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Care and Feeding of a Pismo

kitsunesoba

Well-known member
So if all goes as planned, a 500Mhz Pismo should be showing up on my doorstep sometime within the next week or two.

We'll see how it turns out when it gets here, but from the photos it looks like it's in decent cosmetic shape. Seller had already upgraded its RAM and storage and advertised it as fully functional, with the only real kink being the screen taking a bit to warm up and the battery being totally dead.

Is there anything I should be on the lookout for? Based on what I've seen it doesn't seem like its PRAM battery is a bomb, and I haven't seen too many mentions of bad caps either. Seems the model has an inclination towards some hinge issues?

This will be by a good measure the oldest Mac portable I've owned, and the first that boots Classic Mac OS, so it should be interesting. Previous oldest was an OS X-locked iBook G4.
 
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Byrd

Well-known member
They're very solid machines, if well cared for by past owners - caps are not an issue, hinges good if not dropped, display can be replaced or new CCFL backlighting if dim. The PRAM batteries are always dead - that's if you have any boot issues, lift up the keyboard and disconnect it.
 

Franklinstein

Well-known member
Apple's Power Manager system is kind of weird in that it won't allow the PRAM battery to charge until the main battery reports a full charge (regardless of whether its full charge is 2 hours or 2 minutes). So, no or a bad main battery = no PRAM battery charge regardless of whether the battery is still good or not. However a dead PRAM battery renders most NewWorld PowerBooks dead - they just don't boot. Disconnecting the PRAM battery should get it back to booting though because, as with many other Macs, bad PRAM batteries will keep them from booting properly but missing ones don't adversely affect them.

Pismos were generally solid but they had several of the same problems of the Lombard, namely the keyboards could occasionally have issues (mostly cosmetic but occasionally a row of keys stops responding), the case sometimes cracks near the trackpad clicker, and the screen has backlight issues as they age (mostly this is Samsung's fault). Also if you don't keep something soft between the keyboard and the screen when closed, the keyboard will leave marks on the screen. It can get pretty severe on these.
 

kitsunesoba

Well-known member
Great info, thanks. Still have a day or two before it arrives but I'll definitely be looking at these things.

A cursory search seems to reveal that for the screen panel there's a few possible replacements from different companies. I wonder if any of those are markedly better than the rest and if it would make sense to fix an ailing backlight with a CCFL-to-LED conversion kit instead.

A working battery would be nice but the prices on eBay are kinda nuts, even for "untested" units that are total gambles. Is there anybody selling NOS batteries or battery rebuild services? I can solder (have put together a few keyboards) but I am not confident enough in my skills to be working on lithium-ion batteries.
 

davidg5678

Well-known member
if it would make sense to fix an ailing backlight with a CCFL-to-LED conversion kit instead.
Have you seen this thread? https://68kmla.org/bb/index.php?threads/upgrading-ibook-clamshell-display.38727/

It covers replacing the CCFL Backlight in an iBook Clamshell with an LED strip. Internally, I would expect the Pismo LCD to be quite similar to the Clamshell LCD, so I think that most of the same techniques would apply. I think the LED mod looks a bit brighter than the CCFL did when it was newer (although there are some minor imperfections regarding screen dimming, which are detailed in the thread above.)
 

ktkm

Well-known member
Congratulation! All the boards inside are pretty easily swappable, for instance, I had the soundboard replaced in mine a couple of weeks ago.
A working battery would be nice but the prices on eBay are kinda nuts, even for "untested" units that are total gambles. Is there anybody selling NOS batteries or battery rebuild services? I can solder (have put together a few keyboards) but I am not confident enough in my skills to be working on lithium-ion batteries.
The tiny space inside the battery makes soldering cumbersome and dangerous, it is better to use a spot-welder. I went to an electric-bicycle-battery-repair-shop to have the cells replaced in one of my batteries. However, the battery won’t take a charge until I figure out how to calibrate it. If anyone has figured it out I would love to hear it!
 

kitsunesoba

Well-known member
Well I've had it for a few days and had a chance to play with it, and it's pretty much as described. Case is in reasonable shape for a 20+ year old machine (Pismo cases seem to get scuffed up pretty badly) and back flap is present. Definitely used but doesn't look heavily worn. Only physical issue is a crack in the plastic of the back top lid near the latch. I'll see if I can post photos later.

It could use a bit of cleaning though. What do you guys recommend for older plastics? Just a damp cloth and some elbowgrease?

Screen is reasonably bright but definitely takes a few minutes to reach full brightness. No significant discoloration I can see.

I forgot how snappy OS 9 is when running natively on bare metal. Its responsiveness on a humble 500Mhz G3 with an SSD blows Windows 10/11 or Linux w/modern DE running on a Ryzen 5950X out of the water. It runs Tiger pretty respectably too.

I have, thanks! Will definitely pull that thread up if I decide to go the backlight swap route.

The tiny space inside the battery makes soldering cumbersome and dangerous, it is better to use a spot-welder. I went to an electric-bicycle-battery-repair-shop to have the cells replaced in one of my batteries. However, the battery won’t take a charge until I figure out how to calibrate it. If anyone has figured it out I would love to hear it!
I definitely am not comfortable doing spot welding lol. Interesting that the bike battery repair shop did it for you, I wouldn't have thought of that but it makes perfect sense.
 

Skate323k137

Well-known member
I love my pismo, welcome to the club!

I got around to putting an mSATA SSD in mine, it was not very difficult, and works amazingly. There's a good thread on here about it if you haven't found it already.
 
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