Monday, February 15, 2021

Power Mac G4 Cube - Power Supply replacement



The Power Mac G4 Cube is a very unique Apple computer, with its special and compact desktop (for the time at least) "cube" form factor. It features  easy access to its internal components for (some) upgrades, but mostly, this accessibility is used to show off to your friends and family. 
Unfortunately, it ended up being a commercial failure due to lack of specific market focus and higher price compared to other Apple products of its time with similar or higher specs. Thus, it had a very short life span, being produced only between July 2000 and July 2001 what today lead to a somewhat rare and collectible Mac.


The Cube, like most Apple products, is a solid machine and if you are lucky enough to find a reasonably priced one, most units tend to be working to this day. Among the non-working ones available, chances are that it's because of its power supply (PSU) being dead. Sadly, the Cube PSU is custom made for the Cube, using a proprietary connector cable - making it very rare / expensive to find a plug and play replacement. 

Thankfully, you are lucky enough to come across this article! :)




Thursday, January 7, 2021

The wonders of 3D Printing

This has been a long overdue post on how useful having access to a 3D printer can be. I have one for the past few months and I am still learning new functions in the program slicer and I am very rusty in terms of CAD design software. Throughout my career, I learned a little bit of AutoCAD but I never really used, so most of it I had forgotten. Thus, having a 3D printer gave me an opportunity to re-learn CAD and of course, learn about the intricacies of preparing a 3D model to be put into our physical world.
I am not going to go much in depth as this post is not a tutorial on how to design and 3D print parts. There is simply too much to cover and much better resources out there. To illustrate the "wonders of 3D printing", I will focus on a simple, yet useful feature of 3D printing: DIY repairs. 


My printer is the Creality Ender 3 v2, that despite being a budget, is a very competent printer, especially for beginners.  


My 3D printer setup with some customized (printed) mods

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Restoring a Macintosh Color Classic

The Macintosh Color Classic is a very collectable Classic Macintosh. It is relatively rare as it was only manufactured for a little over 2 years and is the only classic Macintosh that comes with a Sony 
Color 10" CRT monitor as opposed to the standard 9" B&W CRT display present in all other Compact Macs.


Macintosh Color Classic running System 7.5.5


Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Recapping a Macintosh SE/30 and a IIsi logic boards and the IIsi power supply

Many vintage (15+ years) electronic boards (PCBs) are at a higher risk of having its non-solid electrolytic capacitors leaking by now. Such leaking occurs regardless of whether the component is actually being used/energized (although storage conditions may further contribute to the component degradation). The leakage happens due to natural aging of the component sealing and/or internal corrosion within the capacitor. The consequence of such leakages can be catastrophic not only for the capacitor itself, but for the electronic board as a whole. Here is why...

The most commonly used capacitor (aka caps) in computer logic boards and power supplies are the non-solid electrolytic capacitors, which use a liquid or gel as electrolyte. The problem is that the electrolyte liquid/gel used in these caps are conductive and corrosive and both these characteristics do not go well if spilled over your PCB. Therefore, when these capacitors leak, they can cause:

1) The PCB to malfunction by creating electric contact (short circuits) between components that were intended to be connected. Depending on the short circuits created by the conductive liquid, it could completely burn components and even create holes in the PCB, potentially damaging the board beyond repair. 

2) In addition to shortening components, the corrosive nature of the electrolyte will (with time) corrode the copper traces on the PCB as well as the components terminals to a certain extent. The electrolyte will also cover the solder joints creating a crusty layer that shields the solder joint from heat, requiring you to add more heat to be able to remove components (by desoldering).


Macintosh IIsi Power Supply with leaky capacitors

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Exploration into the Retr0bright world...

Hello everyone! I would like to share my experience restoring old computers to its original (or close to) beige/grey colour. 

If you are reading this post, chances are that you know what retrobright (or retr0bright) is. In any case, here is a short explanation: ABS plastics were largely  used in computers and game consoles in the 80s, 90s and early 2000s. Plastic manufacturers mixed bromine within the ABS formula to give these plastics fire retardant properties. With time, these ABS plastics turn yellow due to a chemical reaction between the bromine and UV light (radiated plenty by the Sun and also fluorescent lights among other sources).

The state of my vintage Apple keyboard prior to the process


Sunday, October 4, 2020

Rescuing a Macintosh SE

I got this Macintosh SE SuperDrive (or FDHD) as part of a complete package, with keyboard, mouse, the original Apple manuals (including the stickers), an Apple StyleWritter II printer, a 1200 bps modem and even some early 90s software. 


The seller tried to power it on and sent me this photo of what he got on the screen: 

Strange wavy pattern with a faint checkered board in the back


I researched for such pattern to get hints on what could be going on and heard it could be: 

Sunday, August 30, 2020

My first Macintosh SE/30!

The Macintosh SE/30 is considered by many the holy grail of the Classic Macs. It is the fastest and most expandable of the classics 9" B&W form factor Macintoshes. It can accept up to a whopping 128Mb of RAM (!!!), what is impressive for a machine that was released back in Jan/1989.