Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Powerbook Hard Drive Swap

Despite what this asshole says, it is entirely possible to pull a laptop off of a table by tripping on the cord. N found this out the hard way a while back when one of her dogs tripped on the power cord. The Powerbook was pulled to the ground and received a sizeable dent in the corner. If only she'd had a MagSafe.


It was a pretty good shock to the Powerbooks innards as you might expect. Several weeks after the incident, the hard drive started acting up. Serious crunching sounds as well as never ending Spinning Beach Balls of Death. I sent the Powerbook to Apple hoping to have it covered under the Apple Care that I bought. I pretty much figured they would trace the hard drive failure to the massive dent in the case and not want to cover it as accidental damage not covered under the extended warranty. Sure enough, that's what happened. The would however fix it for a mere four hundred and thirty dollars. No thanks, I'll do it myself.

N was left with essentially a bricked Powerbook with no way to replace it. (She's waiting on the inevitable announcement of a widescreen iBook aka MacBook or a twelve inch MacBook Pro.) Looking for hard drive replacement guides for the 12 inch 867 Powerbook, I found this one. It looked like something I could accomplish.

I looked into getting a replacement Hitatchi Travelstar to replace the broken hard drive. The campus computer store couldn't order me the Hitatchi for some reason so I settled for a 60 GB Western Digital Scorpio drive. Any 2.5 inch ATA drive that is less than 9.5 mm or .37 inches tall will work. Formatting takes place as you install the OS so most drives will be Mac compatible.

The smallest phillips screw driver that I could find was still way too big for the tiny case screws and internal screws of the Powerbook. I shopped around until I found a set that would work at Radio Shack. The included 1.4 mm screw driver in this set worked perfect for most screws. Some on the hard drive itself were a bit bigger and required a larger screw driver but this set worked perfectly and was fairly cheap.

Note: The pictures further down are pretty graphic Powerbook pr0n. Some are downright disturbing. Marit, you might want to shield your eyes.

The article that I used as a guide in replacing N's hard drive in her Powerbook G4 867 mhz rev A did a pretty good job in outlining the process. There were a few things that I found that he skipped and a few tips that I wanted to point out. This description of the process should be viewed as a supplement to Stefan Horns article entitled PowerBook G4 12in Hard Drive Swap.

Difficulty: This really was a pretty difficult repair and should only be attempted by those who have extensive computer repair experience. I was a bit nervous going in but I have done a lot of computer work and understand the innards of computers and how to not damage them. This will void your Apple warranty. It will void your Apple Care extended warranty.

One tip before we get started. You will be dealing with a large number of very small screws. I find it helps me keep organized if I label a sheet of paper with the location of each screw or set of screws as I remove them. For the logic board screws, I drew a schematic with their relative locations. Do it, it helps and will save you lots of trouble later.

Start by removing the battery. Then remove the four screws on each corner of the memory access plate on the bottom of the Powerbook. Remove the RAM Chip by unclipping the silver clips on each side. It will pop up then you can pull it out easily.

On one side of the RAM chip, you will see a fairly large black screw. Unscrew it and set it aside, labeling it on a sheet of paper. Next up are the three screws on the wall of the battery bay. These are tiny screws, so make sure not to lose them.

Next, remove the F1, F2, F11, and F12 keys by gently prying them up and unclipping them from the board with a small flat screw driver. One side hooks on a clip while the other side has two small knobs that clip into holders. Underneath these keys you will find two more small screws.
The screw under N's F11 key was hidden by a sticker, but it is there. Next, remove the Hex screws found at the top left and right corner of the Powerbooks casing. Using the screw driver, remove the four screws on the rear of the case and the two on each side. The small screws from one side are longer than the other, make a note of their position.

Once you have removed all of the case screws described above, you are ready to remove the keyboard. It flips forward towards you. Be careful because there is a ribbon connected to a pin connector on the logic board. A piece of foil covers the connection. Carefully remove the foil and set it aside. I used the small screw driver to help me pry the connector off the pins.

Once you have the keyboard removed, set it aside

You will notice two more pieces of foil tape that live just under the keyboard Carefully remove these and set them aside. Underneath you will see three more ribbon cables/wires. Pull them out carefully. If you mess this part up, you've bricked your Powerbook or created a costly repair. These steps are a bit like playing Operation. The connectors and pins are set pretty deep and you need a decent pair of needlenose pliers to get to them. Remember as you try to remove these, don't rock back and forth too much and pull by the connector, not the wires/ribbons.

Now you are ready to remove the only obstruction between you and the real guts of the machine, the aluminum plate. There are roughly ten screws which vary in length. Make sure you label which is which.

After removing them, you are ready to pull the plate off. There are plastic clips that keep it in place all around the edges of the machine. I undid them by sliding my fingernail in between the plastic trim and the metal case all the way around. Be careful, it would be easy to break these clips. Now the metal plate is free. Set it aside.

Now, unplug the ribbon cable connecting the hard drive to the logic board. I had a bit of trouble but just work it and rock it a bit. It will slowly dislodge. Now you can remove the two screws labeled here and free the defective/old hard drive from it's home.

Remove the rubber bumpers and the metal bracket along with the ribbon cable from your old hard drive and replace them all on the new hard drive.

Install the hard drive in the reverse way of that which you removed it. The hard part is over and now all you have to do is reassemble the Powerbook in the reverse order from how you disassembled it. Easy!

When you get the Powerbook reassembled you are ready for the moment of truth. Turn it on to find out if you have been successful. I immediately installed 10.4 Tiger. Initially the computer won't recognize the new drive but in the installer the menu bar up top is active and you can get to disk utilities to format the drive in the Mac journaled file system. Then install Tiger or whatever cat you may be working with at this point and enjoy your newly repaired/upgraded Powerbook.

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For the Googlebot: Powerbook G4 hard drive swap 12 inch 867 mhz rev A

2 Comments:

Blogger Snowman said...

Cool post, liked the easy part of putting the damn thing back together... Did it the hard way myself a couple of months back with my Toshiba, replaced my RAM to a bigger one. In the process I put all the tiny tiny screws in one box (not so cleaver) becuse I found that they all looked the same. May I say they were not... Had hell putting the damn thing together.

But the upgrade worked at the end.

4:46 AM  
Blogger Don Xavier said...

Hello, I came by your blog as I was looking for a tutorial to do the same process on google.

The question I have is if I installed a new hard drive with OSX Tiger previously installed on it, would its new home be able to recognize the drive, and therefore not have to reformat it? I would hate to lose all of that information because I have many things installed and tweaked within it that I do not wish to have to go through the time of reconfiguring again... I would hate to go through this whole process and realize that all of that information would be lost. Both hard drives have come stock with the 12" powerbooks themselves, so I wouldnt think there would be a problem, but you seem much more knowlegable than I so I figured I'd take the safe route and ask prior to this operation.

Thanks so much.

1:37 PM  

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