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PowerBook 500 series PCMCIA module Rev C teardown

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Hopefully, this would come in handy for anyone curious about the PCMCIA module made for the PowerBook 500 series. I've posted as many pictures from various angles of the board assembly and parts (in case anyone has interest in planning modifications and how much space is inside the module) as I don't intend to open this up very often. If at all. 


There are three hex screws, one plastic tab, and a sticker holding my Rev C module together. I didn't have a hex bit of the correct size, but a Torx T6 proved a snug fit that allowed me to remove the screws. When I depressed the plastic tab back a small distance, I was able to carefully lift and separate the pieces only slightly, hinging at the sticker in the back. Some patient "working"  back and forth allowed me to carefully separate the sticker from one of the pieces, and the unit was opened. 







I worked the board assembly from the back to the front to lift it from the bottom molding. The module ejection mechanism is separate from the board, and is a fixture on the bottom molding - it may be difficult to replace if it becomes damaged. 



Here is the bottom side of the board assembly. 



All pieces, angled, minus screws. 



Left side top (from front of module). 



Right side top (from front of module). 



Left side bottom (from front of module). 



Right side bottom (from front of module). 



Overview of bottom of board. 



All pieces of the module. 



Front hinging doors of the module. There is one stretched "rubber band" that acts to spring the doors back to resting position. If this part breaks someday, you could probably just install a rubber band to replace it...I'm actually surprised this one hasn't dry-rotted, yet. Or hack another spring assembly to your fancy. 



Okay. Just let me know when you make USB and cardbus possible for the 500 series. :)


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1 hour ago, MOS8_030 said:

No, it is not I.

I leave the esoteric stuff to the pros!

Oh, well. Pros b bros (fistbump)


Found some pics of the PB 1400 PCMCIA cage. Pics below blatantly....borrowed...from eBay auction, seller "chippiesavalanche" (to give credit): https://www.ebay.com/itm/Macintosh-Powerbook-1400CS-1400cs-166-M3571-PCMCIA-Assembly-With-Infrared-Board/312091104242?hash=item48aa1453f2:g:hEEAAOSwWSZasE3j


Looks like it's using the same chip, and a similar metal structure. Now, if we can just hack this mofo...


Oh, yeah, infrared would be nice, too. :)






I should credit member Trash80toHP_Mini for the comparison with PB 1400 cage idea. :) 


Edited by Charadis
Giving credit where credit is due. Like a good citizen
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The 1400 cage and the Rev. C cage look quite similar in terms of construction, and I bet the electronics are more or less compatible (one would need to figure out how to adapt the 1400 cage to the 500's PDS, however).


But a more important question: is the 1400 cage CardBus compatible?



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Nope, all were PCMCIA only until the 3400c brought PCI architecture to the table. CardBus is beyond the capabilities of the NuBus architecture 'Books. No USB for you!


You'll not be able to adapt the 1400's Cage to the Blackbirds, the PCB interfaces are entirely different. My money is on a successful TREX ASIC transplant from 1400 assembly to the B or maybe even the original Rev. of the Blackbird Cage PCB.


Did a ton of work on hacking the 1400 card cage into the HDD bay of the Duo 2300c before I moved down here in 2004. That's what put me onto this track.


Can someone do a teardown of the Rev. B cage to compare controller ASICs?


BTW, are those white metal castings as heavy as they look? That thing must heft like a brick!?!

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Thanks for getting this thread started, BTW!


Some pics from 15 years ago! All the various 1400 cage bits and pieces from both sides:






PCB after bake and shake, heat gun style:




Cage PCB sanded to expose lower layer traces for rebuilding layout:




Not quite sure why I did that, something about mapping the board interconnect headers to the Duo Docking Connector pinout?


Dunno, I wasn't particularly sane in that time frame. :blink:

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That's too bad about USB! Had my hopes up lol


I can't speak for the 1400 cage, but the 500 module is very light. The external casing is completely plastic with "gold" or bronze-ish paint. The internal metal is actually quite thin. 


It's the battery that is more like a brick in comparison. This thing is like a feather. When I first inserted it into my PB, I was afraid of taking it out because I thought I could break the leaver trying to unlock/remove it 



Edit: nice quality pics from that long ago! You went a bit further than I would have with the sanding. Did your project turn out successful? 

Edited by Charadis
Responding to newer post. Because...consolidation
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Batteries are much heavier than bricks. :lol:




TREX it is! Now to check to see if the Rev B ASIC is pad compatible. Can't imagine they changed the board layout or the pinout. I'm all but certain the Apple PCMCIA Controllers are all but identical to the off the shelf parts in PC Laptops. Checking standard PCMCIA controller revision development in terms of feature sets might be interesting.


Dunno, but I'll bet a shiny nickel it's gonna work.

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I sanded it down in steps, scanned each time and used the images as templates in Illustrator to knit it all back together again. The project got back-burnered when I had to close up shop and move down here to start over. Back then I only had the card cage to play with,  now I've got entire 2300c and 1400 boards to wreak havoc upon. [}:)]


I'm buzzing a pair of boards and soon I'll be VERY slowly nibbling away at them with the desoldering tweezers and rework station. So many toys, way too many projects, far too little time and all but no money in the hobby budget. SIGH!

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Took another look at adapting the entire cage. It would be incredibly ugly, but given enough clearance, possibly not impossible. Crazy enough to be fun too.







If a vertical SMT version of the Blackbird PDS connector can be sourced  a vertical PCB might fit "behind" The 1400 cage PCB, possibly with no filing involved. Another PCB would be needed to solder down to the header interconnect at the far end.


First take was a flex cable connection between the boards, but a funky right angle interboard connection might be possible?


We'd be looking at a printed enclosure with aluminum leaf RFI shielding. Could print a new endcap bezel with printed rubberbandy doors. Crazy enough project to be fun, but putting a Rev D cage in the field using just a cannibalized 1400 card cage would be the bombe.


Probably looking at installing the works upside down in the chassis to clear the curvature limitations and fit the balance of 1400 bits, IR subsystem included. Far fetched, but IR windows on either side of the printed end bezel anyone?



edit: just realized that turtle turning the cage provides a convenient vertical offset for the PDS connector adaptation. LED style emitter receiver protrusions on ether side of the slots garner extra points and much attention! :ph34r:


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LOL! Looks like I hit "quote" instead of "edit" in my rush to post and then get to work on time. Could a mod kill the first post please?


New question:




Looks like the PDS connector may be a thruhole/soldertail terminated part? Got piccies? My box-o-Blackbird bits is MIA. :-/

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Wow, I see you've been busy studying this project. I'm wondering how the Rev B PCMCIA module looks like, too. You might have to pick up a "new" Blackbird to play with now. And at least you haven't lost your 1400 PCMCIA project through the years! 


I posted these in my Conquest thread, but here are some shots of the 520 and 550c boards, upper and bottom sides. It appears they are throughhole, so I guess if you can stick in a new connector, maybe you could modify it where a 1400 cage could interface with the logic board? Just a guess at what you're thinking, probably :b&w:





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Can't tell, need closeups. There are pics in the ServiceSource that make me think the connector is a two row SMT pad setup, not a thruhole part.


Not gonna get a Blackbird, ever! I had strict collecting guidelines: no more AIOs and no money pits like the CC, SE/30, 2400c, Blackbirds, TAM or Cube. I slipped up for a just moment and let a local kid trade me an SE/30 he killed in a recap mishap for one of my iffier LC475s. I fell so far down that rabbit hole I've yet to claw my way back up, out and into the daylight. ::)


Yep, thinking about bodging it badly. I've got a power adapter, bits, pieces, a couple of logic boards, CPU and RAM modules, maybe enough to take a serious shot at building a testbed using video-out. Cursory attempts didn't work out, we'll see. A pinout table would be the thing to develop:


5xx "PDS" <-> 1400 Card Cage interconnect <-> Duo Docking Connector


Duo's a documented interface, is the connector in the Blackbird documented in the DevNote? Were there any third party modules available for that bay? If all it's good for is PCMCIA or a battery, I'd give up second battery support in a heartbeat. Looks like you could just build the 1400 cage into the case bottom, hotwired to the connector with nary a worry about removing it. Dying to see if IR support is possible.


Best approach I've thought of is tracing the two halves of the 1400's split I/O bus to the PBX bridge ASIC while I'm tracing PBX to the docking connector in the 2300c to let me know what's what.


Hopefully I didn't give it away. If I can find the missing BlackbirdBox I might be tempted to look out for just a beat case bottom pan as a project chassis. [}:)]


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So picky! I've already assembled my PowerBooks back together, but I may teardown the 520 later this weekend if I have some time. I should have said that it looks like through hole, but you may be right. I know that the battery connectors were through hole....oddly, the connector on the 550c was a bit more difficult to remove. There seemed to be a better soldering job on it than the 520. It took me a while, using desoldering braid, to draw out enough solder from the 550c connector before it came out. The 520's connector seemed "ready" to come out, and there seemed like just a light bit of solder on the surface, enough to keep it in place. 


Sounds like an exciting project. A 520 can be easily had these days for very little; I paid $17 shipped for my parts 520! Given, the HDD was dead, it was broke at the right side screen hinge. But, with the 550c power adapter, it fired right up! 



I know exactly what you mean by that rabbit hole. I've fallen in too deep, already, that I'm going all the way in! So far, my costs as itemized: 

PowerBook 550c: $237 (~$80 fees/shipping via DHL Express)

PCMCIA Rev C: $290 (~$40 fees/shipping via DHL Express)

NewerTech NUPowr 167MHz 8MB: $240 (like $60 fees/shipping via DHL Express)

8x Panny CD Drive: $38.99 shipped Priority

20x Panny CD Drive: $33.65 shipped Priority

Apple AAUI Twisted Pair Adpt: $15.74 shipped Priority

PB 520 parts machine: $17 shipped

SCSI2SD module (decided not to use, but still got it!): $92 shipped Priority

4GB CF card: $14.49 shipped

CF IDE adapter: $14.77 shipped with the slowest shipping service overseas ever, probably


I don't even want to add it all up. Or include what it cost for my TAM and all the pieces. Or the boxed Newton 2100. So, I applaud your efforts....but you have no idea how much fun you're missing out on B)


You only live once...

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I think I do. :lol: We've all got our favorites, but they're all different.


Checked out the DevNote a bit, very disappointed in the architecture of the 520/540:




The 1400c has a split bus, 16 data bits to PCMCIA and 16 data bits to the Video slot. The Blackbirds are 16 data bits across the entire I/O bus! I wonder if the AAUI port is really any faster than a PDS/PCMCIA NIC?

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One thing I noticed right away is the Rev C cage pics have a Flash ROM while the PB1400 cage doesnt. So I assume this is the DeclROM required for the machine to see everything? 


The only way to hook a PB1400 cage up to a 540c etc is you have to meter the dock connector and map its pins to the TREX IC. 


Then map those same pins to the header of the PB1400c connector so you can get a cross-connection chart. 


Then and only then itll work. But then you also need the DeclROM. 

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AHA! So that's what U5 on the topside of the controller board is. Spotted it and then promptly forgot about it. Doubt it's a DeclROM though, from what I remember TREX and company don't show up in SlotInfo, but the cards installed will show up, meaning they have the equivalent of a DeclROM.


TREX sits on the processor I/O bus as a NuBus Controller does and PC Slots(?) are reported as present or not as is NuBus capability by the usual set of utilities. Apple calls the connector for the cage a PDS in the 500 series and in the 1400 they don't name the interconnect, they just give the "PC/IR Board" a part number.


Is there Flash ROM or any ROM at all on the earlier revisions of BlackbirdCage? I'll have to find my TREXstuff and take a look to see if there's anything hiding under there.


WAG 1, nasty scenario: Flash is a ROM extension called up by a patched enabler kinda deal? Not good.


WAG 2, could go either way: Apple got caught napping as the PCMCIA spec feature set grew and slapped that Flash on the Rev C board like the old ROM SIMM socket backup plan? Either TREX proved sufficient or CardBus was announced and the PCMCIA spec was frozen in that time frame, because the remainder of the NuBus architecture 'Books don't need Flash flexibility. Good. Or they have whatever's on that Flash chip burned into system ROM. Again, not good.


Dunno. Can somebody do a ROM dump of a Blackbird with and without a Rev C Card Cage installed. That might give us a clue?

Edited by Trash80toHP_Mini
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On 4/6/2018 at 8:33 AM, Trash80toHP_Mini said:

LOL! Looks like I hit "quote" instead of "edit" in my rush to post and then get to work on time. Could a mod kill the first post please?

Done, and removed the blockquote from around the content of the edited second post.

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11 hours ago, Bunsen said:

Done, and removed the blockquote from around the content of the edited second post.

Mods are gods :)


I finally got around to disassembling the 520. Recently got my IC extractor and I wanted to try it out anyways. Suffice to say, it did not disappoint. 



I'm going to say this is a draw. It appears there are three rows of pins. The first inner two, closest to the connector dock, seem to be through-hole/thruhole. The outer row, furthest from the connector, look to be surface-mounted. 



From the other side of the board, we can see the inner two rows breach through the board. 



I captured the battery connector SMC, which is north of the PDA port, and is also thru-hole. Note the similarities. 



Angled view to see the posts/pins



Overhead view; it's hard to see all three rows of pins here. Someone is going to have a lot of fun unsoldering that! I will say, it will probably not be me. But..yeah :)



Finally, I tried to capture all three rows from an angle. Note, behind the surface-mounted outer row 



Maybe a reflow would be best to remove this PDA connector? Then, I suppose you could furnish a breakout board, or pin converter, that would connect to a new adapter of your choice. That's just my $0.02

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I hope you haven't buttoned it up yet. Out of curiosity, just how many of those 45(?) SMT connections are ground lines? I'm not at all familiar with the 040 PDS, but that's a lot of lines considering it's shy 16 of the data lines on the interface. Can't be an alternate ground line setup but it would be just too funny if one hella lot of those are the power & ground connections. Looks like only about four of the thru hole pins are connected to P&G planes.


Very curious.


edit: forgot to say thanks for the great pics!

Edited by Trash80toHP_Mini
I'm an idiot. :-/
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Glad to help out.


Too late :-/ Honestly, I think the solder mask on top is a bit thick for me to discern any traces. However, it seems that the SMT row could be connected to vias through the board; you could see the zig-zag pattern of holes/vias preceding the SMT row where they connect. I counted the holes on the other side, also zig-zagged, above the thru-hole lines, and I think I see 40 vias?? Or 39...I don't know what one of them is. But I could be wrong on the count, but I can't tell what are ground/power traces on that front. 



Edit: Okay, I think I count 40 vias from the top. I've accounted for an additional 4 pins that lead to traces on top end of the board; the last pin on the short set (bottom) and the last three on the long set of pins (top most pins, closest to the battery connector side). 

Edited by Charadis
I'm just adding more information. Better than making a new post!
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