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CharredPC's Acer Extensa 5620 Hot Rod Project


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#21
paqintosh

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Hey! I thought i was the only old guy hotrodding acer 5620! My first upgrade was Vic-20 chip (no, not in Acer!). I miss Turbo button. I used to sell Kaypro luggables!

Anyway- I have cheap 5620-6266 bot new (not demo) from Offc Depot missing Power cord for $250. I'm using View sonic power cord I had. I also swapped out CPU for T9300 Eng Sampl(ebay $219), too. Woohoo. I just decided to pop in a 500 Meg Blue Scorpio ($99 newegg) sata3. Wow. This cheapo laptop is fun!

It's been dual booting XP/OSX 10.5.5 beautifully. Wonderful as a little DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) as it has correct TI Firewire chip. Runs Profire2626 M-Audio protoolsM fine- mac or XP. That's 26 chanels of 92kHz audio in and out.


I forgot what i did to get it all going last year, so when I poped in the new drive- found your build. I had everything working beautifully before- just seeing what's new. i don't think i got wifi, but didn't want it. now i think i do.

You got my interest with the USB header- i'd like to pop in a micro bluetoothy thingy there. free up external port. must be on mobo. do you remember the pinouts?

Changing out the screen is crazy! Besides wiring, I'm thinking mounting pts/bezel etc. Please let us know how it goes. Hell- why not a touchscreen? You go!

The other gripe I had was never getting the front SD reader to work in Mac. Was told none of them work cuz there is no real mac equivilent. i did have those hard shortcut buttons working, but forgot how.

I get geekbench2.0 score of 3191 w/ 2.5GHz w/ 3 gigs of 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM. 32K L1, 6 MB L2, 800 MHz Bus. How much RAM does yours recognize? I can't remember if it was 3 or 4 Gigs max? I could use some faster memory......

anyway- I'm watching to see where this goes. :D

#22
CharredPC

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@paqintosh:

My first pirated software was AppleWorks for the Apple IIe :D

I have the pinout diagram for the internal usb plug here, will just have to scan it in at work so I can post it up.

LCD screens are surprisingly standardized these days. Sure, some have more spots for mounting, some have spots to affix inverters, and some are a plain ol' screen that you have to attach brackets to. But most of them can be made to work, as long as the electronic side is happy.

Not doing a touchscreen- I hate them! Never saw the point. Sure, on an iPhone, but on your laptop monitor? ...smudge city. I get your point, though, lol.

At one point I had the PCMCIA card slot working. That was back in the pre-10.5.5 days, though, and I long since forget how. Lots of kext swapping / tweaking, I remember that much. Everything was also terribly unstable back then. Most of my FN-keys work by default, IIRC.

I can't wait to benchmark this sucker when I get done. Mine recognizes the full 4GB of RAM in OSX, 3GB in XP. Remember that if you have the GMA965 chipset, your RAM top speed will be 667Mhz regardless if you put faster in there. I used 800Mhz simply because the timings are slightly tighter than normal 667Mhz modules.

Just waiting on a screen, wifi, and a replacement battery now...

#23
CharredPC

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@akira9000 - As promised..

The little USB-to-Ethernet adapter I picked up for $7.25 works flawlessly. Instantly detected under 10.5.7, and can't tell any difference between using it or the onboard LAN. Simply the best bet for adding Ethernet to any hackintosh for $10 or less!

Look for a "Datel Wii LAN" (UPC
890664001044, MPN DUS0204). eBay has a decent selection for about what I paid. Even has that spiffy white "mac look" ^_^


#24
CharredPC

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Uhg! The 5200mAh battery the seller sent me wouldn't fully charge*, as I described. At first it was stuck at something like 83%, then around 53%, then after a third complete drain and retry (as per his instructions) it refused to take any charge at all.

I shipped it back (at my cost) and he claims the battery works wonderfully. He won't comp my shipping cost, won't give me a full refund, and if he sends another that happens to have the same issue, I'll get even less of a refund. His excuse is maybe there's a problem with my machine, or that it isn't compatible with it.

I replied that my machine works fine. It charges the original battery perfectly. It's the exact model he listed in his auction, so how is it my fault if it's incompatible? His offer of a partial refund or taking a chance again, while agreeing he's blameless and not liable, is just unacceptable. I told him to stand behind his product, or I'd regretfully be forced to file a dispute.

We'll see how it turns out. It's very frustrating. I hate sellers like this. Is it worth a $52 refund to keep a customer happy? Is it better to risk a PayPal dispute, a negative feedback, and all this time and trouble? Maybe I just view things differently, having been an eBay power seller....

*edit: Battery will charge, but requires 90W adapter instead of original 65W


#25
apple apple

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So what's the final verdict? Howd she turn out?

#26
CharredPC

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Everything's sort of on hold while I finally move from Utah to Idaho. 802.11n wifi card did arrive, though shipping time was ridiculous. Everything's done except the battery and LCD; new 5200mAh battery is (again) on its way, and will order the screen (again!) shortly. It's driving me nuts not having my own laptop, especially now that it's seriously pimped out, so rest assured I will get this finished as quickly as possible :D

#27
CharredPC

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Quick update:

Got the new 5200mAh battery (Grape32 compatible). Turns out it works perfectly with the Extensa 5620, but needs a 90W supply to charge it. The original one is a 65W. The brand new Acer (not generic) charger was about $15 shipped, and now I have a 2.5 hour ETA under XP.

Got sick of waiting, so ordered a new LCD when a good deal came up. Not exactly the model I wanted, but should work; a brand new glossy Samsung LTN154P3-L05 WSXGA+ for $60 shipped. Also installed the 802.11n card. So in theory, by next weekend I will have a complete laptop once more, and can reinstall OSX ^_^

#28
dawntodon

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awesome project! I was curious about upgrading the display on my laptop myself. I'm not too sure if I'm up for anything beyond that though. I was wondering if you ran into problems with moving from WXGA to WSXGA, like having to get a new inverter or getting into something really hairy. I've replaced an lcd panel for something identical and was wondering if the process would be as straightforward as that. I'd love to hear how this works out.

#29
CharredPC

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awesome project! I was curious about upgrading the display on my laptop myself. I'm not too sure if I'm up for anything beyond that though. I was wondering if you ran into problems with moving from WXGA to WSXGA, like having to get a new inverter or getting into something really hairy. I've replaced an lcd panel for something identical and was wondering if the process would be as straightforward as that. I'd love to hear how this works out.


Don't be so scared! The cpu / RAM / hd / battery / wifi upgrades all went fine (once I had working parts to install). If you're careful, it's not too hard. My new screen was delivered a few days ago- to my old address. I have someone picking it up, and should have it in my hands to install tomorrow afternoon! I cannot wait :wacko:

I haven't had to replace the inverter at all (thus far). The process is exactly like replacing an identical LCD, as long as you make sure the size is the same. Biggest question is if your chipset / 30-pin lcd cable / bios is happy with the transfer. From what I've seen, my chipset and bios are fine. The cable may not have a complete pin-set in my unit, but it tries anyway, and does seem to work.

Of course I'll post the results as soon as I get it together tomorrow night.

#30
AeonModder

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Don't be so scared! The cpu / RAM / hd / battery / wifi upgrades all went fine (once I had working parts to install). If you're careful, it's not too hard. My new screen was delivered a few days ago- to my old address. I have someone picking it up, and should have it in my hands to install tomorrow afternoon! I cannot wait :)

I haven't had to replace the inverter at all (thus far). The process is exactly like replacing an identical LCD, as long as you make sure the size is the same. Biggest question is if your chipset / 30-pin lcd cable / bios is happy with the transfer. From what I've seen, my chipset and bios are fine. The cable may not have a complete pin-set in my unit, but it tries anyway, and does seem to work.

Of course I'll post the results as soon as I get it together tomorrow night.


Sorry but im new to this forum. I have an extensa 5620-6830 laptop and I am very interested in upgrading the dismal screen, the battery and the non exsistant bluetooth. You have been very descriptive about your endeavors but i was hoping that you could be a little more specific as how I could aquire the compatible hardware. Could you maybe post model numbers for the battey (and the 90 wt ac adaptor) as well as the bluetooth and LCD screen (1680x1050), or any instuctions on how to aquire them? any help would be greatly appreciated.

#31
CharredPC

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Sorry but im new to this forum. I have an extensa 5620-6830 laptop and I am very interested in upgrading the dismal screen, the battery and the non exsistant bluetooth. You have been very descriptive about your endeavors but i was hoping that you could be a little more specific as how I could aquire the compatible hardware. Could you maybe post model numbers for the battey (and the 90 wt ac adaptor) as well as the bluetooth and LCD screen (1680x1050), or any instuctions on how to aquire them? any help would be greatly appreciated.


No problem, though I'd recommend waiting until I've tested everything before making the plunge... just to be safe and save money.

Finished:
The battery is an Acer Grape32 5200mAh model. You will need to purchase a 90w Acer (model PA-1900-05) charger to use it. This aspect works great, and has been tested on my system. Both purchased off of eBay.

Unfinished: The eBay "new" LCD showed up here looking used and DOA. Super PO'd, I immediately returned it and ordered a brand new $125 LG one from a reputable major seller. I'll try it out and post the results as soon as it gets here, hopefully within a week.

Finished, but waiting: The bluetooth module was from DealExtreme, but they have since changed the chipset so it's no longer OSX compatible. I'm working on finding a cheap replacement; as soon as I find and acquire one, I'll post a full guide on it.

Otherwise, thus far I've been using eBay to gather components. Just keep in mind that sometimes finding a killer deal means you're buying {censored}. That said, a lot of my parts were very cheap. When this project is complete, I plan on compiling all the info with pictures into a useful guide, not just my many delays and ramblings which is this thread :)

#32
CharredPC

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WARNING: From here on out, things will get very technical, because I'm a hard-headed idiot who refuses to give up :thumbsup_anim:


This laptop (and seemingly most Acer's) has a WXGA LCD cable. This limits the data throughput to 1280x800. However, once you install any WXGA+, WSXGA, or WUXGA LG LCD into it, Windows will show higher resolutions as available. That is because all the hardware it can see (LCD + video chipset) look perfectly compatible to it. What it can't see is the LCD cable. So when you apply the higher resolutions, you get a sort of washed-out graininess, sometimes with lines.

Does that mean we're out of luck? Aw, heeeell no!

Let's look at exactly why this occurs, electronically. I give you the standard WUXGA/WSXGA+ dual channel 30-pin LCD pinout:

1 ground
2 +3.3v
3 +3.3v
4 +3.3v

5 nc/key
6 DDC Clock
7 DDC Data
8 A D0-
9 A D0+

10 ground
11 A D1-
12 A D1+

13 ground
14 A D2-
15 A D2+

16 ground
17 A Clock-
18 A Clock+
19 ground

20 B D0-
21 B D0+
22 ground
23 B D1-
24 B D1+
25 ground
26 B D2-
27 B D2+
28 ground
29 B Clock-
30 B Clock+


Now, the green highlighted connections are the only ones present in our WXGA Acers. Notice what's missing? Right, the entire second channel (B D0, D1, D2, B Clock). This is why things look poorly on the screen- half the data is physically missing.

So how to solve this? As the pins physically aren't there on either end of our connectors, tossing in extra wires wouldn't work very well. So I see one of two options: first, replacing our LCD cable with a full 30-pin cable. The big difficulty here is that while the 30-pin LCD connector is standard, our motherboard connector is not. Plus this also runs the webcam (usb) and connects to the inverter. We start messing with that, and things could get ugly.

The Acer Aspire 8920G has WUXGA resolution and a webcam, so its lcd cable might work. Or not. Anyone care to track one down and buy it to see? By the prices I see... no thanks. Not to mention the motherboard end of the plug likely being wired different, even if we get lucky and it's the same physical socket.

Here's how I plan to solve it. The existing WXGA cable (Wistron COLUMBIA 15.4" WXGA LCD+CCD CABLE 50.4T329.001, btw) has plastic release tabs on both ends; in layman's terms, the wires can easily be unhooked from both connectors, if you're careful. So instead of tracking down a perhaps mythical connector which likely won't work, I will just purchase a second standard WXGA cable. Then I'll unwrap / unclip some wires, add them to mine (restoring the missing data channel), and viola! Full 30-pin connector.

If this does in fact work out- electronically, it all should- I may go into business making modded Acer cables to allow us all 1900x1200 resolution on our budget machines :whistle:

As far as screens go: In my testing, every LG LCD I've tried works, no matter what the physical size or resolution. Perhaps other brands work, but I figured I'm taking enough chances experimenting here. I finally ended up with a new WXGA+ glossy LP154WP1(TL)(A3) for my build. Other than the screen's inverter jack being the wrong size (quick plastic plug swap fixed that) it fits perfectly. Once my cable's done, the bright, clear 1440x900 will be nice, and I could upgrade to anything higher should I want to later.

I know I keep promising it, but really- pictures to come of this wacky endeavor as work progresses.

#33
dawntodon

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If this does in fact work out- electronically, it all should- I may go into business making modded Acer cables to allow us all 1900x1200 resolution on our budget machines :(


this is the only part that really caught my attention; if you in fact do this, I'll be the first in line for one of these cables!

#34
CharredPC

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this is the only part that really caught my attention; if you in fact do this, I'll be the first in line for one of these cables!


If this works out as it should, I'll definitely build at least a couple extra. It would help this project to have other user's successful results. The theory is simple enough. I've even verified that the motherboard plug receptacle does in fact have all the pins... this cable is the only thing stopping full, clear high resolution.

My luck, I'll get this done successfully, then feel the need to buy yet another LCD so I have pointless/insane 1900x1200 ability :D

#35
CharredPC

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Success! Full 100% success!

Crystal clear WXGA+ / WSXGA / WUXGA capability in my little Extensa 5620. Was much easier than I'd hoped. Will post more once OSX 10.6 is installed and am on my own machine.

:D

Edit: Can't locate my OSX retail DVD. See, this is why I hate moving. Getting another, but have to wait... AGAIN. In the meantime, I reinstalled XP. Loving the 1440x900 resolution, plus this a much brighter screen than the original. Also, the Mac (BC4321) card I bought a while back refuses to connect to my router. Not sure if it's to blame, or if my AP is too crappy. The wife's 802.11n card has no issue, so I don't see why mine would... hrm.

I have enough wires left to convert one more WXGA cable into a full 30-pin cable. As I said, it was much easier than I hoped. Acer makes it easy :P

#36
AeonModder

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I found a killer deal on the Acer Grape32 5200mAh battery, but i was interested in what kind of battery life you are getting, average and also in power saver mode. Thanks!

#37
CharredPC

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AeonModder: I don't have hard numbers, sorry- depends entirely on what I'm doing, what OS I'm in, etc. I can say that this new battery lasts over an hour, even under serious multitasking (web browsing + chatting + Q virtual machine + DVD drive + music) in OSX without speedstep. That's certainly better than my original.

Definitely loving this upgraded Acer.. it's like a whole new machine. No hesitation, no waiting on anything. The new screen is crisp and bright; the USB Ethernet works as a perfectly seemless wired network solution; the retail EFI install runs fast and smooth. All previous quirks are gone (X3100 'cold boot' issue) too!

If anyone else wants to do the WXGA+/WSXGA/WUXGA LCD cable mod, let me know. I have enough wiring left over to send someone else, and can include pinout diagrams and instructions. It's not as scary as it sounds. This will be an awesome laptop to use when I go back to school this spring.... ;)

#38
AeonModder

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I would definitely like to get a cable from you so i can perform this upgrade. If you could e-mail me at drewhesse@gmail.com I can give my mailing adress, and i can cover any cost's that you had for the cable as well. Looking forward to hearing from you!

#39
CharredPC

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I would definitely like to get a cable from you so i can perform this upgrade. If you could e-mail me at drewhesse@gmail.com I can give my mailing adress, and i can cover any cost's that you had for the cable as well. Looking forward to hearing from you!


Just to clarify, I don't have a complete, ready to use spare LCD cable; I have half a dozen individual wires that need to be added to an existing LCD cable by inserting them properly into the connectors at either end. Just wanted to make sure you're aware of that. I'll happily send anyone the wires and instructions to do the mod, or if you send me an LCD cable I'll do it for you myself and mail back the completed product.

#40
AeonModder

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So, just to clarify, if i pulled the LCD cable out of my acer and sent it to you then you would perform the upgrade to it?

I would not enjoy that part of this project and my electrical skills are weak, but i was prepared to do it myself, however if you could out of the kindness of your hear or passion for this sort of thing that would be a lifesaver! so.. whadda say :^)

Just to clarify, I don't have a complete, ready to use spare LCD cable; I have half a dozen individual wires that need to be added to an existing LCD cable by inserting them properly into the connectors at either end. Just wanted to make sure you're aware of that. I'll happily send anyone the wires and instructions to do the mod, or if you send me an LCD cable I'll do it for you myself and mail back the completed product.







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