Compaq Armada 1750 Laptop Upgrade, Repair & Disassembly
Last updated on Mon, 2007-Jan-08, 20:44 PST.
Compaq Armada 1750 - Laptop Upgrade, Disassembly & Repair
This is a reliable, rugged little computer, but sometimes things get loose inside. Generally, laptop repair is not for the faint-hearted. This guide assumes some familiarity in working with computers.
Drivers and downloads for this laptop are available from HP.com/Compaq. Please come back when you're done.
Superior video card drivers are available for the laptop under 98/ME/2000/XP. I'm using the w2k_5058 driver on my Windows 2000 installation, and it's remarkable - actually fast enough to play most smaller video files (and I haven't even upgraded the CPU yet, although I'm about to).
Compaq Utilities Screen fix moved down to FAQs.
Although I've tried to make this a step-by-step guide, I may have inadvertently left out or overlooked things that were obvious to me. If something isn't coming apart, don't force it; look for a likely retaining screw.
Note: due to revisions, no two laptop models are exactly alike inside.
Upgrading the Memory
Two clips hold down the keyboard, which when unclipped and folded up (carefully - there are ribbon cables and a delicate keyboard ribbon connector) reveals the memory upgrade slot on the left.
Always ground yourself before handling static-sensitive devices.
Compaq claims the maximum memory this computer can take is 192MB; however I've been communicating with Chris of iamachine.com, and he has it working with 320MB of RAM (the 64MB of onboard memory, plus one 256MB SO-DIMM). He even sent along screenshots (below) to confirm. Chris also has a 30GB hard drive running in his (see Hard Drive Upgrades, below).
(click thumbnails to enlarge)
- 32Meg x 64 stated capacity (32Meg x 72 may also work)
- Sixteen chips on one SODIMM (eight per side, but make sure the SODIMM is double-sided!)
- 16x8 -type chips
Caution; SO-DIMMs using 32x4 or 32x8 chips will only be recognized at half capacity. 256MB SO-DIMMs with only 8 chips total (4 per side, most likely) may not be recognized at all.
Searching on Google for "Compaq Armada 1750 256MB" I quickly turned up a $70USD SO-DIMM that meets the afore-stated requirements. You may be able to find better deals with more searching, or used memory. If in doubt, Kingston offers a 256MB SO-DIMM that should be compatible with this laptop. On the Part Detail page, it looks like it has 4 chips to a side; however, that is a stock photo. Here is what the KTC311/256LP should look like. Looking closely we can deduce that it has 8 chips to a side.
For 128MB modules (although I strongly recommend a 256MB module), the following should work: 16Meg x 64, eight chips (four per side), and 16x8 -type chips. Chances are if it's a 128MB (16M x 64) SO-DIMM and has 8 chips total, it meets the requirements.
To get the memory out, you release the two metal clips on the sides holding it in, pop it up at a shallow angle, and remove it. Inserting new memory is a reversal of the procedure - slot it in at a slight angle (make sure the metal contacts almost completely disappear into the connector), then hinge it down and it should snap into the metal clips and lock in place. Make sure the indentations on the side of the SO-DIMM line up with the clips properly, and don't force it.
Keyboard Removal, Detailed Procedure
From an e-mail I sent:
"On the laptop I'm typing this on, I release the two front clips, pop the keyboard, bring the keyboard assembly forward about 1-2" (slide isn't quite the right word, and lift implies that much lifting is going on, which isn't the case). This should expose the blue ribbon cable, which is hooked in by two plastic tabs on either side of the cable. It also exposes the memory, so you may be able to rotate the keyboard up to 30 degrees CCW to give yourself enough room to work.
Now, if it doesn't want to even come that, I suppose the edge of the ribbon cable might possibly be caught on the edge of where the tabs hook in - you could try very gently wiggling the front edge of the keyboard (hopefully you can get it out of the tabs holding it at the front, by sliding it slightly towards yourself) to the left and right and see if that allows it to come free enough to expose the ribbon cable.
Finally, to get the two tabs unhooked, you need to gently encourage the edge of the tabs that is towards you up out of its groove, and kind of slide the tabs up and out (towards you, in other words). The tab appears to be made of a semi-flexible plasticky material - the ribbon cable, naturally, is rather flexible. I don't advise using any sharp tools around this area, of course."
Hard Drive Upgrade
From an e-mail I sent:
That's an interesting observation about the hard drive. As it so happens, mine does have a 9.5mm-thick Hitachi DK239A-65 hard drive in it. I haven't actually upgraded the drive in mine (although some other Armada 1750 owners have e-mailed me with successes; see next paragraph), but it looks like you'll be fine fitting an industry-standard 9.5mm drive into yours. There's a little carrier for the hard drive under the HDD panel in the bottom - the HDD screws into the carrier and the carrier gets inserted in the laptop. From my measurements, there's enough clearance for up to a 12.5mm thick drive to be installed in the carrier, but mine came with a 9.5mm drive factory installed, it appears. The HDD panel/door has a foam pad on it that should make up for any height difference between 9.5mm and 12.5mm drives, assuming yours has one as well. It's easy to check - just remove the locking screw from the switch and push the switch to unlock the panel, which then slides.
People have this laptop running with 30GB (unknown model), 18GB (from a Dell 3800 laptop), and 40GB* (Seagate Momentus) 2.5" 44-pin parallel ATA laptop HDDs without any problem, and I suspect that it would work fine with even larger drives. Although the interface is UltraDMA/33, newer drives (such as UDMA/66 or higher) are backwards-compatible with the 33MB/sec interface. Some new laptop drives (as of early 2006) can reach sequential transfer rates in excess of 33MB/sec (such as the Hitachi 7K100, for example); these drives will still work on the Armada 1750, but will be limited to a 33MB/sec. maximum transfer rate / burst rate. However, the average access time (e.g. for random access) should be unaffected.
* - (contributed by Ryx)
StorageReview.com has explored the effects of slower interfaces on drive performance, as well as directly comparing UltraATA/66 vs. UltraATA/33, with no other variables. However, although it might be an issue in (much) faster computers, what it boils down to is that UltraATA/33 should be more than fast enough for any application the Compaq Armada 1750 is capable of running.
Although this is written from the standpoint of fixing the display backlight problem, it is also relevant for those needing to disassemble/reassemble the laptop.
A loose internal connector inside sometimes causes the LCD backlight to go out so you can't see anything. Rocking the display back and forth helps occasionally.
In the picture (right), the hinge cover has been removed. This is held on by a single screw at the back.
Always protect the laptop by removing all sources of power, and take proper anti-static precautions (remove your shoes for better grounding). Some computer parts may have high voltages in them; in this case you should be safe as long as you stick to the lower part of the computer.
To repair this, after removing the left-hand hinge cover (unscrew at back), you need to carefully disassemble the laptop from the bottom up until you can get at the power boards for the display, as follows.
Note: If you have a problem with the white data connector, such as the screen going white while you're using the computer, it could be the silver contacts tarnishing. Check this thread on HardwareAnalysis.com with suggestions to fix this problem (some people suggest using silver cleaner/tarnish remover).
First, release the two latches holding down the keyboard (on either side of the space bar) using a small, flat-bladed screw driver.
This next step is very delicate, so be cautious and do not accidentally jerk the ribbon keyboard cable with its fragile connector that connects the keyboard to the laptop.
When the keyboard pops free, you need to get at the ribbon cable. It kind of hooks in, so you might need to slide the keyboard towards you about 1/2", and then lift the edge of the keyboard closer to the screen about 1/2" and unhook the cable. Then you can slide it a ways closer to you; but be careful to leave some slack in the ribbon; you don't want to yank it out.
The ribbon cable is held in by a small connector; pop the connector free by lifing the left and right edges gently (lift each edge a bit at a time, until it reaches the top of its travel) with a small flat-bladed screwdriver.
The ribbon cable should then lift easily up out of the connector, and you can remove the keyboard.
You will need to unhook the display data connector and backlight power connector (at the upper left) in preparation for removing the top portion. Unplug the touchpad ribbon connector; just carefully pull up on the tab.
Finally, unplug the three mini two-pin connectors, shown in the photograph; one above the memory, and the two close to the top center power button. Be careful; do not unplug the CMOS battery at the lower right (unless you don't mind losing your CMOS settings).
The CMOS battery has a small plastic cover over it; try to unlatch that and take the battery out, still connected to the board. Take the wire out of its channel so you can lift the top clear. Caution: you don't want it shorting out on things; wrap it in masking tape, or just unplug it and skip this step if necessary.
Now that the keyboard is clear, close the screen and turn the computer upside-down. Remove the battery and the floppy drive (the floppy is secured by a screw) so you can get at the screws in the bay openings.
Remove the screws from the bottom holes indicated with arrows on the laptop. Note the two screws for each drive bay.
At this point, the top portion is now pretty much free-floating; don't let it come off yet. Hold the top and bottom portions together as you turn the laptop back over, then gently see if the lid will come off.
If it doesn't seem to want to come off, carefully lift/open the screen, holding the front wrist rest down since it's loose, and see if anything is still connected to the top portion. You may also have to remove a couple of screws from the back.
Additional detail added 12-November-2004 (just after the "CN300" connector):
Pop the power board or whatever it is (I should look for the repair manual for this thing), as shown. Be careful not to crack it - pry very gently with something soft, like your fingers, in the vicinity of the connectors, and work each one up a bit at a time.
The trouble area connector is this small "CN300" connector, which plugs into the socket immediately above the memory.
Possible methods for solving the issue: in the past, I always just plugged it back in, making sure it was snugged down, but it would invariably work loose again. I thought of glue and the like, but I didn't want to mess up the electrical contacts. More recently, I placed corks under the system board directly under where CN300 plugs in, to help keep the system board pushed up into the connector. It's a bit tricky; you need to make sure it isn't too thick and doesn't bend the boards too much, but it seemed to work pretty well when I got it back together. It's been holding up rather well too - click the plus to expand the details below:
Backlight Repair, Long-Term Fix, and Reassembly
I have to admit that there is a somewhat more in-depth fix for the backlight display connector that I've performed; and I just found some photographs of it while writing this e-mail! (see 55.jpg at http://www.wireball.com/images/armada/ and the following explanation of it). Basically, you take the laptop apart further by actually removing the system mainboard, and place a small standoff right under where the connector that's coming ajar plugs in. That helps support the motherboard, and push it up into the connector, so everything stays together and keeps working. It may be necessary to do that to permanently fix the problem.
Have you taken a look at the images on http://www.wireball.com/images/armada/ ? Admittedly, they are unsorted and kind of tedious to browse through. However, if you look at image 33.jpg, you see the mainboard, and the little problem connector that "CN300" plugs into, right above the memory. Then look at 34.jpg, which is flipped on the short edge to show the underside of the board.
I placed a standoff on top of the rightmost one of those three capacitors (visible in the picture right under the heatsink as three white circles), to hold the board up off the bottom of the enclosure and prevent it from vibrating free from the connector. The standoff (see 52 and 53.jpg) was a small cork for wine & vinegar bottles I got at the hardware store, cut to the proper height, erring on the side of "too high" (but no more than 1 or 2mm) by "eyeballing" it.
You don't want to overdo the height of the standoff, because you wouldn't be able to get the laptop to fit back together (or you might crack the board by bending it too far), but on the other hand you don't want to underdo it, because then there's no purpose to installing the standoff in the first place - it won't reach and you won't have any support. Erring on the side of 1mm high seems to be a good approach.
Putting the laptop back together is almost exactly a reversal of the way you take it apart, so reversing the process should do the trick.
Look carefully at how things go back together. I believe the EMI shield goes over the power board and then you screw it down. Retrace your steps. Be careful reinserting the ribbons in the connector(s); you may need to make sure that the keyboard connector is raised up (open) enough.
Special thanks to Cyrille TS for the following French language summary describing some of this page's content. Hopefully the search engines will hit it this far down, since there wasn't room in my meta tags:
My Compaq Armada M700 will not boot or will not power on, and the charging light will not come on either.
I also came across this HP Technical Support thread, related to the voltage regulator on this model of laptop dying. Apparently replacable. Next-to-last suggestion in that thread is also stripping all devices (battery, drives, etc) from the laptop and letting it sit for 72 hours.
Finally, if you're having battery problems with your Armada M700, this blog entry may have a solution for you (let me know if the article goes down).
I installed a third-party internal laptop DVD-ROM or CD-RW drive, but it conflicts with the HDD and/or is not recognized.
Update: It isn't cheap (~$80), but searching Google or eBay for "Armada 1750 DVD" turns up several matches for the OEM DVD drive for the Armada 1700 and 1750 - part number 316295-001 (or 316258-B21 - the kit version).
I have also received one report of the Panasonic/Matsushita UJDA330 CD-R/RW drive working with the Compaq Armada 1750. This seems to be a commonly supported CD-RW model. However, beware; there may be problems with new drives which have the MASTER mode flashed in the firmware - Krzysztof is of the opinion that there should be another firmware available (with SLAVE mode) which after flashing the drive with it should allow the drive to work in the Armada. Try Googling it below, searching on Froogle, or eBay.
Krzysztof writes that he successfully got the TSST TSL462CCOMBO DVD-ROM/CD-RW drive from a Dell laptop working fine with the Armada 1750, with no modifications.
Speaking of modifications, Krzysztof also got a TEAC CD-224E CD-RW drive working with his Armada 1750. He says the original drive (that was working in his laptop) was set to CSEL mode, so he needed to force the TEAC to work in that mode. He downloaded the CD-224E CD-RW drive specifications (I've mirrored a copy), and noted on page 7 that pin 47 is responsible for CSEL mode. You can change the mode by connecting it to ground or 5V. He tried soldering it to pin 45, which didn't have any effect, nor did pin 41 (still "no system disk or disk error" during bootup). He noticed that on the drive's interface connector pin 47 was permanently connected to the ground, so he desoldered pin 47 (well, actually he had to scratch it away - after making certain he had the right pin) and left it disconnected, and that worked. Apparently this tells the ATA interface that the drive is working in slave mode, but only as long as there is no electrical connection on pin 47 (if necessary, a little bit of electrical tape or paper tape insulation might be in order).
Paul writes that he successfully installed an LG DRN-8080B DVD-ROM drive in his Compaq Armada 1750 (12" LCD) and has it running with no problems. He notes that this drive has a M/S/CS switch under a foil sticker at the back of the drive, he set his to Slave, and the machine was up and running.
The CD drive exchange photo gallery may also be helpful for those of you upgrading your drives. Comments will be added to the photos in a few days.
The original question ("...it conflicts with the HDD and/or is not recognized.") sounds like a master/slave conflict. On the Compaq Armada 1750 (from what I've been able to determine), only one IDE channel is used. The HDD is the master device, and the CD-ROM is the slave device (only two devices per IDE channel). Some other makes and models of laptops (such as Toshiba Tecras) use separate IDE channels; one each for the HDD and the CD-ROM, so for them chances are the HDD would be the master device on the primary channel, and the CD-ROM would be the master device on the secondary channel. If you tried to put one of their drives in the Compaq, you would get a master conflict, and neither device would be accessible (this is my theory, anyway).
If you already have a third-party internal laptop DVD-ROM or CD-RW, and want to try making it work yourself, you can read about my experiments with swapping standard CD-ROM drives between laptops, and the results of my searching.
W hen booting, I keep getting the Compaq Utilities screen, and can't get past it.
Fdisked or erased the diagnostic partition, and now I can't access the BIOS. How do I get it back?
Insert the diagnostic floppy in the drive to boot off it as soon as you see the red Compaq logo (if Windows starts loading, you may hit F8 to bring up the boot menu, then ctrl-alt-delete to try again). (Re)create the diagnostic partition, by clicking the appropriate buttons and following the directions. This procedure seems to be non-destructive to data; at least it didn't destroy anything on my Windows 2000 system with a 376MB FAT swap partition and a 5GB+ NTFS partition. However, your mileage may vary (YMMV), so backup any data you want to save (bookmarks, documents, pictures, what have you), and don't blame me if you need to reinstall your OS.
Press F10 when you see the blinking cursor to access the BIOS.
Questions or comments? Search this page to see if your question has already been answered; just press CTRL+F and type in a keyword. Sorry, I can't answer questions personally. If you need help, I recommend the HP/Compaq forums.
Non-English speakers: if you are considering using machine translation, please include a copy of the question in your original language; it makes it easier for me to figure out the context.
Hits since counter was added on Saturday, 21 May 2005:
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