March 6, 2017
From the Jargon File:
To remove or disable a portion of something, as a wire from a computer … A standard slogan is “When in doubt, dike it out” … The word ‘dikes’ is widely used to mean ‘diagonal cutters’, a kind of wire cutter.
Recently I ordered myself a ‘new’ dev laptop: a refurbished Lenovo X220 w/ 16Gib RAM. I fitted the 256GiB SSD from my old Lenovo e550 (not recommended), and installed FreeBSD 11.0 (highly recommended). I also ordered a couple of spare power adaptors, and a docking station. Total price came in at around AUD$380 (not counting the SSD).
I specifically chose the X220 for a few characteristics that I value very highly:
- Full chipset support in FreeBSD 11.0.
- Excellent keyboard (better than any new laptop I’ve tried, including later Lenovo models).
- Matte screen (albeit 768p).
I ordered mine from an eBay seller I highly recommend (z3r0k00l). It arrived promptly, and in excellent condition. However … it didn’t have a webcam! I’d assumed that all X220 models had them fitted, but some didn’t. When I asked if they stocked webcam modules, z3r0k00l said they didn’t, but offered to pay for a module from another seller. A generous offer extended to someone who simply failed to read an eBay listing :)
Anyhow - I declined their offer, and purchased a module from a different seller for $US6.75. Once it arrived, I went to fit it, and discovered that there are (at least) two different types of Lenovo X220. One has a two-wire WiFi antenna fitted, the other a three-wire antenna. The latter doesn’t fit webcams, because the third antenna sits right in the webcam bay.
I have the three wire model :(
Nothing that can’t be fixed with a pair of diagonal cutters, however.
The procedure I used:
- Download the maintenance manual (hat-tip to the Lenovo Forums).
- Read the procedure for removal of the webcam module on page 92, and assume that installation is the reverse of that.
- Remove the LCD bezel. Note that the covers over the screws are flexible, adhesive, plastic squares. They’re not made of the same material as the case.
- Find the small webcam plug hanging loosely into the webcam bay.
- Plug that into the webcam module, leaving the protective cover on the camera.
- Spend the best part of an hour swearing while trying to wrestle the webcam module into the webcam bay.
- Do some more Googling, and realise that the aerial in the bay is preventing installation.
- Fetch dikes from workshop; cut through cable to aerial and foil stuff holding aerial in place.
- Fit webcam module into bay; it now fits snugly.
- Remove protective cover from camera.
- Replace bezel.
- Boot laptop and test webcam.
- Stick protective cover that came with the webcam module onto the bezel.
- Play success music and drink wine.
The end result is a functioning webcam, with no appreciable loss in WiFi reception. I have noticed that the ThinkLight has ceased functioning; I’m unsure whether this is by design (i.e. the webcam and the ThinkLight are mutually exclusive), or whether I damaged the power line to the LED while fitting the webcam. Either way I think it’s a reasonable trade-off.
It’s also worth mentioning that the standard X220 webcam isn’t great (see above selfie). I’m still going to buy a FreeBSD-supported USB HD cam to hang off my external monitor, plugged into my docking station. But this will do in a pinch, and when mobile.
If you give this a shot, please email me and let me know how you get on. The usual disclaimer applies, of course: if you wave tools at your laptop and break either it or yourself, you’re on your own :)