Repairing an unbootable Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro

Updating this blog after a busy weekend. I came into possession of a Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro ultralight which could not boot up. The BIOS showed the stock 256 GB SSD was not recognized – uh oh not a good sign.

Quickly went to Sim Lim to pick up a replacement (and one with a larger space) mSata SSD – Samsung  850 EVO 500 GB and prepared for the operation.

Something at the back of my head was stopping me from replacing the SSD, so I thought to give another spin on the repair bandwagon. After some mucking around, I managed to resuscitate the Y2P, not after downloading a Windows 8.1 ISO (its free to download but you will need to key in a serial number if you are doing a bare metal install) from Microsoft.

The magic is found within the Repair Options -> Command Line in the Windows 8.1 thumbdrive.

c:\> bootrec /FixMbr
c:\> bootrec /FixBoot
c:\> bootrec /RebuildBcd

The Y2P started to boot up normally. I was able to log into the Windows 8.1 desktop.

All’s well.

Another easy Saturday (wireless mouse cleaning)

Went to the library to study in the morning, followed by lunch at Fortune Centre and coffee at Mellower (hipster joint, I know).

Recrimped 1 x RJ45 cable and researched for a wireless mouse to replace the two I currently have. Both wireless mouse have scrolling problems (missed scrolls)

Just as I was about to hit Pay on the online website, a thought came across. Why don’t I try cleaning the scroll wheel on the mouse? So I gathered the tools:

  1. Screwdriver,
  2. Denatured Alcohol,
  3. Can of compressed air.

Opened up the mouse and removed the scroll wheel assembly. Surprisingly clean, despite it going places and more than 8 years old. (Dangling white connector – I’ve removed the two-wire connector from the base PCB)

Removed the scroll wheel and wiped the wheel slits clean. The slits triggers a counter in mouse programming to keep track on the number of clicks, thereby translating it to scrolls.

Did you note a possible JTAG header where the ribbon ends? 🙂

Cleaning the scroll wheel with Denatured alcohol on cotton buds and a few blast of compressed air helped to remove the minute debris stuck in-between the slits.

Note the white connectors from the outer shell connected back to the base PCB. A quick test after cleaning and saved another $40 under 10 minutes of work.

Very Naise.

Replacing a frayed Apple charging cable – (Part 4)

ATTENTION: Opening the AC adapter means you are voiding the warranty provided by Apple. In case of any accidents, fires or mishap, you will hold me harmless against all liabilities, lawsuits, etc.

Part  1 – Preparation work to open the ac adapter
Part 2 – Work steps to open the ac adapter
Part 3 – Re-soldering the terminals
Part 4 – You are reading Part 4

Aesthetics here means I want to keep it as Appleque as far as I can, even after a good working repair.

Unlike other tinkerers, I’m not in favour of using superglue (cyanoacrylate, err) to glue the two halves together. Instead, I’ll be using a roll of white vinyl electrical tape, easily found in most hardware stores.

Step 1

Inspect the replacement charging cable stopper attached to the ac adapter. Make sure its seated properly between the two halves. Then take care to press the two halves of the ac adapter together to ensure a tight fit.

Step 2

Wrap white electrical tape around the ac adapter as many times as required.

Job done!

Replacing a frayed Apple charging cable – (Part 3)

ATTENTION: Opening the AC adapter means you are voiding the warranty provided by Apple. In case of any accidents, fires or mishap, you will hold me harmless against all liabilities, lawsuits, etc.

Part  1 – Preparation work to open the ac adapter
Part 2 – Work steps to open the ac adapter
Part 3 – You are reading Part 3
Part 4 – Apple aesthetics

Work Steps that I’ve taken

We will desolder the two terminals in this part. The original Apple ac adapter has a green wire soldered to the positive (+) and a black wire soldered to the negative (-).

My replacement charging cable used white colour to denote the positive terminal and black colour to denote the negative terminal.

Step 1

We need to verify the replacement charging cable’s polarity before soldering the replacement cable onto the adapter.

To do so, connect the probes from a multimeter with continuity function or continuity checker to the charging points. You should get a similar pattern to mine (illustrated below)

Now that you have ascertained the polarity. Time to desolder the old charging cable. Let us have a quick recap on the terminals we need to desolder.

Using the soldering iron, heat up each point at a time and remove the flux using the solder sucker / desoldering wick.

You should get this. Two clean circles where the original points were .

You will be able to see this from the underside. Notice there is white gunk surrounding two connectors, you should not see this if you didn’t remove the gunk – and you should not remove this ‘gunk’.

 

Step 2

Soldering the replacement charging cable back on the two terminals.

Step 3

Testing time. But first to put the adapter block back into the casing. Remember to cover the two re-soldered terminals using the orange tape.

Gently slot the adapter block back into the white casing, as shown below. Note there are grooves in the replacement charging cable stopper (flange) that needs to be aligned with the two halves of the plastic casing for a good fit.

 

 

Lets see if it works.

Next to Part 4 for adhering the two halves of the adapter together.

Replacing a frayed Apple charging cable – (Part 2)

ATTENTION: Opening the AC adapter means you are voiding the warranty provided by Apple. In case of any accidents, fires or mishap, you will hold me harmless against all liabilities, lawsuits, etc.

Part  1 – Preparation work to open the ac adapter
Part 2 – You are reading Part 2
Part 3 – Re-soldering the terminals
Part 4 – Apple aesthetics

Work Steps that I’ve taken

Step 1

Disassemble the adapter by opening it with pliers. You will need a bit of strength to open the adapter. DO NOT to whack the adapter against any hard object in hopes the glue will give way. IT WILL NOT.

This is how I opened the casing.

 

This is the aftermath of removing one half of the cover.

The green strips are 3M tape to hold the copper shielding together. Depending on the position of the soldering connectors, you might need to remove the copper block from the white plastic casing.

In my case, the casing opened on the wrong side (the soldering connectors were only accessible from the other half of the casing), so I had to remove the other white casing to get to the connectors.

How would you know which is the correct side? Look for the orange tape.

You will need to remove the orange tape to get to the soldering connectors. Above shows the white casing opened from the wrong side, thats why I had to remove both sides of the casing.

 

Step 2

Before cracking open the other side of the casing, you will need to be careful as the other side will connect to the external connectors.

 

 

By the way, the white gunk appears to be the glue. I’ve gently scraped them away as it’s hindering the adapter refitting into the casing.

Unlatch the copper shielding on the side with the orange tape.

Then you will get to the circuitry after lifting the inner copper shielding. Depending on your soldering skills, a 75 degree bend on the inner copper shielding should be more than sufficient to get to the two soldering points.

Remove the orange tape, it should be out with a slight pull. Do not remove the white gunk blob between the green and black wires.

So we are ready to desolder the two points. The point on the left (green wire beneath) belongs to the positive terminal. The point on the right, leads to a black wire, for a negative terminal.

Continued on Part 3

Replacing a frayed Apple charging cable – (Part 1)

I’m a big fan of the Apple Magsafe (1 & 2) technology where the charging cable is magnetically attached to the laptop. Any accidental trips over the AC adapter and charging cable, doesn’t pull the entire laptop off the table.

Why did you (Apple) discontinue the Magsafe technology? What a shame!

Although I like the Magsafe technology, I am not a fan of the ac adapter build. The charging cable is usually the first to be damaged, as what I’ve found out on the web. It also happened to my AC adapter cable.

I wasn’t ready to shell out $108 for a brand-new AC adapter, so the alternatives were:

  • Get a ‘OEM’ Apple AC adapter (Easiest but cost $50)
  • Replace the charging cable (Elbow grease + cost $15)

I decided to go with the replacement of the charging cable. It practically cost nothing apart from the time I spent and the replacement charging cable, since I’ve got the tools in place.

So here goes:

Time spent: 1 hour
Equipment needed:

  • Pliers (to open the AC adapter)
  • Replacement charging cable (Get it from Taobao)
  • Soldering iron (Mine’s 60W)
  • Solder flux
  • Soldering wick or solder sucker (to remove excess solder)
  • White electrical tape or super glue (this is for resealing the AC adapter)

Some caveats:

  • Leave the AC adapter unplugged for a few days. This is to discharge the electrical energy in the adapter or you might get a shock while disassembling it. In my case, I left it alone for nearly a month as I was waiting for the replacement cable to get shipped in from China.
  • You should have some understanding on how to use a soldering iron, solder sucker.

Part 1 – You are reading this
Part 2 – Work steps to open the ac adapter
Part 3 – Re-soldering the terminals
Part 4 – Apple aesthetics

OS X unable to read WD My Passport Ultra

(Or How To Read From A Slow Booting WD My Passport Ultra portable hard drive)

Recently, El Capitan and Sierra had stopped recognizing a WD Passport Ultra external USB portable hard drive that I have.

I had some really important data held inside which made me quite anxious about it. After scouring the intertubes [here], I had an assumption that a major surgery needs to take place before I can extract the data ever again.

The WD Passport Ultra has a PCB with a proprietary interface and I wasn’t able to attach a SATA to USB adapter to the hard drive. Also, the Passport Ultra comes with built-in AES256 encryption which meant I can’t read it directly when plugged into a SATA to USB adapter anyway.

I had even chucked the WD Passport Ultra into the freezer (freezing trick) that had worked before, all to no avail. Furthermore, the video above was quite telling about the recovery requirements, with the need for a PCB of the same version etc. Thus I had almost given up on the WD Passport Ultra.

Right before I decided to open up the hard drive, I had a job that required to forensically image a client’s data. A spark went off and I tried using a linux based recovery tool to read the portable hard drive.

Voila! 

I was able to mount the portable hard drive in readonly mode and was able to copy out the data. Of course, there is a need to sudo apt-get install hfsprogs as the drive was formatted in OS X, before mounting the drive in readonly mode.

Q: Why did a Iinux-based recovery tool managed to read the drive while full featured OS X couldn’t?
A: I suspect OS X will assume the hard drive as dead if it does not respond in an acceptable time.

Q: Why did the portable hard drive work previously?
A: Beats me. But since I was able to extract the data, I’ll leave it to the WD Quality Assurance division to give an answer.