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Macbook Mod III

Posted by Tyler | Posted in E-Modding | Posted on 03-12-2009


Thanks for reading the main macbook write up. In the following paragraphs, I’ll explain the nitty gritty of the mod and write it as a skilled grammarian would write. I have a comedic youtube video of the mod that I will post as well.

The parts I used were obtained primarily through ebay, while the hard drive (hdd) was scalped from newegg. My main goal was to get a working, genuine, mac for as cheap as possible.  As a commenter pointed out, most of the broken logic boards have problems with battery charging or a USB port not working or other hardware problems.

The parts list:
-Logic board – A1181, 13.3″ white, 2.0 Ghz macbook, horizontal configuration – $165 through ebay from hammerhead tech
-Horizontal heatsink (included a fan built into it) – Came with logic board
-Wireless WIFI Card AR5BXB6, A1181, 13.3 macbook – Came with logic board
-Wireless antenna (2) – $4 from ebay
-Magsafe DC connector for the logic board – Came with the logic board
-Magsafe 60W power adapter – $24 from ebay
-iSight/Mic with data cable A1181, 13.3 macbook – $5.95 from ebay
-BT 2.0 Bluetooth Board with antenna – $.99 from ebay
-1GB of DDR 667 Ram – My alter ego (best friend) had 2 spare 512MB sticks that he donated to the cause
-Fujitsu MHW2160BJ 160GB 7200 RPM 8MB Cache 2.5″ SATA 3.0Gb/s – $50 from newegg
-Hard drive cable – $.99 from ebay
-The keyboard portion of a 13.3″ A1181 white macbook – $11 from ebay
-Mini DVI to VGA adapter (I have a DVI adapter as well) – $14 from fry’s electronics
-Linksys Router (2) – Already had them
-Piece of Plexiglas – Already had it

The logic board is labeled surprisingly well, although I did look at a schematic a few times to verify that each slot was what its short acronym described it as. Most of the connectors would fit into only one socket, but better safe than sorry in this instance.

Do a test run with all the components hooked up and the keyboard plugged in. At this point, it is the closest it will be to its original form factor. You are going to need to connect the system to another mac and share the optical drive (unless you connected an optical drive to the board). The reason for this is that you need to get leopard onto the hdd. The method I used for this was firewire target disk mode (google should be able to help).

After you have OS X installed, you need to change one system setting before you can hack up the keyboard connector and make your custom power cable. Under power settings, “power up after power failure” needs to be set. Now you’ll need to clip off the other track pad connector and leave the smaller of the two. If you trace the leads from the power button on the top of the keyboard, you’ll see that it leads back to the fourth wire from ground. On the photo below, it is the fourth connector up from the bottom. You just need to solder a wire to this wire and then one to the jagged part (it’ll be ground) and then connect these to your switch. Once you have a good connection (the 4th pin connector is ridiculously small-break out your soldering compressor-removing the other pins is also helpful), then connect your magsafe to power and press your power button; your system should turn back on.  The final bit of advice is to never shut down, doing so will cause it to not boot up again unless you hook up another keyboard. So just stick to restarting and then pulling the magsafe connection and you’ll be fine. I will post more detailed pics in the morning. I’ll also post the video then as well.

Power ribbon

I hope this helps anyone who might be attempting a macbook mod of their own. Good luck with your mods.

Comments (19)

[…] Macbook Mod III Thanks for reading the main macbook write up. In the following paragraphs, I'll explain the nitty gritty of the mod and write it as a skilled grammarian would write. I have… […]

Awesome man!

You should (@ the end of each article) link to the other parts of the series. So in this one @ the bottom link to parts 1 and 2. Might help traffic stick time.

Keep up the good work!

I concur.

[…] ¿no?. En su site, Tyler muestra paso a paso como fue realizando este Mod e incluso, incluye una lista de todos los componentes requeridos  y su precio. Vale la pena intentarlo, ¡date un regalo de […]

Hi, I was just wondering how you managed to install OS X. I know you used FireWire Target Mode, but I read about it somewhere that you can’t use the MacBook board as the target HDD if the Mac you are using is not a “close cousin.” I read one of the comments on the previous post and it said that you can’t run the installer on an external screen, so you can’t boot up the Mac with the drive in target mode and use Apple’s method (have computer without a drive boot normally, boot Mac with DVD drive in target mode so Mac w/o drive can see the install disc on the second Mac).

Just wondering what method you used; I ordered the same board as you (but it’s 2GHz instead of 1.83GHz).

When you first power it on, you need to have a regular keyboard connected. At this point, it works as a mac, except with no OS installed. I can’t remember the exact, step by step, process I used. I do remember that it took several hours of some trial an error. I haven’t heard of the close cousin rule. I used an older mac mini and the logic board, so maybe they were close enough? I’ll see if I can find the link to the article on how to re-install osx onto a macbook without an optic drive (that is what I originally searched google for, now that my memory is coming back).

How did you trick the external display mirror mode ?

I’ve just finished my mod (macbook logic board & 19 screen in a flat screen tv) but i’m stuck with using the macbook’s monitor (broken backlight!).

What would be perfect is knowing how to trick the lid detector (to think that the lid is closed and only start external display as main one).

Any idea ?

Um, I searched for a while on how to make it a larger resolution but had no luck. It basically things that its an external monitor and that its main monitor is still attached. It caps the other display at 600×800. I tried changing the resolutions, but upon reboot it would always default to having 2 screens, 1 of which was the one hooked up and the other an imaginary screen. Then I had to go over and fish for the settings application so I could turn mirroring back on.

Hi, could you please post more details on the keyboard cable mod? It’s difficult to tell from the description and picture. I still need to buy a keyboard but I don’t want to if I don’t absolutely have to. I would rather just buy a cable and make my own power button.

I will send you the more detailed process in a little bit. You don’t need to buy the keyboard, just the connecting ribbon.

Well, I already bought the keyboard + trackpad + casing ($25 and in really good condition). Maybe I’ll make it a keyboard computer. Ah, well.

I found another macbook mod that has pictures and the same description of how to modify the power button. http://wolphbite.com/blog/?p=62

Regarding the screen issue…
If you hot-glue one of the magnets from the side of the screen to the top of the audio connectors then you’ll trigger the reed switch that tells the board that the lid is closed. That way it only uses the external display. You can use whatever resolution you like and no worries about mirroring/spanning, etc. Hope that helps someone.

Damn, excellent bit of advice. Wish I had known that a few months ago, lol.

It helps me! Thanks!

Actually, I just found that you need the battery connector to do that. It is what has the reed switch.

yeah, I found out about the reed switch after I had already assembled it; hindsight bias, lol

I finally ordered the sensor ($8.50 on eBay) and I’ll do a few tests on it to see what pins do what. I’m pretty sure it’s a hall-effect sensor, so it’s a bit different from a reed switch. The really funny part is that I already glued the logic board into the case. I’ll either have to use some ninja soldering skills, rip up the board and glue, or solder short lengths of wire on the boards, doing each pin one at a time. That’s going to be a wire-stripping nightmare (20 pins)!

Yeah, keep me posted. I might post the youtube video of my to catch a network predator. Might. lol, the only thing keeping me is the lighting, but its pretty funny otherwise.

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