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MacBook Pro restoration - Kitchen Radio

2021-12-13 14:24 other

My 14-years old MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo/Late 2006 is since last year acting as a kitchen radio.

The laptop is set up to dual-boot Mac OS X 10.6.8 Snow Leopard and FreeBSD (13.0 at the moment) via the rEFInd boot manager. Though I end up using OS X most of the time just because it boots a lot faster. The battery pack is dead so I need to power it on and off each time I use it.

SpiderWeb is my browser of choice, but I also have ArticFox and InterWeb installed. Performance is alright and I can stream radio and play YouTube videos in 480p - my preferred quality setting. In FreeBSD, I run a recent version of Firefox.

The computer is connected to a set of external computer speakers - a 2.1 subwoofer system - that I got for free and had laying around.

Internet access is handled via WiFi (AirPort Extreme) and the DVD burner (SuperDrive), Bluetooth, microphone, speakers, trackpad, sensors and the camera (iSight) all work.

But this laptop has had a hard life and was with me on many adventures. Quite a few things were broken and I had to repair the keyboard, battery, power supply and fans.

Keyboard repair

The machine suffered a beer accident in Japan in 2008 and after that about a third of the keys on the keyboard wouldn't work. I kept using it for several years with the help of an external USB keyboard.

Last winter I spent a lot of time trying to finally repair this broken keyboard using a multimeter, tape and thin conductive wire...

failed keyboard repair1failed keyboard repair2failed keyboard repair3failed keyboard repair4failed keyboard repair5failed keyboard repair6

Many tracks were broken and corroded but amazingly I got it to work! At one moment, all keys functioned except the led in the caps-lock that wouldn't light up. Also, during the repair, I broke off one of the springy supports for the space bar, so it tilted and didn't react on the left-hand side. Very irritating and impossible to fix (at least by me).

And my repair attempt didn't last. After about a month, a few keys started acting funny, intermittent and finally wouldn't work at all. When even more keys broke, I gave up and ordered a replacement keyboard for this model (A1211) on AliExpress.

Fans repair

The right-hand side fan needed repair. It was stuck as the casing somehow got dented. I cleaned both fans thoroughly and added new silicone grease.

Memory upgrade

I maxed out the RAM by buying two 2 GB memory modules on eBay. There is an issue with this machine though as it can not address more than 3 GB. So even if I now have 4 GB installed, only 3 can be used.

Other things

  • added new thermal paste
  • removed dead battery pack
  • replaced PRAM coin cell
  • replaced the spinning hard disk with an SSD
  • the MagSafe cable was broken. I bought a new one, cracked open the power supply and soldered the new one in place

Conclusion

The machine uses between 20 and 35 Watts in standard operation, and the cost of fixing it up was around €40 in total. It gets a lot of use and will probably last many years to come.

  • 2 x 2 GB DDR2 SDRAM €7
  • 120 GB 2,5" Intenso SSD €17
  • Keyboard €11
  • MagSafe cable €5
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