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Goofy Line on PowerBook 180c Display

ian1035nr

Active member
I don't know if what I have can be called "confidence", I just wing it and pray it works out. That's how I've been fixing things for decades and somehow it hasn't bit me in the rear; yet.

These old machines are honestly a good starting point. Plastics are fragile, but component density is much lower. The LCD controller circuit is mounted beside the screen, whereas modern units have the board stuck to the back. The isolation provided by the side-mounted board makes it a lot easier to keep heat away from the panel and eliminates the risk of applying too much pressure to the back of the screen.

But, like Byrd said, it really depends on what you want out of a vintage Mac. Classic Macintosh computers aren't always the most stable things, even when fully restored, so plenty of people would rather just keep the machines as a display piece since they have little practical use.

I just feel bad for these old computers and want to bring them back to a fully operational status and use them as originally intended. Especially ones like the 180c that weren't especially well received in their day. Once the screen is repaired I'll be rebuilding another 1xx series battery pack so I can watch the colour LCD chew threw the battery in under an hour and get that genuine 1993 Apple experience

 

ian1035nr

Active member
So I things with the 180C have been going...... bad.

I recapped the original LCD and the distortion is gone, but now a row of pixels on the top of the panel is dead. I think my new soldering iron was a big part of the problem. The digital temperature setting was extremely erratic and seemed to fluctuate between "Not hot enough to melt and snow man in July" and "Hot enough to somehow melt the sun" at random. Needless to say that thing got sent back.

It probably kicked up to a high temp and damaged the ribbon cables to run from the PCB to the panel itself.

I found a apparently NOS panel from Visual Information Services Ltd. and ordered it a couple weeks ago. I expected it to probably have dying capacitors, new or not it's still 17 years old, but I could always find a professional with steady hands and proper equipment to recap it.

The new panel came in yesterday, I hooked it up to see what kind of shape it's in annnddddd...... It's worse. It's so much worse. The artifacting/distortion that my original screen exhibited is there, so clearly the caps are bad

But the way they stored it allowed electrolyte to leak into the ribbon cables and mess up the contacts, leading to several lines of dead pixels.

I reached out to VIS and they said they're willing to offer me a €20 refund on a €120 order. Because, you know, after my initial disappointment I was really looking forward to having to argue with them to get a full refund on a faulty product. At least I paid via PayPal, so i have someone to cry to if they're unwilling to cooperate

 

Byrd

Well-known member
It probably kicked up to a high temp and damaged the ribbon cables to run from the PCB to the panel itself.
Don't feel bad, I did the same to a PB100 LCD the other day, during a recap.  Realised that during the soldering process I heated up something too close to the LCD and took out a large black chunk of pixels on one side.  Pressing on the contacts around this site made the lines partially disappear, but it was too far gone.

Am learning more about LCDs with each disassembly though.  Can't help thinking a cheap sheet of polariser film can be sourced from a new-ish model LCD TV; the Phillips 4K TV I took apart recently (to repair and fixed to my delight) had a loose polariser film which could be repurposed, possibly.

 

techknight

Well-known member
I reached out to VIS and they said they're willing to offer me a €20 refund on a €120 order. Because, you know, after my initial disappointment I was really looking forward to having to argue with them to get a full refund on a faulty product. At least I paid via PayPal, so i have someone to cry to if they're unwilling to cooperate


I know exactly what youre going through, we all make mistakes, Part of life I suppose. 

Anyways. DO NOT let the seller take advantage of you! a 20 Euro refund is not enough. he should give you a full refund, he sold you a defective product and im sure it was advertised not as such. Dispute it with paypal. 

 

cheesestraws

Well-known member
I reached out to VIS and they said they're willing to offer me a €20 refund on a €120 order. Because, you know, after my initial disappointment I was really looking forward to having to argue with them to get a full refund on a faulty product. At least I paid via PayPal, so i have someone to cry to if they're unwilling to cooperate
Hmmm, that's good to know.  Thanks.  I've had good luck with VIS for logic boards but sounds like they're not careful storing other things...

 

stormy

Well-known member
I also had good luck with VIS - but that is some terrible service. If they don't want to give refunds for faulty products they should advertise as so. I checked their website and they do not have a refund policy for defective units, they only talk about 'ordering by mistake' and restocking fees.

But they do have this:

https://www.applemacparts.co.uk/index.php?route=account/return/insert

Which is probably what I would have used first before just simply e-mailing them. You can clearly state the item is faulty with lines on the screen.

 

ian1035nr

Active member
They agreed to a full refund, I just have to send the panel back, which is fair. Paypal will cover the return shipping costs, so in the end I’m just out a few minutes of my time. 
 

Their excuse was that they couldn’t test the panel because they didn’t have any PowerBooks on hand to try it in, which is sensible. Although if a part is untested, they really should describe it as such and not charge so much for it. 
 

I wouldn’t write them off completely, lots of people have had positive reviews. I just wouldn’t buy something from them that has a very high probability of being faulty, since they don’t have the means to test these old components 

 

Crutch

Well-known member
Slightly resurrecting here, but curious how everything ended up.  I just started playing around with a 180c I’ve had for a while but haven’t used much.  Works great except for these artifacts which tend to appear in horizontal streaks alongside any large white areas on the screen (moving around as windows/menus appear).  I think it looks similar to your issue (but mine looks worse based on your pics).  I assume this is likely to be fixable with a recap.

0640969C-2465-489D-8D67-433DBF35CC74.jpeg

 

ian1035nr

Active member
In the end, the project has been shelved for a while. My old car had some major structural failures and needed to be replaced, so that's been occupying my time and wallet.

I did get a partial refund from VIS for that defective screen. They wouldn't issue me a return shipping label, and local couriers wanted over $70 CAD to ship it back to them. So in the end, I got a refund for the cost of the LCD but didn't get a refund for the shipping. I get to keep the defective screen. But....... Honestly the only thing I can really use it for is to salvage out the backlight tubes

As things stand now, I'm still looking for another LCD and then I'll try to seek out someone with the right tools to recap it. In the meantime, I did snag a brand new rear lid that's never been used. I'm going to reinforce the hinge mounts and hope they hold up for a while.

As far as your screen goes, yes, that issue is likely caused by bad caps. Those horizontal streaks appeared on my LCD in exactly the same way & in the exact same scenarios; and went away after I recapped it. Had that crummy soldering iron I bought been a bit more stable with its temperatures, I likely wouldn't've had any further problems. 

But I digress, recap the screen properly and it'll look good as new. While you're at it, don't forget to recap the brightness control board. Mine had some leaky caps that made a horrendous, fishy smell every time the unit was turned on. And you absolutely don't want that electrolyte shorting out such a high-voltage part. Another member here had that happen on a 16x PowerBook and it completely fried an IC on the screen.

 

ian1035nr

Active member
Good news, everyone!

After sitting on the 180c for months after a failed screen recap, I had an epiphany:

Over a decade ago, my Nintendo Virtual Boy had rows of dead pixels which I fixed by tossing the display assembly into an oven for a bit before pressing down on the the ribbon cable.

If it was good enough for the Virtual Boy, I reasoned it might be good enough for the 180c’s screen. 
 

20 minutes at 200 degrees completely fixed the damage that had been done during my recap attempt. No dead pixels. Just pure, 256 colour bliss. 

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