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Help with no video problem. (Read 4742 times)
Lee B
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Help with no video problem.
Jan 18th, 2009 at 11:08pm
 
At work we use a type of all-in-one computer called the Client Pro 424. We
use these systems as part of a complex network driven infant alarm system.
We have had seven of these 424's in use here for about 1.5 years, one as a
server and the others as clients. In that time period, we have had two of
these 424's fail where the XP Splash screen will come on, but then after
that there is no video. We checked everything conceivable that we could
think of, including swapping out with known good units the power supplies
and hard drives. We also tried an external monitor. Nothing works. Our
theory is that on startup the video resolution that displays the XP splash
screen is okay, but when the machine goes to switch to the resolution it
normally runs at that portion of the video is burned out or something. The
company that sold us the infant alarm system is terrible. These 424's are
made by a company called MPC, who just went chapter 11 in November 11/2008
shortly after aquiring Gateway, Inc.. We accessed the build sheet for the
424's on MPC's website, and the build sheet says the machine has a
five-year warrantee, but the infant alarm company says no warrantee, pay us
$3000 for a new machine! Long story about contracts and how you should
negotiate service calls better before buying a system - we won't go there
right now.

So the same build sheet says that the 424's that have failed have something
called an "Intel Integrated Graphics TV-Out Daughter Card", and gives a
part number for it on MPC's website of "VCD002165-00". So I took one of
the 424's completely apart and found this card in there with a sticker on
it that says this part number above, VCD002165-00. It plugs into a PCI
Express x16 connector. Nowhere on this little card does it say "Intel"
anywhere, but I identified if from this sticker with the part number. It
says LVDS all over this card, I understand that is used sometimes with
video? Also, this card has it's own fan as video cards often do, but a
strange cooling setup, the card does not actually touch the heatsink that
is mounted above it. It's a bad design, the air paths to this card were
totally blocked up with massive amounts of dust, and you have to take the
whole thing apart for 30-45 minutes to even think about being able to get
to the air paths.

So, can anyone offer any help as far as if it would be likely that this
card was too hot and is the cause of the no video in these two machines?
Additionally, can anyone suggest where to start if the card was bad with
identifying the card and finding a replacement for it? There is a part
number on it, it says P/N and a part number, but when I googled the part
number nothing useful came up. From looking at the drivers for the Intel
video card for the 424, it appears it may use the 945G chipset, but again
I'm not sure.

Another question is the infant alarm company says that XP is specially tweaked
to run with this system.  Could it be that hard to run a regular PC with their
software on it and get it to work right?  I wonder.  The worst thing that
I think could happen is the network would refuse to recognize the new
machine.  It shows on all the machines in the system if one of the clients
is down for any reason.  If the server is down then everything is down.


So far I can't get anyone from MPC to call me back, and the
infant alarm company is useless, so any help would really be appreciated...

Lee B.
 
 
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MrMagoo
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Re: Help with no video problem.
Reply #1 - Jan 19th, 2009 at 1:32pm
 
Yes, I think it got too hot.  All-in-one units like that often have the same problems as laptops in that they are cramed into the case with little room left for cooling.  They often overheat, shortening their life considerably.  Based on the heat-sink/cooling design you described and the amount of dust  you mentioned, I would say its likely the video card overheated.  Have you tried cleaning out the dust and putting it back together?  That might be all it takes to get it going again.

Usually, daughter cards provide physical connections, suplementing a chipset that is built into the motherboard.  They are often proprietary and designed for a specific model or specific case.  If this is the case of your card, it may be difficult to find a replacement.  If the video chipset is on the motherboard and is damaged, you might not even have the option to replace it.

I'm sure that *they* could make their software run on almost any computer.  I'm not sure if you could.  They could have a way of checking for a specific BIOS or motherboard or chipset.  They may even rely on some built-in functionality on the board.

Let us know if there is anything else we can answer to help, and good luck.
 
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Lee B
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Re: Help with no video problem.
Reply #2 - Jan 21st, 2009 at 1:14am
 
Thanks Mr. Magoo!

I made some progress tonight with this.  You're right, the whole assembly is all proprietary, and my research indicates that the LVDS card would be very hard to locate a replacement for.

I'd still like to understand better whether the video is coming from a chipset that's integrated onto the motherboard, or from this LVDS card, or a combination of both.

Tonight I removed the hard drive from one of the broken clients and took it to a known working machine.  There, at the working machine, I used the hard drive from the broken machine and connected an external monitor to the blue VGA connector.  Then I tweaked the software until the external monitor worked.  It was more difficult than you would think.  In display properties there's Intel software on one of the tabs and I had to access that software and enable the external monitor correctly.  Then I took the tweaked hard drive and the external monitor to the broken machine, and voila! the video works on the external monitor, but the monitor on the broken machine just tries to come on a few times and then goes black.  I think when we first tried this months ago, even in safe mode there was no video on the external monitor except for the XP splash screen.  Once you booted to XP the external monitor was black, even in safe mode, until I tweaked the software.

So now, I think it may be the complicated touch screen assembly itself that went bad.  These things run 24/7, and there's burn in on all the screens.  But I'm not ready to rule out the video chips.  Maybe there's two channels on the video chips, one for the internal monitor and one for the external?  I don't know enough about how this works.

I think they picked these ClientPro's on purpose to make it difficult if not impossible to service the machines yourself.  The computers are only part of the whole system, there's also a bunch of different modules installed all over the place for receiving the RF signals and to support the actual network.  I checked.  They want $25,000 for the server, and $3000 for each client.  I think it's outrageous that they're saying they can't service the computers that they just get replaced after 1.5 to 2 years at that cost.

Any thoughts anyone?  What do you all think about any or all of this?

Lee B.
 
 
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MrMagoo
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Re: Help with no video problem.
Reply #3 - Jan 21st, 2009 at 6:17pm
 
Getting video on the external monitor is good news for sure.  That means to me there is a pretty good chance that your video chip is functioning just fine.  The problem could be either the monitor or the daughter card. 

Usually, the daughter card just carries the physical connections, so there isn't much on it that should fail.  You could take a look to see if it has a chipset somewhere on it, or if its all just traces going to connectors. 

Another thing that makes me think its the video screen and not the daughter card is the fact that you mention the screen blinks on and then goes right back off.  Coupled with the fact that you mentioned they are on 24/7 for some time now, it makes me think the most likely explanation is that the backlight in the monitor went out.  Backlights have a finite lifetime and are the major wear item on an LCD panel.  Replacing the backlight ranges from complicated to impossible, so it is usually better to replace the monitor.  I'm not sure if that is an option in your case since the monitor is built in.
 
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Lee B
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Re: Help with no video problem.
Reply #4 - Jan 22nd, 2009 at 5:31pm
 
Magoo:

Thanks for the insightful thoughts!  Good ideas too.

The daughter card has two Chrontel chips on it and it plugs into a PCI x16 express slot.

I'm wondering if it just provides additional ports to get video out of, like S-Video, things like that, but I'm not sure.

Use should see this white elephant of a LCD touch screen.  Looks very complicated, worse than most of the laptop screens or flat screens I've seen.  I know some LCD's provide an easy plug-in replacement backlight, but never any that I've had. LOL  Usually, the people making the LCD's can't even tell you how the backlight is set up in there, you have to take it apart and figure it out yourself.

Thats a really good point, I've seen that plenty of times.  In theory, if I shine a flashlight into the screen do you think I might be able to see if the screen is active and just not lit?  I'll let you know!

Lee
 
 
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Lee B
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Re: Help with no video problem.
Reply #5 - Jan 22nd, 2009 at 7:07pm
 
Magoo!

You're a genius!  I had to shine a very bright light into the screen at just the right angle, but I was able to confirm that you were in fact correct!  The video is active, you just can't see it because the backlight is burned out.  Or the inverter.  Either way, as you said, parts are hard to find and installing the parts is even harder.  However, since I have nothing to lose at this point, I'm going to autopsy the screen assembly and see what the parts look like in there.

Thanks so much!  I can't believe I didn't think of the bulb not lighting.  Just goes to prove, KISS has always been a good rule.  I threatened to strap a flashlight to the screen with a chain and make them use the flashlight when they need to see the screen.  Now that's security!  LOL

Lee
 
 
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Re: Help with no video problem.
Reply #6 - Jan 23rd, 2009 at 12:39am
 
LOL I like the flashlight idea.  That really does keep it simple.  LOL.  Good luck with the backlight replacement.  Let us know if you have success.

Lee B wrote on Jan 22nd, 2009 at 7:07pm:
Magoo!
You're a genius!

Words I love to hear.  Wink  Glad I could help tho.  Many eyes make all bugs shallow...
 
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Lee B
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Re: Help with no video problem.
Reply #7 - Jan 25th, 2009 at 3:51am
 
I will.  I'd also like to know if their software is bios locked or otherwise locked out.  Going to have to do something with this mess...
 
 
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Re: Help with no video problem.
Reply #8 - Jan 24th, 2010 at 7:04pm
 
Here is a neat page I came across documenting the replacement of an LCD backlight.

http://hackaday.com/2010/01/22/lcd-backlight-repair/
 
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