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[GUIDE] Reinforcing/repairing your mushy/broken power button

33 posts
Thanks Meter: 37
By Anapmac, Member on 28th February 2012, 09:52 AM
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Hey thinkpadpaders,

Before we get anywhere. If your button is acting weird or is broken, [blink][explosion]this should be covered by your warranty[/explosion][/blink]. I've heard of turn around times from 2 days to 2 weeks or more. If you still want to do this yourself, then read on.

So, my power button drove me nuts last week when it stopped responding. After some research on the problem I ended up fixing it in house and relatively easily.

The cause of the irresponsive button is the physical movement of the internal button component. It's poorly held in place and eventually it tends to move around and then entirely fall off during normal use. Here's some guides that will help you open your thinkpadpad and repair a non working button or fix and enforce a mushy one. Note that this is probably going to void your warranty, though everything up to epoxying your button down is clean and pretty much undetectable (there aren't any visible "warranty void if broken" stickers). Also, this will take some amount of soldering skills. Basically, I (and anyone I reference) am not responsible for scratched cases, bricked devices, burnt fingers, completely epoxied/glued units, the apocalypse, etc.

Moving on to the fun stuff! Please be sure to read through this post to limit any surprises you may find in the process.

Tools you will need:
  • A thinkpadpad
  • This guide and its references
  • Small phillips screwdriver
  • Plastic case prying tool
  • Soldering equipment (for repairing)
  • Epoxy (for enforcing)

Most of you should be at least halfway set. The first step is to get your thinkpad open.

Opening the thinkpad.

There's already some great guides that go through opening the TPT in order to install a 3G capable modem:
Opening the thinkpad to install a 3G card
The basic steps are:
  1. Removing the four face buttons
  2. Removing the two screws underneath the face buttons
  3. Carefully separating the two halves of the tablet

I'll cover some helpful tips in this post to help you with the process. After reading them follow the previously linked guide carefully to open your tablet.

To keep you from damaging the button's clips, notice how they are attached to the tablet.
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The semicircle tabs pry off like a hinge. Once they are free you can just lift the button right off.

When separating the clips to open the case, use a plastic tool to keep from scratching the thinkpad. I found it easiest to start at the usb port.
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Image-left) shows me starting at the usb port with my tool (I just used a divider from a tackle/jewelry box). Image-right) I am carefully sliding the tool around the TPT's edges to undo all of the clips.

Here's an overexposed shot of one of the clips. It's the type you simply push in to undo. I barely had to use any force to separate the halves.
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An important thing to remember: the touchscreen is connected to the bottom half's motherboard. These (two) connections are on the left side of the thinkpad.
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Slowly open the thinkpad, like a book from, the right.
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If you do happen to yank out these connections, they should easily plug back in. See the previous guide about doing this.

Reattaching the button.

If your button is only mushy, but still responding, you can probably skip this step of reattaching the button. If you feel like re-soldering the points, then feel free to do so.

Here's a photo of my broken button:
Attachment 917192
You're going to put the button back into position so that its contacts (opposite of the white button) are lined up against the contact points on the board (the pink points within the green box in the photo above). Here's an annotated picture of the placed button from a much better camera and photographer, Daniel Lane (his cool photo site):
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You can see how the button can pivot off these solder points and eventually break. Solder the points as specified in the photo. Test to make sure your points are good. Hold down the internal button to keep it from moving and try to boot using the external button.

Reinforcing the button with epoxy.

As you probably saw in the previous image from Daniel Lane, he recommends applying epoxy to the button's side posts. Normally these posts would be soldered down underneath the board to secure it in place. You can attempt to either re-solder these posts (if they ever were attached), apply epoxy to them as Daniel suggests (the next safer method), or apply epoxy to more of the button (which I have done).

A few important notes about epoxy:
-It's some serious stuff. Dont get it anywhere you dont want it. ESPECIALLY on the moving part of the button.
-If its a more fluid type, it may not stay where you want it.
-Mix it very well. For at least one minute. You don't want to be stuck with a tacky epoxy job.

I chose to apply epoxy to the sides, back, and top of the button. Do this carefully. Make sure not to let it get on any moving parts. Make a barrier if you have to, or be safe and use Daniel Lane's method and apply a smaller amount. Here is my epoxied button (warning, we are going back to crappy pictures!):
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You can substitute hot glue for the epoxy if you'd like an even safer application. Though its bond is definitely not as strong as the epoxy's.

Let the epoxy cure for as long as its instructions states, then close up your thinkpad tablet. Be sure not to break any clips in this process.

Final step.

Enjoy clicking your power button. Or... something more productive.

UPDATE: Sometime last week (4/13/2012) one of my volume buttons started to go. Luckily I caught it before it completely came off like the power button did. If you open up your TPT to repair the power button, I'd recommend epoxying the volume buttons while you're at it. It's a much easier job while the solder points are still in place.
The Following 10 Users Say Thank You to Anapmac For This Useful Post: [ View ] Gift Anapmac Ad-Free
28th February 2012, 11:21 AM |#2  
Senior Member
Thanks Meter: 41
thanks for your guide !
My button isn't broken yet, but it's good to know that it's possible to fix it by ourself
28th February 2012, 06:53 PM |#3  
Senior Member
Thanks Meter: 30
Thanks for the guide! This is awesome! My button isn't broken (yet) so I'm thinking of reinforcing it soon to prevent any breakage.

Again thanks for the detailed guide. I probably won't get around to it until a couple weeks as I'm swamped with school. But I will update my results when I do.

28th February 2012, 07:30 PM |#4  
toenail_flicker's Avatar
Senior Member
Thanks Meter: 325
Excellent!! Thanks. Well done, with just a modicum of humor. "You don't want to be stuck with a tacky epoxy job." Good job!!
29th February 2012, 01:43 AM |#5  
rangercaptain's Avatar
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Flag West Coast of California
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While you're inside there, put a 3g modem in the pci slot to convert your wifi tab to a 3g tab.
29th February 2012, 04:55 AM |#6  
OP Member
Thanks Meter: 37
Originally Posted by obscure.detour

My button isn't broken (yet) so I'm thinking of reinforcing it soon to prevent any breakage.

I think that's a good idea. It seems that even after Lenovo repairs the RMAs they just solder those three points, just like it was when you bought it. That's why even the repaired pads seem to break.

Originally Posted by toenail_flicker

Excellent!! Thanks. Well done, with just a modicum of humor. "You don't want to be stuck with a tacky epoxy job." Good job!!

Haha. No pun was intended, either of them. But I'm glad you enjoyed it anyway.

Originally Posted by rangercaptain

While you're inside there, put a 3g modem in the pci slot to convert your wifi tab to a 3g tab.

Not a bad idea. I ordered a sata/usb adapter for that slot so I can explore other possibilties :
29th February 2012, 11:38 PM |#7  
Flag Waterford,MI
Thanks Meter: 0
Does anyone have a source for the button you solder onto the board? I repaired mine myself a few weeks ago, but the actual button definitely seems a bit less "clicky" than before. I believe I might have gotten it too close to the soldering iron.

Originally Posted by Anapmac

Not a bad idea. I ordered a sata/usb adapter for that slot so I can explore other possibilties :

I'm very interested in seeing what you can fit in there. It sure would be nice to find a tiny usb gps that would fit in there and lock on faster than the built in one .
20th April 2012, 07:36 PM |#8  
OP Member
Thanks Meter: 37
Just wanted to reiterate someone's recommendation of epoxying the volume buttons while you're in there. My volume up button went out last week (WE NEED MORE POWER!!!).

Originally Posted by opnsrcaddict

Does anyone have a source for the button you solder onto the board?

Did you ever find a suitable replacement?
30th June 2012, 09:52 PM |#9  
Senior Member
Thanks Meter: 12
Great thread. My power button was starting to go, it got mushy. Cracked it open and the back three solder joints were still in tact, but the front reinforcement was broken.

Epoxied the !@#$ out of it, and it's perfect now, stronger than it was originally I'd say! Also did the volume buttons while I was at it.
3rd July 2012, 12:35 PM |#10  
Senior Member
Thanks Meter: 11
While You have Your tab open and the epoxe mixed. Resolder and strenghten the micro usb as well. It will come loose later....
24th July 2012, 05:33 PM |#11  
Phung's Avatar
Thanks Meter: 68
Thank you so much for you great instructional guide with the very helpful pictures. I was going to try and get Lenovo to fix my volume+ key after it wouldn't work anymore but I found this before it. The process of fixing it was really simple. My volume+ button thing on the inside fell off when I barely touched it so I thought I had to solder it first but then it looked really hard to solder in the small area as I never done that before. I just put it in it's place and tested to see if it would work without soldering and it did. I then just epoxied it while holding it down tight until it solidified. I also epoxied the other volume thing and the power button one while I was at it. Now I feel safe that they won't break so easily now. So far everything works well. Thank you again.
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