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PowerBook 540c Finally Restored

ian1035nr

Well-known member
After working on and off (mostly off) for 10 years, I’ve finally gotten a PowerBook 540c that was bought off eBay completely refurbished to my liking and ready to go.

The unit came to me in pretty decent shape, but definitely needed some help. Lots of corrosion in the battery bays from leaked cells, and of course the batteries it came with were completely dead.

Some busted trim pieces and broken screw posts in the screen.

Pretty much the normal stuff one would expect from an old Blackbird.

The last thing I needed to do was find a way to get the clutch cover below the screen to stay in place, while still being removable in case I ever need to remove the screen.

I was using double-sided tape. But the only stuff thick enough to bridge the gap between the screen and the cover was just thick enough that the clutch cover would always protrude outward.

My solution was to grab a pair of small rare earth magnets from the local hardware store. These work great at keeping the clutch cover firmly in place, while still allowing it to be lifted and removed.

The machine hums along nicely now with a 1GB hard drive (a standard IDE hard drive mounted on Apple’s IDE to SCSI bridge card), 20 megs of RAM and Mac OS 7.6.

I took some pictures of it running untethered, and a “family photo” of it running alongside the Powerbook 170 I bought used in 2007 and dragged with me through high school and college.
 

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Byrd

Well-known member
Nice rebuild - those Apple IDE to SCSI adapters also run well with the 2.5" IDE to CF adapters; I've a 16GB CF card in mine which works a treat. Also interested in how you rebuilt the battery.
 

ian1035nr

Well-known member
Nice rebuild - those Apple IDE to SCSI adapters also run well with the 2.5" IDE to CF adapters; I've a 16GB CF card in mine which works a treat. Also interested in how you rebuilt the battery.
Do you happen to have the brands of the CF card and adapter you used? I tried the same trick using whatever Amazon had available, but it didn’t work.

The adapter and card ended up working just fine in an old IBM L40SX laptop, so they weren’t completely useless; they just wouldn’t play nice with the IDE to SCSI bridge
 

ian1035nr

Well-known member
I rebuilt the battery using a 9.6V Tenergy battery pack, some thin copper tape, low-temperature solder paste, aluminum foil from the kitchen and a couple pencils (preferably ones with flat sides).

To open the battery up I took the 2 pencils, placed them on both sides of the battery pack, chucked the whole thing into a vice and squeeze; that eventually popped the thing open.

After that I cut out the battery cells and washed all the parts in vinegar to get rid of the corrosion.

Next up I cut apart the cells from the old battery pack so I could salvage the thermal fuses and whatnot; and then I snipped apart the Tenergy battery pack so the cells could be reconnected in a way that mirrored the original battery pack. Taking pictures before hacking the original cells apart is probably wise. I did not take pictures. I am not wise.

Normally you’re supposed to spot weld batteries together but I don’t have that kind of equipment, so I have my own system: Use some thin copper tape to bridge the tabs of the cells, then use low-temperature solder paste and a really hot soldering iron to quickly bond the cell’s tabs to the copper tape’s surface.

Finally, the part of the plastic case that surrounds the battery contacts didn’t sit right, the disassembly process left it warped and the battery didn’t always make proper contact inside the PowerBook. To compensate I just folded some aluminum foil into thin strips and placed them into the terminal slots on the battery.

After everything is back together, the real fun begins

I needed 3 software tools to reset the EMM

First, use EMMpathy to wake the EMM up and get the battery charging.

After it’s charged up, use the Lund Battery Manager to repair any errors in the EMM’s memory

And finally, use Apple’s Intelligent Battery Reconditioning software to get everything back to defaults so the machine will reliably detect the battery. This might not be necessary for you, but the laptop would sometimes stop detecting the battery before I did this.

And that’s about the whole process as far as I remember
 
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Byrd

Well-known member
@ian1035nr thanks for posting up the 5x0 battery info - I'll do the same one day just as you've described, using a pre-packed RC battery is a much better idea than putting in multiple cells and wiring them up.
 

ian1035nr

Well-known member
Just realized I fudged the name on one of the pieces of software

It's not the Lund Battery Manager, it's Lind Intelligent Battery Utility System.

Remember, children: Don't try to mash out a forum post after you just woke up and are trying to get ready for work.

On that note, Lind needs some setup before it'll properly clear errors in the EMM, this is the page I followed to get everything operating properly: http://seth.mattinen.org/notes.php?id=1
 

CC_333

Well-known member
Lind had made a car charger for the PB500 series at one point, the Lind PB-5. Would be fun to have one and use it after all these years!
You know, I think I may have one of those! I don't think it's the Lind adapter specifically (Kensington?), but it's definitely similar.

I'm not even sure if it works; I'll have to drag out it and one of my numerous PB500s and give it a try.

EDIT: Or maybe it's for the 100 series? I have to look....

c
 
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