computer will not power up

Dell Inspiron 1521 laptop (amd athlon 64...
July 25, 2010 at 13:45:48
Specs: vista home premium 32 bit
power supply meter tested ok. 19.5 volts output. power light is on. wlan and hd activity light off,light on optical drive door on but door will not open, no other lights. replaced HD no change. Removed both ram mods, and pressed start 3 lights above keyboard inside padlock symbols marked 9, A and (down Arrow) flash but still no screen activity. when mods are placed into b slot one causes the above mentioned A light to flash, the other does not. im on a tight budget and cant keep buying parts till i find the right one. My screen initially faded to black while playing a video game online. and will not reboot, screen is black even without the memory mods installed. please help if you can, thanks in advance.

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July 25, 2010 at 14:53:34
"My screen initially faded to black while playing a video game online. and will not reboot, screen is black even without the memory mods installed."

Your problem is very common, after the laptop has been used a lot, or after it has been dropped or had liquid spilled on it at any time. If there is nothing wrong with your computer other than you have no video on the built in display, you should hear a beep pattern when no ram is installed that you don't normally hear while booting.

You always have no video when no ram is installed, unless ram is built into the mboard, which is rare these days.

Laptop no video (or video problems), and battery, AC adapter, power jack T shooting.

See response 1:

DO NOT plug in or unplug a monitor's video cable into / from a video port while the computer is running. Doing so can damage the monitor's circuits and/or the video adapter's circuits.

Some laptops will display on an external monitor without you having to do anything.

If you get no video on an external monitor, some laptops have a key combo that you must press to toggle the display to external video only / sometimes both / built in display video only - see the Owner's or User's manual for the model.

It is extremely rare for ram that was working fine previously to go "bad", and even if it did, when you have more than one module it's many times more unlikely for more than one to go bad at the same time.

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July 25, 2010 at 15:43:20
"wlan and hd activity light off"

The wlan led may not come on in the initial part of booting in any case.

If you normally have to logon to Windows, the HD activity led will stop coming on shortly after that point for a normal boot.

A defective hard drive, only, will not cause no video.

"light on optical drive door on but door will not open,"

That may or may not be significant. Sometimes you can't always open the optical drive while booting, if the bios is trying to access it to see if it has a bootable disk in it.
A defective optical drive can have an activity led that stays on a long time or blinks on and off for a long time, but that, only, will not cause no video

"replaced HD no change."

If the hard drive has no data on it, the hd activity led should come on briefly while booting, but it won't come on after that.

If the laptop has been dropped or has had liquid spilled on it, that often causes damage, right away or later, that requires major pieces to be replaced.
E.g. in that case the mboard or the power module inside the laptop connected to the jack the AC adapter plugs into could be damaged.

Most recent and fairly recent laptops will not start up or will not fully start up if only the AC adapter is connected to it. The main battery must also be installed, and it must be in good enough condition to accept at least a minimal charge, and it must be charged at least that minimal amount.

The AC adapter and it's cord and plug and the jack it plugs into may be okay but not the main battery.

Laptop main batteries usually work as they should for a year or so, then they begin to rapidly deteriorate. From what I've seen, by two years they cannot be charged to anywhere near their full capacity, and it gets worse after that.
They often develop internal shorts when they are older. If the battery gets HOT rather than just warm after you have attempted to charge it for at least a half hour, or after you have been using the laptop for a while with the AC adapter plugged in, it's definitely internally shorted and you must replace it. Internally shorted batteries getting too hot have been known to cause the laptop to catch on fire.

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July 25, 2010 at 16:45:03
Thank you for your replys. I have not Dropped the laptop or spilled anything on it. (though it is possible someone may have i do not believe so). As for the beeps it has never beeped during startup it simply goes through a series of light tests. When no ram is installed the aforementioned lights blink in unison and that is not usual for the startup sequence. I tested the power supply with a volt meter as i mentiooned before it tested ok. I will try the external monitor however with or without the battery the same results were achieved. It is not going through its normal reboot powerup. Again thank you for your reply's and i will post after checking an external monitor.

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July 25, 2010 at 18:25:45
No result from the external monitor, and the manual states that the laptop will function without the battery onboard from ac power only. Any further suggestions would be appreciated.

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July 25, 2010 at 21:21:41
The procedure for trying an external monitor can only produce a display if there's nothing wrong other than the internal display is not producing video.

"...the manual states that the laptop will function without the battery onboard from ac power only. "

I looked in the manual....

Owners manual

I searched the pdf using: ac adapter,
read the text in the manual where there were "hits" in the text, and I found NO mention where it specifically says the laptop will run without the battery installed.

It does say similar to this in at least two places, but it's not the same as saying it will run without the battery installed...

page 129

Check the battery - if you are using a battery to power the computer, the battery may be depleted. Connect the computer to an electrical outlet using the AC adapter and then turn on the computer.

In my experience, if an okay enough battery is depleted to less than a minimal amount, or if it's new and has not been charged yet, or from what I've come across, if the battery is defective such that it can't retain at least a minimal charge, the recent or fairly recent laptop (say, 8 years old or so or less) will not boot or will not fully boot, even when the AC adapter is plugged in.
If the battery can be charged at least the minimal amount, the AC adapter would eventually charge it enough such that the laptop will start up when you press the power button.

That manual also tells you how to check the battery. If you have a Dell battery, not a clone which may not have these features , this should apply....

"Battery charge / health gauge located on the battery..."

" and release the status button on the battery charge gauge to illuminate the charge indicator lights. Each light represents approximately 20 percent of the total battery charge. "

to check battery health
" and HOLD the status button on the battery charge gauge for at least 3 seconds to illuminate the charge indicator lights. Each light represents degradation."
- no lights - battery is okay, has at least 80% of it's capacity
- 5 lights - less than 60% capacity remains

"The battery is too hot to start charging if the battery light (battery shaped icon) flashes alternately blue and amber."

The battery should NOT get HOT rather than warm, as I said above at the end of Response 2.

If it doesn't get warm at all after the AC adapter has been plugged in for a while, the battery may have an open circuit rather than a short, or some laptop batteries have a chip that may have failed, or an overheat or short switch that may have been tripped or has blown like a fuse. .

The nominal battery voltage is 11.1v . You could test for that with the multimeter or whatever you have, however, I have no idea which contacts you measure between on the battery to measure that, and it's possible the voltage is split into one or more sub units on the contacts, so you may not get 11.1 or higher from any two contacts (the voltage is higher after it has just been charged; the charge voltage has to be higher than the nominal battery voltage in order to charge it.)

If your battery is older than about two years old, assuming your laptop is not damaged, that's the most likely cause of your problems. No laptop batttery is warrantied for more than one year.
If you can find a local place that has the Dell battery or a clone of the Dell battery, you could go there with your laptop and plug it in, and stay there and connect the AC adapter for at least a half hour or so - if that's all that's wrong, your laptop will then start up fine.
If it doesn't start up, then have a laptop repair place analyze it.

Dell™ Vostro™ 1500 and Inspiron™ 1520/1521 Service Manual

Other things you could try - it's possible but unlikely that defective optical drive could cause you problem - see the

Optical Drive

directions - pop out the drive and see what happens.
(remove the main battery an AC adapter before you do that)

Apparently, this is the probably the reason you get leds lighting up when one module is installed but not the other one....

Memory -

"NOTICE - if your computer has only one memory module, install the memory module in the connector named DIMM A" (beneath the keyboard).

NOTE that

- The ATX mboard on modern laptops (less than ten years old or more) is always powered in some places, even when the computer is not running, as long as the main battery is installed and has a charge. You MUST have BOTH the AC adapter and the main battery unplugged when you unplug or plug in the ram (or the hard drive) - did you do that ? If you didn't, you may have damaged the ram, or the ram slot circuit(s) (or the hard drive, or the hard drive connection circuits)

- if the ram is not seated properly, the computer may not boot, and may not beep.

- if a single module is NOT in DIMM A, the computer will probably NOT boot.

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July 26, 2010 at 13:02:43
All were very good tips, and thank you, i did try the battery in a friends laptop and it worked fine. I also for good or bad fount a troubleshooting question on the Dell site after a lot of reading that gave the error codes and how to check for them. The three indicator lights above the keyboard will flash in certain sequence to indicate the issue if u press and hold the <fn> key hold it and press the <F8> key then release. mine unfortunately has indicated a motherboard failure. I have spoken to dell and they are being helpful by reinstating the warranty for a third of the cost of the motherboard (an offer that apparently is only made if you call and balk at the parts price). I appreciate the help and hopefully this will help someone in the future. The post in the dell troubleshooting guide was titled (no post, no power, no video)

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July 26, 2010 at 13:51:17
Okay, thanks for tying up the Topic.

Maybe someone other than yourself did drop the laptop ??

There is usually some t-shooting info in the Dell Service manuals.

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