Posts tagged logic board
I know it’s been a while since I’ve updated, but a lot has gone on in the last month. I’ve planned my ACMT certification for early next year, and in preparation for that I’ve attempted my most risky repair yet: the legendary iBook G3 reflow. Basically, Apple put it this way:
“The Expanded iBook Logic Board Repair Extension Program covers iBooks that have a specific component failure on the logic board, resulting in the computer starting up but the built-in and attached external displays exhibiting one or more of the following symptoms: Scrambled or distorted video, Appearance of unexpected lines on the screen, Intermittent video image, Video freeze, Computer starts up to blank screen…” see more here
Sadly, apple ended their warranty extension program years ago, so this repair would cost somewhere around $300.00 US to have done officially. Of course, there are a few popular ways of fixing this problem, namely the “burn the house down” method and the “shove crap in the case” method. I happen to like my house and shims made me worry about the harddisk (as well as being incredibly unreliable and non-permanent) so I opted for the most permanent, most insane option… taking a heat gun to the motherboard. The model I’m working on is the iBook G3 Dual USB 14.1″ 700MHz. (Mid 2002)
Now, this is probably the perfect time to go though the motions and tell you that this *will* void your warranty, I don’t suggest that anyone do this themselves (especially at home), and there is a very high risk of failure when performing this repair. I took every precaution I could think of while attempting this, and advise anyone planning on trying this to do the same. Also, iFixIt’s repair guides were literally indispensable in learning this computer inside and out. To be thorough I also downloaded a copy of the iBook G3 Service Manual (here’s the site — don’t wanna direct link content) to aid in any small discrepancy I might encounter. (I know, overkill right? Well, it’s all or nothing with this one…)
Ok, now to the nuts and bolts. First off, ensure that you have the right tools. The iBook G3 has a ton of different screws, so I made a list of what I would need to get into the case, and priced out the cost. However, I got to home depot and found a nifty little multi-tool with all the heads I needed for only 10 bucks! The wagner heat gun was in the paint department, and only cost another 20. The only other expenses I incurred were through parts orders on eBay. The RAM upgrade is still in the mail at the time of this writing, but I had already received the DVD-Rom and the AirPort card, so I set to work.
Now, as you can see in that third photo, the laptop was already running with the shim installed, but would still crap out after a half hour or so of use, usually while typing. Rather than push that case out even more, it was time to send that piece back to it’s maker. (oh, wait… that’s me) Below you can see the new parts I received… the CD-RW/DVD and the AirPort card. I also added a shot from under the back casing of my attempt at a shim. I made mine from cardboard and aluminum foil, but it really is a worthless fix. Never worked right, case bulged… a good way to damage salvageable hardware if you ask me, so off I went dismantling the bottom half of the laptop. I didn’t want to install the other parts if the reflow didn’t work (I have another one of these units) so I decided to do the heat gun madness first.
After the bottom shield was free and clear, it was time to start MacGuyverin’. The thermal foam that was on the chip originally had become quite brittle and cracked when I tried to remove it altogether, so the remainder was quite a bit of residue. I took my time with a fresh exacto blade and scraped all the glue from the back of the ATi chip. With the chip clean (effing 20 minutes later), I whipped out the trusty iPod Touch to do some leveling. Having a level surface is important, because if that chip slides or moves *AT ALL* while you are in the process of heating, you’ll screw the whole logic board royally. With the table level and the components prepared, it was on to the heat shield!
You should probably do your own research for this part as it’s quite involved, but here’s my basic summary… I made my heat shield from 4 layers of foil, and pressed it lightly over the board to get the basic outline of the gpu. I then cut the layers with my exacto and folded them inwards, sealing off the space between them. This ensured that the shield wouldn’t fly up during the heating process. (The wagner emits heat like a blow dryer, only hotter) With the heat gun on the low setting, I timed myself and slowly lowered the end of the nozzle from a distance of around a foot from the board to about 3 inches away over a period of 10 minutes. This was done to prevent temperature shock on the board, which could adversely effect the rest of the system. Also, when completing the process I followed a similar vein… I backed the heat off slowly as well (not too slow… you don’t want to over-heat the chip) so as to not temperature shock the board when it cools, either. My biggest tips for this part are: 1- to have a metal object to spread heat across the silicone. I used a metal punch out from an electrical box. aaaaand 2- to put a piece of solder onto your metal object so that you know it’s hot enough to make the solder flow. Once the solder on top melted, I gave it another 60 seconds or so before I began the process of backing the heat off. My hands were definitely shaking after a good 20 minutes of that, I tell you.
After quite a bit of cooling, it was time to give booting a shot. Lo and behold, the reflow was a success! I astonished even myself. With the GPU working, I moved on to replacing the stock CD-Rom with my brand-spankin’ new CD-RW/DVD-Rom. This involved pulling the top of the case, the keyboard, ram shield and the top shield off, pretty much completely dismantling the computer altogether. Make sure you label your screws!
With the new DVD drive installed, all that was left was to reassemble the entire laptop with my organized set of screws. I used baywatch barbie cups, but feel free to concoct a hilarious organization system of your own. With the entire laptop reassembled and the AirPort card in, it was time to fire the unit up, download my photos and write this article! Sadly, I ended late at night so I’m completing this now, on said unit, the morning after. Definitely a fun project, and an expensive paperweight hasn’t only been fixed, it’s been upgraded! Worth the time if I do say so myself.
Hopefully something here is helpful to someone considering doing this. Again, I don’t endorse it and there are companies that will do this for you with the proper equipment, so be informed. However, I’m a DIY guy and I know how important testimonials and experience re-counts are when considering a risky repair, so I figured I’d document the process and pass my knowledge on.
Photos taken by LT Hartly.