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sutekh

Basket Case PowerBook 180c

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Well, I officially need my head examined. I threw a low offer out on an untested "parts" PB 180c, and to my surprise it was accepted and arrived today in one piece. It's a wreck though. Its installed aftermarket NiCad has leaked and was fused in place. Plastic at the hinges is of course broken. It's filthy dirty, missing the ring around the trackball and the port cover, and didn't include a power transformer. I've wanted a 180c for years (had a 170 in college and lusted after them), but planned to hold out for a nice one. What am I doing with this basket case?

I was able to delicately pry the rotten battery out and get the case open, and to my relief, nearly all of the battery leakage is isolated the the battery compartment. I pulled every board out and both them and the chassis just to be sure. After a quick cap inspection, I decided to try feeding it 7.5.v from my bench power supply. Chimes of death :'( I had a spare daughter and memory board knocking around, so swapped those in and was this time greeted by the normal startup chime. Great! And a blank screen. Less great.

The floppy clicked, the HD started chattering. Something was happening, but LCD remained blank. Having been on the hunt for the right (i.e., not this one) 180c for a while, I'm all too aware that their LCD ribbon cables are a major weakness. Fearing the worst, I opened the screen and, sure enough. Cut completely in half right at the hinge. Damn. Guess I'm going to be splicing together a ribbon cable :O I've seen a few threads where others have tried this with varying degrees of success. Seems like the problems arise from using individual, unshielded conductors that end up picking up interference. I'm planning to sacrifice an 80-pin LVD SCSI cable owing to it's densely packed conductors. Wish me luck...


 

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Although every bit as tedious as I'd imagined, it's going pretty well thus far :) Thankfully the copper is plenty thick and the first half is done with each conductor metering clean with low-resistance. I ended up chopping apart two SCSI cables, the first having solid conductors where I'd definitely prefer stranded in this situation, but c'est la vie. I'll put a bit of resin over the junction, tape it up, and finish the other side tomorrow. Hope to have video output to show for it!

 

IMG_20200811_010454.jpg

Edited by sutekh

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Yikes!! Yea that definitely takes the patience of a saint. No way I could do something like that these days, id get frustrated too easily. 

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11 hours ago, techknight said:

Yikes!! Yea that definitely takes the patience of a saint. No way I could do something like that these days, id get frustrated too easily. 


Yeah, I had to call it for the night after doing the first half. Gotta space the misery out a bit!

While contemplating cable routing, I think I've decided to take a page from Duo's book. No doubt in response to the issues with PB 1xx, Apple routed the Duo's LCD cable around the hinge to create much less overall movement / flex (and therefore fatigue) of the ribbon. I'm a bit worried that where the red conductor rubs against the hinge could ultimately wear / short, but think I can prevent that by routing it carefully or perhaps padding it a bit. Last step is to solder the 2nd side in situ, which I'm not really looking forward to :/

 

IMG_20200811_093102.jpg

IMG_20200811_093905.jpg

Edited by sutekh

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9 hours ago, techknight said:

Is this the U-ATA style ribbon cable? the kind that has double the mount of wires, but skinny wires? that would be ideal. 

This is from a 68-pin UW SCSI cable, but the conductor pitch is the same as those 80-pin U-ATA cables. I used this vs. any of the U-ATAs I had in my box owing to this particular cable's flexibility (very finely stranded 30AWG wire) and because I have dozens of them laying about from my server building days :)

Edited by sutekh

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one thing i try whenever i get one of these junk 100 series powerbooks is use tape and tape the ribbon cable all around so it wont tear as easy 

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Nice...be careful plugging and unplugging the tab connector as they can  (eventually) displace especially after you solder to it. I tried some of this but not as clean as you are to this point, it semi worked but it was so tedious I haven't gotten back to it. Still kicking myself for not being more careful putting the hinge cover back on.

I will be curious to see how it works out as far as using the same gauge wire for power/grounding/signals as they are different sizes and separated in the original ribbon cabe.

Edited by OleLila

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9 hours ago, OleLila said:

I will be curious to see how it works out as far as using the same gauge wire for power/grounding/signals as they are different sizes and separated in the original ribbon cabe.

Thanks! Yours is one of the threads I reviewed and alluded to above. Thanks for posting and providing inspiration. It's hard to tell in my first image, but I added additional conductors for the two largest power / gnd traces on the left side. 3 and 2 respectively. I did not, however, double up the 3 wider RGB traces. Doing so, I worried, would have prevented my ribbon from routing behind the hinge or through the ferrite SMI suppression ring. I hope it doesn't matter, as at it's narrowest point, the conductors in the original ribbon are smaller and closer together than anything I'm recreating, but I'll know more after buttoning it up this afternoon and will report back...

The chronic crumbling plastic behind the hinge issue creates a perfect storm where an already dubious design is exposed to even more stress. My original ribbon was ripped in almost exactly the same location no doubt for the same reason.

Edited by sutekh

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Boom! Works like a champ. Clear and crisp with all colors reporting for duty.

 

IMG_20200813_021621.thumb.jpg.b202f8e54961b9ed4857c32122f4b38c.jpg

 

Here's the other half of the splice with a bit of the original end below it. After stripping away the insulation, fluxing, and tinning, I landed the conductors, then covered the solder pads with a thin coat of UV activated resin (if you don't have a Bondic pen, I can't recommend them enough!)

IMG_20200812_212417.thumb.jpg.d799e4535ec14dd2fd9b2ebfca851bbe.jpg 
 

And finally, here's the 2nd end of the ribbon installed.

IMG_20200813_021758.thumb.jpg.297fe523fa874e6883b9adc9d97e57bc.jpg

I guess now that the real show stopper is corrected, I have to set about sorting the rest of this thing. The installed 160M drive was DOA (clunk of death), so I installed a spare 500M with 7.6 on it. for testing Between that, the LCD cable, fried memory module, leaky battery, and busted hinges, I can't help wondering if I'm resurrecting someone's parts unit :)

Oh, and it's missing the trackball bezel. If someone happens to have a spare they'd part with reasonably, it'd sure beat paying the going rate for the whole assembly on eBay...

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Nice work - I admire your patience resoldering that ribbon cable - any further tips, what temp did you have your iron at to get the solder to take on the copper connectors?

 

The PowerBook 180c is such a nice machine - all that colour, speed and (chunky) portability in the day would have been amazing.  I assume Apple didn't sell too many owing to the initial cost of ownership; the venerable PowerBook 170 would have been the professional 'book of choice more in the day.

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Wait, I thought you couldn’t swap orange flex cables with normal ones? Does that mean one could theoretically repair M5126 Backlit Portable display cables this way?

 

Kudos BTW! At least it’ll be sturdier than the original. 

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On 8/10/2020 at 11:55 PM, sutekh said:

Well, I officially need my head examined. I threw a low offer out on an untested "parts" PB 180c, and to my surprise it was accepted and arrived today in one piece. It's a wreck though. Its installed aftermarket NiCad has leaked and was fused in place. Plastic at the hinges is of course broken. It's filthy dirty, missing the ring around the trackball and the port cover, and didn't include a power transformer. I've wanted a 180c for years (had a 170 in college and lusted after them), but planned to hold out for a nice one. What am I doing with this basket case?

As a child of the Seventies, only one TV-Intro came to mind: 'Gentlemen, we can rebuild him, we have the technology...'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CPJ-AbCsT8

 

Well done on your conservation effort. I am happy to see people combatting the natural disasters that come with old age. I have a spare LVD SCSI cable that I can contribute, if you are missing one.

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11 hours ago, sutekh said:

Boom! Works like a champ. Clear and crisp with all colors reporting for duty.

 

IMG_20200813_021621.thumb.jpg.b202f8e54961b9ed4857c32122f4b38c.jpg

 

Here's the other half of the splice with a bit of the original end below it. After stripping away the insulation, fluxing, and tinning, I landed the conductors, then covered the solder pads with a thin coat of UV activated resin (if you don't have a Bondic pen, I can't recommend them enough!)

IMG_20200812_212417.thumb.jpg.d799e4535ec14dd2fd9b2ebfca851bbe.jpg 
 

And finally, here's the 2nd end of the ribbon installed.

IMG_20200813_021758.thumb.jpg.297fe523fa874e6883b9adc9d97e57bc.jpg

I guess now that the real show stopper is corrected, I have to set about sorting the rest of this thing. The installed 160M drive was DOA (clunk of death), so I installed a spare 500M with 7.6 on it. for testing Between that, the LCD cable, fried memory module, leaky battery, and busted hinges, I can't help wondering if I'm resurrecting someone's parts unit :)

Oh, and it's missing the trackball bezel. If someone happens to have a spare they'd part with reasonably, it'd sure beat paying the going rate for the whole assembly on eBay...

i have 2 extra trackball assemblies if your interested 

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Yeah! Great job and good eyes....So there is hope...I would try the same except for the part about "be careful plugging and unplugging the tab connector as they (the tab contacts) can  (eventually) displace"........its pretty cramped in there but looking at taking the header off of the inverter board and soldering straight to the board.

Edited by OleLila

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14 hours ago, Byrd said:

Nice work - I admire your patience resoldering that ribbon cable - any further tips, what temp did you have your iron at to get the solder to take on the copper connectors?

 

Thanks! I did some testing on a sacrificial section of cable, and as OleLila mentioned, it'll delaminate if too hot for too long. I ran my iron cooler than I usually would for the Sn/Ag solder I was using at 350° C. After scraping off the insulation with a hobby knife, I pre-tinned the stripped conductors before landing them and used flux paste all in an effort to minimize how long the ribbon was hot.

 

12 hours ago, ArmorAlley said:

As a child of the Seventies, only one TV-Intro came to mind: 'Gentlemen, we can rebuild him, we have the technology...'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CPJ-AbCsT8

 

Well done on your conservation effort. I am happy to see people combatting the natural disasters that come with old age. I have a spare LVD SCSI cable that I can contribute, if you are missing one.

 

Haha! Technology, time, and patience. Thanks for the SCSI cable offer. I'd take you up, but I have a file box literally overflowing with SCSI cables :) I ended up scrapping the idea of an LVD, as they have twisted pairs, and just used a narrow-pitch 68-pin UW.

 

11 hours ago, Papichulo said:

i have 2 extra trackball assemblies if your interested 


Most definitely. I'll send you a PM. Thanks!
 

10 hours ago, OleLila said:

Yeah! Great job and good eyes....So there is hope...I would try the same except for the part about "be careful plugging and unplugging the tab connector as they (the tab contacts) can  (eventually) displace"........its pretty cramped in there but looking at taking the header off of the inverter board and soldering straight to the board.

 

That would definitely work. Had the cable repair not gone well, that was my plan B. Not sure which side of yours is now damaged, but on the PB side the connector is a through-hole part. Soldering to its pins would be much easier than messing around with the cable TBH.

Edited by sutekh

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The other thing here is the distances and bends in the cable., the right length to bend, flex and close the screen .....Do you have a picture of the back of the lcd w cable in place?

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I still have it apart pending today's delivery of my Mouser order for a re-cap, so here's a pic of the LCD with cable. Unfortunately I can't really measure the length with any accuracy without pulling it all apart, removing the hinge, and disconnecting the cable--not something I'm super anxious to subject it to, but hopefully this gives anyone attempting to recreate enough to go on. As mentioned above, I spun the cable around the hinge in an attempt at strain / fatigue relief. Also as a means of jogging the cable over since the original has a couple of 90deg bends built into it.

 

IMG_20200813_112743.jpg

 

Only thing I think I'd do differently is to stagger the contact points up and down a bit so your not trying to solder tiny little wires to tiny little pads right next to one another. Only on the LCD side though. I don't think there's room for that inside the chassis.

Edited by sutekh

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That's some really dedicated work, impressive commitment. I wonder if it is feasible to make a new flat flex cable using e.g. an Oshpark flex PCB service? Probably not cheap, and likely would take just as long to do all the measurements.

 

Any luck with the trackball bezel? I'm looking for some rollers for my 145, but I also don't want to buy the entire trackball assembly. Now I'm considering taking some measurements and following your lead to make my own ;)

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Well, all is not yet well I'm afraid. After buttoning it up post LCD recap, I noted two things:

  • ~1/3rd of the keyboard didn't function. Prior to this point, I hadn't done any typing whatsoever, so I imagine this was a pre-existing condition. I removed and inspected the keyboard, ribbons, etc., and noted nothing obvious. I found a few posts blaming similar behavior on the interconnect board and re-flowed it just in case to no avail. Starting to suspect the interconnect board's ribbon cable, on a hunch I booted up with the chassis split in half and the cable, which looks like it's been bent and reinstalled dozens of times, accessible for a bit of prodding. Sure enough, if I wiggled and poked the cable, portions of the keyboard intermittently came back to life. Okay, so some of it's solid conductors had apparently exceeded their flex quota. Using more spare cables (this time an 80-pin U-ATA), I rebuilt that guy, and the keyboard is happy :)

    IMG_20200815_195030.thumb.jpg.1bb6295b922029c58791569fad0c3375.jpg
     
  • Problem number 2 is intermittent and its culprit less readily apparent unfortunately. About 50% of the time (although that seems to be increasing to most of the time), the backlight turns off and stays off during the boot process. If I power down and reboot, I get a backlight, happy Mac, starting MacOS, and about the time extensions would start loading, it shuts off. I of course suspect that it's something related to when the brightness goes software controlled, but I've booted without extensions and from a 6.0.8 install disk with similar results. Seems nearly identical to the behavior outlined in this thread here:
     
    The final posts there seem to question the PS, but I'm using a combination of a 10A regulated bench supply and fully charged LiPos. Stable voltage and plenty of current, at least at the point of input, are not the problem. Unless anyone has any ideas, it's coming back apart and I'll have to get after the inverter and interconnect boards with the DMM / scope. Grr... I thought I was out of the woods!

Once it's fully up and running though, I'm super excited to build this guy a Li-Ion battery. Owing to it's ideal voltage (7.5v with a 2S Li-Ion providing 7.4v) and the fact that the batteries just have a pos / neg connector (no fancy serial check), this should be much easier than my currently stalled-while-I-mess-with-this-180c Duo Li-Ion project :)

Edited by sutekh

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On 8/15/2020 at 12:18 AM, ravuya said:

That's some really dedicated work, impressive commitment. I wonder if it is feasible to make a new flat flex cable using e.g. an Oshpark flex PCB service? Probably not cheap, and likely would take just as long to do all the measurements.

 

Any luck with the trackball bezel? I'm looking for some rollers for my 145, but I also don't want to buy the entire trackball assembly. Now I'm considering taking some measurements and following your lead to make my own ;)

 

I hadn't thought about having one fab'd, but why not? I've used Oshpark a few dozen times for various FR4 prototypes, but didn't know they did flex. That's awesome! Now I'm wishing I hadn't been so quick to slice-and-dice my original cable. I'll save all the bits just in case...

I did get a lead on a bezel and port cover from a gracious member, so by midweek once those and the 3A power adapter I also ordered arrive, this thing should be 100% (minus the battery of course, but that'll be another thread...)

Finally, I did manage to get issue #2 outlined above resolved. After dismantling / reassembling the chassis several times and poking and prodding around to recreate the behavior, I zeroed in on the  72-pin interconnect cable (yes, the one I'd just rebuilt). I determined that it isn't a problem with the cable, however, but rather the connector. The interconnect cable connector has a very small cavity it sits within in front of the interconnect board and above the daughter board. Any side to side or fore/aft load on the cable when compressing the halves of the case together will cause connection issues. I carefully routed and creased the cable in such a way that the connector slides right into its narrow pocket during reassembly and all is well.

This is probably what was wrong with my KB in the first place, now that I understand the issue better. Ah well, no harm done in replacing the ribbon. This is another design weakness frankly and is, I suspect, the reason others have reported similar issues and end up replacing the interconnect board as a solution. Given the pin density, limited physical space, and minimal insertion force, this connector really should have lock clips or something to retain it securely.  Something I may seek to add if it continues giving me grief. For now though, I guess it's time to update my sig to include a functional PB-180c...

Edited by sutekh

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Interesting story - that I am almost reliving. Yes, I also was looking to get 180c for a long time, and  I got one recently for low offer. Mine was in better shape - no leaking battery. Hinge screws ripped out, burned electrolytic caps on inverter (?) board, hard drive with click of death - but the flex cable is in one piece. I glued hinge to screen bacl wall with epoxy, replaced burnt caps, backlight works, but the screen stays blank (white).

 

I tested and confirmed continuity of all traces on flex cable, checked with scope that there are some live waveforms on flex cables leading to LCD glass from screen logic board, so seems something is fed to the glass, but not even shade of grey pattern or mouse pointer is visible.

 

What make me wonder is that voltage on wide (power?) trace of flex cable is only 2.3V - I would think at that time the lowest voltage used was 3.3V. If yours screen is still opened and accessible, could you check what is supply voltage is fed to LCD on yours working system. Thanks

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11 hours ago, vldmr said:

If yours screen is still opened and accessible, could you check what is supply voltage is fed to LCD on yours working system. Thanks

 

It's buttoned up at the moment, but I'll be opening it up in coming days to 1) send 5v (probably from the ADB since it's right there and fused) into pin-5 of the SCSI HID-30 connector for term power and b) to yank the Global Village modem and install a ribbon cable in its place so I can start testing the wifi modem replacement board I have a thread about over in the Hacks forum.

 

I'll meter the power traces when I do and let you know...

 

BTW, interested to hear how your hinges hold up. I tried JB-Weld at first, but it eventually gave way. Ended up dismantling and cleaning the hinges, then re-lubricating to relieve tension (helped somewhat) and also drilled pilot holes through all 4 knurled brass inserts out the back of the clamshell and sent some 2.5mm x 6mm screws in from the other side to pin everything together. They're obviously visible, but after counter-sinking the holes, I think they look just fine. There's plenty of remaining unused thread within the inserts for them to grab onto. Quite solid now.

Edited by sutekh

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On 9/19/2020 at 1:16 PM, sutekh said:

BTW, interested to hear how your hinges hold up. I tried JB-Weld at first, but it eventually gave way. Ended up dismantling and cleaning the hinges, then re-lubricating to relieve tension (helped somewhat) and also drilled pilot holes through all 4 knurled brass inserts out the back of the clamshell and sent some 2.5mm x 6mm screws in from the other side to pin everything together. They're obviously visible, but after counter-sinking the holes, I think they look just fine. There's plenty of remaining unused thread within the inserts for them to grab onto. Quite solid now.

Interesting - I discussed this repair with a friend of mine, who I trust with anything mechanical, and he also strongly advised on through holes with brass plates on outside. I almost went that route, but then there was a discussion on vcfed forum about fixing hinges, and two members there vouched that epoxy would be good enough, given that the hinge is loosened with fresh lubrication. So I decided there is nothing to loose trying epoxy on internals, and I always can proceed with through screws if that would fail. I just flooded the area on the back panel of the screen around the hinges with epoxy - I had the screws with original inserts in place during the application of epoxy. So now I have plastic back-panel permanently attached to hinges, the front panel still is removable and fixed with screws. So far it holds fine, I did not notice any problems in epoxy cracking, but I am yet rotating the screen slowly and carefully.

 

I lubricated the hinges with WD40 and gave it a good workout by inserting the pin in electric drill and rotating it for few minutes prior to assembling with epoxy.

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