Our trusted Inspiron 1150 has suddenly developed an odd problem and I'm uncertain if it's hardware (motherboard etc) or battery.
The front charging light started to flicker rapidly when the lappy was in stand-by and we simply shut the machine down. The following day the machine wouldn't boot and hung on the Windows load up screen. It initially started to boot into Safe Mode, and when trying to run full diagnistics (via F12 options), all tested ok until the sequence asked for the charger to be connected to check charging/battery; on plugging in the AC adaptor, the Inspiron just froze up.
I have several AC chargers, so tried both units and discovered that if I tried to boot the machine with either charger connected, the lappy wouldn't go anywhere at all (not even offereing F2 setup prompt) and hung with a blinking cursor in the top left corner. The machine will do this everytime I try a boot with either charger connected. If I leave the machine to charge and boot off the battery, I got the initial problem of only booting to a certain point.
To identify if the HDD was ok, I've currently swapped the drive into another machine and it's booted ok and running a full scandisc, plus I've installed a spare HDD into the 'faulty' Inspiron which is currently re-installing Windows ok UNTIL I connect the charger again at which point the Inspiron just froze up again.
The common thing seems to occur whenever the charger is connected, but both chargers have been ok and there's no damage or loose connections etc to the input socket on the back of the Inspiron. My only thought is that maybe a battery fault has occured and producing a problem when trying to charge when the machine is on.
I'd appreciate any advice on this, as you'll appreciate I don't fancy the gamble on a new battery if un-necessary.
Apologies for the long post, but couldn't condense and wanted to post full detail of problem.
Cheers - Paul emoticon.TongueTied.title
Here's a bit about the DELL battery charging system
The AC adapters are fitted with a 3rd data line known as the PSID, it's used to identify the charger using a memory chip inside the adapter. This data line goes directly to a ULTRA I/O microprocessor inside your laptop.The design of this particular section is weak and prone to failure making either the memory chip die, or some of the input circuitry going to the ULTRA I/O microprocessor.
Once you connect the AC adapter a lot of things happen at this level. A hangup during battery connect seems to me it's related to a hardware issue.
First thing: Did you test the main memory?
Secondly, go into BIOS setup and connect the AC adapter and see if BIOS reports the type. If it reports "unknown", either the memory chip of the Adapter is dead and/or the input circuirty in the laptop is fried.
Now DELL knows about this: DELL describes failure patterns in patent
Extreme Laptop travel in the Middle-East and Asia
Thanks for the info and links.
I did suspect a fault with this data line, but the symptom is odd and I don't get any errors regarding incorrect charger etc. Memory is ok (tested on another machine). I can go into BIOS providing I run off battery only, because as soon as I connect the AC adaptor the machine will just freeze and hang-up with a hard reset being the only option. The battery charges when the PC is switched off and the machine is now running correctly from the battery, but will not boot when connected to mains or will freeze if connected to mains while machine already on.
I know there have been issues with the DC input socket and I've fully checked this and found no problem. Voltage present on the socket ok and I've now disconnected the central PSID pin in attempt to trick the machine not seeing the adaptor at all, but symptom persists. So in it's basic format, the AC adaptor is providing +/- charging voltage only and no identification signal to the lappy, but the machine still hangs off the adaptor (!).
I can only assume as you've suggested, that the mobo is fried; but could the battery have some peculiar fault as I'm not sure what the functions of the remaining battery contacts are for (about 10 pins to battery)
The battery is SMBUS connected through the same SMBUS master communicating to the AC adapter.
Seems to me the SMBUS master is causing the CPU to jump into the abyss through a faulty interrupt.
Most likely caused by hardware damage - when the laptop is off, the SMBUS master can't do any damage.
Extreme Laptop travel in the Middle-East and Asia
Have you tried booting w/o the battery installed. I have seen bad batteries keep a laptop from booting since I think they are includded in the DMI.
Thanks for the feedback guys, pretty much as I suspected being a mobo fault. Yep LA1, tried a boot on AC only and no start-up what so ever, seems reliant on battery being installed.
Have priced up potential mobo replacements and think it's probably time to get a full replacement machine; at least I can access the HDD ok via another lappy.
Cheers again - Paul.