I’m not a glutton for punishment. I just like to do things myself. Including PowerBook repairs. What’s the punishment for the Do-It-Yourselfer? Worry. Anxiety. Sweat. Fear.
And with persistence, a happy ending to a scary moment. Here’s what to do when your PowerBook bites the dust.
Actually, my PowerBook didn’t bite the dust. The hard drive just stopped making noise. Then it stopped. Here’s what happened.
I bought one of the original aluminum PowerBooks about three years ago. It was the 1gHz model with a 60 gigabyte hard drive. I added 512 megabytes more RAM and bought an 80-gigabyte external Firelite drive from SmartDisk.
If you haven’t tried a Mac PowerBook you’re in for a treat. If you have one already, then you know what I mean. The PowerBook is what a laptop should be. Or, “is” if you are blessed by divine intervention and are an owner.
Over the past three years some things in Mac computing life have changed. You can now get 60 gigabyte iPods. Suddenly, with iPhoto and iTunes and iTMS and digital cameras, that original Toshiba 60 gigabyte hard drive, which seemed so huge barely 36 months ago, was now oh so small.
My desktop Mac needed at least 120 gigabytes of storage and I was convinced my PowerBook needed it too.
I read about the new Seagate 120 gig laptop drive a few months ago so I decided to wait it out before replacing the PowerBook’s original drive. Last week, the original became a has-been. Two days of noise and slow awakening from sleep (normally near instant in a PowerBook) caused me to suspect the worst.
My fears were not in vain. Early this past week my PowerBook’s hard drive died. Suddenly, though not unexpectedly. Fortunately, I’d backed everything up to the 80 gig Firelite, but clearly I needed a new hard drive. No, the S.M.A.R.T status never changed until there was no more status.
PowerBookResQ to the rescue. I just happened across one of their banner ads while looking for replacement hard drives. For about $70 over the cost of the replacement hard drive itself, PowerBookResQ would pick up my laptop, fix it, send it back.
“When putting in the remaining two screws to hold the keyboard assembly to the frame, I lost another screw. It fell into the laptop just like the other one and I couldn’t find it.”While that was tempting, I’m still a Do-It-Yourselfer™ at heart. I called and ordered the 120 gigabyte Seagate drive. Overnight shipping via DHL was $6.00. What? Only $6.00?
That’s what you get when doing business with those wonderful folks in the Midwest. Courtesy. Professionalism. In stock products. A friendly smile (on the phone). And a new PowerBook hard drive the very next day.
You’re probably asking, “Why didn’t you let PowerBookResQ do the job?” In retrospect that would have been a more pleasant alternative. I’m a card carrying member of the Glutton-For-Punishment Club™ and was behind in my dues.
Those ResQ folks have been around awhile. They do PowerMacs, they do PowerBooks, they do iPods. They’re specialists. I’m a guy with a Philips head screwdriver, a set of Torx wrenches, and an attitude.
Besides, I found This Link on About.com and figured I could do it myself. It looked easy. Only 7 steps. Step 1 was ‘start here.’ Step 7 was, ‘you’re done.’ How hard could it be?
A few missing screws, a crumpled ribbon cable, an extra part, and more missing screws later, well, for the rest of the adventure, click on to PAGE 2. Feel my pain.
Continued from Page 1…
The instructions I found made it look easy. Remove screws, remove memory, remove keyboard/keypad frame, remove hard drive brackets, remove hard drive, replace hard drive, repeat process, but in reverse.
What could be simplier than that? And so I began…
Taking all those screws out was easy enough until I got down to removing the screws that hold the keyboard plate to the body, near the lid latch. Three screws are there and they’re very small. One dropped inside the laptop and I could NOT find it. No rattle. No noise. Nothing. Maybe it hit the floor. Maybe.
I got everything apart and removed the original Toshiba hard drive, now dead. The PowerBook uses two brackets to hold the hard drive in place. Instead of the standard four screws to hold the hard drive to the bracket, the Toshiba drive uses four metal ‘nubs’ which fit into the brackets.
The Seagate hard drive I bought from PowerBookResQ did NOT come with extra screws. Screw holes, yes. Screws, no. How do you get the hard drive into the brackets without screws? I was screwed.
Fortunately, I also belong to the ‘Don’t Throw Anything Away Club™.’ My father bought me a lifetime membership that can be handed down to first born sons.
Rummaging through my ‘special’ box, I found screws left over from previous hard drive installations and they fit perfectly. I had to attach the bracket to the hard drive first, then put in the screws, then attach the bracket and hard drive to the Mac using the T8 Torx wrench.
The T8 Torx wrench is essential. A must. Not just for the hard drive, but other places, too.
OK, so far, so good. The hard drive was in. Then I followed the installation instructions, in reverse. You know; backwards, and began to put everything back together again. Everything went fine. Almost.
When putting in the remaining two screws to hold the keyboard assembly to the frame, I lost another screw. It fell into the laptop just like the other one and I couldn’t find it. I slowly shook the laptop while listening for a rattle. No rattle. One screw left.
Worse, the keyboard/keypad section wouldn’t seat properly. So, I pulled everything apart again and found that I’d forgotten to reconnect the ribbon cable that connects the keyboard. Worse, I’d crumpled up the ribbon cable while putting the keyboard back in the laptop’s frame. Uh oh.
Using a little more care this time, I managed to get the keyboard ribbon in place, and get all the other screws (minus the two I’d already lost who-knows-where inside the laptop) into place. While the keyboard/keypad assembly fit fine this time, the lid would not unlock from the frame when I tested it.
There’s probably a limit on how many times you can take apart a laptop before you get it all back together again. My limit had already been reached. Still…
“However, the screw would NOT come out. It didn’t actually ‘screw’ in. It more or less sat there. I figured a little super glue would take care of the problem and my figuring was sufficient.”I took it all apart again to figure out what was wrong with the lid latch. With all the pieces apart, it worked fine. Put back together, the latch would not work. I checke three or four times.
Clearly, my stubborness at doing the same thing, the same way, many times over, notwithstanding, something was blocking the latch.
Closer inspection revealed the location of the two lost screws. They’d fallen against the magnet in the latch. Mister I-Can_Repair-Anything dodged a bullet. I removed the scews and put them where they belonged. Everything went back together perfectly except for the very last screw in the aluminum frame.
I was in a hurry by then and placed the final screw in the DVI screw hole, instead of the frame screw hole. They’re side by side. Anyone could have made that mistake. Even an experienced repair technician.
That’s my reasonable story and I’m sticking to it.
Try as I might, the screw in the wrong hole would NOT come out. It didn’t actually ‘screw’ in. It more or less just sat there in the hole, intimidating me, taunting me. I figured a little super glue and a pin would take care of the problem, and my figuring was sufficient.
At that, the PowerBook was back together again and sporting a new, though unformatted, unpartitioned Seagate 120 gig hard drive. I started up the laptop and heard the familiar chime. Initial bootup was on the external backup hard drive.
I opened Disk Utility, found the 111 gigabytes remaining of the 120 gigabyte Seagate hard drive, formatted it, and installed OS X Tiger.
Everything worked great. No scratches. No dings. No missing screws. No odd noises. My laptop is back and has twice the storage.
Life is good when you’re a PowerBook owner. But next time…
What about you? Do you handle the repairs yourself or send out for expert help? Click Here for what others have to say in Bambi and Tera’s Mac360 Community Forums…