Pimp My Pismo

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by MCMC, Nov 8, 2010.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2010
    Location:
    London
    #1
    Hi All,

    After borrowing a friends iBook G4 for a year I am now Macless. Boo!
    Or so I thought... I found an old Powerbook Pismo in a box that I didn't even know I had! I've got it working, but it has some issues, and I intend to fix them, but why stop there?

    It has a 400mHz PowerPC G3 processor with 256 MB SDRAM, a 10G HDD (with issues) and a duff battery.

    My main constraint is money, so if you have any tips of thrifty or second hand places that would be a plus.

    I know a bit about how to unscrew things in general but have never fixed a Mac before.

    Project:
    Fix all issues with said Pismo and upgrade component parts so that it can be comfortably used as my main computer.

    Target:
     Replace 'clicky' 10G HD with Issue-free HD with around 80G storage
     Add wireless capability
     Improve RAM
     Replace battery
     Fix or replace broken DVD drawer (the button is missing but it can be popped open)
     Encase in diamonds with a flame emblem on the lid (optional)

    Method:
    Fix all parts myself, over time, on a really tight budget and share my newly gained knowledge with others.

    So, I know it's never going to be a kick-ass computer, but in the age of reduce, reuse and recycle I thought this would be a good project that would also help me save a small fortune on a new Mac. I'm going to do this one step at a time and could do with your advice. I'm in the UK if that's important.

    If you would be so kind as to help me out, that would be great.

    Question 1

     What does the RAM look like and how much can I stuff into the machine before it becomes a problem?

    Go!
     
  2. macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2010
    Location:
    Terra
    #2
    Maximum RAM is 1 GB. With OS 9, that's quite a lot (though you still have to manually manage memory). Look around on eBay for an Airport Card that works with your computer (no Airport Extreme card will work). Newegg has ATA-5 (also known as IDE or PATA) drives, WD or Seagate are ideal. Any IDE drive will work, so you can source one from a different computer as long as it's a laptop. OWC should have a battery for your computer, though it won't be cheap.

    OWC and Newegg are US sites/companies. I've heard that OWC has no problems shipping to the UK, and I assume that Newegg will as well. Since it is overseas, shipping will be a little more expensive.

    Maybe someone can provide some UK alternatives.
     
  3. bobnugget, Nov 9, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2010

    macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2006
    Location:
    Kent, England
    #3
    The RAM you want is PC100 or PC133 SDRAM - PC100 is safest. I pimped a Pismo 2 years ago, then you could get a gig for about £50 (ouch!). I think 512 MB (2x 256 MB) will be much cheaper, and you won't notice it too much.

    Mine can run 10.4 bearably, but would most likely be a lot faster on 10.3.

    For wireless, i went with a Belkin 802.11G Wireless PCMCIA card - I think it's the F5D7010 - older versions with the yellow label are recognised as an airport express and can be had for ~£10 on eBay. They do fill the PCMCIA slot, though. You can get N wireless with a RaLink card, but I found the drivers really slowed the Pismo down, so went with the Belkin as it used the built-in OS X drivers. The old internal Airport cards are only 802.11B, so only connect at 11 MBps. I'm fairly sure newer versions of the F5d7010 don't work on the Pismo.

    The DVD faceplate could be a pain, I have a drive without faceplate too.

    Any old PATA 2.5" HDD should do the job - you should be able to pick a 40/80 GB one for not much cash.
     
  4. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2006
    Location:
    Kent, England
    #4
    Try scavenging on eBay for Pismos for the DVD drive and maybe a 500 Mhz CPU upgrade? If they are left for a while, they have a tendency to need the internal clock battery disconnected and then power applied or they will play dead. I did this for my 500 Mhz upgrade :)

    This one looks ideal.
     
  5. macrumors 6502a

    reebzor

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    #5
    An SSD, although expensive, would be a great way to give new life to an old machine. I also feel like you shouldn't settle with 512mb or RAM, go for the 1gb. With those upgrades, it actually wouldn't be a bad couch surfer/email checker.
     
  6. macrumors 68000

    Hrududu

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2008
    Location:
    Wichita KS
    #6
    Definitely go with at least 768MB of RAM for running Tiger. The original Airport cards are very cheap on eBay these days. If you watch some auctions, you should be able to get one for around $10. If you really wanna get crazy, Powerlogix made CPU upgrades up to 1GHz for the Pismo. Now THAT would be one pimp Pismo!
     
  7. macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2009
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    #7
    As far as the Pismo goes, if your going to upgrade the CPU at all, surely for OS X/Apps performance (The Velocity Engine helps no end in my experience comparing a G3 and a G4 (even between the B&W and Yikes where the comparison is pretty much CPU only)) - using a G4 CPU upgrade (Im not sure who makes them, but Im sure Ive seen a Pismo with a G4/550 in it with 1GB RAM, and it ran 10.4.11 just fine) would be the best bet?
     
  8. macrumors 65816

    macgeek18

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2009
    Location:
    California
    #8
    Max out the RAM,put Tiger on it,and get the best hard drive you can with the best cache for it. Those are great machines,my main portable was a 466 Clamshell with 576MB ram and Tiger for a long time. I loved it. :) My main Mac now is a iMac G4 800Mhz with only 768MB ram and it's so fast with a minimum install of Tiger. :) Since it's G3 the more RAM the better.
     
  9. macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2002
    Location:
    USA
    #9
    Just to be clear, the stock G3 in a Pismo will run MacOS X 10.4.11 just fine so long as it has sufficient RAM and hard drive space. It is, however, an academic question because there are no processor upgrades for the Pismo.

    On other fronts--after nearly a decade following the release of MacOS X, many still don't understand how important hard drive space is to this OS. My advice to the OP is that 80 GB is arbitrarily low capacity for a computer running MacOS X 10.4. When I replaced my Pismo hard drive back in 2007, I installed a 120 GB unit. They were cheap then. They are cheaper now. Buy the largest capacity drive that you can afford and that will fit your computer.
     
  10. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2006
    Location:
    Kent, England
    #10
    Yep, but it will run the OS fine, even with a 20 GB hard disk and 512 MB RAM. It will run it much better with 1 GB of RAM and a bigger/faster hard disk. There are CPU upgrades - you can take the 500 Mhz CPU upgrade from a 500 Mhz Pismo, and the third party G4/550, G4/500, G3/800 and G3/900 upgrades.
    This page is an invaluable resource.
     
  11. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2010
    Location:
    London
    #11
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/532.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0.5 Mobile/8B117 Safari/6531.22.7)

    Thanks for the info everyone!
    I didn't realize you could upgrade the CPU.

    A 1G CPU would be great as I ultimately want to be able to watch BBC iPlayer and 4OD on it.

    I'll keep an eye out for 1G RAM. I'm on 10.4 and it's painfully slow.

    My Pismo only seems to have one RAM port. Is that normal?
     
  12. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2010
    Location:
    Missouri
    #12
    The other ram slot is under the cpu.
     
  13. macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2010
    Location:
    Terra
    #13
    Good luck getting BBC iPlayer to work. A quick search reveals that people with G5s are having trouble. And, no, that wasn't sarcasm.
     
  14. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2010
    Location:
    London
    #14
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/532.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0.5 Mobile/8B117 Safari/6531.22.7)

    Crivens!

    I'm going to need a star shaped screwdriver. Thanks for the info.
     
  15. macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2001
    Location:
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    #15
    The old Sonnet Aria Extreme is another wifi card that won't need 3rd party drivers; I put one in our Pismo at work, and it's been nice:

    http://www.sonnettech.com/product/aria_extreme.html

    ...but only if you can find one cheap; they tended to be on the spendy side, and they're not made anymore.
     
  16. macrumors 68030

    ReanimationLP

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2005
    Location:
    On the moon.
    #16
    I'd say at least 512MB of RAM and a larger hard disk at the minimum.

    In fact I may have some of this stuff lying around. Lemme check my supplies. Should all be working pulls from Rohde and Schwarz instruments.
     

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