Busted Ibook screen?
December 13, 2005 8:45 AM   Subscribe

Twelve-Inch Ibook screen demonically possessed...

I've got an 800Mhz Ibook (not the toilet seat variety) with a strange screen problem. If I almost close it all the way, the screen will light normally and behave, but I can't really see much except for the fact that it's on. Call it a half-inch open or so. If I open it up all the way to the proper 90 degrees or more, the screen goes completely black.

I'm guessing there is a bad cable or something between the main system board and the LCD, but I'm not sure. Apple won't give me an estimate over the phone or on line to repair it, so I'm wondering if any of you a) have ever had this problem and b) what it cost you to solve. Bonus karmic goodness if you can suggest an alternative to using Apple's repair services, as I know they'll be expensive. I'm in Dallas, TX if that helps. And thank you, in advance.
posted by TeamBilly to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
Best answer: 1. make sure you don't have an ibook with a bad logic board. Check the serial number, even though this does NOT sound like a logic board problem, you will get more traction from Apple if you have a ibook that is one of the ones that had problems.
2. when my bofriend dropped his powerbook, we got it fixed at Wegner Media for half the price of what Apple was quoting.
3. just in case you don't know about it, pbfixit has take-apart guides.
posted by jessamyn at 8:51 AM on December 13, 2005

same happened me.

turned out to be the backlight switch located in the the screen itself had gone.

this won't help but i was covered by applecare warranty so don't know alternatives to an apple shop fix.

good luck
posted by johoney at 9:05 AM on December 13, 2005

FWIW, My wife's did this in the lead up to a logic board failure. (Hers was one of the bad batch.) Whenever the screen went black, she could revive it by closing the lid (putting it to sleep) and opening it again. After a few months though, the logic board failed completely (the picture would break up, and everything would stop responding. Eventually it wouldn't even boot).

I can't say if that's what you got, but it could be. If your iBook is covered under the logic board program jessamyn mentions, or if it's under applecare, they're pretty fast at getting it repaired.
posted by Popular Ethics at 9:07 AM on December 13, 2005

I had the same thing with my lovely Powerbook. Ended up buying an external monitor and keyboard. Now saving for an iBook or something.
posted by keijo at 9:21 AM on December 13, 2005

Best answer: I had this problem, and it wasn't a logic board failure, it wasn't the backlight switch, or anything like that.

You don't say if the machine stays on when you open the screen all the way, but in my case it didn't. As soon as you went beyond 90 degrees, *clunk* the hard drive died and the machine turned off.

We ripped the machine open and it turns out Apple bodged the design for the wires going to the screen. When the screen was open past 90 degrees, the power cable to the screen was getting smashed so hard against the chassis that it ended up arcing and causing a short. It was so bad that the actual point of contact was all burned brown.

We found the wires in question, stipped them a bit, wrapped them in insulating tape, and the whole problem was solved. We also slightly rerouted the wires, although there's not much to work with down there.
posted by wackybrit at 11:26 AM on December 13, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks folks, for everything. I talked to Apple (my serial number is in the bad batch range) but Apple's tech support suggested that it was NOT a bad logic board based on the fact that it would work at a certain angle, unuseable though it is.

Apple wants EIGHT HUNDRED DOLLARS for a standard repair of the cable (which is what THEY think is causing this) and I laughed and said I could buy a new one for that. So I'm going to try a bit of hackfu along Wackybrit's lines and see what I can come up with. Thanks again.
posted by TeamBilly at 12:51 PM on December 13, 2005

I had a similar problem with my iBook after its AppleCare warranty period was up. It was, in fact, the cabling connecting the screen to the main unit and was repaired by an Authorized Apple Service Center (not Apple itself) for about $250. I've used the iBook with no problem since (about two and a half years).
posted by bradlands at 12:51 PM on December 13, 2005

If you need a cheap repair place, I suggest MacResQ.
posted by luckypozzo at 3:38 PM on December 13, 2005

You might also want to familiarize yourself with bad logic board behavior as well in case you start noticing other problems. My ibook was in the bad batch range and I went through THREE logic boards [besides the one it came with] before finally telling Apple "listen guys, I'm not shipping this back to you just so that you can put another defective logic board in it" at which point they agreed to send me a new/refurb G4 instead of fixing it for the fourth time. I took dame's advice from a different AskMe thread [anyone know where that is?] as far as talking to Apple support and not taking "no" for an answer. I think it's good advice for any defective ibook owner generally.
posted by jessamyn at 4:06 PM on December 13, 2005

Same problem here, not the logic board. It is the cable going through the hinge - gets pinched over time and fails. Spent time on the phone with Apple, they quoted the same price to me as they did to you.

Apparently it takes literally hours to take the laptop apart and fix this. ( I did see a tutorial online once, but don't remember where now. It was not for the faint of heart.) I gave up and bought a powerbook.
posted by shifafa at 7:43 PM on December 13, 2005

Response by poster: For what it's worth, I spent about two hours tearing my Ibook apart to get to the cable. It takes patience and organization, and frankly, I was disappointed at the way part of it was put together - lots of tape and what I consider to be bad cable routing.

I emailed MacResQ to ask them if they'd sell me a cable, and if they won't, what they'd charge me to re-assemble it with a new cable.

Because getting it back together is going to be a stone bee-yotch....
posted by TeamBilly at 8:14 AM on December 14, 2005

The problem you describe is definitely not the logic board problem.

It could be either the pinched video cable or more likely a part called the Reed Switch, which includes another cable that runs through the hinge. The part should cost less than $20 but whoever fixes it might charge two hours for labor because the display has to be taken apart. I did a quick search at pbfixit.com and powerbookmedic.com and they both want $50 for a combo inverter board & reed switch. What a ripoff. Apple sells the reed switch by itself for $7. I buy 'em 10 at a time to save on shipping.

Don't send it to apple and don't pay $800 for it. Those poor g3 iBooks aren't worth much anymore because eventually they will all have the logic board problem and then it sadly becomes trash. I wouldn't recommend anyone spend more than $100 to fix one of those lemons.

There are some good guides at the above mentioned sites but I caution anyone wanting to repair their own iBook display. However if you've already resolved to replace the computer then have fun!
posted by J-Garr at 9:31 AM on December 14, 2005

hey, j-garr, can anyone get a reed switch for $7 from apple or do you have some kind of insider connection? i have an ibook here which has the screen angle / sleep / backlight problem. smalldog.com has reed switches for $20. i guess i could try them if the $7 solution is not generally available.
posted by mikewong at 1:44 AM on January 12, 2006

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