Back from the Dead (part 2)

This continues from my previous article about reviving my thought-to-be-dead Kogan laptop so I could take advantage of its FHD (1920×1080 px) display, have a less-distracting environment for getting writing done, and be able to try out a Chromebook-like notebook with CloudReady Chromium OS by Neverware.  One issue with a cheap Kogan notebook is the paper-thin stack of documentation supplied by the manufacturer, either in the box or online. Not surprisingly, I couldn’t locate anything remotely like a service manual: the logic, apparently, is: “why would you want to repair this?” Just junk it and buy another. As market logic: yes, it makes sense, I spent less than $400 AUD on it. As planet logic: a big fail for sustainability.

Placing the notebook top-side down, I first removed the 12-retaining screws from the bottom case. I then mistakenly flipped it over and removed the keyboard because in the other laptops I’ve dismantled this has always been necessary. But for the Kogan Altas, leave the keyboard in place. The bottom case-half comes off on one piece if you gently slide your fingernails into the join between the case-halves, starting from the back – near the batteries in the above photo (left) – and working your way forward. Carefully, as the case fits very tightly around the microphone and speaker jacks (see photo top-right above), which are fairly deeply recessed into it. I wish I’d had this article when I first started:

But I only found it when stuck after my misstep of removing the keyboard. Notice the non-replaceable battery pack in the photo above (left panel). It consists of 3-green cell-batteries with a plastic-spacer where a 4th cell would sit. The battery capacity is a measly 24 Whr. Looks like I’ll need to source a spare sooner rather than later. Anyway, since the batteries are non-replaceable I decided to isolate the battery-pack by separating the motherboard and battery connector by sliding a piece of paper between them (photo above, right-bottom). Once the batteries were isolated, with the mains off, I tried to reset the CMOS by depressing the on-off switch for 1 min. No effect: no fan, no display, and no hard disk whir. The next step was to replace the 4GB DDR3L memory SO-DIMM with a new one. Still, nothing worked. After sleeping on this, I decided the next step was to remove the coin-sized Li-battery from its mount on the motherboard and wait about an hour. After reconnecting both batteries and mains power, it was a total surprise when I turned it on and it booted normally into windows. WOW, I honestly didn’t think I’d see this notebook ever work again! I just needed to reset the CMOS but, in this case, that was easier said than actually done.

Not long afterward I had the  HDD replaced with a speedy SSD and added the original memory to the spare memory slot. Nothing wrong with the memory, so now I have 8 GB (maximum for this system). I loaded CloudReady Chromium OS by Neverware onto the SSD and have a working Chromebook-clone to try. I’ll report on my experiences with my “new Chromebook” in a later post.

Disclaimer: I have no connections, personal, financial, or otherwise to Neverware, Kogan or Google.




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