don't forget to remove the battery - the manual states clearly that in no way should the laptop be powered.

d) The manual suggests having a plastic scribe to work parts apart, etc... I found a big nylon tie to be effective and rigid enough. Definitely don't use a screwdriver to pry plastic - the Latitude's plastic is super easy to scratch and break (as you will see below)

Step 5 - Laptop prepared, now after the Display Inverter!

The service manual will have a section on how to remove the display. Follow it. You must first remove the two screws that hold the display in place.

The first thing I encountered was having to remove the main control panel cover. This thing is super flimsy and clearly is easy to break as it is being worked off the main part of the laptop. In particular, the area where the control panel meets the LEDs for power, disk and charging appears very easy to break. Be careful.

On the left side is a recessed notch that can be used by the plastic scribe to pop it out.

The service manual suggests putting the display back 180 degrees - this is actually necessary as the control panel cover cannot be removed safely with the display in the upright position.

Note the circled areas - good tab points to work.

When the control panel cover comes off, don't pull it away. It is connected by a ribbon cable on the far right.

Finally, observe the EMI clip and how the display cable runs under it. You probably want to place it back in its proper position when reassembling. Note in the picture that the display cable has been disconnected.

Step 6 - Free the display from the laptop

Again, following the service manual instructions, you will be lifting the display off the laptop chassis now that the control panel cover has been removed.

In doing this, I carefully lifted it away. The trick here is to not have the display hinges catch the control panel cover which is still wired to the laptop. Two people would work best.

Step 7 - Disassembling the display

This is where things got ugly. First off, the service manual isn't clear about which bumpers to remove. Don't remove the oval bumpers on the sides of the display - there is no screw behind them.

Here is how you can use a nylon cable tie to pop out the bumpers while not marring the plastic surface.

When following the service manual on removing the screws to release the bezel, take note that the two center lower screws are different from the other six 2.5x6mm screws.

With all of the screws removed from the display assembly, the major task is at hand: remove the bezel. This is the most difficult aspect of the repair.

Carefully read the service manual on recommendations from removing the bezel off the display and laptop cover (made of metal).

The bezel is extremely flimsy and can break!

Here is why I broke it - I didn't know which way to work the bezel and lifted up too strongly. What is going on is that the display and laptop cover have hooks that point inward. Consequently, applying force against the outer bezel edge inward toward the display is best to work the bezel off.

Here is a detail on the hooks. This picture shows the bezel on the left which is the part that is to come away from the display and laptop cover.

Here is a detail on the hook that is attached to the display and laptop cover. Note that although it appears that the hook will release the bezel if an upward force is applied to the bezel, this is untrue. If the bezel is pried away from the display and laptop cover, the bezel loops that these hooks catch will break.

Push the bezel edge inward, and use the plastic scribe to apply a gentle upward force.

The bezel really isn't designed to be removed.

Finally, the laptop cover hook that is attached to the display is attached to the display and laptop cover. The hook is NOT attached to the bezel, it is of no use in removing the bezel other than to stabilize the display and laptop cover as the bezel is removed.

Here are the latches on the display case where the bezel really needs to be worked.

The last part of this step is to realize that there are three screws on the right hand side that should not be removed. Here they are two of them. The screws that should be removed are tiny and are in the plane of the LCD.

Step 8 - Smooth sailing from here on out!

You are replacing the display inverter, and the connectors, remaining screw and component replacement is obvious and the service manual effectively describes what needs to be done.

But at this point, there were serious issues with my display!

First, it appears as if a ground was not properly attached to the laptop cover. Can't be too careful with these things especially in noisy electronic environments. Perhaps when the display was in for the vertical line problem this connection was detached? Doubt it, it would have just been cut.

Second, wires were pinched and wire exposed! No wonder this thing failed. Leaking current, no ground, wtf.

Here are the repairs made after the inverter was replaced.

Fixed ground wire.

Repaired and routed the wires.

Step 9 - reassemble and enjoy!


Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for taking the time to post this. Saved my ass!

Paul said...

Thanks for such a thorough description. Is it really necessary to remove the entire laptop cover and display from the body, or can you remove the bezel and replace the inverter without doing this?

Rich Andrews said...

I wouldn't recommend not removing then display - the bezel is such a pain to remove. Chances are you will torque the display posts, not be able to get the right purchase on the bezel, etc...

Remember, I followed the service manual and still busted the bezel!

Tim said...

Curious to know if this solved the problem with the dim screen. Thanks for a thorough post!

Rich Andrews said...

The screen was never dim - just with vertical lines. The inverter just suddenly gave out.

Anonymous said...

Like Anonymous said, thanks for taking the time to post this. I could not have done the bezel bit without your advice and photos.Also thanks for mentioning
the self diagnosis bit. I will use that in pursuing my problem. Again.. Thanks!!

Anonymous said...

This posting is awesome! Thank you for your tips & tricks! You're right, thin plastic pieces! But I love this laptop!

M.S. Bellows, Jr. said...

Awesome post, but I'm right in the middle of the repair, and have a problem - halp! The right hinge of the display won't lift off.

Panel removed, display cable disconnected and removed from little tabs, display vertical, left hinge lifts straight off, right hinge won't budge -- it's almost as if it's glued down.

The Googles aren't helping. I hope you're online on this nice Sunday afternoon!! Thanks a lot --
Scott scott -at-

M.S. Bellows, Jr. said...

Oops -- never mind! Didn't realize I needed to loosen the "D" screw on the bottom. One happened to be loose already, the other wasn't. Problem solved. Thanks again for a great post!

M.S. Bellows, Jr. said...

OK, now I have a REAL problem. The last two screws -- the ones that hold the inverter to the display -- are different than any of the others. Super tiny, Phillips, apparently without any depth to them -- as if an insect took his tiniest Phillips and ground off the point so it ended in just an X. I ground down a flat eyeglass repair screwdriver, which fit one axis, but it won't turn it. Is there a tool or a trick I'm missing? Thanks! --Scott

Rich Andrews said...

That sounds like a torx screw! Don't strip it with a philips or regular screw driver.

M.S. Bellows, Jr. said...

Thanks for getting back! Nope, not a Torx, either. I finally got them out (heated with a soldering iron and then they'd turn a little) -- semi stripped heads but I'll take them down to the local Fry's and get replacements.

Turns out the new inverter has one attachment hole in a slightly different place than the old one did, and when I hooked all up minus that one screw, the screen still didn't illuminate -- just the faint images. So either (1) that second screw is an important ground, (2) the new inverter is different electronically than the one required, or (3) the problem's something else. I guess I'll start by trying to get an inverter with the holes in the right places, and work from there.

Your post still rocks, and I appreciate your help. If you'd like pics from my travails, please let me know.

Thanks again --

Anonymous said...

This how-to is a life-saver! I was able to get my machine apart without breaking anything, ONLY because of the information contained herein. Hats off to you and taking the time to help others!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing! I have a question my Inspiron 9300 is more than 3yrs old and Dell refused to repair it (vertical lines), I'm not sure if anyone know if replacing the inventor will solve this issue. Any sujjestions?

Rich Andrews said...

vertical lines don't seem related to the lamp inverter as my dell still has the lines!

Anonymous said...

Thank you thank you. I can't believe old laptop works once again. Your instructions and pictures saved the day!!

M.S. Bellows, Jr. said...

Wish I could say the same as the last commenter. Vendor says the new inverter is electronically identical to the old one despite the slightly different hole location, and it hasn't solved the problem, so I need to look elsewhere now. What's the next thing to fix while I have it disassembled?

Brian said...

M.S. Bellows, Jr. it seems like we are having the same problems. I had to send back a Inverter because the screw holes didnt match up. Anyway now I got everything back together with a new inverter and the screen goes black after 30 seconds of the laptop being on.
Can anyone help me out here?

Ole Christian Wold Haavik said...

M.S. Bellows, Jr. and Brian;
I got the same issue, got a "new" inverter (20$) with different holes, mounted it, and turned the d800 on, but it is the same 2-60sec. before 99% black.... Did you find any solutions?? Tnx!

Christophe said...

From Paris, a big THANK YOU for this post. My biggest worry (besides breaking one of the plastic parts) was about repluging the cables, but it finally worked out well. Not so difficult to change the display ... with some extra help !

Rich Andrews said...

Gah... Dell. Lines in the display, warranty replacement. The dead inverter. Now more lines. Used WUXGA displays on ebay for $75...

Bruce said...

Thank you for taking th etime to post, and all of the photos. I am not dealing with an inverter, but the bezel removal info appears to be needed to replace the hinges. My left one appears to have worn through - I just got one piece from where the fan is (no fan damage!!), and another slipped out of the top of hte hinge compartment when the control panel cover was removed. Now I just need a trustworthy source for hinges (preferably in Canada)

cheap computers said...

It appears as if a ground was not properly attached to the laptop cover. Can't be too careful with these things especially in noisy electronic environments.

Anonymous said...

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Help, please. All recommend this program to effectively advertise on the Internet, this is the best program!

Anonymous said...

A seller on eBay is advertising an inverter that they say is compatible with the d800. But, it has different hole locations than the one you used. (this sorta sounds like I'm setting up a sweet nerd joke)

What's the deal, did I just get ripped off or is there a way around this?

Send Flowers to UK said...

Hey great stuff, thank you for sharing this useful information and i will let know my friends as well.

telephone headset said...

I could never find that screw, man it took me forever. Thanks for the pictures.

Anonymous said...

FYI, a few people said they got a replacement inverter where the screws didn't match up and their problem wasn't fixed. I also got an inverter where the screws didn't match up at all and my problem was resolved anyway. Just so people know all hope isn't lost if they are in that situation.

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Sara said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Teeppari said...

New inverter, screwholes matched, part changed, but display still gets dark after a while. Did not help at all, spare part was cheap, though, nothing really lost.

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Michael said...

Thank you so much, Rich - this is a fabulous, very helpful demonstration. I just changed the inverter on my daughter's laptop and it works again.

One tip: keep especially good track of which is the NEW inverter and which is the OLD. The good news: the second time you take the screen apart, it goes much quicker.

Thanks again