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Thursday, March 05, 2015


About a month ago, I dropped my Kindle going into work. It was in a case, but those eInk screens are fragile at the top:

Where’s the title bar?

Once screen rot sets in, it doesn’t get better… only worse. The grey crept down to obliterate half the top line of text, and picked up a few vertical lines down the right side, and I knew the old guy was due for… something. I have a Kindle 3, aka Kindle Keyboard, and I use the keyboard to take notes on stories I’m writing (and sometimes reading for other folks). It has 3G networking, which has come in handy on occasion, and it came out before that whole “Special Offers” stuff that you can pay to get rid of. A Kindle Paperwhite in similar trim (3G, no Special Offers) is north of $200. Yeesh.

But hey, I replaced the battery in my iPhone last summer. Maybe I could do this, too. Googling turned up repair instructions at iFixit—but unfortunately, they don’t carry replacement screens. More Googling turned up videos of the teardown procedure, and another set of instructions at Instructables. I finally found a source for a replacement screen at PowerBook Medic, which also had a Youtube video of the teardown procedure. The screen was used, but flaws were supposed to be cosmetic. It came to less than $30 including shipping, so I figured I’d take a chance. (I was happy in the end.)

Even with the cleanup from Winter #3 going on, the new screen arrived on Saturday as scheduled. After a few of the usual delays that are part of any weekend at FAR Manor, I grabbed my tools and got to work. I think the hardest part of the whole thing was getting the back cover off and on the Kindle. After that, it was a couple dozen itty-bitty screws and four cables. I used paper plates to keep everything as organized as anything gets around here:

How about a nice bowl of Shredded Kindle for breakfast?

That white smear toward the top of the screen is one of several cracks. It wasn’t, as I sort of hoped, just a matter of cables coming loose in the drop. That was an ex-screen. The instructions said I would have to remove the speaker assembly and ground clip, but they stayed attached to the mid-board without any hassle on my part. The iFixit instructions also say to leave the audio cable plugged in, but other instructions said it comes off without any trouble and that was true.

The second hard part was getting the screen off the adhesive. There's a strip on either side of the screen. The right side (from the front) turned loose easy enough, but the other side clung tight. Several of the online instructions warned about how thin the glass backing on the eInk screen is (which is why it broke, I suppose), so I was really careful and finally got it to pop loose.

OuchThe rot continued to advance…

The instructions said “it goes together a lot easier than it comes apart,” and that was mostly true. I continued to consult both step-by-step and video instructions, though, to make sure I got everything right. I had to back up at one point, since the power switch was binding. It turned out I hadn’t snapped in the “mid board” just right.

And my patience was rewarded, even before I got the back snapped all the way on:

It lives! (and I was living this chapter last week)

The rule is, you always end up with more parts than you started with. These things just kind of dropped in out of nowhere when I was reassembling.

Grommets? Standoffs?

Whatever they are, I couldn't figure out where they were supposed to go. The Kindle seems to be working fine without them right now. With any luck, it will continue to keep working.


  1. I love gearing about when something that's not so supposed to get fixed does get fixed. One less thing in a landfill....

    Those three leftover pieces look like they're supposed to fit together over something else, life a battery or a speaker. I'm saying that without ever having seen the guts of a Kindle, of course.

  2. They appeared when I went to re-install the logic board, so I kind of think they were standoffs that fit over certain screw holes. Whatever they are, none of the teardown instructions had anything to say about them. It makes me wonder if they were added to (or removed from) the manufacturing BOM after a certain point, and it was just a random occurrence that all the models in the various online instructions didn't have them.


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