Unusual Powerbook repair

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by vsp, Mar 21, 2007.

  1. vsp macrumors regular

    Jan 23, 2004
    Chico, Ca
    First, a moment of *sniff* sorrow for my damaged Powerbook...and a description of its "issue."

    15.2, 1.25 GHz AL powerbook. Wonderful little machine and a total workhorse. And then.....the video chipset went bad. One month after my extended Applecare warranty expired. Now, the machine worked fine but the display was totally bonkered. A small grid overlay everything, looking for all the world like a flattened honeycomb structure with repeating rows of rectangles just slightly off-set from each other running up and down the entire screen. Same thing occured when I plugged in an external monitor.

    The computer seemed to work fine, I just couldn't clearly see anything. Pricing out new logicboards ($420 new!!) quickly made me think I should start saving for a new computer and dust off the old, nasty Hewlett-Packard Pavillion hiding in the back of the closet. Money is very, very tight right now so the saving option, while wonderful, is likely meaning no Mac goodness for months.

    I was chatting with a local repair guy (who works on Windows machines) about my neighbor's computer when I casually mentioned what had happened to my laptop. He instantly asked if it had an ATI graphics chip. Apparently he'd seen the same display issue on numerous Sony Vaios and had a way of getting a bit more life out of the chip.

    Basically he takes the logicboard out, and slowly, slowly heats the video chip (with and overhead heat source) until he's able to carefully get some flux underneath the chip, then run some solder back onto the chip. Usually, he said, it would take about three applications of this process and the chip would either be fine or there'd be no change.

    And it worked! Sorta! Unlike the Vaio chips, the chip in my powerbook had been epoxyed down to the board with something that just wouldn't relax in the heat. He was still able to repair the machine, for the most part. There's still some trails and shadows of blue pixels whenever I move a screen around and there are small rows of yellow or blue sections that appear periodically on the screen (which can be written over with a new window). Videos seem to stutter just a touch (or it could be a new wireless connection I'm working under) but in general I now have a working computer again. All for $75.

    Of course, it's still under a shadow of doom, but it's been rock solid for the past few days, outside of that small display problem. Now I can save for a new computer without panic. Woot!
  2. Sdashiki macrumors 68040


    Aug 11, 2005
    Behind the lens
    this was a fix for many iBook display problems.

    the heating/expanding, cooling/contracting of the graphix chip broke the solder connections. heating it, and sometimes adding flux/solder, returns it back to normal.

    thats not to say it wont happen again though.
  3. shu82 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 10, 2007
    Rocket City, AL
    That is a great little tip. I have a ibook g3 that has the same problem. Would this method work?

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