Replacing a damaged Powerbook Screen yourself?
April 26, 2006 3:44 PM   Subscribe

Just recently my friend dropped his beloved 17" Powerbook G4, while the end result was pretty bad, as in the screen was completely smashed, the rest of the unit is still in good condition. Luckily I have been able to find a replacement screen at a pretty good price, and I am looking to replace/attach it myself. The only trouble is I don't know how hard this will really be. Which is why I am seeking your experience and advice.

From what I have checked the new screen and the old damaged unit are compatible. What I'm not sure about is how to wire the new screen to the base of the old unit. Does anyone have any experience in this? What tools would I need probably need? Any help would be much appreciated.

Thank you for your time and effort,
Best regards,
posted by Sevenupcan to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)

they have detailed disassembly/reassembly guides.
posted by joeblough at 3:46 PM on April 26, 2006

What joeblough said. Use those guides.

My only additional advice is this:

1. Keep careful track of the order in which you take things out.
2. If something is not coming apart easily, don't force it. Check for ninja screws.
3. Aluminum bends and creases if you're not careful and gentle.
4. Don't start this project at 10pm. It's going to take longer than you thought, going to be more work and trouble than you bargained for, and you're going to have to do the disassembly/reassembly thing twice. Guaranteed.
5. Coffee during, Beer after.
6. Don't let your friend watch. ;)
posted by jeffxl at 3:57 PM on April 26, 2006

I just witnessed a coworker who used to work for Apple do this today with the same model of laptop, also dropped. Unfortunately, I wasn't really paying much attention, but from what I remember he had to remove quite a lot of stuff to finally free the screen. As has been mentioned, none of this removal warrants any kind of force, so be careful and patient. Also, use grounding, you'll be touching some very electrostatically sensitive parts. If you don't have one of those grounding bracelets I imagine you can wrap some wire rather tightl around your wrist and tie the other end into something that's grounded/something conductive shoved in the ground hole on a three prong outlet.
posted by moift at 4:18 PM on April 26, 2006

I had the same thing happen to a 15" PB, and elected to sell it since the LCD was so damned expensive.

I had just replaced an iBook that had a display problem that related to thousands of flexings of the LCD connectors, and before I bought the powerbook above, I attempted to fix the iBook display myself.

I located online guides and the ones I found were very good.

I suggest you get several things... First, very good sharp Phillips and flat screw drivers. Not the el cheapo jeweler's screwdrivers that come in a case of 5 or 6 tools, but the nice, meant-to-last kind with hardened steel tips.

Second, some small cups such as you might see salad dressing in at the local diner.... to safely hold the screws that you remove. Small post-it notes and a pen to label them if you can't trust yourself to remember how to reassemble. Check the floor under your work area before you start, because if you drop screws, you want to be able to find them somehow. (If you are on a tile or linoleum floor, a flashlight held very near horizontal will cast big shadows from even small parts and help you locate any you do drop.)

A soft towel to placed under the computer will keep it from scratching and from sliding around. I'd normally suggest a wrist strap for static, but if you sit still, discharge yourself against a reachable grounded surface periodically, you'll not likely kill anything with static. If it's a dry day and you get shocked a lot, maybe not the best day to do this.

I agree with jeffxl, do it alone and also without the cats or dog nearby. Use good lighting. A small magnifying glass is helpful, as is a smooth wooden tool (like orangewood cuticle sticks)... to help gently pry without scratching as steel is prone to do.

You will remove a ton of parts to get the display off. Some pieces of aluminum tape won't go back on. Be gentle and if something is not moving, puzzle it out and don't force things too much. (How much is too much???!)

The iBook I did took me two hours. I'd allocate an afternoon to be safe.

Most of the time, I drop screws during re-assembly. This is most problematic during installation of internal screws, where they can fall into the circuitry, disk drives, hinges, concealed places. Super sharp tweezers are good to have too.

Sorry for too much info. Feel free to email me if you have any direct questions and good luck!
posted by FauxScot at 4:21 PM on April 26, 2006

Make sure you have a set of jewelers screwdrivers handy. Be careful about overtorqueing the heads - the metal on them is quite soft and strips very easily.
posted by Thistledown at 4:59 PM on April 26, 2006

If the top part of the inner case is anything like my 12" PB I replaced the HD in, make sure that when you're disconnecting the top of the main body of the computer (under the keys but over the guts), you are VERY CAREFUL about removing the power switch connector.

I removed it - right out of the soldering on the circuit board. The connectors can be tight, and they're a bitch to solder back in. No reason to have two problems to fix instead of one.

Other than that, ditto the PB fixit thing, and block out some time. It may be the most unintuative thing I've ever taken apart.
posted by plaidrabbit at 5:09 PM on April 26, 2006

My iBook needs a new screen due to some bruising and a missing latch. After reading through the guide (the same one that FauxScot worked from) I decided it wasn't worth it. It's a very major repair. Especially as a new LCD is quite expensive.

Perhaps you could pay a service center to make the repair for you. As you're providing the new screen, I don't imagine it'd be prohibitively expensive.
posted by aladfar at 8:16 AM on April 27, 2006

The advice you have all listed is very useful and will doubt help me a lot when if I decide to replace the screen myself.

Especially tips that might prevent one from rushing into a job like this.

I am going to check out the guides you referenced above and will hopefully report back on my progress.

I can't thank you all enough, thank you!
posted by Sevenupcan at 9:13 AM on April 27, 2006

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