Taking apart a PowerBook G4 12 inch - insane design

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Taking apart a PowerBook G4 12 inch - insane design

Unread postby Shiunbird » Wed Feb 08, 2017 1:44 pm

This is something I never want to do again.

Here is the deal. I put in my head that I want to have a PowerBook G4 12 inch with SSD RAID. Don't ask me why, one day I thought it would be neat and decided to go for it.

This is my first project of this year. The second one is to get a PCIe SSD RAID on my Quad G5 (it has to be doable, with a bit of help from a standard SATA disk to initiate boot). And the third one is to get a 4x 15000rpm RAID on my IntelliStation (this year I'm all about RAID).

Back to the point... I got from OWC a PATA SSD and an adapter to mount the PATA drive on the optical drive bay. The SSD arrives tomorrow, a friend is bringing it from the US. So I thought I'd start taking it apart today, clean it up, replace the thermal paste, see why the fan makes noise, you know, the basics...

But, to remove the optical drive, you need to remove the MOTHERBOARD. This machine is insane. The power button is on the right, but the power jack is on the left, so the cable is routed all the way around. The modem is in the middle of the motherboard. The speaker cables are routed and connected on the middle of the board, through a too-easily destructible dual connector.

The screws are endless, and none looks like another.

If I would not have already ordered the drive bay adapter, I'd have given up the project, or started looking for a 15 inch machine. It must be easier, right?
What an evening!

Enjoy the photos.

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Re: Taking apart a PowerBook G4 12 inch - insane design

Unread postby robespierre » Wed Feb 08, 2017 3:51 pm

The 15" Ti is maddening in its own way. A lot of the assembly steps don't commute; it can help to put the screws in loose until you know for certain that they are in the right order.
The "power button" doesn't have anything to do with power circuitry though; it's effectively just another key. If the power wires are routed around, it's for another reason.
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Re: Taking apart a PowerBook G4 12 inch - insane design

Unread postby Shiunbird » Thu Feb 09, 2017 5:40 am

Yes, I get that. I didn't make my point clearer though about the power button.

It's more like Apple being so obsessed about design that they route the cable for the power button all around the computer just to have the power button on the right side of the computer, when it could well be on the left.

It would even be better to swap power button and microphone, since you could have the microphone further from the mechanical hard disk that way.

One of the screws was totally destroyed and I had to brute force it out, damaging one of the aluminium shields a bit. I guess I can straight it up a little bit later on.

I've owned a 500MHz Ti and yes... I know what you mean.
On the other hand, before I had a 500MHz Pismo and, boy, that was a lovely machine to work with, you could even replace the socketed CPU. Then I lent it to a friend and never saw the Pismo (or the friend) again.

Before I assemble the PowerBook back I'll wait for all the parts. I'm getting this weekend the optical drive bay adapter and the PATA SSD. I'll test the disk and assemble the drive and the motherboard back. Then I will wait for my next paycheque to get the mSATA-PATA adapter and a mSATA disk and finish assembling it, then this machine will come with me to all my gigs. =)

I wanted to get the other SSD this month, but I'm most probably getting Y888099's tape drive. I'm trying to not go beyond my budget, and then after all my machines are up to the workloads, I'll start hunting my first SGI and get ready for a road trip to get something in Europe.

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Re: Taking apart a PowerBook G4 12 inch - insane design

Unread postby Trippynet » Thu Feb 09, 2017 7:19 am

Could be worse! Buy a modern Macbook and it's all glue and solder holding it together.

If there's one thing I do like about more generic laptops like Dell/Lenovo, they are very easy to disassemble.
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Re: Taking apart a PowerBook G4 12 inch - insane design

Unread postby josehill » Thu Feb 09, 2017 7:38 am

Shiunbird wrote:If I would not have already ordered the drive bay adapter, I'd have given up the project, or started looking for a 15 inch machine. It must be easier, right?

Unfortunately, all of the Aluminum PowerBooks, including the 15" and 17" models, are equally difficult. Great machines to use, but definitely no fun to upgrade/repair/hack.

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Re: Taking apart a PowerBook G4 12 inch - insane design

Unread postby guardian452 » Thu Feb 09, 2017 1:43 pm

I have a 2014 macbook pro and it has been very easy to work on and upgrade... 10 screws to remove the bottom panel and the entire machine is laid bare. The disk is held in with one screw (I upgraded from 128gb to 1TB), the battery, speakers, logic board, etc, are also quite easy to R&R. Keyboard, I guess, can be a bit difficult but that's just due to nature of unibody construction... everything in through the bottom and it is on top!

2016 Razer Blade is almost identical in construction but the internals are not as nice (e.g. routing of wifi antenna wires is a mess, smaller battery, general PC jankiness) Upgraded wifi in my blade and it was pretty easy, too.

I don't think either one can compete with a modern imac (I have a thunderbolt display but apparently it's very similar). The glass is held in place only with magnets, and removed with suction cups.

I don't get the bellyaching with modern machines being non-serviceable.

The worst laptop was some old HP probook circa 2012 or 2013 which required complete disassembly to replace the mouse button. Many dozens of screws to get access to the logic board, at which point I gave up, threw away the replacement part, and put a USB mouse with it. Those are built to be disposable.

At work I've standardized on the lenovo L/T420's and x220's for field machines, have about a dozen systems in use. My ancient mac pro desktop finally bit the bullet a few weeks ago so I replaced it with... a w520. I don't know if they will ever make laptops like that again but they are cheap and incredibly rugged, more so than a toughbook at 10x the price. Even the x220 is pretty fat next to a modern laptop (macbook air or 12")

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Re: Taking apart a PowerBook G4 12 inch - insane design

Unread postby Shiunbird » Fri Feb 10, 2017 12:10 am

guardian452 wrote:I don't think either one can compete with a modern imac (I have a thunderbolt display but apparently it's very similar). The glass is held in place only with magnets, and removed with suction cups.


Are you sure about that?
I know the early Aluminium iMacs had the glass held with magnets, but I thought the ones that had the glass going edge-to-edge (the 16:9 screen aspect ratio ones), had it glued together. My grandpa has one and two years ago we took it apart for general cleaning and upgrade.

I'm sorry if it sounds like a dumb question, but just to confirm. I've heard otherwise...

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Re: Taking apart a PowerBook G4 12 inch - insane design

Unread postby guardian452 » Fri Feb 10, 2017 5:17 am

IDK... the ones that look like a TBD with extra 'chin' on the bottom:
apple-imac-mid-2010-21.jpg
apple-imac-mid-2010-21.jpg (9.04 KiB) Viewed 427 times


I've also worked on the old CRT imac and even the current model is night-and-day better, even with the glue. On the 'new' imacs,the glue is like on macbook LCD, thermal-release, easy to remove (I have a heat gun that can be adjusted in 20° increments, but you could just use an air soldering machine). Whiners talk like it is cyanoacrylate or something...

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Re: Taking apart a PowerBook G4 12 inch - insane design

Unread postby Raion-Fox » Fri Feb 10, 2017 2:26 pm

Don't ever work on a MBP Retina. Everything is glued in. The SSDs were poor quality and combined with the extensive anti-power user aspects of modern MacOS it's a clusterfuck of terrifying proportions.
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Re: Taking apart a PowerBook G4 12 inch - insane design

Unread postby Dennis Nedry » Thu Feb 16, 2017 9:48 pm

Holy shit, a serviceable design.

My, how the times have changed.

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Re: Taking apart a PowerBook G4 12 inch - insane design

Unread postby Shiunbird » Sat Feb 18, 2017 4:10 am

My experiment so far didn't go well.

I have all the parts I wanted for the upgrades: the PATA SSD from OWC, a mSATA SSD, a mSATA-PATA adapter and the housing to install it in the optical drive bay.

I made a mistake when disassembling it. I unscrewed two screws from the back of the machine that connect the display inverter and board to the monitor. It was not necessary to remove them to take the computer apart, but I did it without putting much thought in it.

So when I was working on the machine it was wobbling a bit, but it seemed to be firm in place held by the bluetooth board, DC-in and a bunch of tape.

Today I took time to re-assemble the machine and decided to connect the keyboard and power button but not screw them in to test. I powered it on, bong, monitor lit but blank. So I went to the open firmware and blindly typed shut-down, and the machine promptly powered itself off.

As a troubleshooting step, I connected it to my external display and powered it on with the lid closed. I got the screen up complaining I have no boot disk. I connected my USB Blu-Ray recorder and managed to boot to the Mac OS Install. The logic board is ok.

Now I'm paying for my carelessness. I'm going to have to take the machine apart even further than before and keep my fingers crossed I didn't damage the display signal cable.

This is teaching me a whole new level of patience. I could apply for the Dalai Lama job.

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Re: Taking apart a PowerBook G4 12 inch - insane design

Unread postby ClassicHasClass » Sat Feb 18, 2017 10:49 am

Don't feel so bad. I ruined an iBook G4 I was trying to fix the hard disk in by snapping off the power button cable.
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Re: Taking apart a PowerBook G4 12 inch - insane design

Unread postby Raion-Fox » Sat Feb 18, 2017 11:42 am

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Re: Taking apart a PowerBook G4 12 inch - insane design

Unread postby Shiunbird » Sun Feb 19, 2017 1:19 am

Thanks for the support. =)

I'm taking a deep breath now and I will put it all back together again. If it doesn't work I'll start looking for a replacement display cable or a dead system for the parts.

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Re: Taking apart a PowerBook G4 12 inch - insane design

Unread postby Dodoid » Sat Feb 25, 2017 1:02 pm

I once had to fully take apart two 2008 MacBooks to swap a lot of parts around and replace others. Not a big deal apart from the fact that one machine was so full of dirt and grime that the screw heads holding the keyboard in had been severely damaged by what basically amounted to 6 years of sanding in some places and were jammed/gummed up with grime in others.

screws.jpg


There were a LOT of messed up screws, and a LOT of dremeling to get it out.
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