Sunday, June 14, 2015

Kogan Atlas x14fhd laptop TEARDOWN UPGRADE FIX BENCHMARKS WORKAROUND

OK, this is not the worlds greatest teardown, but such as it is I hope it to be a helpful resource. You get a preview of what is inside the box. Before I went at it, I had found nothing useful on the internets, and when I contacted Kogan for a Service Manual all I got was a link to the User Manual. BTW, this follows my previous post, expressing the joys of my latest acquisition.

After receiving the laptop, testing it with Ubuntu via a USB boot, installing Ubuntu on a temporary basis along side of the preloaded software, installing Ubuntu with a clean format, my next step was to go inside and swap the HDD with an SSD from my previous laptop. So did that, and rebooted with F2 into BIOS. The SSD was detected on the first tab, but not in the boot tab as a bootable drive. It could not boot. I expected it to be boobable because it was bootable on the previous laptop from which it was pulled. After wasting about an hour looking for solutions, I had realized that I should simply install Ubuntu. Win! BTW, the motherboard has 2 memory sockets, so I will probably upgrade the memory at some point.

Teardown


Opening the case was a bit tricky. This is expected on the first attempt with an unfamiliar device. Here is what you need to know:

  1. Flip it over and remove all 12 screws.
  2. Start with the left side (the one with the 2 USBs / HDMI / VGA / NIC / power). Pry the front edge with a thin flat head screwdriver, or even knife, gently. The case will start to snap open.
  3. Then here is the tricky bit. The right side has round audio connectors which do not give way easily. Either carefully pry around the audio connectors to get them past the case holes, or try to pry the back edge there there are snaps as well. The back edge looks like it is a single piece that wraps around to the the top, but it actually separates along the grove half way up, and snaps apart. If you unsnap the back edge then you can just lift the back cover away from the audio connectors quite easily, but on the first attempt this was not obvious to me.
Here are some pics I took along the way with my phone. If you click to enlarge, you will get a pretty good idea of what to expect.

I must say that my first time experience in opening this laptop was much better than what I got with my previous Acer netbook, some three years ago. I'm still loving this new box :) So currently I'm using a Kogan Agora android and laptop, and loving it!

BTW WTF, look at where they'd put the WIFI antenna -- under your right hand next to the mouse! That explains why the internet is slow or fast seemingly randomly -- it speeds up only when you take your hands away out of frustration. I shall attempt to relocate it next time when I open the box, into the removable drive bay area just behind the door placeholder.


Remove all cover screws

Pry the back cover off. The first time, take care with the area around the headphone and mic socket as. I opted to cut away the bridge across the edge to make future instances of cover removal easier.



A look around inside the box












Memory upgrade

Going from 4GB to 8GB.

Getting a RAM module that matches your system super important. Initially I tried to install a module from my previous laptop, which would fit, it was DDR3, but it did not boot. I suspect that it was a case of 1200 vs 1600 that was not a good match. So I took a photo of the working module, went to my local MSY shop, showed the photo, and the nice man got me a suitable module: SODIMM DDR3L 4GB 1600 LOW VOLTAGE (Kingston $35)

The Intel Pentium N3540 CPU can support a maximum of 8GB, so no need to get greedy for anything more.

The original module is the left one and the additional module is on the right.









Screen replacement


Update 2016 02 20
Disaster. The display panel died. Cause unknown, but it started to loose lines over several boots in a 12 hour period.


model LP140WF1 SPK1





For now i gotta use an external monitor.
samsung.com/levant/consumer/it/monitor/led-monitor/LS22D300HY/ZN

The replacement screen arrived within a week of ordering from ebay. Installed it. The operation was a complete success!






Battery Mod

When it was new, the battery would last about 2 hours. Now it lasts about 20 minutes.
The time has come to investigate a replacement battery. I'm expecting to find something on ebay and report back. In the meantime, here are some photos of the battery area.

Model: W940BAT-3
6-87-W90S-42F2
SIMPLO
11.1V 24Wh

The battery driver chip is Texas Instruments BQ30Z55





Battery mod to externalize cells FAIL


  • Cell physical contacts at PCB tested, 4 Volts
  • Boot with battery only FAIL
  • Boot with AC PASSED
  • Charging console indicated battery specs normal and charging, then charged at 100%
  • Battery coupling to mainboard tested, 12 Volts
  • Power after AC disconnect FAIL

Conclusion: This mod FAILED. Cause unknown. This is to be continued.

Later: After a read of the reference PDF about the battery driver chip, I got the hunch that a failure event triggered the chip to permanently disable cell power, hence no current would go in or out of the battery module.


If getting an over priced replacement is not your thing then there are two options:

  1. A big hint is that you should be able to bypass the driver circuit and simply connect three cells in series via the P+ and P- terminals on the main board. Even though this would loose any smart management and fuel gauge function, at least the laptop would operate on 3 internal or external batteries (with a 3 cell battery holder), until something weird happens.
  2. Another equally safe config would be to connect a common 20V cordless tool battery pack (5 internal cells) to the external power input socket which is also 20V, instead of using a mains PSU. This solution would not enable convenient charging while in operation but these type of battery packs charge pretty fast via a matching external charger.
The down side of either option is that when the battery runs flat then the laptop will loose power, without any warning system.

For now I decided to take the low risk road of just using the mains PSU, and not waste any more time on this, that is until more desperate or adventures times.




Disk benchmarks

Upgrade HDD to SSD

Original HDD


Replacement SSD




before // after
Read 101Mb Write 80Mb Access 9.58ms // Read 236Mb Write 167Mb Access 0.24ms



Ubuntu

Getting Ubuntu to work on the system was my highest priority, because that's where all my tools are.



Ubuntu 15.04 WORKS


Ubuntu 16.04 LTS WORKS


Ubuntu 16.10 FAIL


Ubuntu 17.04 WORKS!



Intel Bay Trail bug workaround

The system randomly freezes up. Here is how to fix it, via https://askubuntu.com/questions/803640/system-freezes-completely-with-intel-bay-trail
  1. CNTL+ALT+T
  2. sudo gedit /etc/default/grub
  3. change GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash"
  4. to GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash intel_idle.max_cstate=1"
  5. Save and exit
  6. sudo update-grub
  7. sudo reboot

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Kogan Atlas x14fhd laptop

About a week and a half ago, I snagged this great deal! Although this was after a one month wait/cancel order of a chromebook that they sold out of.

Still to swap out the HDD for my SSD, and get back to work.

Ubuntu works fine after install but with quirks: sometimes boot freezes, pressing enter on boot menu helps; wifi does not connect to the home router via N2.4GHz but does connect at work via N5Ghz (go figure) (... so I use a spare USB NIC at home, or bluetooth tether to my phone). (Later it turned out to be to do with my wifi router setting being set to N only, whereas the better setting was a/b/g/n, live and learn.) (There is an issue with Ubuntu  Intel AC 3160 NIC ; the simplest solution is to disable Bluetooth and reboot. Why cant wifi and bluetooth just get along??) [20150823 this problem seems to have gone away, as I'm using bluetooth and wifi at the same time now]

I was procrastinating addressing the issue of my aging netbook for over a year now, being petrified by/of Secure Boot. That fear had just gone away, finding that Secure Boot is just a BIOS setting, and everything else works as it always had, and there is no problem booting into Ubuntu (Ubuntu Linux is where all of my work related software comes from, so it is essential that I have a work station with it -- it is a case of formatting a laptop purchased with Windows to convert it into a laptop with Linux which in the end looks kind of like a Mac).

Day 1, very happy with it!

 Specifications:
  • Speakers HD Audio
  • Webcam 0.3MP
  • Bluetooth 4.0 LE Ethernet Yes - 10/100 Mbps USB 1 x USB 3.0
  • 2 x USB 2.0 Wi-Fi Intel 802.11 b/g/n/ac
  • Dimensions 34.0 x 24.0 x 2.3cm Weight 2.0kg
  • Native Aspect Ratio 16:9 Resolution 1920 x 1080 Size 14.0" Type FHD
  • Line In/Microphone Yes
  • HDMI 1 x HDMI with HDCP Headphone 3.5mm VGA Yes
  • Architecture 64-bit Battery Removable 4 cell Smart Lithium-Ion battery pack, 32WH CPU Intel Pentium N3540 processor CPU Speed 2.16GHz GPU Intel HD Graphics OS Windows OS Version 8.1 RAM 4GB Dual channel DDR3L 1333Mhz
  • Battery Life 9.5 Hrs
  • Card Slots 9-In-1: Supports MMC / RSMMC / SD / Mini SD / SDHC / SDXC / MS / MS Pro / MS Duo Internal Storage 500GB 5400RPM HDD
  • Cache 8MB
  • WiFi AC
https://www.kogan.com/au/buy/kogan-atlas-x14fhd-laptop-with-4gb-ram-upgrade/

So this will be my work station for the next 3 years hopefully. I look forward to the awesome processor upgrade (from atom 2 core to pentium 4 core), ram (from 2 to 4), and 2k display (from 1k), usb3.


[ check out my next post http://robotsaregodless.blogspot.com.au/2015/06/kogan-atlas-x14fhd-laptop-teardown-and.html ]

WIFI spec: dual band, 1x1, Wi-Fi up to 433 Mbps [ intel wiki ]

Dual monitor test: HDMI connected to 4K TV operates at 2K max. In expanded desktop mode, mouse movement lags on the TV. In mirror mode, the mouse still lags but only on the TV. Did not test video playback. So this will certainly not be a 4K workstation.






MY WORKSTATION HISTORY
Kogan Atlas laptop [w Sandisk 120GB SSD]
Acer Aspire One AAO D270 netbook laptop [w Corsair 32GB SSD]
Asus Eee PC 1015PX netbook laptop [w Corsair 32GB SSD]
Acer Aspire One AAO 543h netbook laptop [w Corsair 32GB SSD]
Asus eee pc 701 netbook laptop
Acer Aspire laptop
OEM laptop
OEM desktops