Power a Laptop without a Dedicated Power Adapter

I am often given laptops for repair/cleanup. However, not everybody brings the power adapter along. Anyone who has ever dealt with laptops knows from experience that pretty much every make/model has a different kind of power socket, even though they pretty much have the same power requirements. In this quick article I’m not going into details why this is great (it is not!).

Luckily, over the years, I have accumulated half a cubic meter of laptop power bricks of different manufacturers and models. At this stage, usually, it is not an issue if someone forgets to bring his/her own.

The other day, however, I was given a not-so-young Sony laptop (without its own power adapter), that had a power socket that none of my power adapters had.

As it turns out, this is not a very rare socket, I just happened to have adapters for a thousand others…

After a few moments of cursing I started to look around in my junk bin(s) to find some basic materials I could use to fashion a temporary plug for this socket. I did not need much: a pin of some sort for the center pin and a curved sheet of metal for the barrel part.

As a center pin I finally decided to use a piece of old resistor lead. (When I build a circuit and I always gather and save all the excess leads in a small box. They are useful in many context as jumpers, lead extensions, jumpers, etc.).

Both pin and bronze sheet were leftovers from previous projects bringing the total cost of this hack to close to zero. Part of a ruler is included in the picture for scale only, it is not used in the this life-hack.

The piece of bronze(?) sheet you see on the right is probably from some old equipment/plug – I can’t remember. But when I saw it, I immediately knew it would fit the bill.

I added some solder to the center pin to make it a tight fit in its hole, and soldered one wire of the power cable to the bronze sheet and one to the pin. Then, using hot glue, I made sure they stay together but still a bit separate:

What a piece of art!

When I first plugged it in the laptop, it did not work. I did not despair – I knew it was only because the bronze sheet is not a full circle, like the original barrel, and probably the contact inside the socket is somewhere else, which I could not see. For obvious reasons I couldn’t take the socket apart to see where/how the connection of the outer ring was made, so I went by trial and error. I moved the whole contraption in different positions and after 2 more tries, it was working. And it was working reliably for days. I could even move the laptop without it shutting down! (And no, the laptop didn’t have its battery, as the batteries were too old and never replaced, but thrown away.)

Not a masterpiece, but it certainly did its job flawlessly for the few days the laptop was with me, took about 5 minutes to create, it costs as much as the hot glue I used.

What are some of your methods of powering the unpowerables? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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