Sunday, June 14, 2015


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.


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.

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
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


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
  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

1 comment:

Michael Wildoer said...

Thanks for putting up this info, as I also wanted to upgrade my Kogan Atlas to boot from an SSD. $28 for a 4GB RAM upgrade was a bit of a bonus, as I didn't know this was even possible! :) Though I'm using Windows 10 rather than Linux (upgrading from Windows 8.1 via an installer I downloaded from Microsoft's website), I think the speed increase from the hardware improvements will be very helpful. I also really like the big 1920x1080 screen on the Kogan Atlas for watching Netflix.