With the successful relight of a salvaged Amazon Fire tablet backlight, I’m ready to begin the final chapter of my journey with this Acer Aspire Switch 10 (SW5-012). I’m not the original owner of this machine, so it was never my day-to-day computer. It was retired when it would no longer power-up, and the charger has been lost in the time it was sitting around gathering dust. That nonworking state was how I got it as something to play with.
I diagnosed the power-up problem to a loose cable, and I worked around the lost charger with a hacked-up power connector. That was enough for me to power this system back up. I found it didn’t want to run Linux, but it could run modern Windows 10 surprisingly well. And I didn’t even have to buy another Windows license, as the Windows 8 license embedded in hardware seemed to work just fine. And I undertook some projects like removing its webcam module for security. Because no hacker on the internet can activate a webcam that’s sitting detached in a zip lock bag in another room.
But a computer that runs modern Windows 10 “surprisingly well” for its age is not the same as a computer that runs it well in a useful sense. It’s still an old computer showing its age across the board. Limited RAM, cramped storage, and most personally unsatisfying for me, a low resolution screen. The CPU is not the ill-fated Clover Trail series, but it is still quite slow and is a 32-bit only CPU cut off from modern features of 64-bit operating systems. 32-bit support has already been dropped by MacOS, Ubuntu, even Chrome OS is 64-bit only nowadays.
Finally the system failed again, with the familiar symptom of failing to power up when the power button is pressed. However, this time it was not the loose cable and I failed to find another explanation. It was then retired and I performed a partial disassembly, pulling out its mainboard for a play with a hot air rework station.
I think it is time for me to finish the teardown the rest of the way. The battery pack has already been freed and I think that two-cell lithium ion pack has a future in another project down the line. That leaves the screen, whose low resolution makes it uninteresting as a display but now with two backlight projects under my belt I’m going to see if I can salvage this backlight. Then I’ll see what else might be interesting to salvage from this machine.
Most of what’s left on this convertible laptop main unit were glued together, and I hate fighting glue which is why it halted my earlier teardown. But I have to do it if I want that backlight, so I started thinking about heating up the module to soften the glue. I used to do this with a heat gun, and with the Amazon Fire tablet I used the heated print bed of a retired 3D printer. But we’re now entering the uncomfortably hot phase of Southern California summer. So there’s no need to consume electricity: I can just set this thing out on a brick and let it warm up in the sun and turn my attention to the base section.