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Malfunction when plugged into airplane power outlet

daxvex

New Member
I was on the flight with my Surface Pro for the first time and used a power outlet on the plane. When plugged in, the touch screen started to malfunction and stopped as soon as I disconnected the power. I tried again on the return flight and got the same issue. When plugged into a regular wall outlet, there is no problem. Anyone else had the same issue? The airplane power outlet was rated at 110V-50Hz, which is in spec for the input power requirements. Could my power brick be faulty?
 

Wayne Orwig

Active Member
Obviously the up converter on the plane is operating at a frequency that interferes with the touch screen oscillator. Bummer. It might even be the power supply oscillator is operating at an odd frequency due to the particular shape of the power source on the plane. 110V/50Hz is also odd, but shouldn't be an issue. Taiwan is 110V, but 60Hz, if I recall.
 
OP
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daxvex

New Member
Obviously the up converter on the plane is operating at a frequency that interferes with the touch screen oscillator. Bummer. It might even be the power supply oscillator is operating at an odd frequency due to the particular shape of the power source on the plane. 110V/50Hz is also odd, but shouldn't be an issue. Taiwan is 110V, but 60Hz, if I recall.
I agree that it is most likely an electrical supply issue on the plane. However, 50Hz is within spec according to the spec on my power brick. I'm wondering if this is a widespread issue or whether this would be fixed if I returned the brick on warranty and got another one.
 

Wayne Orwig

Active Member
I'm sure that the 50Hz is not directly the issue. The converters that generate that are not pure sine waves. The noise that they contain must be the issue. Pretty odd.
 

Rvacha

Member
daxvex - were you using the official Surface charger or an aftermarket one? It appears some of the aftermarket ones are known to cause problems with the touch screen.
 
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daxvex

New Member
daxvex - were you using the official Surface charger or an aftermarket one? It appears some of the aftermarket ones are known to cause problems with the touch screen.
It's an official one from Microsoft. But it's interesting that there are others who have problems linking power supply to the touch screen. I guess this supports the theory that there is a problem with my charger.
 

supermagn

New Member
It's an official one from Microsoft. But it's interesting that there are others who have problems linking power supply to the touch screen. I guess this supports the theory that there is a problem with my charger.
Did they let you exchange it?
Did it fix the problem? I was worried my Surface had fried somehow until I figured over the last week of travel that it had to do with airplane power.
 

Englishtony2014

New Member
DaxVex, I agree with Wayne here. I have just returned from a US <-> India trip, on 4 different aircraft, 747 and 777 and each time I plugged into the seat outlet I had erratic touchscreen behavior on a Pro2. Moreover, I also have an ASUS Transformer which exhibited the exact same characteristics. Therefore I think we can conclude that the problem on 115v 50Hz AC outlets on airplanes is that they derive their power from the standard 400Hz generators on the airplane and it seems that the underlying frequency of 400Hz interferes with the touchscreen controller on our devices. No cure for now it would seem.
 
I have issues with plane outlets for my other computer as well. If I plug it in a certain way, it won't charge my computer but if I flip the plug around, then it will even though polarity shouldn't really matter (I'm not EE by training).

So basically an anecdote to support that this is not likely a problem with your charger, but with planes.
 
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