Yet another E510 with blinking amber light - General Hardware - Desktop - Dell Community

Yet another E510 with blinking amber light


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Yet another E510 with blinking amber light

  • This appears to be a common problem. In my case, my E510 began to refuse to boot after about 14 months of minimal use (typically only a few hours per week), protected the entire time by a UPS with power conditioning. Unlike most of the other posts on this issue that I've read, my E510 with blinking amber light can periodically be coaxed to boot. (Note: There are NO diagnostic lights visible. And once it IS running, the button is steady green -- as though everything is just fine.) Whether it boots or I get the blinking amber light is starting to feel like a voodoo thing. I plug and unplug, plug and unplug, drain the remaining current by holding in the power button, walk away for 15-30 minutes, spin around, hug the dog, and OCCASIONALLY I'll get the steady green power light. Most recently, after running through one of the Dell troubleshooting Web pages, I discovered that if I disconnect every external cable, drain the remaining current, and then wait 5-10 minutes, it will usually allow me to boot. While booting, I can reconnect the cables and everything works fine. (Well, not everything. The DVD drive seems to have a miserable time spinning up to speed. Eventually, it works, though.) Other things I've tried: (1) Replaced the internal battery. (That worked for one boot.) (2) Plugged the system into different outlets. (Initially, it was plugged into a power strip that was connected to the UPS. After reading that somehow that might affect the power getting to the system, I plugged it directly into the UPS. That worked for one or two boots, too. All that remains plugged into the power strip is the monitor and speakers. (Side note: Since when did using a power strip or UPS become a no-no?) Since the system CAN be tricked into booting, is there any reason to think that my power supply has problems? I really hate the idea of tossing money at this without knowing for sure that the problem will be corrected. Frankly, for a $1,000 computer (I added a bunch of upgrades when it was ordered), I'm really dismayed that it's having hardware problems this early on. Either my luck is bad or this is a badly cobbled together system. Given the number of people that have the same problem, is their any chance that Dell will step up and take responsibility for the repairs? Steve

    Message Edited by zapt on 01-23-2008 09:08 AM
  • Sorry to say this:
    According to your service manual troubleshooting section, the blinking amber light means:
    Blinking amber

    A power supply or system board failure has occurred.

    Check the diagnostic lights to see if the specific problem is identified. Also, see "Power Problems" in your computer Owner's Manual.


    The above was from troubleshooting section in service manual:
    <ADMIN NOTE: Broken link has been removed from this post by Dell>
    "Power Problems" in your owners manual:
    Page 41
  • Were you spining clockwise or counter-clockwise? It will make a difference!!!
    Try plugging directly in the outlet. I have seen several people having problems with UPS. If you don't use the computer much a UPS is really unnecessary.
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  • As noted, it's most likely a bad power supply.  We have seen numerous posts in the last 3 or 4 months of 5150/E510's power supply failures. 
    However I disagree on the UPS usage.  No matter how much you use the machine a UPS is an added plus.  Even if you are not powered on, if there is a power surge (for example) it can affect the power supply and cause it to fail.  When you are powered on and using the PC the UPS will protect it from power surges or momentary power outages. 

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  • i had a similar problem on my d9150 (in terms of a random blinking amber light and failure to boot).  traced mine back to a powered USB hub that the dell wasn't liking.  it *worked* fine, but caused the system not to boot a lot when it was plugged in.
    i've also noted failures to boot in general with having certain logitec devices located several hubs deep.
    may or may not be an issue for you, but see if you keep more boots with just the keyboard plugged in.
  • Thank you all for your comments and suggestions. I really appreciate it.

    Let's say that it IS a power supply problem. Obviously, it hasn't failed because I'm able to coax the computer to boot. And given the fact that once booted it runs fine, why would the power supply STOP showing problems at that point? I don't think they work like car batteries. If there are problems with it and perhaps it's failing, why doesn't the computer show problems once it has booted? It seems to me that the problem is specifically related to something that is happening prior to startup ... perhaps some logic circuit somewhere is sending a signal that there is insufficient power to boot.

    Skipping past that for now, what do you all recommend as a replacement power supply? Dell shows only refurbished units on its site, and I have no desire to try to fix this with a used part. Thanks again. Steve

    Message Edited by zapt on 01-23-2008 09:09 AM
  • Try this link. I feel for you with you machine. I am in the same boat. I have a 23 month old Dell E310 that was/is giving me a blinking amber light. I did like I was told by so many and replaced the power supply first. (since the diagnosis said that there was a power supply or system board failure) That didn't do it. Then I ordered a mother board from Dell ($100) and installed it last night. Same results. The cooling fan in front of the heat sink shroud starts to turn but stops, even with the new motherboard and power supply. I have been trying to find out somewhere, anywhere, if a failed cooling fan will prevent the machine from powering up. I have not had any luck with that. My machine failed all at once, with no warning, no symptoms, nothing. When I did take the side panel off, there was a fairly large dust bunny in front of the fan. At this point I still think there is failsafe of some sort that is preventing a power up. The only thing that I am using from the original motherboard is the processor. I am not sure if a faulty processor would prevent a power up or not. Anyone out that who can ad to this please feel free. There is only one small circuit board left to investifate. The one with the power switch and warning lights. The problem is, I cannot find any documentation anywhere for that board. Dell is pathetic in proving the consumer with real documentation. Anyway, I am rambling. Any help would be appreciated.
  • I feel your PAIN. I am trying to get rid of a blinking amber light on my nephews E510 also. He had had it about 14 months and all the sudden, the power switch starts blinking. I have about pulled my hair out trying to fix it. I have replaced the motherboard and the I/O panel on front where the power switch and diognistic lights are. Got everything installed and hooked up, and there it was, THE BLINKING AMBER LIGHT, AGAIN..... I can fool with it for about 15 to 20 minutes and still nothing. I could power it down, drain out the power by holding in the power button till the green light on motherboard goes out, then unplug keyboard, mouse from the usb and then it would finally start up. Plug items back in and I am good to go,,, until I power it off. Then I would have to go through the same kind of routine before it would start back up. Then, if I just do a RESTART, it boots and starts up with no problem There is not a problem with the usb ports like some people have stated they found with theirs. I have jumpered the black and green wire on the main cable coming out of the power supply and the power supply fan comes on and the hard drives spin. From what I have read that is the way to see if the power supply is bad or not. Even if it was the power supply, I agee with you, it would either work or not work. I have not check the suggested voltages that the different wires are suppose to putting out, but I still don't belive it is the power supply. I have come the reality that the DELL E510 is just DEMON posessed. You would think that as many people that is haveing the same problems with this model of machine they would step up to the plate and do something about it.
  • Amazing. That's EXACTLY what mine has been doing.

    Last night, I thought I had the solution. Since I seriously doubted it was a power supply problem, I thought that perhaps there was some way to reset the system. The user manual showed how to reset CMOS, so I figured it was worth a shot. Immediately after doing that and attempting to turn it on, the amber lights blinked for a few seconds and then switched to a green steady light!

    UNFORTUNATELY, it worked perfectly -- like your system -- until I shut it down and tried to power it up again. So far, the only solution (and I'm reluctant to use it) is to coax it into running again and then NEVER TURN IT OFF. (By the way, once running, it successfully passed all the Dell Diagnostics for hardware.)

    Does anybody from Dell's engineering staff follow these threads? I'm not going to bother making a $50 call to Support merely to be recited the "power supply or motherboard" suggestions from the manual. Only a high-level support person or engineer is going to be able to solve this one -- especially if it's a known problem to them.

    Also, any chance there's a new BIOS somewhere that we can apply? I'm running out of ideas here.

  • Got home from work this evening to try and see if it would start up............ BLINKING AMBER LIGHT AGAIN!!!!!! Here is what has worked for me the last 5 times I have tried to start it up after getting the blinking light. I would power it down, hold power switch in till green light goes out on motherboard and then I would pop out the cmos battery, put it back in, plug in the power cord and WALAH. Green light and boots up every time. I did read another thread on here somewhere a person had done the same thing as I did and worked every time. They say they replaced the cmos battery for about $5.00 and works great. For $5.00 I guess I will try that next. This is about my last straw with this piece of JUNK DELL COMPUTER!!!!!!! I will let you know if this works or not. I am not getting my hopes up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Nitro,

    That was the FIRST thing I tried. Worked perfectly for one boot, but didn't fix the problem. But for $4-5, it's worth a shot and won't break the bank.

    Other things I've tried that I THOUGHT might work include: (a) resetting CMOS, (b) messing with BIOS settings, and (c) flashing the BIOS with the newest version [A07]. At best, each worked for a single boot.

    I swear that when I get this to work, all I'm doing is the equivalent of pressing a reset switch. Now I just wish there WAS a reset switch.


    P.S. I did a general Web search today for "E510 blinking" and got HUNDREDS of individual links, each complaining about this problem. I still don't think the power supply replacement is the answer, unless it was only marginally powerful enough to work for 14 months and I was simply LUCKY until then. This sounds simply like bad engineering -- or really mediocre hardware.
  • Steve
    What gets me, is just like you were saying, the HUNDREDS of threads that I have found complaining about the exact same problem and NO ONE finding a perminant fix.......
    I wil also try flashing the BIOS and see if that does anything. I ran the Dell 32-bit diagnostics test on the machine and everything is running great per the diagnostic test. I came back after about an hour or so to try and boot up the pc and all I got was the blinking light. I removed the cmos battery again, put it back in, got the faster blinking light and it still would not start. I unplugged the keyboard and mouse from the usb and as soon as I did that, it started right up.......... Like I had stated in an earlier post, I am going to take a voltage meter and see what kind of voltage each wire from the power supply to the motherboard is showing and see if it matches the suggested voltages I found earlier. I will let you know what I come up with.
  • I'm experiencing the same problem on a E510.  One work-around is to put the PC in Hibernate mode or standby mode instead of shutdown mode.  But if you somehow disconnect power to the PC, the problem will come back.  When that have happen, you will need to reset CMOS "again" to recover.
    How to change the power button's funtion to "Hibernate":
    1) "Display Properties" --> "Screen Saver" tab --> "Power"
    2) "Power Options Properties" --> "Advanced" tab
    3) Select "Hibernate" in the Power buttons section
    At this point, use the power button to turn on/off your PC.
    PS:  I want to try replacing the front I/O panel to see if it will resolve the issue or not.  Does anyone know where i can buy it?  Thank in advance.
  • Eric.

    You can buy the e510 front I/O panel from Dell Spare Parts @ 1-800-357-3355 ext 7269937, M-F 7 to 7 CDT and keep the system's "Service Tag" handy.


    Please don't send me questions about your system by DCF Messenger.
    Post the issue in the appropriate Board, where they will be answered.


    If my answer was helpful, please use the 'Did this answer the question' and click: Yes
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  • Bev,

    Do you (or does anyone else) know whether this is ACTUALLY a power supply, motherboard, or front panel issue? I don't think any of us object to replacing a failed part (sometimes that just HAPPENS), but I also think that no one wants to throw money at parts that may or may not be the cause of our blinking amber light.


    Please let us know if replacing the front panel has any impact on the problem. And I was thinking of trying hibernate last night. Any idea if it will still reboot later if the system is connected to a UPS that I shut down every night?