Sheesh! $29.95 or $0.36 for the same part; you decide.

Somebody gave me a nonworking laptop saying a burning smell came from the power connector. I haven't dug deep into a laptop before, but the price was right. I found disassembly instructions on the internet, and to get to the power jack I had to take every piece apart so I could get the mainboard out. My laptop is now a jumble of parts that don't much resemble a laptop at all. My first attempt at a solder fix didn't work because the connector is actually broken in two, and the electricity is arcing over the gap and causing all sorts of sparks and smoke, neither of which is very good for mobile computing.

I was delighted to find a site that listed the power jacks by laptop model number, but they wanted $29.95 for my jack!!! (We're talking about a 14mm x 9mm x 9mm bit of metal and plastic.) I know the component isn't near that much, so I decide to dig deeper into the internet. I find another site or two that look almost identical to the first site and want the same price but have different domain names. I wonder if it's the same company with multiple fronts or if the racket has attracted copycatters who don't mind copying the site layout and text, too.

I finally found a nice catalog of components at mouser.com (I had heard of them before but forgot about them) and looked through the DC jacks which had photos and manufacturer data sheets complete with measurements. I found an exact match for $0.36 each with volume discounts for bigger lots. I could've bought 100 for $24...maybe I should go into the reseller business...nahhhh, I have a conscience. I bought 3 (at that price, might as well have spares) and paid $6 shipping. (Hey, gotta make it worth their while to pick and pack the parts, I suppose.)

This post is a December 18, 2011 republication of my March 2, 2006 post on Early Retirement Forum.