Friday, January 09, 2009

RoHS is guilty for the Toshiba M35X and HP NC6000 laptop dead motherboard

Due to a surprising popularity of my text on fixing a Toshiba M35x motherboard problem, I decided to update you all on the situation with the laptop and some other points brought up by folks who used my tutorial.
In the past several months I received many “thank you” posts, and I’ve also received some comments that prompted me to update the previous post with some extra info.
First of all, I’d like to thank everybody who publicized my fix on other websites. Some of them properly quoted my text and passed credits to me, while others unfortunately did not have the courtesy to mention that is not their blog. Sad, it’s their loss of integrity. I’ve also learned that Toshiba has some problems with law suits over the M35 series which means this is a major deal… folks suing the company because it produced a bad product. I’d rather sue them because their support technicians are too lazy to work at problems and figure out how to justify their high salaries… but that’s what I’d do. Apparently Toshiba thinks it’s better to pay fines instead of hiring some competent folks… like me for example :)
Further on, I want to thank folks who commented with constructive questions and comments which prompted me to do some search to see where my text is mentioned, and to my surprise, one of the comments on my blog pointed to an ebay, and I also found a pirated copy on Scribd. Good thing Scribd has a good Copyright response team, which took about a day to address the issue.

Now, about the updates…
First, one of the comments pointed out that the same fix worked for HP NC6000 and NC 8000 laptops also. While searching through other sites, people report of using the same fix on Toshiba Satellite A70, m115, and alike. I've also found out that some people used this tutorial to repair Gateway laptops. I guess the tutorial in general works on any laptop produced after 2000.
The second thing I’d like to share is a bit of theory behind this problem.
As we all know, the world is moving toward green technologies, and one of them is the enforcement of the RoHS certificate, which basically means Restricition of Hazardous Substances. For electronics, this means no Lead in the solder alloys, which means no flexibility for the solder joints. For some chips, this is a good thing, but for the Maxim chip design, its not so good. For general understanding of how RoHS and lead-free alloys affect the electronics industry read up on Wikipedia’s article. It’s quite good. For a more scientific explanation of the effects of Lead-free alloys on chip-PCB contact tensions, read this article. To summarize them both, the failure of the Toshiba Satellite M35 and Satellite A70 series, as well as HP NC6000 /8000 is due to large surface tensions between the chip and the motherboard. Due to poor elasticity of lead-free soldering alloys, the solder joints crack and slowly oxidation builds up which leads to electronics failure. This is why I suggested using a hot air gun for resoldering the Maxim chip, but unfortunately none of the electronics service shops wanted to play with the motherboard. Resoldering with a plain solder iron can only mend the problem, it cannot fix it permanently. I just had the Toshiba M35 in for repair again, probably due to lead-free residues between the motherboard and the MAXIM pins. If it were totally removed, both the chip and the PCB could be cleaned off from the lead free alloy, and resoldered back with the plain elastic Pb60Sn40 solder alloy (60% Lead, 40% tin). Alas, we do what we can with the resources we have. I resoldered the chip again, and sent it back, free of charge. Heck, it only takes about 30 minutes of work.
And one last thing, just for the fun of it, here are two links to images that illustrate the problem with pins not covered with solder alloy, found in the Wikipedia article, and here is a photo of how the solder looks with Lead free, and normal solder alloys.
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Anonymous said...


You should also add the HP NC8000 to the list. The Maxim chip is near the battery and can be seen after removing the palmrest. It can be fixed with a re-solder station with the motherboard in place. I have fixed five of these but be carefull as the chip has solder to hold it to the motherbaord and this can run and short out the tracks on the chip/board.



Toshiba Customer Care Contact Number said...

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