I Brought a 2010 MacBook Air Back from the Dead! (mostly)

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by MacPoulet, Aug 23, 2013.

  1. MacPoulet macrumors regular

    Dec 11, 2012
    Hello all,

    Back in July, I picked up a 2010 MacBook Air that had some water damage. Price wasn't too bad (could have made back my money selling it "as-is water-damaged" on eBay pretty easily) and I'd never taken one of these bad-boys apart. So it was more a learning experience than trying to get a working computer out of it.

    Long story short: after a new top case and an extensive cleaning, the computer boots up. It's not 100%, the battery's dead (ordered one off eBay), there seem to be some screen blotches on the lower left corner on boot (but in OSX it looks fine oddly enough), there's a five second delay from when I press the power button and hear the chime and I can't seem to be able to boot the Apple Diagnostics software (or its equivalent) by pressing D on boot.

    Currently it's running Mountain Lion which is fine, but I'd rather put Snow Leopard back on it (I believe the 2010s shipped with SL) to be compatible with some of my software. Problem is, I don't have the USB key that came with the 2010s and has the system restore. I tried booting off my homemade Snow Leopard USB key, which I've used on other Macs, but this one kernel panics with the "You need to restart your computer" message in five languages.

    The easiest solution seems to be to bite the bullet, buy a copy of Mountain Lion off the app store and do a restore that way (which seems to work). But if I'm going to buy an OS, I might as well get Mavericks and keep this as a test computer.

    I really just want to wipe the previous owner's data. Is there another way to get SL back on this thing?

    Thanks so much!
  2. calvol macrumors 6502a

    Feb 3, 2011
    Good story, i'm still running a 2010 13" MBA with SL, and it's flawless. I bought it refurb about 2 1/2 years ago, and have not had any issues at all. You may hold out and run Mavericks on it, as it may run faster than ML.

    Wonder what happened to the guy who had a bad logic board in a 2010 MBA and was trying to repair it with a 2012 logic board? Sounds like it could be another upgrade path option.
  3. cedwhatev macrumors 6502


    Oct 22, 2011
    Yeah, nice job man. I had two 2010's and I loved them. I am actually considering getting a used one as a travel companion...
  4. MacPoulet thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 11, 2012
    I looked into using a 2011 logic board, but there were a bunch of minor changes that made it unfeasable. Didn't even consider a 2012 model.

    So far mountain lion is running alright. Had to log into single user mode and reset the main account's password and made my own. Still would prefer a clean install though.

    Should make for a better travel computer than my old PowerBook.
  5. ttran88 macrumors regular

    Nov 12, 2009
    What I did to get a clean install was to open up the mountain lion install package and locate the .iso file. Then I made a bootable USB drive with the .iso file to reformat the whole computer. There are tutorials out there on how to make the bootable USB drive.
  6. MacPoulet thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 11, 2012
    That's sort of in line with what I did, but using Snow Leopard as that's the OS I want on it. Except, my USB key just crashes the MacBook Air, so I'm thinking it may need a special version of Snow Leopard. I know they came with recovery sticks at the time...
  7. MacPoulet thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 11, 2012
    Just a little update:

    My new battery arrived today, but it still doesn't register in the MBA. Tried doing an SMC reset, but but no dice.

    I'm thinking the battery connector on the logic board may be damaged (it's angled a little up). Anyone how to fix that? Thinking I may learn how to solder sooner rather than later.
  8. Mr Rabbit macrumors 6502a

    Mr Rabbit

    May 13, 2013
    Your Snow Leopard installer is likely a build older (I'd imagine 10.6.3) than what the MacBook Air shipped with, which is why it kernel panics as soon as it starts to load. If you could install 10.6.3 on an external USB drive, run all of the software updates to bring it up to 10.6.8, you could then clone that external hard drive to your MacBook Air using something along the lines of Carbon Copy Cloner.

    The AHT diagnostics that are built into Macs are a hidden partition on the hard drive/SSD. This partition is typically lost when reinstalls or erase and installs are done. More than likely the previous owner who installed 10.8 accidentally wiped out the AHT partition. If you had the restore drive/disk that shipped with these MacBook Airs you could use that to run AHT.

    Without seeing the battery connection on the MLB I can't give too much advice but you're probably correct in that soldering skills will come in handy soon.

    Good luck!
  9. MacPoulet thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 11, 2012
    Thanks for the reply Mr. Rabbit. I'm not sure which version of SL it is (always thought it was 10.6.0, but never jotted it down) maybe I can look at the installer and see if it'll tell me.

    I tried using a second SL DVD and external superdrive. This time, I got a circle with a line through it and nothing happened.

    Interesting about the AHT partition and I wouldn't be surprised if the previous owner erased it. I got in touch with him, but he's gone on a trip halfway around the world.

    As for the logic board, here's a pic of it, but I don't think it's the right angle to see the connector:

    I'll try to get another one.
  10. Mr Rabbit macrumors 6502a

    Mr Rabbit

    May 13, 2013
    I can see the battery connector but from the angle it looks pretty normal to me.

    The problem with 10.6 discs is that the newest retail (non model specific) installer released was 10.6.3. For Macs that shipped with 10.6.4 or newer you have to use their specific installation discs or use the imaging/cloning method I lined out above.
  11. MacPoulet thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 11, 2012
    Yep, that looks like the culprit. I happened to have an old hard drive with 10.6.8 on it and it booted fine. I'll clone an install using the method you mentioned. Thanks for that. It certainly cleared up some frustration.

    Gonna try to solder the connector tomorrow. Will let you know how it goes.
  12. MacPoulet thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 11, 2012
    Took the MBA apart again and went through the connector with a magnifying glass. The solder is all good, but there's extensive corrosion and rust. Will give the logic board another alcohol scrubbing and test out the battery connector with a volt-meter.

    Anyone know what each of the pins are on the battery connector? Been having a time trying to find out.
  13. MacPoulet thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 11, 2012
    Carbon Copy Cloner worked like a charm. I'm now running Snow Leopard on a clean install, minus the previous owner's junk. Turns out my install disk was 10.6.0 and the MBA didn't like it.

    I'm a little surprised that performance isn't a lot better than in Mountain Lion, especially with only 2GB of ram. Things like scrolling in a web browser are a little choppier than ML, and I had some issues with wi-fi at first, but got them sorted out in the first day.

    The MBA still doesn't recognize the battery, but I've got an I/O board on order which might fix it. There's always been a 5-10 second delay from when I press the power button to when I hear the start-up chime, which isn't right. My G4 PowerBook starts up right away, so I'm hoping it's the I/O board.
  14. Acorn macrumors 68020


    Jan 2, 2009
    sounds like a fun project. I hope it works out for you
  15. Y So Jelly macrumors regular

    Sep 14, 2013
  16. MacPoulet thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 11, 2012
    Here's a quick update:

    The MBA is fully functional. Turns out the logic board needed to be replaced, and I got a pretty sweet deal on a 2.13Ghz/4GB ram model for like $200. Took nearly a month to arrive, but once it did, I installed it, plugged it in and the battery I'd bought previously started charging.

    Nice surprise with the battery was that it's only got 68 cycles on it and the health is like 93%, which isn't bad for a used batter. It's been running strong since Monday.

    It's a nice little machine, and runs pretty quick. Will probably upgrade it to Mavericks after the next point release. Certainly much lighter than my 15" PowerBook G4.

    All in all, it was a fun learning experience.
  17. mvmanolov macrumors 6502a

    Aug 27, 2013
    Ata boy, i have a water damaged 13" MBP coming my way in a littles time so i'm going to try and see what i can do about it.. Where did you pickup the logic board from?
  18. MacPoulet thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 11, 2012
    I got it off a seller on eBay. Lrv Store I think? They're in Chicago. Price was amazing and the board works great. I lucked out because they had the wrong photo up and no one was buying. When I inquired, they realized their mistake, fixed the listing and I snapped it up.

    Curious to hear how your MBP does. My next project will be an ipad probably. Just need to find a broken one that's cheaper than a working used model.
  19. calvol macrumors 6502a

    Feb 3, 2011
    Well done, good story. Let us know how Mavericks runs on it!

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