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When adding an extra harddrive to my laptop, I spotted this:

http://i.stack.imgur.com/KEroQ.jpg

http://i.stack.imgur.com/RbGcE.jpg

Edit: The flash of the camera made the color of the wire seem brighter than it is. Here is a more true-color image (though not as sharp): http://i.imgur.com/V0f8yB7.jpg


I have two questions about this:

  1. What type of connector is this? LCD? USB ports? Something else?
  2. To me, it seems that the wires inside are not insulated, so that they could short circuit? Is this common? Are they actually insulated by some thin coating like wire on coils? Anything to worry about?

PS: The laptop seems to work as it should at the moment.

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Its rather hard to tell from the images. The outer insulation DOES look damaged, but I don't ever recall seeing anything like that on the one laptop I took apart. Is that orange wires, or bare copper on the bottom one? I've seen LVDS/LCD cables covered in similar 'tape' to bundle them together, but never that completely. –  Journeyman Geek Jan 22 '13 at 12:51
    
Outer insulation being the black stuff? I believe it just wasn't cut correctly, and thus open in one end (see the first image). The wires inside looks like bare copper to me, but I guess it could also be enamel covered wires? Basically, that's what I'm asking. Considering the number of wires inside, I would suppose a short had already happened if they were not insulated? So maybe they are? –  user18110 Jan 22 '13 at 12:57
    
Added an image showing the true color of the wire a bit better. –  user18110 Jan 22 '13 at 13:03
    
We would need to see the connector's pins to tell you anything. –  Ramhound Jan 22 '13 at 13:06
    
I don't want to unplug it. What would that tell you though? Maybe the type of connector, but nothing about the insulation question ? –  user18110 Jan 22 '13 at 13:09
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2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

The outer wrap is an insulator, but not as much for electrical as for heat. The inside of the laptop is compact and gets very hot in those close quarters. They are also a way to protect the wires while bundling them together for neater installation into tight areas.

The outer wrap is very common with laptop wiring like this;

enter image description here

The wires inside are insulated and will not short out unless something rubs through the insulation. If it did short out, you would be having problems with the laptop. Since they don't appear in bad condition, I would say you have nothing to worry about.

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I totally understand that they should be isolated. That's why I am asking this question, since to me it seems that they are not (by mistake). Are you sure they are (thin insulation?) ? –  user18110 Jan 22 '13 at 14:03
1  
There is no possible way I can be 100% sure without seeing them in person. From what I can see in the pictures they appear to be insulated. It is highly unlikely they are not. My point is this: if they were not insulated they would short out and cause things to not work. IMO, you are worried about nothing. Enjoy your computer. –  CharlieRB Jan 22 '13 at 14:12
    
I guess you're right. Just odd in my opinion that they would use such type of insulation (enamel?). I mean, they can't tell the wires apart now. –  user18110 Jan 22 '13 at 14:21
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As you say that the wires do have insulation, albeit thin, I don't think this will be a problem as long as the area in question is not subject to lots of movement.

If you are concerned, the easiest way to fix is simply to wrap a small piece of electrical insulating tape over the area where the sheath is torn. That should fix it more than well enough.

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Not really concerned that the wires are visible, just that to me it looks like bare copper. I was asking whether or not they are insulated. You believe it does actually have a thin layer of insulation? –  user18110 Jan 22 '13 at 13:18
    
Its hard to say from your photos I'm afraid but if they aren't that it would be odd indeed. I can't think of any wires except for maybe grounding wires to be uninsulated. If you really think they have no insulation, I really would put something around that bit. It can't hurt to do so. –  Julian Knight Jan 22 '13 at 13:36
    
You can't really, as there are many wires inside that black tape-insulations. Is it normal for such wires to only be covered by thin enamel insulation rather than typical colored wire insulation? –  user18110 Jan 22 '13 at 13:40
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