—Silvia (part three)…

December 24, 2011

(image credit: Home Theater Shack)

I stopped by my local Home Depot and bought my first soldering iron. When I was little my uncle had a soldering gun he used for small car related projects. I thought the concept of fusing metal was pretty cool. The pins on the faulty power button connector were so tiny I was afraid of shorting out the board. My early practice attempts at soldering ended in a fruitless, sloppy, unattractive heap on my workbench. Since I was such a novice I needed to learn some basic skills. I found a web tutorial on the proper soldering techniques. By this time I had also learned I could have purchased a better soldering iron and kit from Radio Shack, one of many regrets.

In any case, I had another project in mind that I figured I could hone my skills on. Having bluetooth was great, but once the newness wore off I wanted to upgrade it to a faster module with more features. It also started giving out when I put my hand on the palm rest to type. The connector was coming loose (another design flaw). Dell had released the Truemobile 350 (mine was the 300) a year or two after I bought Silvia. It looked almost exactly the same, only they changed the connector to a cable… hmm wonder why. Since my board didn’t have a cable connector I needed to solder the card directly to the motherboard, only I had no idea which wire would go where. Google.

I found the necessary pinouts and went to work on finding a guinea pig on eBay. Some guy sold me the wrong module (know what you’re selling people!), which used Toshiba drivers and would have required some wonky registry hack to fool windows into thinking it was a Broadcom chip. I actually destroyed that first card (overheated the pads) but another eBay transaction later I had the right one to play with requiring no hacks. The first time I turned it on it didn’t work. I soon discovered that I wired it wrong (oops). You’d think each pin assignment would go in sequential order right? Luckily, I didn’t short out my motherboard so with that corrected, all I had to do was find the drivers to get windows to recognize it. Here is where Dell really shines to wide-eyed tinkerers and DIY-ers like myself. They provide detailed documentation on all their products as well as a whole batch of drivers to test. I found a driver from another laptop that worked on mine and for the most part it ran pretty smoothly. Bluetooth 2.0 with EDR, not too shabby. That is, of course, until I upgraded to Windows 7 but I’ll leave that for later.

I maxed out the RAM to 2GB (Corsair), upgraded the processor to the the dothan 2.0GHz Pentium M (got 2 for the price of one!), and upgraded the wireless card. Isn’t eBay great? I still had to solve that power button issue and do something about preventing overheating. I was also formulating plans to add some extra USB ports, an external graphics card for better HD video support, and a built-in webcam. All of which I knew possible after some more google-ing, and looking at some work done by tnkgrl to an EeePC. Truly inspiring.


2 Responses to “—Silvia (part three)…”

  1. Charisse Says:

    Keep writing such fabulous posts on your passion. I am happy that you are finally sharing your trials and tribulations with Silvia to the world. It encourages others to not give up until a goal is met. Not just on DIY projects but anything.

    Much love :o*

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