Charging a Thinkpad using a Dell AC adapter

When I recently bought a used X60s Thinkpad, to replace my even older x40, this also meant that I’ll need to replace my ~6 AC adapters that I have in all the locations where I could possibly want to charge my laptop. Buying 5 more adapters was not a solution as it would have been to expensive. At work we use Dell laptops, so I have access to as many AC adapters as I could possibly need.
The Dell adapters are rated at 19.5V whereas the Lenovo adapters are 20.0V. That isn’t an issue, so it was looking good. The connector looked very similar, however it doesn’t fit.
Now one option would be replacing the connector, but I found a better option:

Removing the modem’s RJ11 (or is it RJ10, doesn’t matter) connector, and installing a Dell DC jack looks way better in my eyes. So this is what I’ve done:

After removing the shield that holds down the DC jack + modem port, I’ve figured out, that there’s just about enough space to place the dell jack (out of a docking station) where the modem port used to be.
After some thinking, I’ve decided to drill two holes and solder the ground pins of the DC jack directly to the shield, this holds the whole jack in place, and also provides ground connectivity – one less cable.
To connect the + I’ve added some copper wire which connects to the + terminal on the original Jack.

You should be aware, that the center pin isn’t the + connection but a data line, that lets your laptop communicate with the AC adapter. I don’t know anything about this protocol, but as I found out, it’s not necessary to connect this pin to the dell adapter (and it most likely isn’t the same protocol anyway).

This is how it looks:

4 Comments

  1. [...] This one’s a riot! [Nico] got a new computer and didn’t want to change the six power supply cords he had strategically placed around his home and at work. So he just added a second charging jack that accepts a different style connector. [...]

  2. Koray says:

    Good job there!

    The central pin is not data but just a resistor connected to either the ground or positive line (I can’t remember). Thinkpads distinguish between a 65W and 90W chargers by means of different central pin resistance. The cable to the charger is a common two-line one. I know this because my original charger had a disconnection at the throat and I cut it open.

    Thanks for sharing this!

    K.

  3. Nico says:

    Thanks for the correction on this Koray, good to know!

  4. [...] the six power supply cords he had strategically placed around his home and at work. So he just added a second charging jack that accepts a different style connector. First off the laptop is used — but it’s new to him. So cracking it open and soldering in a new [...]

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