iCan't Get It Open
August 22, 2006 3:33 PM   Subscribe

Has anyone cracked open a Powerbook power adapter?

I have seen a couple of photosets online, but nothing with extremely specific instructions. My power adapter is clearly down to a couple of strands, and I would prefer to fix it myself than spend money on a new adapter. But beyond vague "I used a small screwdriver and a hammer" I have not found any clear descriptions of popping the bugger open to do some soldering.
posted by mzurer to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
Which powerbook adaptor? White square, yoyo, etc.
posted by rbs at 3:49 PM on August 22, 2006

The white square ones are very hard to get open. I succeeded only by destroying mine, and having done so I can offer no advice on how to get one open cleanly.

It may be worth noting that the point of failure in my case was in the moulded strain relief, not the brick itself. There did not seem to be a way to free the broken bit of cable from the strain relief without destroying the strain relief in the process.

You can get cheap(er than Apple) replacements here.
posted by beniamino at 4:00 PM on August 22, 2006

It's the white brick...
posted by mzurer at 4:01 PM on August 22, 2006

P.S. I used a small screwdriver and a hammer. I don't recommend it unless you are happy snapping multiple shards off the case.
posted by beniamino at 4:02 PM on August 22, 2006

There heat treated and/or glued shut. They aren't clipped together (or anything like that) in any easily re-assemblable way.
posted by cillit bang at 4:12 PM on August 22, 2006

When you say it is clearly down to a couple of strands, do you mean the cord that goes from the brick to the laptop itself? That's where mine failed, right where the cord becomes the plug which goes into the machine.

I didn't gut mine, instead, I took a roll of electrical tape and reinforced the cord for about four inches down from the plug. It's ugly as sin, but it did save me some money. I suspect it isn't a permanent fix, but it's worked for about six months now.
posted by quin at 4:58 PM on August 22, 2006

If I wiggle the cable where it enters the brick, power becomes intermittent. My experience with headphones and guitar cables leads me to believe this is because the strands have broken where the stress relief is supposed to be preventing just that.
posted by mzurer at 5:07 PM on August 22, 2006

I've never seen one of these power supplies so take this with a grain of salt, but it sounds like you're going to have to partially destroy it to get it open. You can do this without totally making it look like crap though. Use a sharp x-acto knife and a metal straightedge, and keep cutting until you break through the plastic casing. If there is a sign of an existing seam, use that, otherwise just make your own. Take your time and go all the way around the casing. When you're done with the repair you can just hold the two halves together with duct or electrical tape.
posted by Rhomboid at 5:20 PM on August 22, 2006

If I wiggle the cable where it enters the brick, power becomes intermittent.

Sounds exactly like my problem, just on the other end of the cord. If you read the reviews on apple.com, this is a very common problem. If it's still working well enough that it only fails when you wiggle the cord, I would try the electrical tape trick. It won't cost you anything and may solve the problem. If that doesn't work, you can try cracking the brick.

I've actually had this problem with a couple of other kinds of laptop adapters as well, it's not just Apple. Basically the adapter uses a coaxial cable system to transfer power. Over the years, the outer sheath of wires starts cracking from moving about. In time, it cracks all the way around and you lose power. This is why the electrical cord trick works, it's reinforces the part that is wiggling and prevents it from moving. It may not last forever, but it should keep you going for a bit.

Good luck.
posted by quin at 5:42 PM on August 22, 2006

I also kept mine going for a while by wrapping the strain relief in tape. It worked for a few weeks, but eventually there were so few continuous strands left that the weak point tended to get very hot, and progressively burned through the cable and tape. It wasn't very safe.
posted by beniamino at 6:14 PM on August 22, 2006

I performed surgery on my mac's power cord, specifically the plug part that goes into the machine, for the same reasons that you state. My observations from this endeavor are probably applicable to your issue as well. My observations:

- Getting the plug apart required the destruction of the pretty outside casing. Although, it was interesting to see how it was constructed inside.

- Usually power cords are internally formed from 2 separate insulated wires. The mac power cord is actually a single internal insulated wire. This wire is surrounded by very,very thin and brittle uninsulated metal wire that forms the second internal cord. This brittle wire is most likely where your problem is occuring.

- Manipulating the brittle surrounding wire is VERY difficult, since it breaks very easily. I was able to re-solder these connections, but it was not easy.

- Due to the fragility of this wire, my fix lasted a few months, but eventually became a problem again.

- Over the course of having these problems, I had several instances where the fraying connection actually arced.

- You're dealing with electricity here. Buying a new powerbrick is much safer. The replacement powerbrick I bought actually had a number of design improvements to address these issues over my original one (867mhz powerbook).
posted by jsonic at 7:30 AM on August 23, 2006

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