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Dell Inspiron 8200 ALPS to Synaptics Mod Guide


Kamika007z

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It took me a while to post this, but since a few people have asked, I finally have mustered up enough energy to write up this guide. Hope it all helps. I will try to add pictures in the future if possible.

===========================

The Synaptics touchpad modification was a tricky one. While getting a Synaptics touchpad wasn't bad at all, getting the trackstick, the "eraserhead" mouse pointer on the keyboard to install and work, was.

I hated the ALPS and I loved the Synaptics on my older Inspiron 8100 so I was determined. At first I tried it, failed, and then gave up for about almost a year. Eventually I tried it again and it worked perfectly this time and it was well worth the wait. :danke:

Here's what I did, I had to go through about 3 keyboards in order for this to work. I will use eBay as a reference point for purchasing these items because buying directly from Dell is rather expensive. I would recommend you fully read and reread this if necessary before proceeding in order to have a clear understanding as to how the process goes and to avoid any potential mistakes:

1. - Buy/get 1 Inspiron 8100 Palmrest assembly from eBay. Part Number: 6G500.

Buy/get 1 Inspiron 8100 Keyboard from eBay. Part number: 03609Y.

**Make SURE that it is for the Inspiron 8100. It can be for an Inspiron 8000 as well, as they both use Synaptics. A lot of eBay sellers do not list everything correctly because they just might want a sale or do not realize and might say it fits all 3 models (8000, 8100, 8200) so be 100% sure that they are ONLY for the Inspiron 8000 or 8100 and NOT for the Inspiron 8200. You can get these for about ~15 dollars each at most. Although I am not checking on the prices as I type this.

2. - Disassembling the system:

***NOTE: Before you begin, remove all extra add-ins, such as batteries, pcmcia cards, pcmcia spacer plastic fill-in cards, disk drives, mice, and other connected devices. I would also recommend you removing the optical drive as well (Unscrew the 1 screw holding the cd/dvd-rom drive and pull it out with the tab holding it. The screw does not come out entirely.)

A.) - Once you get both parts, I would recommend removing the HDD first. Remove it's screw by the infra-red and slide the cover down and then pull it out. Now remove all other bottom screws of the notebook carefully.

B.) - To take off your palmrest assembly, pop off the power button cover (there aren't any screws for that one), and remove the LCD connected to the video card, the one screw holding the flex cable, and the two back screws where the hinges are connected to. You should be able to lift the entire LCD from the bottom half of the notebook.

From there you need to take out every screw on the bottom carefully.

C.) - Now when everything has been removed go back to the side to where the Hard Drive was removed and unlatch the tiny clip by using a small screw driver. You need to do this before you take off the palmrest because it might snap and break if you do not. This is where the palmrest assembly holds onto the bottom half of the notebook casing. It is located under the palmrest. You can see it when you look at it from the bottom closely.

3. - Keyboard modding:

A.) Take your keyboard apart by removing the two tiny screws on the bottom and sliding it open. Remove the plastic shielding as well and remove just the one smaller cable that is the trackstick connected to the keyboard. You will also have to remove the G, H, V, B, and N keys by popping them off in order to unscrew the trackstick off and keep the metal triangle used to hold the trackstick from the bottom of the keyboard. After removing the keyboard mouse you can disregard it as this is what we will be replacing.

B.) Remove the bottom white clip to where the keyboard clips into the motherboard. If you look at it closely, it has clips on both ends where you can press to remove the cables. Remember how it goes back together. You will need to put it back on after the keyboard mod is done.

C.) Take the 8100/8000 keyboard and remove the bottom half just as you did for the i8200 keyboard. The beauty here is that the i8200 keyboard can be taken apart and put back together, while the i8100 or i8000 cannot. Once you "rip" it open, you can't use it anymore. Take out the white and silver trackstick in the same manner as the i8200 keyboard. Don't worry if you bend the keyboard, because as I said, these keyboards weren't designed to be put back together. Re move the bottom black clip as described in part B.

D.) Take white/silver trackstick and fit electrical tape on top of it before you put it through the hole of the i8200 keyboard. If you do not do this part, the metal contacts on the i8100 mouse will touch the i8200's metal frame and not work at all. Putting a "rubberlike barrier" between them will keep it from not working. Then take the trackstick and fashion it through the hole of the i8200 keyboard and use the metal triangle to hold at least the 2 bottom sides of the mouse by using the screws which were already taken off from under the V, B, and N keys. I have not been able to find a better way of getting all 3 screws to go in, but this isn?t a problem at all. I have been using it for about a year with no problems at all. The trackstick mouse is completely secure. Even without the 1 screw.

*What you could do, which might need some extra ?elbow grease? is to remove the metal square-like piece that is being held on the bottom of the i8100?s trackstick mouse by pushing it off with a small screw driver. Pushing it hard enough will remove it. Just be careful not to scratch or damage it, or even hurt yourself in the process. So this way when you fit the i8200's triangle metal piece and screw it in, it?ll fit a little better without taking so much space as before. This is what I did.

**Also, I drilled a small hole into the middle of the metal triangle piece that I had taken originally off from the i8200 keyboard's trackstick assembly. This way the bottom section of the Synaptics' i8100's trackstick mouse (which is circular) can have some room to fit through properly once it has been reattached to the bottom of the keyboard. If you're pretty handy with using a drill on small items such as this, I would recommend doing this. Personally, I had to go through about three of these metal triangle pieces, so be patient and precise. I would recommend laying the metal peice completely flat and secure before drilling.

E.) Now close up the i8200 keyboard by putting the plastic shielding, and sliding the undercover back on and screwing it shut. Put back on the white bottom clip of the keyboard. Make sure each of the two cables are going into the appropriate place just like before you took it off.

4. - Touchpad modding:

A.) Remove the bottom metal plate from the i8200 palmrest assembly by unscrewing the 2 screws on each side. You will need to use the i8100's metal plate on the i8200?s palmrest because the i8200's will not fit the Synaptics one correctly. Remove the orange "FOXCONN" cable connected to the touchpad by unclipping the connector on the touchpad itself.

B.) Change the speakers on the i8200's by removing them by unclipping the connectors on both ends. Install them onto the i8100?s bottom metal plate. Once you take a good look at them you will see how they are put in place. Do the same for both speakers.

C.) Change the ALPS touchpad on the i8200 by removing the frame-like clip and replace it with the i8100?s touchpad. Put back the frame-like clip and reattach the orange "FOXCONN" connector cable to the touchpad. Rebuild the metal plate back onto the bottom of i8200 palmrest assembly and screw it tight.

5. - Rebuilding & booting up the system:

A.) From this point on you should be able to rebuild the notebook back again as the same way you took it apart. Put all extra peripherals back in last, after you have set the notebook palmrest and keyboard back together. Be sure not to forget connecting the touchpad?s cable into the motherboard as well as the keyboard's connector respectively.

B.) Once you turn on the machine it will beep twice, asking you to go into the BIOS by pressing F2 and confirm everything. Press F2 and exit the BIOS, all should be well.

C.) Finally, you can now install Synaptics drivers for it if you want. If you wish, you can use the already supplied Windows one instead.

Enjoy! I hope this helps! :59:

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Well done, John. Thanks for posting this!

:)

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Thank you! It took me forever! :)

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  • 7 months later...

Thanks for the in-depth explanation and thanks for sharing!

I have never liked my Alps (it feels awkward and non-efficient). If i use it for long periods of time, i get real exhausted because i feel it overloads my dexterity and coordination skills.

But i don't know what i'm missing because i've never tried the Synaptics.

What is the difference between the two, other than "i always hated the Alps..."? Are the Synaptics less exhausting? More precise? If the Synaptics are better built, in what way does that help the handling?

Thanks again for your post! Where did the pictures of the process go? :)

/Henrik

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  • 1 month later...

I guess one has to be better if you like touchpads but I'm a trackpoint user as it's more precise and it only takes one movement to get to the exact point you want to.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Thanks for the in-depth explanation and thanks for sharing!

I have never liked my Alps (it feels awkward and non-efficient). If i use it for long periods of time, i get real exhausted because i feel it overloads my dexterity and coordination skills.

But i don't know what i'm missing because i've never tried the Synaptics.

What is the difference between the two, other than "i always hated the Alps..."? Are the Synaptics less exhausting? More precise? If the Synaptics are better built, in what way does that help the handling?

Thanks again for your post! Where did the pictures of the process go? :)

/Henrik

Thank you Henrik :) The Synaptics is just more precise, when you move your finger, the pointer moves and stops with you; with almost on-the-dime responses. If you notice, the ALPS touchpad is really "soupy" and never accurate enough and it was driving me insane as to how this perfect (in my eyes) machine can be given such a poor-performance touchpad, ESPECIALLY when the Inspiron 8000 and 8100 (I had the 8100 as well so I knew what I was missing, but the 8000 and 8100 keyboards weren't great) had excellent touchpads. So after going back and forth, seeing complaints on the Dell forums about this as well, I tried modifying to see how I can get both pointers to work on this machine. At one point, I gave up, but sure enough, after some time passed, I was able to solve it and get it running great.

I've been lazy about the picture process as I have only completed 1 modification set for this project... I also need to get a digital camera :(

Almighty1, I know what you mean, but I tend to swap between the two, using the trackpoint at times stresses my finger out. I feel the need to move more freely at times :P

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  • 3 months later...

Great mod Kamika007z. :)

Over the past 6-12 months I've been doing up my own 8200 from scratch, and it seems everywhere I go I run into posts of yours. :P

This mod sounds like an interesting one. While the touchpad is currently adequate, I'm doing over the rest of the system (including an eventual USB 2.0 mod using a 4 port PCMCIA card hacked to fit 2 ports flush with the bay, and the remaining 2 used on an internal bluetooth dongle, and the last inserted into the current wifi antenna area), so I might as well do this as well.

I do have a few questions though:

* Can I replace the trackpad only and leave the current ALPS stick? I only tend to use the pad, so thats not really necessary...

* Is there a method of visibily differentiating the 8100 and 8200 keyboards?

* Is there a method of visibily differentiating the 8100 and 8200 palmrests?

* And finally (a bit off topic), is it possible to get either trackpad to do additional functionality as scrolling or middle click? If so, just the Synaptics, ALPS, or both?

Thanks in advance. :)

Edited by lameboyadvance
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  • 1 year later...
Guest 8200aholic

I am also building up a SUPER Inspiron 8200. I appreaciate Kamkka007z's modding of the ALPS to Synaptics conversion. I happen to be looking at six 8200 Keyboards with only one of these keyboards having the two screws to be able to seperate the Keyboard. So If you order one from the Ebay vendors you need to make sure they have the two screws. The first keyboards in the 8000 Inspirons are made quite different from the latter 8000's. The 8200 Keyboard that has the two screws seem to be the latter or newest Keyboards. The part numbers all read the same for the 8200's DP/N 03J247 Keyboards. But the newest keyboards part numbers are in Darker bold type printing. The 8000 parts keyboard that I used had an all metal mouse post instead of the plastic one. I did drill a hole in the 8200 triangle with the thin holder screwed together while drilling. This makes for a closer fit of the mouse post. I also rebent the flex cable to come out towards the bottom of the keyboard. Also had to flatten one of the locking tabs that holds the two keyboard sandwiches. This clears the rebent flex cable route. I was able to use all three screws to mount the completed mouse stick. I did pop off the old steel stick backing to remount into the four prongs of the 8200 thin mounting plate. The prongs will just bend over the new mouse stick plate. This makes for a very solid mounting surface. It may not be needed but I did use a small piece of Kapton tape under the solder connections of the flex cable to the mouse stick to keep from shorting to the metal Keyboard chassis.

Thanks John for a great modl

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So are you still able to use these earlier version 8000/8100 03J247?

Its been over a year and I still haven't done this mod yet :)

...I'm also working towards a 'SUPER' 8200. All I'm missing is a DVD-DL, 802.11ABG Wifi, and USB 2.0.

...And I'm also thinking of getting a new UXGA screen as well. I'm pretty sure mine isn't UltraSharp, and it's old and scratched anyway.

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To use the 8000/8100 Keyboard on a 8200. The Keyboards are basically the same except for the mouse stick and the connector.

The correct Dell Part number for the 8000/8100 Keyboard is DP/N 03609Y. I have only sampled a few of the 8000's and a couple of 8100's and that is the only part number that was on any of the test machine's keyboards. Forget about taking the 8000/8100 Keyboard apart and just remove the Black connector on the 8000/8100 from the ribbon wire that goes to the mother board end and discard it. Move the snaps to release the connector from the ribbon cable on your 8200 Keyboard and very carefully reinstall it on the end of the 8000/8100 Keyboard ribbon wire making sure to engage all of the pc lands properly to the white connector. Some of the lands may loosen up so make sure they are properly seated into the white connector. Snap together the white connector and do a light pull test to make sure it is properly inserted. Pay attention to the alignment and how the connectors come apart and go back together.

Prepare to mount the 8000/8100 Keyboard with the newly installed white 8200 connector plugged in to the mother board. Make sure that you install all four of the keyboard screws from under the Mother board case and tighten them down. You don't want to run any of the 8000's series without the Keyboard heat sink tightened down or you may toast your video card. I used some silver oxide temperature past on the top of the GPU chip to help in heat transfer to the Keyboard radiator. While you are into the 8200 laptop you will also want to replace the Wrist rest Mouse Pad with the Pad from the 8000/8100 so your mod will be complete. Upon boot up everything ran as expected using the Synaptics system with out any extra driver loading on my WinXP 8200.

I have been running this system for a couple days now without no noted problems and I have my Synaptics Mouse control back.

Dell Inspiron 8200 2.6GHz

9H753 LCD UXGA (sharp)

ATI M9 64Mb

80 Mb Hitachi Travelstar

Second Hd 80 Mb Hitachi Travelstar

1 Gb memory

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  • 4 months later...
Guest Matt Miller

Dear All

A friend found this forum for me. A last someone who 'understands' me !

I just bought a BRAND NEW Dell XPS............and NEVER in my wildest dreams would I have thought that ANYONE would want to use an ALPS!

I just semi retired my Dell Inspiron 1100 that has a Synaptics and I LOVE it! To be fair the new ALPS in general is 'fine', but there are major differences! And get this: Its using a Synaptics Driver! But because the hardware is an ALPS, Synaptics can only do 'so much' for it!

And maybe thats why the general movement of the mouse is good?

The main difference between the two now, is that the Alps has 'notched'(my term) Virtual Scrolling. That is where your finger is on the right edge and you move your finger down and the page will move down or up 'so many lines' (user controlled), at a time.

Whereas the Synaptics is 'infintite' ........! :-)

I CAN'T STAND THE ALPS FOR THIS!!!!!!!! grrrrrrrrrrrrrr

And I LOVE the Synaptics infinite movement................just like driving a car............you move the steering wheel a hair and it turns a hair!

I'm reading a page on CNN and I want to scroll down and with the ALPS the page 'jumps' so my eye can't follow it, and I have to figure out by reading, where I left off ! THIS SUCKSSSSSS ! grrrrrrrrrrrrrr

And normally I don't swear in public!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Also the Synpatics has a much more precise long distance 'coasting' than the ALPS, with no extra clicks to get to it!

This is also a LOVE/NEED OF MINE!!!!!!!!!!

I have until Friday to return the XPS or eat it! And I'm torn, because I love this machine, But my 'steering wheel' SUCKS!!!!!!!!

And since its Brand new with a 4 year warranty that will be VOID if I try to 'mod' it ........... :-((((((((((((((((((((

I chastized DELL............they don't even provide this info in their 'spces' when buying!

Take a lesson from me, Call Tech support and ask before buying!

I just was in a SONY retail store and their new 14's" have a Synaptics whereas their 15's don't ?????????

IN speaking to Dell, no one I spoke to in Cust Serv. or tech support is a "touchpad power user"

YIKES!

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