Fixing un-bootable Acer Aspire One GZ5 (AOA150) Netbook


My neighbor and I were recently chatting and he told me about his laptop would simply no longer turn on.  Lights would come on, fans would kick on but no screen no further boot progress.  I asked him if I could take a look at it.

First thing I thought was a faulty LCD power inverter for the screen.  If that blows it can interrupt power to the screen, possibly even to the external display driver for the whole laptop.  I had this happen on an old Dell Inspiron and replacing that power inverter definitely remedied the situation.

So, I took the entire bottom assembly apart, thinking the power inverter was in the center hinge between the bottom and top parts of the computer.  By the time I finally got the machine open (including finding those hidden screws under the rubber feet), I realized the power inverter was actually at the top half of the clamshell – right above the LCD (thanks YOUTUBE).

Put the thing back together and removed 6 screws from the top bezel (EASY) and pried it off.  Found the inverter and unplugged.  Tried to power up with an external monitor, still no dice:

So I was about to give up and chalk it up to motherboard issues when I started to think maybe the BIOS itself was just plain corrupt.  I wondered if there was a reset, and then I miraculously found these posts:

http://www.fixya.com/support/t1897703-acer_aspire_one_model_no_zg5_screen

http://www.qrpcw.com/2009/01/acer-aspire-one-bios-recovery.html

Apparently, there was a way to auto-re-flash the BIOS without even needing to boot it up – FROM a bootable USB drive.  Wow…

I went to Acer’s site for USA under software support, downloaded the BIOS zip package.  Unzipped, and renamed the .FD file to ZG5IA32.FD.  Copied the contents to a freshly formatted and bootable USB drive.

I plugged in the USB drive, plugged in the computer with battery attached.  Held down the FN and ESC keys simultaneously.  Pressed the power button.  After a few seconds the power buttons started a SLOW blink.  I let go of FN and ESC and hit the power button once.  During this time my USB drive showed activity (it has a light on it).  After about nearly a full minute, the computer shut off and rebooted itself and – voila!  The BIOS re-flash fixed the issue completely.

Honestly – I was quite amazed.  Had I know I could have saved myself hours of time troubleshooting hardware components and trying to figure out how to take apart this silly little netbook.  But in the end, besides my time this was a $0 fix, the best kind of computer fix.

– b

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6 thoughts on “Fixing un-bootable Acer Aspire One GZ5 (AOA150) Netbook

  1. Brian,

    This article saved my day. I followed your instructions and within minutes I was back up and running. I will admit that I disassembled this thing twice before I saw your article and was ready to punt.

    I definitely learned something worth adding to my troubleshooting library.

    Thanks,

    Rod

  2. Rod,

    Glad I could help. This was relatively obscure information that was difficult to find when searching through Google. I had to find the right keyword combination to locate those articles. Amazing that the BIOS could be flashed/replaced this way – they have come a long way.

    Brian

  3. Hei Brian, are you sure that that component above the LCD is the inverter? I’m in the process of fixing my screen (definitely hardware problem, and I fixed the BIOS a while ago), but I think this could actually be the webcam, while the small component to the left is the microphone. I’m trying to find the part number of the inverter so I can get a new one from Inverter Central.

    from Matt.

  4. Matt,

    Honestly I am not sure – I do not have the laptop anymore so I can’t check. Usually I’d agree and say the inverter is at the bottom of the LCD by the hinge. It’s best to see where it looks like the main ribbon cable for the monitor plugs in. Usually thats a good sign you are at or closer to the inverter. Most likely, it was a web-cam or something along those lines at the top.

    Brian

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