Infill T3 DIY Cable Repair
This document is designed to help all those out there experiencing strange symptoms with their T3's including failure to switch on, background illumination permanently on, lower fold down screen not working, lower touch screen no display etc.
I take no responsibility for incorrect diagnosis or for any damage to T3 units resulting from owners following these instructions. I am NOT a qualified electrician or electronic engineer so don't expect anything too technical! I'm also not affiliated with MP3Car in any way.
Note that I have sold my T3 and the notes below are GUIDELINES ONLY and not a full step-by-step instruction list - you will need a little of your own common sense.
I cannot offer a repair service as I'm always busy and am based in the UK - sorry.
- Time to complete: 30 to 60 minutes
- Skill level required: Steady hand, patience and basic knowledge of PCs beneficial
- Tools required: Mini screwdriver set, sharp craft knife and straight edge plus a flat cutting surface
- Costs: $20ish
If your T3 is exhibiting strange behaviour (yes, we spell it like this in the UK!) then the first thing to try is a cable replacement.
The flat cable that connects the lower fold down panel to the mainboard seems to be the usual culprit as constant bending of the cable ends up with one or more of the tiny wire strips breaking.
Replacement cables can be purchased from www.digikey.com - search for PARLEX and then select the range option that mentions "JUMPER CABLE".
From memory, the cables required are 0.5mm pitch (width of 1 connector wire and 1 gap). For simplicity, I ordered the 50 connector versions and then cut down in width to suit. Unfortunately, I cannot remember the lengths of the various cables used within the T3 lower unit so can someone post these?
Until this is provided, the first job will be to dismantle the T3 lower unit to discover these cable lengths.
To dismantle -
Remove small external cross-head screws and carefully lever off the top part of the casing. Keep all screws in a safe place and consider listing what goes where!
There are 2 x side plates which will also need removing.
Note positions of all wiring.
The DVD drive has 4 mounts which are held by flat cross-head screws and include a tubular riser washer and silicon dampers to absorb vibrations. Carefully remove these, trying not to drop them into the casing (re-assembling these can be fiddly).
There are a number of small mainboard connectors which will need disconnecting. From memory, they are all slightly different and lengths match their positions so detailed notes should not be required.
Both the DVD drive and the HDD use flat cable jumpers to connect to the mainboard - BE EXTREMELY CAREFUL with these as they are similar to the front panel ribbon which is probably causing your problems and so are FRAGILE. Keep to the originals for the IDE devices if possible.
IMPORTANT - When removing any of the flat cables from their connectors, write down a description of their location that you will recognise when it comes to rebuilding AND note which way around they are sited. In other words, which way up the open contacts are placed into each connector. I forgot to do this and was worried that I might insert them upside down if this is possible but luckily everything worked fine!
These cables are held by a type of zero insertion force connector which have delicate clips to hold the cables in place. The clips used are one of two designs. Either they have a tiny tab on either side which can be eased forward, working each side a little at a time, by approx 1 - 2mm. You should notice the clip go 'loose' when it is in the release position but DO NOT try to remove the clip from the connector as this will probably break it!!
Once the clip is loose, give the cable a little pull away from the connector. It should simply pull away with no force, if not try easing the clip a little more.
The second type of connector has clips that kind of fold down and these are easier to loosen - again do not attempt to remove the clip, just loosen it.
REMEMBER - The flat cables can tear easily and the clips can break if forced so BE CAREFUL
I cannot remember fully where the HDD is located! Sorry - you'll find it.
The motherboard can also be removed if required after all other components are out. It does come out but again requires care and is fiddly. I remember having to hold the sides of the casing outwards to enable the board to pass the shape of the case. Always remember to check all cables and screws are out before pulling at anything.
The cables you will want to consider replacing are the very thin, brown/black items that were held by the various connectors. Now they are out of the case or at least, accessible, they can be measured for the correct length.
Note that the main cable which connects the front panel passes through a little rectangular guide which is held with a spring - note how this is laid out and be careful not to displace the spring or stretch it! The spring helps pull the cable back into the casing as the front panel closes up.
Remember that wider cables with more connection wires than are needed can and should be cut down to the correct width/number. Retain the originals to use as guides because trying to count the number of wires is almost impossible (at least it was for my old eyes!). Use a straight edge as a guide when cutting and make sure the cut is parallel and the exact width required.
Once you have compiled a list of required lengths, go to digikey.com and place an order. (I'm not trying to advertise this company but it was the only one I could find that sold compatible cables and would ship to the UK). The Parlex cables from digikey are much more robust than the OEM versions and should last a lot longer. The only minor issue I had was that the spring setup for helping pull the front panel cable back into the case when the panel is closed was a little weak. You may want to check if you have a slightly stronger spring to replace this.
Reassembly is self-explanatory. Hopefully you will have made sufficient notes to remember where everything goes!
Reconnect everything and double-check then power up and see what happens! Hopefully you'll now have a working T3 again.
If not then you may not have reassembled correctly or perhaps one or more of the cables is not fully sited in its connector or you may need to try replacing some of the others if you didn't purchase a full set. Making enough notes to enable proper reassembly is really important as having to dismantle everything and start again is frustrating!!
If your top unit is not working then I really cannot help as this is not something I had to try and fix!