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Serviceman's Log

A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing so why do people delve into the insides of computers when they know almost nothing about them? It can certainly make life difficult for anyone who has to sort out the inevitable problems.

by the Serviceman

Items Covered This Month

• Leon’s computer

• My neighbour Wally

• Grundig Elegance MFW70-3210/8 (CUC 1934 chassis)

• A 5-minute job – not

• The forgetful modem

My first two stories this month are from A. F. of NSW. The first concerns a computer user who definitely didn’t know what he was doing. Here it is in his own words . . .

Leon’s computer

Leon hammered on my front door early one Sunday morning. According to him, his monitor had just blown up and he wanted to borrow mine so that he could complete some urgent work. I had not yet finished my coffee and it was Sunday but I don’t charge my neighbours for my services, in case I need help from them one day.

I said I would be over in 30 minutes with my spare flat screen and would also take a look at his monitor for him. When I got there, I found that Leon’s CRT monitor presented a blank screen, although the green power LED was on. “See, it’s dead!”, Leon told me.

Click for larger image

I did not want to expose his ignorance too rudely, so I told him that another test would have to be made to prove it one way or the other. This involved unplugging the monitor cable from the PC’s video card. I did this and the “No Video Signal” warning immediately appeared in colours on the screen, so the monitor was in fact OK.

Leon stared in disbelief and said “But where is the XP start-up screen?” He really wasn’t following what was going on.

When I restarted the computer, I noticed an unusual silence from it – there were no beep codes and no noises from the hard disk drives. By now, Leon was also silent and it was time to find out why the computer was lifeless.

First, I removed the cover and closely examined the mainboard, looking for any loose power cables or signs of mechanical damage. It was then that I noticed that the CMOS battery had been installed upside down, as I could see the circle of the insulating material on the end of the battery. So how had that happened? It was a strange “fault” to say the least.

I removed the coin cell and it measured 2.98V under a 1mA load, which was acceptable. I then re-installed it, the right way up this time. It didn’t fix the main problem of course but it was still a fault that had to be corrected.

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