x61s and the backlight, replacing a CCFL and shorten a fuse

Over the last months, I tried to repair my broken x61s which suffered from a missing backlight.

First, I changed the inverter, which is easy and relatively cheap to do. In case you read the Hardware Maintenance Manual, don’t follow it too closely. The inverter is easily changeable by removing the three screws on the bottom of the opened panel and carefully detaching the clipped front cover of the panel. The inverter sits on the bottom right and is the part that also lights the LEDs. You can’t miss it. But be careful: The inverter puts out high voltage, in the range of 600V to 800V, peaking at 1500V. Hence it’s hard to measure with normal home equipment :-/

Anyway, changing the inverter didn’t bring my backlight back up. So I got myself a LCD cable which is more expensive and a bit harder to attach than the inverter. You need to remove the LCD panel from its case which involves a lot of screws. Don’t miss to have separate bowls for the screws and even better: take pictures or notes to remember where the screws have been. Or be very disciplinary to follow the official instructions.

However, changing the LCD cable didn’t bring any remedy. So the only culprit, that I could think of, was the CCFL that’s actually responsible for lighting up the whole thing. So I got myself a new CCFL for a couple of euros.

Changing the CCFL is a bit messy, especially because it involves soldering. There are good instructions on the web as to how to change the CCFL. It also requires you to be very kind with the the tube so that it doesn’t break. And losing any part will probably result in a substantial loss of quality for you, so be careful. I mean it. I lost a tiny rubber ring which is to be placed around the tube to hold it tight in its channel and now the tube vibrates nicely in the panel making interesting noises.

Anyway, changing the CCFL didn’t bring back the backlight. I was very confused. There was no part I knew of that I didn’t change. With the exception of the motherboard… So I asked a friend of mine to provide his perfectly working x61s so that we’d have a reference platform that we knew was working. Thanks again to that friendly fellar that allowed the disassembly and reassembly of his machines several times 🙂 We switched several parts and it turned out that my panel with the new CCFL kinda works with the other inverter card. It didn’t with my inverter though. Again, very weird. As it turned out later, the CCFL contacts were not correctly isolated and short circuited :-/ But we didn’t know and thought the CCFL was broken from the very beginning. So my recommendation, which is also more (unpleasant) work, is: Checkpoint your work, i.e. run a test every now and then. It
would have saved us a lot of trouble.

So after having cross checked that my inverter was working correctly and the backlight was acting weird, I came across the fact that there might be a blown fuse. And well, the F2 fuse, which was not findable without the helping picture, was not letting anything through. Since it’s a SMD fuse there was no chance of soldering a new fuse onto the mainboard. So we just shortened the fuse with conducting silver paint.

Fortunately, the laptop’s backlight is working again, now. However, the keyboard is not. I presume that the whole dis- and reassembly shortened the lifespan of the keyboard cable. Also, as I mentioned, the CCFL is humming in the panel…

Spare Thinkpad x60, x60s, x61 or x61s anybody?

Dear Lazyweb,

my beloved laptop broke down 🙁 It’s an x61s and its backlight is not working anymore. I replaced the inverter card and the LCD cable to no avail. It can now only be the last and most expensive part: The LCD panel.

Hence my question: Do you know where to get hold of a spare x60, x60s, x61 or x61s with a working LCD panel? If so, please contact me.


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This work by Muelli is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported.