Club 17

AphoticD

macrumors 68000
Feb 17, 2017
1,819
2,288
Australia
I was inspired to take a look at repairing my PowerBook G4 17-inch SLSD 1.67GHz today..

The trouble I’ve had with this 17 is the previous owner had damaged the ZIF connector for attaching the top case keyboard/trackpad/power ribbon to the logic board. I have made attempts to keep it working with plastic/cardboard shims to apply pressure, but I had found it would intermittently just stop responding to the power button, or it would power on but have no keyboard/trackpad input.

I tinkered with different ideas and scoured through my many old Macs to locate a possible donor 14-pin ZIF connector, but it seems quite particular to the 17 (has anyone discovered the same ZIF connector on a different type model?).

I was trying different ways of applying pressure from the under side of the ribbon when suddenly the whole connector liberated itself from the board! I got the soldering iron out and things were going well until I totally messed it up. I went a bit too heavy handed and just made it worse, so decided to remove the damaged connector from the board and brought up a couple of solder pads with it.. oops.

I was feeling a little devastated but ultimately accepted the situation and began to dismantle the Mac to remove the logic board. I was fortunate to have a second identical unit, which externally isn't quite as perfect, so I set about transplanting the logic board from one unit into the other. I spent many hours completely tearing down, cleaning and reassembling. I put a fresh application of Arctic MX4 on during the transplant. It’s all back together again (along with a 64G mSATA SSD) and running beautifully. TFF is purring along with thanks to PowerPEP.

A4E270A3-B1FF-4EB6-B78D-FFB03ACCFBBC.jpeg

While I had things dismantled, I had the damaged board running perfectly fine with external I/O as seen here...

5877562F-EAA9-4652-9BB0-207C30DB6000.jpeg

I put this one back together and I can still use it, but it requires an external mouse and keyboard and can only be powered on by shorting the power on pads under the top case.

I’m not sure what to do with this “faulty” unit. I might just keep an eye open for a non working PBG4 17” logic board which I could harvest the connector from or try to source them elsewhere?

I also wanted to share just how much I appreciate the internal design of this model. Everything is spaciously set out, with three separate I/O boards and a very easy to follow tear down process. Even the display assembly is a cinch to replace once you have the top case off. The only real gotcha are those flimsy ZIF connectors!
 

eyoungren

macrumors Core
Original poster
Aug 31, 2011
21,532
13,482
ten-zero-eleven-zero-zero by zero-two
I was inspired to take a look at repairing my PowerBook G4 17-inch SLSD 1.67GHz today..

The trouble I’ve had with this 17 is the previous owner had damaged the ZIF connector for attaching the top case keyboard/trackpad/power ribbon to the logic board. I have made attempts to keep it working with plastic/cardboard shims to apply pressure, but I had found it would intermittently just stop responding to the power button, or it would power on but have no keyboard/trackpad input.

I tinkered with different ideas and scoured through my many old Macs to locate a possible donor 14-pin ZIF connector, but it seems quite particular to the 17 (has anyone discovered the same ZIF connector on a different type model?).

I was trying different ways of applying pressure from the under side of the ribbon when suddenly the whole connector liberated itself from the board! I got the soldering iron out and things were going well until I totally messed it up. I went a bit too heavy handed and just made it worse, so decided to remove the damaged connector from the board and brought up a couple of solder pads with it.. oops.

I was feeling a little devastated but ultimately accepted the situation and began to dismantle the Mac to remove the logic board. I was fortunate to have a second identical unit, which externally isn't quite as perfect, so I set about transplanting the logic board from one unit into the other. I spent many hours completely tearing down, cleaning and reassembling. I put a fresh application of Arctic MX4 on during the transplant. It’s all back together again (along with a 64G mSATA SSD) and running beautifully. TFF is purring along with thanks to PowerPEP.

View attachment 890501

While I had things dismantled, I had the damaged board running perfectly fine with external I/O as seen here...

View attachment 890500

I put this one back together and I can still use it, but it requires an external mouse and keyboard and can only be powered on by shorting the power on pads under the top case.

I’m not sure what to do with this “faulty” unit. I might just keep an eye open for a non working PBG4 17” logic board which I could harvest the connector from or try to source them elsewhere?

I also wanted to share just how much I appreciate the internal design of this model. Everything is spaciously set out, with three separate I/O boards and a very easy to follow tear down process. Even the display assembly is a cinch to replace once you have the top case off. The only real gotcha are those flimsy ZIF connectors!
Gad you have at least one working and I hope you can easily find some way to fix/make the other one work.

Working inside the 17" is one of the reasons I like them. They are easy to work in and repair. It's also one of the reasons I HATE working in the 12".

The first A1013 I bought I got for $150 back in late 2009. It came with no case screws, a failed cache and a top case that had the paint going all over the wrist rest area. The LCD was also failing. Yet the seller I could deduce was unhappy that $150 was all he got in the auction. It took him a week to ship it to me and he was only two states away.

Over the years I replaced multiple parts on that Mac, including two logicboards. It got to the point where I was purchasing garbage units (that still worked) in order to fix the Mac. At one point I was dealing with a bent bottom case and a lid that wouldn't close.

There's a Doctor Who episode (Deep Breath) where the villain is repairing himself with parts scavenged over time. The Doctor remarks to the Cyborg that he's been repaired and replaced so many times that he's not the original unit (like a broom and broom handle).

When I saw that particular scene it made me realize…I no longer had the same Mac I got in 2009. I was holding on to that little dream of mine of having the 17" PowerBook but the actual Mac I got was long gone.

My point in relating all this is this. Don't get attached. If you find a way to make the other one work, great, but otherwise appreciate the running one for what it is.

I started over later on with a brand new (to me) A1013 that has everything working. I dropped an SSD in to it. I'll love it until it dies. Maybe it'll get replaced, maybe it won't. But I will have had my time with it and that's enough.
 

eyoungren

macrumors Core
Original poster
Aug 31, 2011
21,532
13,482
ten-zero-eleven-zero-zero by zero-two
@eyoungren
You do remember Aphotic's photo from some time ago ?
View attachment 890552
Now that you bring it up yes - but that makes my point perfectly. :)

In any case, maybe it helps someone else. I have a tendency to become attached to objects rather than people for a variety of personal/psychological reasons. ;)
 
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RhianB

macrumors 65816
Sep 3, 2016
1,006
1,179
505 USA
I echo Erik's sentiment - that personal connection (in some ways preference) to inanimate objects. I think it is important to add that it is not every object, but specific ones that hold meaning to me. I drive a 1985 w123 300D turbo diesel because it was my grandpas then my Moms and now it is mine. Also, the 1993 Dodge Dakota I have again was my grandpas work truck, then my Dads and now it is mine. Little accoutrements like my Grandpa's rosary is still in there for example. My house is salt and peppered with objects that bring connection to those who have passed or are close to me and getting on in age. I have a painted sea shell that my grandma bought located in my hallway that is from a family vacation to Maine in 1984 - I was 6 years and some change old. There are all sorts of objects that have great meaning to me. I could write a book about them now that I think about it. Anyhow, my computers are a little different but my Commodore 64 rig fits this as it is my first computer and was also my parents first personal computer. I still recall my mom running quick brown fox word processor on it in the mid 80s.

Dan, I totally F'd up the zif pin on mine too trying to repair it. It still is sitting on my shelf waiting for a donor. Some ideas for yours would be mounted on a closet wall naked and headless with a bunch of firewire drives or one big USB enclosure running OSX server. I think it could make a really neat coffee or side table jukebox project once you figure out a button setup that shorts the start button. It could then be used with something like an apple BT KB&TP and a henge click dock or a BT speaker system set around a room could be really cool. If it made it into a side table for example, a USB hub could be engineered into the table for USB charging etc. There's alot of neat uses for the guts I think.
 
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bobesch

macrumors 65816
Oct 21, 2015
1,312
917
Kiel, Germany
Working inside the 17" is one of the reasons I like them. They are easy to work in and repair. It's also one of the reasons I HATE working in the 12".
BTW & off topic: and it's scary, that replacement batteries for the little 12" guy apparently get rare ... which is going to annihilate the purpose of this ultra-mobile device.
 
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Amethyst1

macrumors 6502a
Oct 28, 2015
694
929
BTW & off topic: and it's scary, that replacement batteries for the little 12" guy apparently get rare ... which is going to annihilate the purpose of this ultra-mobile device.
We may have to give rebuilding the battery with new cells a try then. 🙂 In any case, ultraportables rock even on AC power.
 

weckart

macrumors 601
Nov 7, 2004
4,770
1,815
BTW & off topic: and it's scary, that replacement batteries for the little 12" guy apparently get rare ... which is going to annihilate the purpose of this ultra-mobile device.
Not scary but inevitable. It is a long obsolete device and there is no real market in producing expensive batteries for vintage collectors who are looking to pay a fraction of the price of the battery for the entire laptop. In any case, these hark back to a period when realistically 2-3 hours is all you could hope for off the mains and a far cry from what is possible today (or was with the Clamshell even back then).

It will be more worrying if the supply of other spare parts such as RAM starts to dry up.
 

AshleyPomeroy

macrumors newbie
Dec 27, 2018
17
26
England
I remember being taken aback when it dawned on me that PATA laptop drives were no longer available new. I'm wary of buying a second-hand PATA drive. It's yet more incentive to stick an MSATA SSD into old laptops.

This is also an issue with digital SLRs. I have in my possession a Kodak DCS 14n, which is almost unusable nowadays because Kodak stopped making the batteries fifteen years ago, even before they went bust. A lot of early professional-level digital SLRs - the Nikon D1/h/x and original Canon 1D / 1Ds - are heading in a similar direction, although they're not quite dead yet.

Conversely my old Fuji S3 is fine because it uses plain old-fashioned AAs. In fact with modern Eneloops a lot of old AA-powered cameras (the Nikon swivel-bodied models, for example) now run longer than they did in the early 2000s. There's a lot to be said for enduring standards. Some old cameras could run on AA batteries with a bolt-on handgrip, but laptops would presumably need more power than could be practically delivered by a bunch of AAs.

Historically a lot of film cameras from the 1970s are difficult to get working nowadays because they used mercury batteries, which were outlawed in the 1980s. It's particularly bad with compacts such as the Minox 35, because they were autoexposure-only, and without a battery they don't work (battery-powered film SLRs often had a single manual shutter speed for emergencies).

Also film formats came and went. APS cameras from the relatively recent 1990s - including the neat little Canon Ixus - are paperweights nowadays because APS film was discontinued years ago. It's difficult to develop at home because it was mostly colour negative rather than black and white, and it was buried in little plastic cartridges. One of the reasons black and white 120 and 35mm film is still sold is that it works in masses of cameras and can be developed at home with readily-available chemicals; some people have even worked out how to develop film with coffee(!).

Also, if you collect pistols there's a bunch of neat French automatics from the mid-century that are useless nowadays because France decided not to use standard 9mm / .45 but something else of their own devising. I've often wondered if pistol cartridges were the first example of attempted vendor lock-in. Before the 1800s most things had an element of hand-fitting, so it was a lot harder to force people to use a certain gadget.
 

raymanster

macrumors 6502
Feb 13, 2008
331
93
UK
Been following this thread with envy since it started, hope I can join now!

I recently managed to pick up an Intel late 2007 17" (Core 2 Duo 2.4 Ghz). It was a collection only auction on eBay, and since it was fairly local to me I knew I had a good chance. From the pictures it clearly looked like the right speaker grill was pushed in, also there was a mention of a noisy fan, oh and no battery.

A few days later I won the auction and picked it up, a nice surprise was that it came with a genuine magsafe adapter. On closer inspection it clearly looked like it had been stepped on with the lid open, not only was the top case pushed in but the bottom case was a bit curved as well!

Long story short, I did a bit of bodywork, bought a battery, replaced the right side fan, dropped in 4GB of RAM and a 240GB SSD I plundered from one of my Thinkpads. The top case still looks a bit wavy so could do with a bit more work, and the bottom case is about 80-90% straighter. Good enough for now!

Best thing is that it had the green sticker dot on the memory slot, and removing the logic board for a repaste/clean I think I have a revised Nvidia gpu which is really lucky. Especially as Dosdude1 is way too far away! The screen is also 1920 x 1200 which I think was an option, its nice but not very bright, not sure if they're all like that or mine is just old/faulty. I've played with the colours a bit so now it's not so yellow.

A few pictures:

When I first got it, definitely a bit bent:
IMG_2857.jpg

IMG_2859.jpg


Unbent:
IMG_2899.jpg


Green sticker and Revised GPU:
IMG_2898.jpg

IMG_2865.jpg


Side by side with his smaller brother, 15" late 2007. You can see how much brigher and whiter the 15". It's screen was actually salvaged from a 2008 15:
IMG_2892.jpg
IMG_2897.jpg




Dwarfed by my chunky 17" Dell Precision m6800 (these 6400/6500/6600/6700 series are very reasonable 2nd hand and totally upgradeable, you can even replace the video card! recommended if you are in the market):
IMG_2896.jpg
 
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eyoungren

macrumors Core
Original poster
Aug 31, 2011
21,532
13,482
ten-zero-eleven-zero-zero by zero-two
Been following this thread with envy since it started, hope I can join now!

I recently managed to pick up an Intel late 2007 17" (Core 2 Duo 2.4 Ghz). It was a collection only auction on eBay, and since it was fairly local to me I knew I had a good chance. From the pictures it clearly looked like the right speaker grill was pushed in, also there was a mention of a noisy fan, oh and no battery.

A few days later I won the auction and picked it up, a nice surprise was that it came with a genuine magsafe adapter. On closer inspection it clearly looked like it had been stepped on with the lid open, not only was the top case pushed in but the bottom case was a bit curved as well!

Long story short, I did a bit of bodywork, bought a battery, replaced the right side fan, dropped in 4GB of RAM and a 240GB SSD I plundered from one of my Thinkpads. The top case still looks a bit wavy so could do with a bit more work, and the bottom case is about 80-90% straighter. Good enough for now!

Best thing is that it had the green sticker dot on the memory slot, and removing the logic board for a repaste/clean I think I have a revised Nvidia gpu which is really lucky. Especially as Dosdude1 is way too far away! The screen is also 1920 x 1200 which I think was an option, its nice but not very bright, not sure if they're all like that or mine is just old/faulty. I've played with the colours a bit so now it's not so yellow.

A few pictures:

When I first got it, definitely a bit bent:
View attachment 891383
View attachment 891384

Unbent:
View attachment 891385

Green sticker and Revised GPU:
View attachment 891387
View attachment 891388

Side by side with his smaller brother, 15" late 2007. You can see how much brigher and whiter the 15". It's screen was actually salvaged from a 2008 15:
View attachment 891389View attachment 891392



Dwarfed by my chunky 17" Dell Precision m6800 (these 6400/6500/6600/6700 series are very reasonable 2nd hand and totally upgradeable, you can even replace the video card! recommended if you are in the market):
View attachment 891390
Welcome!!!!

Very nice job on bending the metal back.
 
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andloph

macrumors newbie
Feb 13, 2017
28
13
Spain
I think I have fried my powerbook´s mainboard and I´m now looking for a new one.
Getting a new motherboard is really expensive where I live so I´m looking for a 17 inch powerbook replacement.
No luck at all so I was wondering if maybe someone here has one available and would be willing to sale it to me ? :) In case someone has one pls PM me.
Sorry for hijacking the thread but I really have no idea where to ask for something like this.
thanks !
 

RhianB

macrumors 65816
Sep 3, 2016
1,006
1,179
505 USA
I think I have fried my powerbook´s mainboard and I´m now looking for a new one.
Getting a new motherboard is really expensive where I live so I´m looking for a 17 inch powerbook replacement.
No luck at all so I was wondering if maybe someone here has one available and would be willing to sale it to me ? :) In case someone has one pls PM me.
Sorry for hijacking the thread but I really have no idea where to ask for something like this.
thanks !
Im in a similar boat. I’ve resigned to the strategy of selling off the functioning parts to fund in-part a fully functioning 17”. That or find a live specimen with a dead screen but that has proven to be pricey with those units commanding a similar price to fully intact powerbooks.

Perhaps with the prices the 17” ppc powerbooks command these days, I should look at a 17” macbookpro Instead.
 

Amethyst1

macrumors 6502a
Oct 28, 2015
694
929
So here's my entry to the club: An A1085 (1.5GHz). Right now, it's got 1 GB RAM and the stock 80 GB 5400-rpm drive (at least it's not 4200-rpm!) but I'll put in 2 GB RAM and a faster 160 GB drive soon.

A1085.JPG

- - Post merged: - -

Dwarfed by my chunky 17" Dell Precision m6800
There I go thinking the 17" PB/MBP is huge - the Precision makes it look svelte :-O
 
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RhianB

macrumors 65816
Sep 3, 2016
1,006
1,179
505 USA
That chunky Dell 6800m actually looks pretty sharp. I guess that makes me a chubby chaser. :D

Seriously though, if Apple would stop fat shaming and lose the penchant for making anorexic glued together crud-o-rific laptops (read: buy one of our iOS tablets instead) and put something together like an a1107 keyboard and form factor but with modern componentry, I'd pay the apple tax and seriously pick one up NIB. Laptops are not iOS tablets. It seems they've completely whiped that lesson from their engineering lexicon. As is, their laptop offerings pretty much make me want to buy other brand laptops.

Oh well, maybe next year lol :apple:
 
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