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Compaq Contura Aero Frequently Asked Questions
Section - 2.1.3.1 The tale of a journey inside

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Note: this was the first story ever on an Aero disassembly. We now know
better and will not disassemble that one screw in the back that holds the
Aero display together.

[ this one is a bit wordy; but I felt it should go out to everyone on the
list rather than languish on an ftp site -- lrj ]

Just for the record, this was all in a dream. It is not true. I would
never do something as silly as opening up my Aero 4/33c, because that
would void the warranty or let the smoke out or something. Would I do
that? Of course not! cough If anyone were to consider opening up their
machine, remember that if you break anything it's YOUR fault. This is NOT
a trivial thing like opening up a desktop's case. If you're not (a)
willing to accept the consequences of something breaking and (b) confident
in your ability, then STOP HERE. Do not continue.

AT ALL TIMES REMEMBER TO GO SLOW. IF SOMETHING ISN'T WORKING OUT, RELAX;
EXAMINE IT AND THINK ABOUT HOW IT OUGHT TO GO. IT'S ALWAYS BETTER TO TAKE
YOUR TIME THAN TO BREAK SOMETHING.

As a first step, shut down windows and turn off the power. I mean the
actual Fn+StandbyButton power-off sequence. Remove the battery. Find a
nice flat table and put something soft on it; make sure you follow proper
electrostatic discharge procedures. I reccommend a wrist-strap.

Remove all the screws from the bottom of the case, and the two from the
back of the right-hand side. (the two on the right-side back anchor that
side of the display, so be ready for it to become a little floppy :) THERE
ARE NO HIDDEN SCREWS. Happily, Compaq did not hide any under stickers or
anything. I used a flat-blade screwdriver, but the appropriate Torx driver
would be best.

Now you have to remove the plastic from the top; the stuff surrounding
the keyboard. It's a snap-down setup, and to disengage the clips you have
to push in on the top half while sorta pulling out on the bottom, while
lifting the top. Yah, one of those three-hand jobs.

ALSO: the speaker is one of those 3/4" piezo thingies that lives in front
of the trackball. Make sure it doesn't get smooshed or jammed into
something when you're popping the case.

There's one clip right next to where the battery cover goes, on the front
side of the machine. It's a good one to examine and get a feel for how it
works. The next one is in the middle of the front, right where the display
locks down.

The nasty one is on the right side between the back and the trackball
buttons. I finally got it by having the display up at 90 degrees, with the
whole machine sitting on it's left side. I inserted the corner of a credit
card between the top/bottom case halves from the back to put lifting
pressure on the clip as I pressed/pulled/etc. BE GENTLE HERE THOUGH,
there's definite breakage potential if you just force it. 

Next, there are a set a small tabs which hold the back of the top down.
You can see the line running under the display. Just kind of gently lift,
wiggle, lever, etc. 'til they pop out.

Now for the real fun; seperating the "top" from the display. I haven't
figured a good way to do it; as you lift the top over the hinges, it hits
the bottom of the display. Carefully applied flexing and bending (never
too much) was the only way I got the thing off of there. Just be careful
and look it over a bit.

At this point, your machine should still work. I figured I'd try mine
out, so I plugged in the AC adapter and powered it up. :) I of course
powered it down and unplugged it before continueing. :)

Next thing is to remove the keyboard. You'll find one screw in the middle
below the spacebar and three smaller ones across the top. That's it.
Remove 'em, tip the back of the keybd up and push backwards 'til it
disengages from the metal tab in the bottom right (closest to you). Watch
the two ribbon cables under it.

To disengage the cables, lay the keybd upside down over the battery 
compartment. You'll see a couple slider things on the two cable slots on
the motherboard. Pull the sliders towards you; now the cables will come
out easily and you can set the keybd aside.

In order to remove the hard disk, you must first pull out the flat cable
running across the drive, which goes to the trackball and buttons. Small
needlenose pliers are good for this if you're very gentle and go slowly.

One the cable's off, slide the hard disk to the right until it disengages
from the connector. Tilt the back upwards 'til it clears the motherboard
and lift it out. Voila! :) You could take the "carrier" off the existing
drive and put it on another 2.5" drive if you wished.

Reassembling the machine is pretty much the reverse of what I've
described. When reinstalling the hard drive, make sure that one "tab" on
the carrier lines up with the screwhole so it'll get locked down when you
put the screws back in. When you put the keyboard back on, make sure to
engage that metal tab at the bottom-right.

I would suggest checking the machine out before putting the plastic lid
back on; after the keybd's back on, plug it in/turn it on and make sure
everything still works. Then turn it of, put the top back on, and button
it up.

In summary, it looks like the hard drive is user-replaceable if you have
the confidence and ability to go in there and do it. It is probably not
something which Joe Consumer should try. I've broken a lot of plastic tabs
over the years as I learned how to finesse these things. :)

Put it this way; when it comes time to put in a 400-500M disk sometime
next year, I will be talking to the local service shop (which sells
Compaq) to see how much it'd cost to have them do the work. I am not sure
that I won't break a plastic tab or something next time.

Remember, this is all a dream. Nothing here is true. cough

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Top Document: Compaq Contura Aero Frequently Asked Questions
Previous Document: 2.1.3 How to disassemble the Aero
Next Document: 2.1.4 Hard Drive

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Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:12 PM