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PowerBook 165c preventative maintenance

mitchW

Well-known member
Hey,
I am wondering what should I do in terms of preventative maintenance on a PowerBook 165c?
I heard that screen should be recapped. I had it done on few before - like 160 and 140, but that ones were clearly defective (contrast all over the place, etc.). And caps were leaking all over the PCB.
But 165c is newer and the image stays completely perfect in terms of contrast even after an hour of usage.

So, recap or no recap?

Also, the original charger is a M5652Z (APS-46E). It is working great and outputting stable 7.8V (with no load). Also, recap or not to recap?
Again, the chargers for my 140, 160 and 170 all stopped working and all needed recapping. But this was obvious as the voltage wasn't stable and would sometimes just cut out. But those are all APS-20E.

The laptop and charger are in perfect condition, so I prefer not to mess with it for now :)

What are your thoughts? Thanks!
 

avadondragon

Well-known member
If everything is working I'd probably not mess with it personally. That being said there is the potential for cap goo to damage the LCD in worse and unrepairable ways so it might be prudent to do when you feel up to it. I wouldn't mess with the adapter till it stops working since I haven't heard of those getting permanently damaged from leaky caps. Plus if it comes down to it the innards of the power adapter can be swapped out.
 

3lectr1cPPC

Well-known member
Display: Uses through-hole caps, not surface mount. Probably out of spec at this point but unlikely to leak. No reason not to recap it though.
Charger: Absolutely recap. These caps are awful. Will fail...
Hinges: Will probably need repair as the plastic standoffs will break as you use them. If they're fine now, then use them. When they break, you can clip and sand away the rest and then replace them with a new 3d printed part.
 

3lectr1cPPC

Well-known member
Yep, it’s only a matter of time. They aren’t as bad as the surface mount caps (some THT caps are) but give them enough time and they will. They’re likely also out of spec.
 

joshc

Well-known member
Also, the original charger is a M5652Z (APS-46E). It is working great and outputting stable 7.8V (with no load). Also, recap or not to recap?
A third party/generic adapter with a voltage switch and interchangeable connector/tip is the way to go for these instead of using the old power supply, IMO. Saves messing about with recapping. I use one to power my Newton 2000, and will be using it with my 165c when I get it.

Something like this https://www.amazon.co.uk/Universal-Dalugo-Switching-Household-Electronics-Black/dp/B09TRL3XV9 (but obviously matching the spec of the original).
 

Cedsrepairs

Well-known member
Speaking of the charger ; does anyone have a method to open them ? The big gray bricks ones I mean

I agree with the above comment about always using modern alternatives, but I have a non working original "brick" and i'd like to fix it, but I don't see how to open it without breaking it (or dremeling it :) )
 

avadondragon

Well-known member
A third party/generic adapter with a voltage switch and interchangeable connector/tip is the way to go for these instead of using the old power supply, IMO. Saves messing about with recapping. I use one to power my Newton 2000, and will be using it with my 165c when I get it.
If I do any more of these Powerbook supplies in the future I'm going to swap the insides with a modern equivalent rather than recap them. Planning to try out this slightly more powerful 7.5V 4A supply from ebay.

Great to see people recommending the two pencils in a vice method. 😁
 

mitchW

Well-known member
If I do any more of these Powerbook supplies in the future I'm going to swap the insides with a modern equivalent rather than recap them. Planning to try out this slightly more powerful 7.5V 4A supply from ebay.

Great to see people recommending the two pencils in a vice method. 😁
Why gut an old Sony or Delta made unit that was made up to a very high standard and put inside junk from China? I am 100% positive that Chinese one would have worse ripple and electrical noise, and it could even burn a house down. For that price, it is definitely going to be a dodgy or even downright dangerous device. If you want proof that those chargers are most likely bad, check the youtuber DiodeGoneWild, he dissects cheap Chinese chargers. I have few 7.5V 3A chargers from eBay that kinda work with PB 1xx series, but they start to squeal when under load.

On the other hand, properly recapped power supply will function like on the day 1, and will continue to work for 25-35 years from now. And you preserve the originality.

And recapping really isn't hard.
 

mitchW

Well-known member
Anyways, thanks for all the answers. Yes I know how to open the charger without damaging it (vise method), but sometimes the case might break at the top lip. I did 4 or 5 chargers like that, and 2 of them there was bit more damage than anticipated, but still nothing serious.

For the display, I think those caps are newer type that don't leak. But of course they will go bad over 30+ years. I even had to change them on my PB 190 and that one is from 1996. But on that one they weren't leaking, and there was no fishy smell when desoldering. They were just plain dried out. And symptoms were contrast all over the place (changing on its own).

I'll see. I will leave the LCD alone for now, but might crack open the charger.
 

avadondragon

Well-known member
Why gut an old Sony or Delta made unit that was made up to a very high standard and put inside junk from China? I am 100% positive that Chinese one would have worse ripple and electrical noise, and it could even burn a house down. For that price, it is definitely going to be a dodgy or even downright dangerous device. If you want proof that those chargers are most likely bad, check the youtuber DiodeGoneWild, he dissects cheap Chinese chargers. I have few 7.5V 3A chargers from eBay that kinda work with PB 1xx series, but they start to squeal when under load.

On the other hand, properly recapped power supply will function like on the day 1, and will continue to work for 25-35 years from now. And you preserve the originality.

And recapping really isn't hard.

Kinda expected a hostile response to that but was still curious what would be said. I've never actually done it that way but out of the many power supplies I've recapped there is one that couldn't be saved so I planned on doing a transplant one day. Now I'm interested to hook up a recapped original and a cheap Chinese transplant to my scope and see what they look like under load.
 

mitchW

Well-known member
Just saying. If the Chinese ones would have been equally good, then I would say to just go for it. But believe me what crap are they putting into. No fuses, transformers without protective tape between the layers, no safety rated caps, bad solder joints, etc.

Of course, if yours cannot be saved, then this is different thing. But still, I would probably recap the new Chinese charger with caps from reputable source or even increase the capacitance on some. And add a fuse if it doesn't have one :D
 

joshc

Well-known member
Why gut an old Sony or Delta made unit that was made up to a very high standard and put inside junk from China? I am 100% positive that Chinese one would have worse ripple and electrical noise, and it could even burn a house down.
Well, I've had a fair few Apple PSUs (Delta, etc) blow up on me (literally) - my 8200 did it, my 7600 (iirc) did it, and I've had dead PSUs in a lot of other machines (IIvx, 6400, to name a few). The Quadra 950 was also a Delta PSU and those are known for being troublesome, mine didn't work. Obviously all of these are very old now, so I am sure with proper repair/maintenance they would not blow up, but my point is that there's no hard rule here - Mac power supplies were, for the most part, marginal even when new.

Also, what does 'junk from China' mean? Most electronics are assembled in China... there are good quality items and bad quality items manufactured there, just the same as there are good quality items and bad quality items assembled in the US, or anywhere else. The country of manufacture is largely irrelevant - the specification/design of the power supply in question is more relevant, and there are definitely good third party ones available.

The third party one on Amazon that I linked to has the safety features you'd expected of a modern power supply, overvoltage, overcurrent, short-circuit, and overheating protection which is probably more than the original had.

Recapping a power supply might be easy for you, but not everyone is comfortable working on power supplies and doing so can be dangerous.
 

mitchW

Well-known member
'junk from China' means junk from China. Something that is really poorly made and not up to any standards / regulations. Of course you can have something that is U.S. made considered as junk, and something made in China that is considered top notch. I had good experience with Mean Well PSUs and those are also from China.

But those no-name chargers are usually really crappy. If they are selling them for $10, then you can be sure that it costs $2-3 to make them, or even less. Of course they will leave out anything that isn't needed.

For example, I disassembled few knock-off MagSafe chargers for MacBooks. Some of them even had some metal (like nuts) glued into it to make it heavier. I even had one brand new almost catch fire. It was heating up and arcing internally due to broken solder.

Of course, some PSUs for early 1990s Macs really weren't good. They also blew on me (one Delta, one MagneTek, both from 8100s), and I tried to repair those, but they are just overly complicated. If someone would have given me a schematics, then there would be more chance of getting it repaired. But caps were fine on Delta unit, MagnaTek is another story - that one is considered almost junk.

Recapping a PowerBook PSU is actually not that hard. But of course, if you don't have experience and knowledge, it is sure hard to do it, even opening it is tedious. But then again, recapping a capacitor damaged SE/30 mainboard or Mac II mainboard is much harder and more involved IMHO.
 

AndyO

Well-known member
First thought is that since a large proportion of all the electronics we all buy these days originates with Chinese manufacturers, clearly being from China doesn't mean the product is inferior or even hazardous. Suggesting otherwise seems a bit 20th century in this day and age.

Secondly, there are far more people on this planet who can't recap a power supply than those who can. One might even conclude that of those who can't, many who might still try could well end up with a product far more likely to be dangerous.

I do appreciate that some can and do recap old PSUs, and that's great. I wish I could. But absent the skills, I use what I believe to be Chinese replacements, and have had no problems at all.
 
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