How to fix the most frequent problems of a Newton MessagePad 130
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Do you know this stubborn I - will - find - the - reason - even - if - this - is - the - last - thing - I - do - in - my - life feeling?
Well, this feeling hasn't left me since the Newton MessagePad 130 was introduced. Until recently, that is...
There are a few hardware problems nearly every Newton 130 seems to develop sooner or later. By far the most frequent one is a severe problem with
powering up. Either the Newton shuts off as soon as you touch it, twist it or simply look at it a little less than friendly, or it doesn't power up at all.
Recently David Watson, to many Newton fans also known as Dr. Newton, told me where to look when trying to fix this annoying defect. While he was at it,
he also pointed out the reason for another very frequent defect the Newton 130's are prone to develop: A backlight that is flickering or not working at all.
This page would not have been possible without David's help. Apart from being - quite obviously - a helpful guy, Dr. Newton is also known as someone who
provides fast and professional Newton repairs and upgrades. To the best of my knowledge he is currently the only one who offers MessagePad 2000
upgrades, apart from that he is also doing screen replacements and other repairs for older Newton models. You can reach him at email@example.com
From now on we will assume that you have taken apart your Newton MessagePad 130 as described in my disassembly instructions.
You should also be aware of the basic precautions (outlined on the same page) required when handling and soldering delicate electronic components.
And, as I never get tired of pointing out, it's not without reason that I went to so much trouble phrasing my Disclaimer...
The fellow you see here, known by the name of U43, appears to be the most frequent cause of the MP130's reluctance to power up.
This IC is pushed loose over time. You will find it next to the battery compartment on the side of the main logic board that faces
towards the display. In other words, you must remove the main logic board to have a look at it.
If U43 looks like what you see in
the picture, you are very lucky. Lucky because all you have to do is carefully resolder all of its eight legs. If you are less lucky,
you won't see U43 at all because it's been pushed off. If this is the case, it is high time for an immediate don't - even - think - of - using
- the - vacuum - cleaner edict. If you are lucky, you will find U43 after hours of intensive search somewhere where it shouldn't be.
Three year-olds can be extremely helpful in situations like this, provided they are promised a generous reward for finding a tiny,
black and unimportant item.
If I were you, I wouldn't try to realign U43 unless you can't solder it back on otherwise. Realigning it might tear a pin off or destroy
its respective pad on the main logic board.
You might be wondering what has pushed U43 loose in the first place. The culprit is a stupid little plastic support that is located on top of U43 when the Newton is assembled.
Remove this support, and you will never see this particular defect again.
I would now like to introduce you to four resistors that were very poorly manufactured. All four are 4.64 kΩ.
Not only were their ends very poorly plated, they also have an annoying tendency to crack inside. Do not assume they are OK if you can
measure their resistance with a multimeter: it might well be that they are only behaving well as long as they are touched by your multimeter's
test tips. Resoldering these resistors is a temporary fix at best.
While you have the Newton open anyway, your best bet is to replace them even if they do not cause you any problems yet. Of the four resistors
described here, the problem is almost always with R73 and R79. You will find them next to the switching regulator IC U4 on the side of the main
logic board that faces towards the back of the unit, i. e. you needn't remove the main logic board to replace them.
The next resistor is R61. You will find it next to IC U22 at the edge where the power switch is. As with the other two resistors, you needn't
remove the main logic board to replace this resistor.
Finally, replace R52. You will find it next to a through in the main logic board. Unfortunately you will have to remove the main logic board
to get at this fellow because it lives on the side of the main logic board that faces towards the display.
By now you might be wondering where on earth you are supposed to find 4.64 kΩ resistors. This value is fairly uncommon and quite
hard to come by. The good news is that I have always used 4.7 kΩ resistors without any problems. Your mileage may vary, but I strongly doubt it.
Well, that takes care of the power-up problems.
If your problem is a flickering or dead backlight, you might have a look at resistor R112. It can be found right next to where the backlight wires
are soldered to the main logic board. It is a 1.5 kΩ resistor that was just as poorly manufactured as the four I mentioned above.
While your Newton is open and your soldering iron is hot, don't hesitate to replace it even if you do not yet have any problems with your Newton's backlight.
You needn't remove the main logic board to replace it.
Just in case you have lost all courage by now and think you'd never be able to do this: Don't throw your little green friend in the trash just yet. Dr. Newton is still around,
and he still offers the repairs I mentioned at the top of this page. Just email him at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Depending on my spare parts level I am sometimes able to fix things, too. If you live closer to Germany than to the USA, you might want to
inquire whether this is currently the case. From within the United States you'll be better off having your
Newton fixed by Dr. Newton. Apart from the fact that he is an expert while I am, well, an aspiring expert at best, shipping to Germany and back isn't
exactly a bargain even if shipped USPS surface mail.
Dead links? Questions? Anything still unclear? Any syntax or grammatical errors in this description? Feel free to tell me
about it. Yes, really. Don't be polite, be helpful. If you aren't, how is this page ever going to improve?