View Full Version : Reconditioning an iBook...

9th March 2009, 05:59 PM
I must be insane. Not just the usual kind of insane, I mean full blown crazy, in the eyes of so many Mac users where the best solution would have been a nice upgrade to a MacBook. No though, I don't swing that way. If I get offered a challenge to repair something, then i'll go all out to try and make that machine work again.

This is the story of an iBook, it's a G4 model running at 1.07GHz with 768MB of RAM and a 40GB Samsung hard disk drive. Currently running Tiger 10.4.11 but it's otherwise very Leopard capable (having run it on here for a while).

I found the machine sitting in a filing cabinet on the second floor of the high school I attend (as a senior, Year 12, for the record). Having belonged to the assistant principal at one point it was fairly beaten up, missing a working battery and had several heat stress fractures to the logic board solder joints.

So, what did it need done?

Replacement LCD Panel (Complete)
2 New Batteries
New Hard Disk... Twice. (the first one I fitted was a dud)
Added an AirPort Extreme card
Case cleanup and removal of several scratches
Lower the GPU Fan Threshold to 50C (down from 85C) via use of "G4FanControl"
Resoldering of the Surface Mount PMU Chip
Reflowing of the Ball Grid Array GPU Chip

All up, via connections in the IT industry, I was able to secure those replacement parts for free, with the exception of the new batteries which set me back a small fee of $100.

The last two were the most difficult. The logic board was going to require significant work. Initially it had a shim in the base of the machine to apply pressure to the logic board, which could only work for so long and failed. Plus the pressure also bowed the lower case.

So... lets get to work shall we? Having removed about 1000 screws from the machine to break it down into component parts, I started on the first of two malfunctioning chips, the Graphics Processor (an ATI Radeon Mobility 9200).

Apply tin foil around the logic board with a cut-out for the GPU. Using a Makita industrial heat gun, I slowly increased the temperature up to 350 degrees celsius, holding it there for 30 seconds before rapidly increasing the temperature to 550 degrees for 10 seconds, then lowering the temperature back down to 350 degrees for a further one minute.

I left the machine to cool for 5 minutes before flipping it over and starting work on the second of two malfunctioning chips- the Power Management Unit.

This was a largely similar process, 10 seconds at 350C, 30 seconds at 550C and down to 350C for a further 1 minute before letting the chip cool for 5 minutes.

Then it was just a matter of starting it up...

http://img14.imageshack.us/img14/6580/img0012i.th.jpg (http://img14.imageshack.us/img14/6580/img0012i.jpg)

Success! The system was reassembled and left for a full 16 hour burn in (7 hours at night, the remainder while I was asleep). Having found the system hadn't frozen up or failed after the burn in was complete, I deemed the machine satisfactory for use and returned it to active service... as my portable.

http://img15.imageshack.us/img15/7681/img0064k.th.jpg (http://img15.imageshack.us/img15/7681/img0064k.jpg)

Some observations I made after the restore were much cooler operating temperatures, with the GPU holding a steady 43C average temperature as opposed to the 49C it used to achieve, possibly attributed by additional downward tensioning of the heatsink assembly (using 3 screws on the top of the heatsink).

Plus with the two batteries fitted, the machine achieves a running time of 7-8 hours, a result i'm very pleased with (since it's smoking the runtime of my friends' Eee PC).

Another iBook G4 restored and ready for service. :thumbup:

- MB

9th March 2009, 06:37 PM
Nice work. What was the heatgun stuff actually for? Did the heat pry the chips off or something?

It's just the perspective, I know, but that third picture makes the base look much longer than the screen. Those 4:3 screens just don't look right these days.

9th March 2009, 06:46 PM
The heat gun was to melt the conductive solder that joins the chips to the logic board. 5 years of overheating had cracked those solder joints, and so it was a simple matter of melting them down and fusing them back together. The heatsink tensioning and fan adjustment was to prevent the joints from cracking again.

It does feel strange using a 4:3 screen after using the iMac widescreen displays day in, day out, but it gets the job done. I'm definitely opting for a widescreen display on my next laptop though (whatever that may be).

9th March 2009, 11:45 PM
Just an update, i've worked the system core temperature down to about 44C at the GPU without compromising usability or performance. The system never exceeds 50C even when under heavy load. Battery life is also further extended.

This is one cool little iBook.

Only remaining issue is has is a case problem. The single centre screw on the base of the machine is missing, but i'll be looking to replace that from the spares bin tomorrow.

Still have the original boxes for it too. It's like new again! :D

Now only if I could get some of that new Apple smell...

10th March 2009, 12:11 AM
Awesome. Wish I had the patience to fix old things like that. I just get frustrated and they usually end up in the bin.

10th March 2009, 12:03 PM
very very cool. I'd be very nervous with a heat gun that I'd randomly melt things. How can a chip stand that kind of heat and not just fail?

10th March 2009, 12:06 PM
I hope the assistant principal doesn't want it back now that it is fixed !

Cool and well done too by the way.


10th March 2009, 12:13 PM
In regards to the chip withstanding the extreme heat- I wondered the same thing. Somehow the chips survived the extreme temperatures, possibly because I applied the heat slowly and allowed it to cool equally as slowly. Last thing the chip needs is a sudden rapid heating and cooling.

Beforehand though, I did some practice tests on a broken P4 board I had lying around... the BGA on them melted, the chips blew right off the board, which didn't leave me with much confidence... :p

The assistant principal... I don't think he'll want this machine back any time soon. He switched back to Windows if I recall correctly. Oh well, more Macs for us.

Anyway, i'm posting from that same iBook right now, in the IT department, connected to the internet via 3G. Machine is cruising along just perfectly. Very pleased with the result. :D

10th March 2009, 12:50 PM

i kind of did the same thing with an ibook G3 800, but haven't ventured out with the heat gun to correct GPU! instead i have popped a couple of coins (bulgarian) between the case and the shield to keep the chip firm and prevent it from freezing! it kinda works, but it will need the heat gun therapy that i am not very confident with :)

if you are ever in sydney with your gun, more than welcome to come and shoot!


10th March 2009, 02:17 PM
Mate of mine did the same thing but used a tealight candle, light it and leave it burn for a about half hour, and when its melted all the wax, carefully place it on top of the gpu chip, and leave it for a bit.

He reckons it worked alright.

10th March 2009, 02:41 PM
Nice battery life. And so much better than a cheap netbook because it's a Mac!

10th March 2009, 03:57 PM

I had a similar job to do when I reconstructed a PowerMac G4 to keep for myself. I had a tonne of spare parts to play around with and I saw a QuickSilver, only to find out it was someone elses! ><

Anyways, after hours of slaving away, I was rewarded with my own perfectly working DA with maxed out RAM and 100GB space (after seaching for those parts somewhere else).

I wish I had one of those jobs again.

I'm happy.