posts tagged with the keyword ‘powerbook’


MacBook Pro Power Adapter

This is a Hack. This is a Hacked thing. This thing was Hacked.

Hacking is an art form that uses something in a way in which it was not originally intended. This highly creative activity can be highly technical, simply clever, or both. Hackers bask in the glory of building it instead of buying it, repairing it rather than trashing it, and raiding their junk bins for new projects every time they can steal a few moments away. [1]

I decided to clean my MacBook Pro power adapter cable, which was good because it was filthy, but bad because in the process of (gently) wiping it, I somehow destroyed it. I didn’t realize until I was at work a few hours and noticed it wasn’t charging my computer.

I was down to 30% battery which would not last the day, and no one else at work has the same power adapter (Damn you, Apple!) I contemplated running to the Apple Store during lunch to get a new one, but instead decided that since it didn’t work, I had nothing to lose, so I cracked it open.

Oh wait, before I cracked it open I verified that no power was getting to the connector. I grabbed a multimeter first, got nothing, and then cracked it open. (Luckily the MagSafe Wikipedia page has some useful info.)

Cracking things open is sometimes the most dangerous part of hacking. I occasionally stab my own hand with a screwdriver. (It didn’t happen this time.) With the power adapter opened I saw two wires (black and white) leading to the thin round cable.

I checked the voltage on the black and white wires and got about 6 volts, which is way under what it should be according to the MagSafe info… but I figured that was due to there being no load, and that was correct, as verified by a note at the bottom of the MagSafe Wikipedia page.

I ended up chopping about 6 inches off the thin round cable and stripped the ends, then slid on some heat shrink, soldered things together, shrunk the heat shrink, and it all worked fine again. I had my power adapter back.

I fixed a broken thing rather that buying a new thing. I also managed to fix it in much less time that it would have taken to get a replacement. #HACK

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t see this as some amazing feat that will be celebrated by hackers everywhere, but it’s just one more reminder that if something is broken, you may have nothing to lose by trying to fix it. I mean, you could make it more broken but if it doesn’t work to begin with, there’s a chance you can revive it and get on with your day.

Keep on Hacking!



Oh Linux… sometimes you make it really hard to love you.

While the recent data rescue went well, other things have not been as easy. Let’s see where we are, shall we?

Home Server
This is the old dead-screen PowerBook that ran for years without issue. Until it had an issue. I rescued the data from it, and then I figured I would do a re-install of Linux on it, but so far it’s been all failure. The external VGA connection doesn’t seem to want to display anything, so without a screen to see the install, I don’t even know if it’s booting up properly. (This is a recurring theme, btw.)

Raspberry Pi
One of my Raspberry Pis occasionally hangs on boot. Sometimes. Other times it works fine. Since it’s headless I needed to attach it to a TV to see this. The other Raspberry Pi I have does have an HDMI-VGA adapter, which works when you edit config.txt properly. Sometimes. And yeah, my RF Modulator to use the composite video seems to have died, so that option was out as well. Also, the SD card cracked. These are all fairly minor things, but they add up.

(New) Xubuntu Laptop
While it’s a new machine to me, it’s a 10 year old laptop running Xubuntu. It was going to be (will be?) my new Lab Computer, controlling the RepRap, and hopefully running Octoprint, which won’t run on the Eee PC I now use to control the RepRap. I left it running with my account logged in and it went offline… kernel panic. Hmmm, let me check right now. Yeah, it’s hosed up. I try to ssh in and get ‘Input/output error’ so something isn’t right. Dammit.

Eee PC
Well, this little beast keeps chugging along. Besides the fact that it can’t do much, it can control the RepRap, and it does a pretty good job of not losing the wifi connection. All good.

Another One
Since I may need a replacement for the old PowerBook that was the Home Server, I figured I’d try an old G4 iMac with a dead display. Multiple attempts with Ubuntu Server and Xubuntu Desktop all failed. Won’t boot from a CD or DVD. I did read about an NVIDIA driver conflict, urgh. I may try some other distros, but I’m thinking it may be an issue with the fact that the built-in display is dead and the external VGA connection isn’t doing the right thing. Bummer.

Keep in mind I’m considered really good at this stuff… but I guess when shit goes wrong, it really goes wrong.


RepRap Cat

I’ve already talked about the Top 5 Places Kitten was, but since kitten (who is now a cat, and sometimes referred to as RepRap Cat) spends a lot of time in the office with me, I thought it was time for a new list…

The top 4 Macs kitten has sat upon:

  1. MacBook Pro
  2. Mac mini
  3. G4 PowerBook
  4. Mac Pro

She also spends a lot of time on the printer, which isn’t a Mac, but has a lot of buttons to press.

The only Mac missing is the iMac, and that’s because she hasn’t figured out how to sit on top of that one… yet.

Update: I snapped this picture less than two hours after posting this.


Time Lapse Bot 3

I built the original “Time Lapse Bot” in September 2009 before BarCampMilwaukee4 happened. I managed to get an old office chair that someone was throwing away and thought I could put it to good use to move around the iMac and camera rig I had attached to it. You can see the original Time Lapse Bot post for more info.

The main issue with the original Time Lapse Bot was that if you unplugged it, you had to boot it up again, set the clock, and then restart the image capture. We thought about a UPS to give it a bit of “unplugged” time, but never added one.

Next up was Time Lapse Bot 2 which used an old clamshell iBook in place of the old iMac. This made everything much lighter but because the battery couldn’t hold a charge we still suffered the inability to unplug it and move it while it was running. (We typically solved this problem with really long extension cords.)

Time Lapse Bot 3

Time Lapse Bot 3 is the next step in Time Lapse Bot technology. We’ve taken an old PowerBook G4 (donated by Matt Gauger) which has a good battery in it, and paired it with a Canon ZR800 MiniDV camera, which also has a good battery. The result is a unit that can run on battery (at least for a few hours) and starts charging the batteries as soon as you plug in the AC power cord.

The entire unit is housed in a custom case which allows for easy transport. By “custom case” we’re referring to the plywood box that I constructed and painted black. That’s what we consider the pinnacle of “custom cases” around here.

The software that runs Time Lapse Bot is EvoCam by Evological. It’s $30 and well worth it. It’s feature packed, and rock solid. If you’re putting together a Mac-based time lapse rig that uses a video camera, or a web cam, or whatever, I highly recommend it.

Here’s a few of the time lapse videos we’ve made with the help of Time Lapse Bot.

We’ve finally reached a point where we are fairly pleased with Time Lapse Bot and it’s performance, so this is obviously not the time to sit still and relax. We’re currently working on a few upgrades to Time Lapse Bot, and hope 2011 brings even more Time Lapse Bot goodness to all the folks who enjoy time lapse videos…

(Thanks for reading this. If you’re reading it on Facebook or Google Reader or somewhere else it got syndicated to, consider visiting the original post, especially if you’d like to leave a comment.)


Since the iBook died (R.I.P. and if you are keeping track, that’s 2 Macs that have died so far in 2007) it was time to revive the old Powerbook G3 (Wallstreet) and get computing!

The last time I even mentioned it was 2004 when the power adapter needed repair. After that I had a G3 iBook from work to use, until I didn’t, then I just stuck the old Wallstreet in the office to be forgotten, except when I stole RAM from it last year.

Well, it’s back folks! I am now using a Powerbook G3 running Mac OS X 10.1.5, and I’m trying to get apps on it. So far I have Firefox 1.0.7, and jEdit 4.1something on it, and am trying to find a version of Adium or Fire that will run on it. I think I’m stuck with over iTerm too… Sheesh, talk about the dark ages! I don’t even want to think about Thunderbird.

Wifi? Well, sort of… thanks to and an old wifi card I had laying around. One problem, the card does not work with WEP, so while I can use it in my own house (by turning off WEP and restricting to MAC addresses) using it out and about is pretty much impossible without an ethernet cable. I also tried a USB PC card and a USB wifi adapter, but that didn’t work. I’d actually consider getting a wifi card that would work with WEP (and Mac OS X 10.1.5) if I could find one for cheap enough.

Anyway, I am mobile again… if you consider “mobile” sitting on the couch browsing the web very slowly.

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