Pismo Power!

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by AphoticD, Aug 22, 2017.

  1. AphoticD, Aug 22, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2017

    AphoticD macrumors 6502a

    AphoticD

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2017
    Location:
    Queensland, Australia
    #1
    Introducing the Pismo

    IMG_2118.jpg

    I am very pleased to say that I have acquired a working Pismo G3 400! It is in good condition, with only a bit of scuffing and some aging on the top rubber surface.

    The battery doesn't charge and the internal DVD drive is a bit flaky, but otherwise, it is a gorgeous PowerBook and one that I have always wanted since first meeting in 2001. This black, curvaceous beauty arrived with only 128MB of RAM (2x64) and surprisingly booted into Tiger off the bat. I wouldn't recommend anyone run Tiger with less than 256MB though, it gets clunky.

    First up, I removed the noisy 6GB stock IDE HDD and put in a 40GB 4200rpm spinner donated from my Titanium PowerBook G4 along with a 256MB PC133 SO-DIMM surplussed from the same donor machine. Even though the Pismo RAM is PC100, the PC133 appears to clock down perfectly fine.

    The next stage was to install a plethora of systems on this old road warrior. After reading @LightBulbFun's adventures in running Mac OS 8.6 on a Pismo with a home-made G4 upgrade, I thought I would give the old OS a try. Read my results on that thread if you're interested (I got OS 8.6 working, but it introduced thermal issues).

    A fresh install of Tiger went on, along with all of it's updates and my favourite Tiger compatible applications. I did the same with Panther system updates and software, and then Mac OS 9. I'll put Jaguar on it next and also try out early developer previews of Mac OS X and Rhapsody just to see them in action.

    Mac OS X Tiger

    I can confirm that currently with 320MB of RAM, Tiger does feel "heavy" in the same way that Leopard feels heavy on any PowerBook G4. It is totally usable though, but it has a general low framerate when moving windows around and some lag when starting up anything requiring more graphical oomph than the 8MB ATI Rage Mobility 128 chip can offer (like Dashboard). I've ordered in another 512MB SODIMM, so maybe this will help. I have tried switching between Better Energy Savings/Normal/Better Performance and the difference is negligible. I don't think the 400Mhz PPC750 had a stepping feature as found in the iBook G3s.


    Mac OS X Panther

    PismoPanther.jpg


    Panther is beautiful. Everything is smooth and quick. I like Panther. It was stable, it booted quickly, networked well with everything I've thrown at it, played 3D games well and was just an overall solid contender.

    Panther also offered a clear design definition, breaking away from the potpourri of "Aqua" design concepts put into OS X from the initial release up until Jaguar (Jony Ive really had a thing for pinstripes!). Panther paved the way for the sleek uniform design introduced in Tiger. I can admit that a "Brushed Metal" Finder does look off-putting at first, but it grows on you (and I've set "Hide Toolbar" to a Ctrl-Cmd-H keyboard shortcut for when it all gets too much).

    Panther was a real defining point for the OS and it's just a shame that there are so few software options still available.


    Mac OS 9 (Lives)

    Installing Mac OS 9.2.2 Universal is a breeze. Mac OS 9 boots quickly, moves smoothly and feels as fast as a modern OS on this 400Mhz wonder. This is how the Pismo was meant to be used and with 320MB of RAM it feels like there is plenty of elbow room. I've installed WordPerfect 3.5e as a fully functioning (free) word processor and I'll install my copy of Photoshop 7.0 and a few other of my favourite old applications next.

    For a complete trip into nostalgia, I also discovered the Internet Archive of MacAddict magazine cover CDs and the "deatomization" scanned 600dpi PDFs of every backissue! I have been getting a kick out of going through all of the old shareware, demos and all of their "Freakin' Awesome" videos and multimedia driven cover discs on the Pismo. I had a massive collection of Mac 'zines when I was a teenager. So while the other kids were bringing Sports Illustrated and surfing/skateboarding magazines to school, I was (quietly) rocking MacAddict! :apple:


    Applying new Thermal Paste and Pads

    To get the most out of the Pismo, I wanted to ensure it was cooling sufficiently. Gauge PRO in Mac OS 9.2.2 shows the CPU running temps range from 22°C to 30°C with Energy Saver set to Conservative. Unfortunately, I can't find any tools to read anything other than the HDD S.M.A.R.T. temperature in OS X, so I can't monitor how hot it gets with a more demanding system.

    One thing to note about the Pismo's design is that it is extremely easy to work on. Pull back the two keyboard levers to lift the keyboard up and you can swap out the hard drive by simply pulling the caddy up and then removing the HDD's four mounting screws. Adding RAM requires removal of just two screws.

    Pulling out the heatsink required removal of a grand total of 5 screws! (Try that on an iBook, PBG4 or a MacBook).

    IMG_2127.jpg
    1. The heatsink is removed in less than two minutes and here I began cleaning off the old deteriorated thermal pad.

    IMG_2128.jpg
    2. The rubber shroud around the cooling fan at the left has collected a lot of grit over the years. I cleaned this up with a toothbrush and IPA then re-adhered it inside the frame under the cooling fan. The cooling fan also received a clean out. The 16 year old thermal pad is seen here, it just crumbled in my hands. Seen out of focus at the top of the photo here is the curled up tiny shim of aluminium wedged between the CPU and the heatsink. I kept this and cleaned it up to re-use.

    IMG_2130.jpg
    3. Here is the IBM PPC750 processor after a thorough clean with isopropyl alcohol.

    IMG_2132.jpg
    4. A very light coat of generic-brand silver thermal paste went on here.

    IMG_2133.jpg
    5. Here is the aluminium shim, flattened out, cleaned and ready to re-seat on top of the CPU. Another layer of silver thermal paste was applied to the top of this to make contact with the Heatsink.

    IMG_2134.jpg
    6. Here is the heatsink cleaned, reinstalled and with a new slab of 2mm silicone thermal padding.

    IMG_2135.jpg
    7. The cage is re-seated, making firm contact with the new (thicker) thermal pad.

    After the re-pasting, Gauge PRO running in Mac OS 9 shows a stable running temp of 22°C. The ambient temps were around 20°C today, so that is pretty amazing really. The outside of the machine is only lightly warm to the touch.


    In conclusion

    As you can tell, I am very impressed with this Mac. I had this notion that anything less than 1Ghz would be unusable in my workflow, but I have quite comfortably done some writing and coding without feeling limited. It's also worth noting that the deep, concave keys and built-in palm rests feel great for typing.

    Interestingly, I was able to get Mac-On-Mac easily up and going in Panther to boot instances of 10.1 and OS9 in a virtual machine environment. This revealed the speed limitations however. Where my 1.5Ghz+ PowerBooks will run this at native speed (where you would hardly notice a difference), the Pismo gave visual delays which made it feel more like an "emulated" environment (such as QEMU/VirtualPC).

    The real reason I bought this PowerBook was for testing application development on a G3, in a low VRAM, non-CoreImage environment. Xcode runs (and builds apps) surprisingly well. A secondary purpose is with Coda, Transmit and MAMP installed in Tiger, I have a full MySQL/PHP/Apache stack and HTML/PHP/CSS/JS/FTP workstation for web development.

    To my surprise though, typing is most enjoyable on this 'book and once I replace the battery, I will definitely want to take it out for some inspired creative writing sessions!

    -AphoticD

    :apple: :apple: :apple: :apple:


    Bonus:
    Here's a quick "Pismo Power" inspired icon I put together (PismoPower.png). It looks pretty in the Dock :cool:

    PismoPower.png
     
  2. Dronecatcher macrumors 68000

    Dronecatcher

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    Location:
    Lincolnshire, UK
    #2
  3. AphoticD thread starter macrumors 6502a

    AphoticD

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2017
    Location:
    Queensland, Australia
    #3
    Ahh, that's a shame you let it go.

    I've been looking on eBay for replacement batteries and it seems there is one seller holding the monopoly who is willing to ship to Australia. However at US$86, it is on par with what I paid for the machine complete.

    I'm considering an attempt at reconditioning the battery with new cells myself. Has anyone had success with this?

    Before giving it a go though, I notice that the capacity reads about 3500mAh and the cycle count is (erroneously) zero. I've tried swapping bays from left to right, removing components and running the machine in Target Disk mode to try to send more power to the battery to try to revive it from it's zero state, but alas nothing gets the charge underway.

    Is there a way to give these old batteries a kick to reset them and drop it into a kind of "bulk" charge factory default mode?
     
  4. weckart macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2004
    #4
    Forget previews and Rhapsody. The Pismo is too new to run them. The Beta might run though if you set the clock back.
     
  5. Dronecatcher macrumors 68000

    Dronecatcher

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2014
    Location:
    Lincolnshire, UK
    #5
    I know @bunnspecial bought a load of surplus NOS Pismo batteries a while back, you might want to approach him and see if he'll cut you a deal.

    I found this, didn't check their shipping rates though:

    http://www.laptopbatteries.co.uk/apple-powerbook-m7572-laptop-battery.html
     
  6. bunnspecial macrumors 603

    bunnspecial

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    Location:
    Kentucky
    #6
  7. trifid macrumors 65816

    trifid

    Joined:
    May 10, 2011
    #7
    Sexy curvy Pismo, I love that machine, thanks for sharing @AphoticD, great write up.

    Have you thought of putting an SSD on it? I'm always curious to see older machines with an SSD, the faster performance and quieter benefit that was impossible back in the day...
     
  8. Dronecatcher macrumors 68000

    Dronecatcher

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    #8
  9. AphoticD thread starter macrumors 6502a

    AphoticD

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    Feb 17, 2017
    Location:
    Queensland, Australia
    #9
    Yes, I'd like to. I've got a 64GB mSATA SSD coming in for my PB17", which needs attention first. Then I'll order a pair of 32GB mSATA SSDs for the Pismo and TiBook.

    These old machines have become a money pit! But it keeps me happy (and distracted! :confused:)
     
  10. AphoticD thread starter macrumors 6502a

    AphoticD

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    #10
  11. 128keaton macrumors 68020

    128keaton

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2013
    #11
    Interesting.. I have a Pismo chilling and access to a hot air rework station.. hmm
     
  12. AphoticD thread starter macrumors 6502a

    AphoticD

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    Feb 17, 2017
    Location:
    Queensland, Australia
    #12
    http://www.laptopbatteries.co.uk/apple-powerbook-m7572-laptop-battery.html

    Hmmm..

    I sent them a Sales Enquiry:
    To which the reply was:
    o_O

    I'll keep hunting.
     
  13. Dronecatcher macrumors 68000

    Dronecatcher

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    #13
  14. AphoticD thread starter macrumors 6502a

    AphoticD

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    Feb 17, 2017
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    Queensland, Australia
    #14
    That's exactly right. And, they didn't bother answering my international shipping question.

    I could have been after 10 batteries for all different kinds of laptops, but now they won't see my money.

    That's how you lose a sale.
     
  15. weckart macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2004
    #15
    If you have the old dead PRAM battery, just rebuild your own. It takes 2xVL2330 batteries. Suppliers such as CPC, Farnell, element14 or even Amazon should supply those, even with the soldered tabs on.
     
  16. AphoticD, Sep 13, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017

    AphoticD thread starter macrumors 6502a

    AphoticD

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2017
    Location:
    Queensland, Australia
    #16
    Thanks. I found a pair of Panasonic VL2330 batteries on the bay for AU$11 with spot welded tabs. I'll grab these for the Pismo.

    I ended up ordering a "new OEM" Apple service PBG3 battery from the USA (Sunshine Express). Hunting around for quality 18650 cells revealed a lot of phony products and for a quality cell (like "LG HG2", 3000 (real) mAh - not a fake 9900mAh), it is going to cost only slightly less than buying prefab. I also have to factor in the solder tabs and add my time on top of it.

    I'll keep the old Pismo battery (the board responds to button press) and when the TiBook battery fails, I'll order enough cells to do them both at the same time. They supposedly both have the same cells x9 each.
    --- Post Merged, Sep 13, 2017 ---
    Also, I pulled the CPU/RAM daughter card out to reveal another worn out silicon pad on the underside to disperse heat from the bus controller, so this also received a new thermal pad (not in the photos). The 512MB SODIMM should be arriving any day now. And a 32GB mSATA SSD is on the way.

    On another note, and mostly out of curiosity, I ordered a CF PCMCIA adapter for cheap just to see how the Pismo handles my old (unused) CF cards.
     
  17. weckart macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2004
    #17
    Shouldn't be a problem. I have a few I tried out on this and earlier PowerBooks. All were fine. On Old World PowerBooks you can even boot from them and run MacOS subject to the limitations of CF. Quite useful with PowerBooks like the 1400, whose CD drive was prone to failure. The only time I noticed a problem was trying to install Mac OSX 1.x on it. CF didn't seem to get on with UFS as well as HFS. Basically, it makes sense if you have many PBs to keep key software and OSes on CF cards as these are the quickest to install from.

    I have found early Thinkpads were very fussy with CF cards in PCMCIA adapters but that is another topic.
     
  18. amagichnich macrumors regular

    amagichnich

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    Feb 3, 2017
    Location:
    Stuttgart, Germany
    #18
    I recall reading that the drive controller of pre G4 PBs can't handle ATA-60/100 drives. Can someone confirm that?
    --- Post Merged, Sep 14, 2017 ---
    I own a 1400c/166 which got the 80gig PBs G4 drive, but a SSD would be a big boost in terms of access time. Did someone try that?
     
  19. AphoticD thread starter macrumors 6502a

    AphoticD

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    #19
    My understanding is that ATA was backwards compatible, but I have been wrong before. I have only had experience bridging SSDs with PATA in my Aluminum PowerBook G4s, which are ATA-6 (Ultra ATA/100).

    Reading through the lengthy Parallel ATA Wiki reveals:
    Maybe this is where the compatibility confusion comes from?

    I can only assume the mSATA-PATA adapter will clock down for the Pismo's Ultra ATA/66 (ATA-5) bus... I guess I'll find out!
     
  20. weckart macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2004
    #20
    It will. It did in mine.
     
  21. MagicBoy macrumors 68040

    MagicBoy

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    May 28, 2006
    Location:
    Manchester, UK
    #21
    IDE/ATA is backwards compatible, the drive will negotiate a slower speed with the IDE controller.

    A Pismo is ATA/66 anyway, not like we're talking 16.6MB/sec in PIO mode. ;)
     
  22. YYsMD macrumors newbie

    YYsMD

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2017
    #22
    Great post! Very informative

    What is the purpose of this shim? I took a Tibook apart recently and didn't come across one of these in there between the CPU and the crap old thermal pad. Is it just the Pismos that use them?
     
  23. MagicBoy macrumors 68040

    MagicBoy

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    #23
    The shim is to replace the thermal pad used from the factory. Thermal pads are less efficient and can degrade over time, you won't often see them used in more modern computers. Due to the thickness of the pad you can't use just thermal compound, so it's replaced with a shim of aluminium or copper with thermal compound applied to each side to fill the gap.
     
  24. YYsMD macrumors newbie

    YYsMD

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    Apr 25, 2017
    #24
    I figured that based off of the above, the shim was already there and being used with the old pad?
     
  25. LightBulbFun macrumors 6502a

    LightBulbFun

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    Location:
    London UK
    #25
    indeed the CPU heatsink on Pismos have a shim as they dont have a thermal pad for the CPU, its more so a thermal sheet a very thin black layer of stuff that is thermally conductive which is stuck onto this shim that is then stuck onto the heatsink it self, you can just scrape off the black stuff and replace it with thermal paste (thats what I did with my 600Mhz G4 Pismo), but if you have a device that uses actual thermal pads as @MagicBoy says you have to use a shim to make up for the difference in thickness, if your replacing the pads with paste.
     

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