The case for a better case

For a long while now, my Librem 15v4 has been spewing random repeated characters, which I had previously ascribed to water damage to the keyboard. (I’m still very much in favor of a waterproof keyboard whose key seals also prevent the leakage of stray light from the edges of the buttons.) Anyway, that was bad enough, but this cancer eventually shut down the trackpad. And finally, the machine started turning on spontaneously and overheating my backpack. Fortunately it wasn’t stowed on an airplane at the time I realized that! When I pulled the laptop out, it was too hot to hold comfortably. (The team might want to double check that thermal shutdown logic works, especially if the CPU has crashed.) Just today, it got to the point that I couldn’t turn it off at all! I had to let the battery run out so I could open it up for inspection.

But now, I’ve come to the astonishing revelation that all of these progressive symptoms were due to one of the hinges connecting the panel to the main chassis. It was so stiff that it had literally cracked itself away from the panel, causing the rear of the main chassis to pop open, defeating its pressure locks. The front of one side of the panel has also popped off, forced out by the defiant hinge.

All in all, I see 2 overarching problems here: (1) hinges that are either too stiff, asymmetrically stiff, or not sufficiently well anchored to the panel backing and (2) a case which is too thin and too flexible to maintain its structural integrity for a reasonable number of years without literally splitting at the seams. Perhaps it also doesn’t help that the video signal cable is fed around one of the hinges, causing some degree of mechanical congestion in the area.

I know there’s been some discussion of this before, but to my knowledge there’s been no connection of this mechanical insufficiency to the foregoing potentially catastrophic ramifications. Ultimately, PCB flexing, wire flexing, or the like caused the symptoms, ultimately due to the hinge.

ALL symtpoms have disappeared since I removed the offending hinge, leaving my laptop as effectively a desktop. For the first time in a long time, I can type a sentence without hitting the backspace periodically to kill off randomly inserted characters!

Ideally I’d like to see something more solid, perhaps along the lines of a milled titanium Mac Book. Nobody is coming to Librem for economy. Raise the price as required. Please just make it solid (literally).

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