Dell Inspiron 530 Wireless Network Repair

May 7, 2009

The problem: Customer installed wireless network card not detecting networks. Should be working fine as a few months ago I had removed this card from the machine and installed it in another machine from the same house (apparently the kids needed to move the computers around)

Everything looks fine from the outside:

What horrors lurk within?

What horrors lurk within?

Before even thinking about booting it up, I pop the case open and discover this:

Just tuck it in there, it'll be fine.

Just tuck it in there, it'll be fine.

I would have thought that the white slot would have been a pretty obvious place to plug the card in. Guess not. They also somehow managed to unplug the front audio jacks - you can see the yellow connector behind the card. Here is what it is supposed to look like:

That looks a little more technical-like, doesn't it?

That looks a little more technical-like, doesn't it?

Maybe I am taking this sort of knowledge for granted – I have been messing around with hardware like this for almost twenty years, after all. It has been interesting to watch computers gradually transition from something that would be meticulously researched before purchase to something that you pick up at Walmart for a few hundred bucks. I guess the same thing happens with most technology – automobiles and radios spring to mind, I’m sure that there are other examples. This must be that “better living through science” that they’ve been telling us about.

After installing the card, I plug the machine in and power it up. Nothing happens. I take an educated wild guess that for some reason on this particular machine I need to have the card in slot one, so I move it over:

Maybe the card will play nicer with this slot.

Maybe the card will play nicer with this slot.

Success! A computer shop would have charged at least $50 for this repair, which took about five minutes, start to finish (including my initial wrong slot choice). My client claims that she spent four hours on the phone with tech support last night. I doubt that they have a menu choice for this particular problem.

3 Responses to “Dell Inspiron 530 Wireless Network Repair”

  1. You know, I’ve been playing with electronics since I was 5, and I remember the first time I made the brain connection that said “If there’s a part, and a place where it looks like it should go, it usually goes there!” This was a huge epiphany, the realization that the square peg goes in the square hole. Now it is more than natural to us. To other people it still looks like rocket science and they are afraid of putting the square peg in the square hole, because it might start on fire, or turn into a transformer.

  2. To be fair, tech support doesn’t have the advantage of popping open the case and seeing that card isn’t seated properly (or at all!) Our job is never easy, there’s only so much we can do over the phone.

  3. Brandon, it wasn’t my intent to disparage tech support – more of a commiseration at what you are up against! There’s no way that you are getting paid enough to try to diagnose impossible problems like this..

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