Category Archives: Computer repair

Geeksquad rates list

I believe many computer repair technicians have ideas about what the geek squad charge for computer repair services or are unsure. I created this simple table which shows what services they do, and charge for. Everything is taken directly from their website.

Some services are missing like DC-Jack repairs, laptop LCD repairs, motherboard replacements and OS re-installs. I think many of the advanced repairs the geek squad scares off the repair by telling the customer that the computer repair is not worth the fix and up sells a new laptop or desktop.

Phone quote online In store In home
Virus & Spyware Removal X X 149.99 199.99 299.99
Backup and online storage X 69.99 X X X
Computer Training X 49.99 X X 149.99
Computer Tuneup X 49.99 X 99.99 X
Data Recovery X X X Starting 59.99 X
Email setup X X Setup: 49.99 Troubleshoot: 69.99 X X
Hardware install (MEM-MP3-printer- etc) X X X 49.99 X
Hardware Repair X X X Price Varies X
Phone Quote Online In Store In Home
In home PC Hookup X X X X 149.99
Setup of Mobile Broadband X X X 29.99 X
Printer Setup 149.99 49.99 X X X
Printer Trouble shooting X 69.99 X X 149.99
installing antivirus and security software. X X X 69.99 X
Socail Media training X 49.99 X X 149.99
Phone Quote Online In Store In Home
Software Install X 49.99 X 29.99 129.99
Technology Consultation X X X X 99.99
Wireless Networking X X X X 99.99

Hot Air rework Soldering Station *2nd Update*

After finding a great rate on a hot air rework station. (around $120 shipped) I have been amazed at how much easier doing most de-soldering jobs has become. Soldering two pieces of metal together is relatively a simple task. The trouble starts when  you need to de-solder components from a PCB board that have many leeds. You can melt two or three of the leeds and still the component is held firmly onto the PCB.  However if you use hot air. All of the components leeds could melt at the same time and the component can be removed quickly without the removal of the original solder.

I have noticed that it has been difficult to hold the Hot air station handle, grasp the component and keep the motherboard in the same place. I tried to find flexible piping but nothing i found was strong enough to hold the handle in place. While in storage I found a clamping desk light. I purchased this light years ago from staples. Its the kind that has a long arm and springs. It also has a terrible magnification glass and a standard light bulb  in the “head”. I have no idea where to find another. I think it cost $20 Dollars.

So as you may have guessed I took of the lighted “head” and attached the handle and hot air nozzle to the station. For my model I had to remove one of the springs to balance the weight difference. Now my hot air station is truly hands free and it leaves me with the ability to hold the motherboard in place and grab the component with some pliers at the same time. Click on the pictures to see more details.

The most valuable tool in my shop. My Igo PSU.

Ive been ranting and raving about my Igo power adapter for awhile now. Always on Podnutz – The computer repair podcast network. IGo is a company who makes power supplies to power and charge nearly any device. I have a computer repair shop and I get tons of laptops these days. For some strange reason half of my clients bring me their laptops without a power adapter. Im not sure why. I think they all assume I will have no problem powering up their laptop on my own. What they dont realize is there are 15 different tips and many more different power supplies out there. I cant imagine a repair shop having all of them on hand and ready to go. I was sick of ordering the adapters only to just test a laptop. Its also a pain when you are waiting for an adapter and you cant work on the system until it arrives days later.

I was searching ebay for universal power adapters and found a listing for an Igo power adapter with the seller claiming it can power “9000 different laptops” I almost jumped out of my seat. To my surprise this may be partly accurate. The Igo power adapter Everywhere 130 is the best model for powering laptops.  Getting one of these power adapters isn’t easy. They are discontinued but I found a few available on ebay. The trouble is getting the tips. They are hard to find and if you can they go for about $8-10 USD each which adds up quick. I purchased two IGo adapters one just for the tips. The auction had 7 tips i needed and was about $60. I resold the second IGo with all of the duplicate tips i had and made most of my money back. Today I have them all and I can power up virtually any laptop that comes into my shop. So far the only laptops I cant power up are macbooks, some netbooks and old 120watt piece of crap dells.

There is an alternative, Targus. So far I haven’t been impressed. The quality is low and I have personally witnessed a Targus power adapter that powered up a laptop but wouldn’t charge the battery. My IGo charged the battery right away. So I will stick with my IGo for now. Their website is the only way to look up the tip you need. Which kind of sucks because they wont provide a compatibility list offline.

To conclude I think every Laptop Tech should have one of these in their shop. I tend to use my IGo at least two times a day in my shop. Even just for testing purposes. Its also great for testing faulty power connectors. Much easier than a voltmeter.

Hot Air rework Soldering Station *Update*

I have had the hot air station for awhile now and i have discovered a few things about the soldering station. De-soldering with the soldering iron is not recommended. The traditional way to de-solder components is to use a de-soldering wick soldering paste and the iron. The solder soaks up the solder and after a few tries the component lead will be solder free and the component can be removed with damaging the tracings on the motherboard. However I have noticed that the solder in many laptop motherboards is a high temperature solder and this soldering station’s soldering iron just doesn’t get hot enough at 450 degrees. My digital weller soldering station gets up to 850 degrees and makes the task of de-soldering with a wick much easier.

But that’s not why I bought this hot air station. I bought this station for one simple task. De-soldering laptop DC Jacks without going insane. Now hat i have had a few jobs with it. I can assure you it works very well. I can make all dc jack contacts melt at the same time and remove the jack without removing the solder. I can even add the new jack immediately after the faulty jack is removed. This actually saves time, effort and aggravation.

I have also discovered a new use for the hot air de-soldering station. I also use the hot air to remelt hot glue on the occasion when i use hot glue to repair broken bezels screw holes and remounting screw nuts. With the hot air station you can heat the hot glue to a higher temp than the glue gun and work with it longer.

To conclude I would simply say I am satisfied with the hot air station and what it can do. Its well worth the price if you do advanced laptop repairs.

Windows home server installation and basics

I decided to finally install windows home server. I have zero server experience and have heard Paul Thurrott gush about this many times on windows weekly with Leo laporte. I have a few computers in my apartment and i would benefit from windows home servers backup features and file hosting.

Picking the right system
The first step in setting up the server is to find a PC to install it on. I have a few older xp computers laying around and i figures they would be perfect for this project. I was dead wrong. Windows home server has basic requirements first you need a computer with at least a 100 gigabyte Hard drive. A typical person would want much more than this. So to be fair anyone serous about using windows home server is going to buy a new large hard drive. Most of the newer large disc drives are SATA and most of the older xp systems are IDE. This is a problem because windows home server doesnt support many RAID cards.

Installing the OS
Installing the OS is basic enough. I found the installation is very automated and doesnt ask many questions at all. This is unlike Windows XP setup which is painful due to how many times it will stop in the middle and require info. Once The OS is installed you have 30 days to activate and I had 94 Windows updates to do.

Drivers and updates
Its important install windows updates first and choose custom versus express. With a custom windows update you will have the ability to install needed drivers quickly, easily and it is very safe.  Windows home server is based on Windows server 2003 which is also based on windows xp. When you are looking for drivers that windows update cannot find you may have to choose an alternate operating system. If you cant find windows home server in the choices of drivers on the manufacturers site choose server 2003. If server 2003 is unavailable choose windows xp. Xp drivers has worked for me. Windows may warn you about the driver not being signed. Ignore this and install the driver anyway. If you actually have a major problem with a driver. It wont be the end of the world, just a OS reload.

I will continue to write more about my experience with windows home server in the future.

Hot Air rework Soldering Station

This is the hot air station i purchased from china on Ebay for my computer repair business. I purchased this unit mainly for de-soldering.  Anyone who has tried to de-solder and remove components from a PCB board knows this can be  difficult, time consuming and frustrating. Just when you melt one components lead the others harden up and hold it into place. The idea of hot air  is that you can heat up the area and melt all of the connections at once. This leaves you with the option of removing the component without removing the solder with a de-soldering wick or a de-soldering pump.

This is what the box looks like. Its pretty simple really. There is no need for pretty pictures. Its a true white box experience. There are many different company names and models to choose from. I chose this one based on a few things I liked in the Ebay listing.

This is the handle for the hot air station. Inside there is a small fan. wires and a heating element. I liked that this model had the heating element inside of the handle. As you can see this makes it easy to replace the heating element if needed. There are many nozzles for the handle they are pictured above. There is a magnet kill switch in the handle and stand. So when you you place the handle back on the mount it automatically shuts off the air.

Above is a picture of the extra heating element included.
The station is digital and has 2 connections and heaters. One is for the soldering iron and the other is for the hot air. The dial higher up is the control for fan speed.  The other two are for both heating elements hot air and Iron. Thats the other reason i chose this unit. It comes with a soldering iron.

Conclusion:

So far I haven’t had much experience with hot air de-soldering. I liked this unit because it had a reasonable price and many accessories. It even came with many soldering iron tips. Most of them are very sharp. If you find this blog entry helpful, or interesting please leave some comments. I would like to hear what people think.

Reflowing Motherboards SMD Chips

Motherboard extra Crispy

I cam across a repair for some bad laptop motherboards. Some models of laptops have bad heatsinks for their Graphics chipsets. This heat can get so hot that it can melt the solder under the SMD chip and ball up and loose connection from the motherboard. The symptoms vary and basically are all of the tell tale symptoms of a bad motherboard.

This is a problem with IBM Think pad models T40, T41 and T42. Its also widely reported to be a problem for Some of the HP DV2000, DV6000 and DV9000 Series. The repair is not easy and requires an SMD rework station. Some technicians are able to reflow the SMD Chip solder with a heat gun. This is a dangerous repair and requires the technician to heat the motherboard enough to melt the solder under the SMD Chip but not enough heat to burn the components or melt any of the plastic.  As you might expect this is a repair that takes some experience to complete reliably and some guts.

I am going to take on a few test repairs and see how they go. It should be interesting and a great service to anyone who needs this repair. If it gos well It will be nice to tell a customer they wont have to spend the extra money on a new motherboard.