A different sort of wind-power

Posted by @ 12:21 pm on Wednesday 8th June, 2011.

I had a major panic this morning when I tried to boot up the laptop - all it would do was throw out a series of loud alarm sounds, briefly show the words "fan error" with no other info, and then shut down with a final loud beep. Tried to boot it seven times without success.

On the last three attempts I'd noted that there wasn't any sound from the fan like there usually is. The fan diagnostics are obviously on the laptop, without the ability to boot I couldn't access them so I had to use a bit of brain power instead. My limited diagnostics experience told me that the problem was probably one of the following:

  1. Fan motor knackered
  2. Fan motor/rotor stuck
  3. Fan control software knackered
  4. A loose connection somewhere

Fearing the worst and an impending bill for a replacement fan, I set off around the house on a rant just to let off some steam, scattering cats everywhere and almost tripping over the Dyson. It's part of my problem-solving process, you see. Lateral motion prior to lateral thinking, if you like.

I knew that the problem wouldn't be dust and fluff - I keep the innards of the fan scrupulously clean after having had a processor fry-up on a previous laptop due to a clogged-up fan assembly. When I blew into this fan's inlet grille I couldn't make the fan rotate so I figured that the motor/rotor was stuck but I had no idea how to free it. There's no way of poking it to get it moving, it's well-protected.

When I'd calmed down I got sidetracked, thoughts drifting off to the next kit review and how I'd deal with it without the laptop... this led to me thinking about the "beer-chiller" that Mike will be reviewing... I remembered that the last time I plugged one of those into my car without the engine running it flattened the battery within 5 minutes, which meant that I had to bump-start the car...

Then a radical idea popped into my head: "Can I bump-start the laptop? Maybe if the system "thinks" that the fan is running, it'll boot and let me get to the diagnostics".

Well, they say that necessity is the mother of invention. I raced back upstairs and grabbed the Dyson. With the crevice-tool attached it was set loose on full whack next to the fan outlet grille while I booted the laptop again... and, in a fine example of how British invention and ingenuity triumphs over Far-Eastern technology, it worked!

The fan diagnostics report no problems, so all looks to be well. Booting is faultless. Looks like the fan was inexplicably stuck but it's running fine now.

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3 Responses to “A different sort of wind-power”

  1. alan.sloman says:

    My dad used to kick the telly - but don't try that, as he broke the thing...

  2. The Laptop fan story .. that is a classic! reminded me of the times I too have had such brain waves and the absolute elation I felt when it worked. I know that one. Necessity is the mother of invention. A truer word has not been spoken. Needing something to get to the next level and having to then adapt or make do is good for the spirit I think.
    Im so glad that the vac did the trick.

  3. Before I arrived at the denouement of this story I was reminded of Dell Boy and his mobile phone as big as a house brick, which then needed a supporting battery like a trunk off the Tiitanic - I had visions of you travelling the world with your laptop and a Dyson vacuum attached.

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