An Old Mac Crosses Generations

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by AphoticD, Apr 16, 2018.

  1. AphoticD, Apr 16, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2018

    AphoticD macrumors 68000

    AphoticD

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    #1
    DSC_0054.jpg

    Disclaimer: This post is about a first gen Intel MacBook from 2006, not a PowerPC. However, given our forum here appreciates the value of the older Mac hardware, I decided to write this post here.


    I recently enjoyed seeing the delight this old Mac has brought to my youngest son and decided the story was worth sharing...

    In 2006, my mother bought the first gen Intel MacBook from an Apple reseller I was working for. I was able to provide her with a staff discount and was thrilled she could enjoy using the first generation of the new Intel line as a replacement for her aging, clunky old clamshell iBook.

    Everything went smooth with the MacBook for the first couple of months and then it began a process of overheating and freezing on a regular basis. Apple went on to issue a firmware update for this model to address the issue, however this particular MacBook just didn't want to resolve itself. I took it back in and pushed it through the warranty channel for a replacement logic board. Within another 6 months, the issue re-emerged and the process was repeated.

    The MacBook then appeared to be happy for the next 4 years or so until it was past the extended warranty period and it just crapped out again. My mother then went on to buy a MacBook Pro 13" in about 2012 and has been very happy with that model ever since.

    So this poor old lemon of a first gen MacBook sat in her garage for the past 7 years and we all forgot about it. In that time, I started a family of my own and my youngest son, who started at school this year, began to show an interest in computers and wanted to learn more. Grandma had planned to travel to see us, so I asked if she still had the old MacBook and if she could bring it along for me to look at.

    Surprisingly, the MacBook booted up straight away and was running (Tiger) fine for the first 5 minutes, until it froze and then refused to reboot. I dismantled the unit and began the process of oven baking the logic board to attempt to reflow the CPU and GPU. Unfortunately, this resulted in killing it completely. I started hunting for a replacement logic board and mentioned the circumstances here on the forum. One very generous regular PowerPC contributor offered to ship a replacement bottom assy with logic board (and speakers) to me from all the way around the world completely out of the kindness of his heart.

    Once the package arrived, I took some time to prepare everything. I then organized a day during the school holidays, a few days before his 5th Birthday, to sit down with my boy to spend some time doing the logic board swap out together.

    The installation went great. My son sat with me throughout all 38 steps of the iFixit Logic Board replacement process. He unscrewed most of the external screws with me, then just watched with interest as the machine came apart and the logic board swap went over. Of course, being a kid, he had to reach over and stick his fingers straight onto the silver thermal paste, which ended up getting everywhere! That was an easy enough clean up, and I then used the Grizzly Kryonaut paste on the replacement board.

    He enjoyed "grounding" himself each time he came into my office as I explained that our bodies carry static electricity which can damage the tiny components inside the computer. (He still grounds himself by touching on my Mac Pro each time he comes into my office now...)

    He took a lunch break mid-way through the repair and told his mum, "Ok, I've got to get back to work with Daddy now!".

    Everything went back together fine. He used a coin to lock in the battery and we flipped it over. I asked him to "Do the honours" by pressing the power button and "ta da"! The Mac chimed and up came the old Tiger desktop.

    We then went through the process of installing Snow Leopard, running all of the updates and loading up a few games together. He absolutely loved going through Machinarium (by Amanita Design) and solving the (often pretty tricky) puzzles together.

    The old MacBook's speakers were crackling and distorted, so I pulled it down again that night and installed the replacements. Another issue was the Airport card had the transmission capability of a lead apron, so $15 was spent on a replacement, which arrived within a few days and it's now online.

    The battery was shot, so I replaced it with a cheap (and hopefully not nasty this time) eBay special (AU$26). The Superdrive is also dead, so I've ordered in a replacement from Estonia for £8.99. He's excited about watching his DVDs on the MacBook, so that will be another positive repair once the replacement drive arrives.

    Firefox 48.0.2 works perfectly fine. YouTube (non-Flash) plays back all the Batman and Lego videos he can search for. We've put a few more puzzle type games on there. He's currently going through Botanicula, which is another Amanita title.

    All in all, this little MacBook, which was once his Grandmother's research laptop, is now my son's "School computer" as he likes to call it. I plan on teaching him how to use Pages ('11) to write up school work next. I also have an old PowerPC copy of "World Book v6.0.2" which should load up with Rosetta just fine.

    I wanted to share this story as a reminder that any old Mac can be re-purposed for cheap, if not for free. There is no need to buy a 5 year old child a brand new computer (or iPad, iPhone, etc), when there is a ton of old tech just waiting for someone to put to good use.

    Yes, I know I could have provided one of my PowerPC Macs to do the job, but I feel they require a bit more patience, especially when it comes to YouTube. Fortunately, the 32-bit Core Duo handles this perfectly (even with its GMA 950 graphics).

    Thank you again to @swamprock for your generosity. You've helped kick off my boy's Mac life!

    -AphoticD

    :apple: :apple: :apple:
     
  2. Slix macrumors 65816

    Slix

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    #2
    What a nice story! I'm glad your son is learning to appreciate the MacBook. This reminds me a lot of when I was about his age, and my dad would sit me down and have me "help" take apart the computers and taught me about grounding and everything. How cool!
     
  3. AphoticD thread starter macrumors 68000

    AphoticD

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    #3
    Thanks Slix. I've seen a real responsibility shift in him since doing the repair together. He is very careful with the laptop and always shuts it down when he's finished. I think it's because it's his and not shared with his brother. I hope that being involved in the repair process can also help to instill the value of looking after things, instead of just replacing something when it breaks.
     
  4. miksat macrumors member

    miksat

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    #4
    Great post. I own one of the original MacBook Pros as secondary/backup computer. I really like the design of these laptops and Apple's no compromise design of the time. One thing I found out though is that Firefox is very slow on these machines compared to Safari for some reason.
     
  5. CooperBox, Apr 17, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2018

    CooperBox macrumors 6502a

    CooperBox

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    #5
    I really enjoyed this post! :)
    I'm sure that first, real 'hands-on' laptop experience with always remain with your son, and hopefully motivate him for the future.
    Now, whatever you do, don't hand him a 12" PBook saying "I want you to disassemble, then rebuild this one for me." The risk is high, that would have him packing his bags with fright, and running away from home for good........;)
     
  6. AphoticD thread starter macrumors 68000

    AphoticD

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    #6
    Thanks CooperBox. Yes, working on the PB 12" instills a feeling dread.. I wouldn't do that to my boy :)

    When I was a kid I loved pulling things apart to figure out how they worked and at one stage of my childhood (around the late 80s), I was spending the majority of my pocket money on cheap Casio and $5 Chinese knock-off digital watches. I had collected maybe a dozen or so, including a prized Casio calculator watch (anyone remember them?). They all fell victim to my dismantling and rebuilding experiments. I would pull apart calculators to try to figure out how the keypads, solar panels and displays all worked (the liquid crystal display magic is still a mystery to me).

    For my 7th birthday, my grandparents bought me a real-deal Sony Walkman, which quickly became my favourite thing... Unfortunately, curiosity got the better of me and within a few months of owning (and loving) that little portable cassette player, I decided to pull out the screw drivers and dismantle it...

    Little did I know it was full of springs, belts and pulleys which all just went SPROING! as I separated the housing... I was NEVER able to put it back together and nobody in my family had the dexterity or patience to even try. I think that experience put me off until my teenage years, but I did eventually bounce back :)
    --- Post Merged, Apr 17, 2018 ---
    Thanks miksat. I love the design of the pre-unibody MBPs. I'll get an '07 or '08, 15" (or 17") MBP one day. Apple really got the design right, and everything, including the display, is serviceable. I really would not want to be an Apple service technician working on modern Macs. Every Apple device is now just glued together and intentionally designed to be difficult to work on. Even something as simple as a battery replacement is going to take an hour or so of just heating and carefully cutting through all of the adhesive.
     
  7. z970mp, Apr 17, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2018

    z970mp macrumors 65816

    z970mp

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    #7
    Same plan here. I'm going follow this video.



    I was actually in possession of a Santa Rosa once, but then donated it after it failed again even after a logic board swap and re-pasting. So, will be sure not to make the same mistake, ha ha.
    --- Post Merged, Apr 17, 2018 ---
    Ah yes, that thing is truly a nightmarish computer to service. I'd almost want to open up one of the modern glued computers rather than attempt to service a 12". ;)

    In a way, I dread the day I (possibly) get an SSD for it and re-apply fresh cooling pads. The stupid keyboard and battery compartment screws get me every time! Makes me wish I had a 15".
    --- Post Merged, Apr 17, 2018 ---
    I can relate. I got an iBook G4 for a family member who needed to complete casual tasks, and if that wasn't bad enough, it had Leopard installed. Thing chugged at everything. Eventually, they just gave up and it's sort of been in my care ever since. But now it's rightfully got Tiger on it, has the newly-discovered slowdown driver "AudioIPCS" thing removed, and is sitting pretty waiting for the day it (probably) gets sold on eBay. Has a broken left speaker, though. Haven't ever tried servicing it yet.

    Old Macs, y'know?
     
  8. AphoticD thread starter macrumors 68000

    AphoticD

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    #8
    Yep. I need to keep reminding myself "You can't restore them all". Just because someone is flogging off a "good for parts" PowerPC Mac on eBay for peanuts, doesn't mean I *have* to buy it and fix it.

    My little PB G4 12" came to the rescue on the weekend. I took the wife and kids on a weekend to the city and brought along my little PowerBook. I had intended to use it to do some writing only and had no intention of taking it online, but a client contacted me with an urgent need to get his website back online after a database server issue.

    I pulled out the 13 year old Mac, fired up Leopard WebKit, logged onto the hotel's wifi and got straight to work. I downloaded a database backup from my synced iCloud drive, tweaked the sql file with TextEdit and sent it up to be restored via phpMyAdmin on the web server.

    All resolved and back online within 20 minutes and nobody would ever guess that a single-core PowerPC saved the day. The idea that these old Macs are useless is simply to drive up big-business profits...
     
  9. z970mp, Apr 17, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2018

    z970mp macrumors 65816

    z970mp

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    #9
    Far from useless, but certainly lightyears past their prime and sub-par by modern computing standards. That's not to say the technology inside is nothing to marvel at, but I wonder what else they would be good at if TenFourFox suddenly died. A G5 would probably be OK for a while thanks to raw power, but I think, unless repurposed for something a little specific, the G3 and the G4 won't be able to compete. Their only possible saving grace will probably be a non-Debain-based Linux distro that still supports PowerPCs, like Gentoo, but then who wants to compile their own kernel?

    And of course, not everyone can install an SSD to supercharge their PowerPC. Personally, I still think mSatas and IDE SSDs are too expensive. I am not alone.
     
  10. swamprock macrumors 6502a

    swamprock

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    #10
    What a great story! We may see a future technician/programmer/computer geek in the making. Thanks for sharing the story, and I'm happy that the old 1,1 is seeing new life through a child's use and repair participation. :)
     
  11. Slix macrumors 65816

    Slix

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    #11
    I can agree with that, I saw that in my own life throughout my growing up, and in my sister and now little brother too. Give them something that matters to them, they see the worth, and they want to take good care of it. :)

    Has he played Bugdom 2 yet? I love the Pangea games. :)
     
  12. z970mp macrumors 65816

    z970mp

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    #12
    The Pangea games were classics.

    I think my favorite one is Bugdom. Maybe Otto Matic. Perhaps Nanosaur 2?

    It's hard to choose from large selections of raw quality.
     
  13. Slix macrumors 65816

    Slix

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    #13
    Bugdom is probably my favorite too, but they're really all great. :D
     
  14. bobesch macrumors 65816

    bobesch

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    #14
    This is such a lovely thread and story!
    Reminds me of my dear step-father giving me an old moped in the late seventies and all the opportunities to work out things on my own ... Well, a lot of things broke on the first attempts, too. And I'm still aware of that and always cautious not to let it happen again - at least not in my daily job. It had been such a happy time - glad to hear about your story!
    It's pretty good to have iFixit at hands to be guided from step to step but sometimes it's also a thrill to work out things on your own without any guide (like swapping the internals from my broken GSM-Palm-Centro to a similar CDMA-device a few years ago). Cheers to those times coming again and again ...
     
  15. pochopsp macrumors 6502

    pochopsp

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    #15
    I just quote to underline the fact that Leopard WebKit works just so well. I still have to meet a website which won't load on it, and it is so fast ! I am in Europe and I often browser Ryanair site looking for good deals on flights, and even this heavy site is quite fast on it, the same site is a bit slow on my Windows laptop using Firefox... I only use Tenfourfox when I encounter very very heavy sites.
     
  16. AphoticD thread starter macrumors 68000

    AphoticD

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    #16
    Yep. Bugdom 2 and Nanosaur 2. It was great that Apple used to bundle these indie games with new Macs. It meant massive exposure for the developers and Pangea were deserving of it.

    While I was browsing their website for game updates, I also found that Pangea are providing their Ultimate Game Programming Guide for Mac OS X as a free eBook. Most topics cover Panther/Tiger period SDKs, but are quite universal for OpenGL game development on even current macOS and much of this can be adapted to iOS / OpenGLES.

    If anyone is interested in game programming for Mac, this would be a great starting point and has plenty of sample code to sift through.

    What better way to honour the PowerPC platform than to write new software which is also Tiger/PPC compatible?
     
  17. z970mp macrumors 65816

    z970mp

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    #17
    I still hate the fact they stopped doing that.

    Once they stopped, Apple lost a little bit of soul.

    :(
     
  18. swamprock macrumors 6502a

    swamprock

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    #18
    I've only found one site that kills Leopard Webkit dead- http://www.arcadeblogger.com

    Crashes the browser completely.
     
  19. z970mp macrumors 65816

    z970mp

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    #19
    One point for TenFourFox. :D
     
  20. pochopsp macrumors 6502

    pochopsp

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    #20
    weird, on my iBook G4 with 1.33 ghz and stock 512 MB RAM and HDD it runs perfectly fine.
     
  21. swamprock macrumors 6502a

    swamprock

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    #21
    I've had it load once or twice without crashing, but most of the time, it gets stuck on an element of the page and crashes the browser. I don't know what causes it, but it may have to do with the way that page renders fonts. That's the point it usually kills it, right before the font rendering.
     
  22. AphoticD, Jan 14, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2019

    AphoticD thread starter macrumors 68000

    AphoticD

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    #22
    You can't keep a good Mac down!

    IMG_3699.jpg

    So we are into the new year and my 5 year old son's first-generation MacBook (2006) survived its first year in his hands.

    However... Just last week I found the poor old Mac with half a cup of water spilled all over it and surprise, surprise, no signs of life! My boy decided he would rather pretend that nothing happened and not tell me about his accident, allowing me to discover it for myself...

    After words were said and tears were shed, I took the poor wet MacBook into my office and began the process of dismantling every little part (including the display assembly), carefully drying out each component and cleaning with isopropyl alcohol to evaporate every last remnant of water (also under the CPU, GPU and other large ICs).

    Once I had the logic board as dry as possible and all the early signs of green/blue corrosion cleaned up, I put the board in the oven for 20 minutes at 120°C to completely dry out. I then allowed it to cool for 10 minutes before beginning re-assembly. I repeated the baking process with the top case (keyboard/trackpad) assembly to dry out the keyboard circuitry - although for only about 5 or 6 minutes total because the plastic casing began to shrink a little. The shrinkage is hardly noticeable now, except for a slightly larger gap (~1mm) around the trackpad button.

    Even the optical drive was wet inside. It was fortunate the HDD didn't get any at all and all of the early signs of corrosion were cleaned up in the process. Once the MacBook was re-assembled, I pressed the power button and was greeted with a happy chime and a quick boot into the Snow Leopard desktop!

    :apple: Robust! :apple:

    Just try that with a modern Mac. There is no way you'd get away with anything less than an incredibly expensive logic board (RAM and SSD inclusive), keyboard/top case and/or display replacement.

    My son was so relieved to see it working again. He gave me a big hug, told me he loved me and promised that he would never have a drink near his laptop again. (We'll see...)

    The only thing presently not working is the hall sensor / reed switch for going to sleep when the lid is closed. Fortunately, he is in the habit of shutting it down when he is finished, so I will leave that quirk alone as a reminder of the incident.


    Getting even more life out of the old Mac!

    After reading all of the hugely positive feedback regarding Arctic Fox, I downloaded and installed the latest build (27.9.13 32-bit) onto the Core Duo 1.83GHz MacBook1,1. (Thank you @wicknix !!)

    Arctic Fox has provided a huge improvement in terms of responsiveness and load times over the final FireFox build for 10.6. In-browser YouTube video playback is extremely smooth and everything works as expected. The MacBook also runs a little cooler now as the CPU isn't being hammered quite so hard on YouTube.

    As with millions of other young kids, his obsession is to watch YouTube videos of people playing Minecraft. So while I was at it, I took a shot in the dark and tried installing the "Minecraft app for PowerPC" from the Apple Cider thread along with the final Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 17. Minecraft works brilliantly (and smooth) on the little old MacBook and my son is over the moon about it! :cool:

    Once again, this little MacBook has yet another lease on life.

    -AphoticD

    :apple: :apple: :apple:
     
  23. dbdjre0143 macrumors regular

    dbdjre0143

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    #23
    Fantastic story @AphoticD! Most would've simply tossed the machine at that point. Awesome to see someone teaching the next generation the value of keeping what you have going instead of sending it to the landfill!
     
  24. AphoticD thread starter macrumors 68000

    AphoticD

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    #24
    Thanks @dbdjre0143. I am surprised that it came back upright after such a big spill. I have seen a lesser spill (not much more than a few large drops) take out a MacBook Pro 13" 2012 with irreparable damage to the logic board and nothing visually damaged or corroded on the board components.

    I think the key was getting to it before the damage really set in. But I think it is very rare for liquid damage to result in near-zero component failure as it is usually the shorting itself which blows out capacitors, resistors and diodes.

    Maybe there was something more robust about the components used back in the day because my first 15" PowerBook G4 (purchased in 2005) took a half a cup of milky tea on the display and keyboard when it was in use by a family member around 2012. I was able to fully resurrect that with only minimal replacement parts (display inverter board, keyboard circuit sheets and speaker kit). The PowerBook is still going strong after all these years too.
     
  25. dbdjre0143 macrumors regular

    dbdjre0143

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    #25
    That is an interesting hypothesis. I wouldn't expect there to really be much difference in the discrete components used, but who knows? I wonder if it may have something to do with the case construction as well? On a PB, the keyboard/top cover would catch most of the liquid, giving a moment to shut off the power before it hits the lobo. I can't remember if that would be the case with the A1181 or not.
     

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