I’m beginning to see now why the $300 Powerbook was $300. When I first picked it up, the screen was fine, but I noticed some play in the hinge clutch—not anything to worry about, I figured, because Jen’s Pismo had an equal amount of play and it’s always been fine. (I also noted that the case on this G4 has been opened at least once, because there are two screws missing on the right side in the display and by the video port.)

Over the course of the last few days I’ve been getting more and more artifacting on the lower half of the screen. At first I was able to get rid of it by altering the LCD display angle, but now it’s to the point where the lower half stays black and no amount of adjustment will get rid of it.

woeful powerbook screen

Doing some sleuthing, I found some excellent sites with detailed instructions on disassembly and part swapping for everything from the display to the DC board, which makes mucking about inside the guts that much easier. (I’ve had my old Pismo down to the motherboard without directions before, and it was a dicey affair, but I did it.)

I’m assuming I’ll at least need to replace the video cable, and while I’ve got the case cracked I want to swap out the DC board to repair the damage done by the previous owner. Because the display hinge has some play in it (and I’d guess this is the root of the video problem) and because I already have to pull the display off to get to the DC board, I might as well see if I can replace the clutch hinges on both sides.

DC board, #922-6089 $69 (NOS, 30 day warranty) $99 (used, 6 month warranty)
Clutch hinges, #922-6021, 922-6022 $39 (NOS, 30 day warranty) $29 (used, 6 month warranty)
Video cable, #922-6016 $39 (NOS, 30 day warranty) $49 (used, 6 month warranty).
Case Screws $29 (used, 6 month warranty)

I figure about $200 plus an afternoon of surgery should get us a production/backup laptop in fighting shape and ready for action.

Meanwhile, my $40 Powerbook 1400 is still being flaky when it comes to wireless connectivity. I can get a couple of minutes of pure signal (or hours, on occasion) but then the connection will drop and I’m offline. Restarting, reseating the wireless card, and cursing have no effect. I even pulled an identical wireless card from my spare Base Station and tried that, but had no luck with a constant signal.

Update 4/21: I cracked the G4 case last night, and came away with mixed results. The case itself is full of dust and grit—it’s a miracle the thing hasn’t shorted out already, honestly. There are more than a few case screws missing, and the hard drive is a Samsung notebook drive, not the Apple original, confirming my suspicion that someone’s been in here before. As much as I don’t want to pull the rest of it apart, I’m going to order the DC board and replace that before I put the whole thing back together.

I cracked the upper bezel this morning, and it looks like the clutch assemblies are in fine shape, but the screws that held them to the display frame were exceptionally loose. I think I’m going to reattach the display to the case and see if the display flicker problem is gone, but I’ll still buy the monitor cable just in case.

a previous installment of Bill’s laptop barn

Date posted: April 19, 2007 | Filed under geek | Comments Off on Bill’s Laptop Barn, Part Two

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