Friday, April 02, 2004

I'm sitting at work yesterday. I had hurried through everything I had to get done, and now I was waiting for a classroom to become free so I could turn it into an on-the-fly testing room. While waiting, I thought I might crack open my Audrey (my iBook) and do some messaging, read forums, maybe check my mail. I have my laptop cracked open and running, then *click*, it's in sleep mode. That was odd. I know my battery has been giving me shit (I think it's gone bad all ready) but I was plugged in! I stick my head through the server rack and confirm that I am plugged in. I start wiggling various fittings on my power supply and I confirm my worst fear. I had a short in my power supply. I knew right where it was too. I could see the ground wires threading coming out for the past few weeks. But ... that wasn't the problem. I had a short in the fat connector that goes into the laptop itself. So make that TWO shorts. Shit!!

Audrey Get's a Bypass
I had been planning on doing this anyway ... but I was putting it off as long as I could. My power supply was now dead, and it may have been the reason my battery wasnt charging. My plan was to attach the power supply to the back of my screen and mount it there. Also, use a standard fitting power cable for charging puposes! And so I grabbed the hockey puck shaped adapter and pulled and pulled and .. SPLIT! It was hard to get apart, and I could see that it would not be going back together without glue. No turning back now!

Next I would need to find out how this thing is wired. Looking at the inside of the puck I could find only two wires, and one was ground. Seem's simple! Yet, the plug-adapter that goes into the laptop looks complication. Its like an RCA plug, with an 1/8th inch heaphone jack stuck in the middle of it. The headphone connector has a three ring inner plug, and shielding. So where are the other 2 connections? I cut into the cable and stripped off some of the rubber coating. Inside I found just the one wire, and grounding going over it. So my answers would lie in the plug itself. I tried pulling on the metal shield-like covering and it was not coming out easily. So I grabbed a steak knife and went to work on it peeling off all the rubber.

And I learned ... nothing! Other than Apple designed an indestructable connector, and a really thin cable to go into it. And so I got out the multi-meter and started doing continuity tests. I found that the "tip" (headphone like thing) was all one piece, and it carried the positive current. The "shrouding" was the ground. And that was it! It was actually pretty simple.

Next I had to go 'inside' and rip my laptop apart again. I hate doing it. Those iBooks are a bitch to operate on. After some careful surgery I was able to yank out the power plug-in module from the inside of the laptop. Examining it, and comparing it to the adapter parts I could find where the white wire (positive) and the black wire (ground) would attach.

The next trick would be stringing wire through the laptop. If I wanted to mount my power supply to the back of my screen, I would need to fish wire through the display. It's brain surgery. So apart that came, and I had to find wire that would work. What would carry the voltage well, and still be small and thin? How about the wire that I was cutting off of the power supply. I cut the longest piece I could, without getting any of the bad ends with the tears in the cable. Here you can see I managed to string the wire through the display (I drilled a hole) and then got the display back together.

Next, I had to string the wire through the laptop to where I would be attaching it to the power connector. Luckily, there is a lot of wasted space in an iBook, so fitting the wire in there was no problem.

Soldering would be little tricky, because I didnt want to leave too much wire inside, yet I wanted to cut off enough that it would be out of my way. I think I found a good halfway point. I clipped, and soldered!

Once I was done, I got everything closed up and realised that I put a piece of plastic in upside-down. No wonder it was so hard to screw shut! Oh hell, I'm not going to care. On the back of the laptop I had taped down my puck, and a Witmans' Chocolate tin. Inside the chocolate tin I mounted a three prong AC connector that I ripped out of a dead power supply. Finally a standard AC fitting, and no adapter to lug around! But ... would it work?

I plugged everything in!

It works! That orange light means that my battery is charging. Hooray! No smoke, no fires! Here I am booting into OS X again.

Now the bad news. Green light! Argh! My battery didn't charge that fast! So my battery is still dead, and I will have to try and exchange it. But at least I have a working laptop again. By this time it was 12:30AM and I had a dentist appointment early the next morning. So I carried my taped up mess to bed and crashed.

Just a short while ago, I removed all the electrical tape and applied some adhesive under my new mounted items. I will take a picture later so you can see Audrey in all her glory.