Powerbook 65W AC Adapter Repair

219 Comments

acrepair1Apple engineers are some of the most imaginative and pioneering in the technology industry. But they missed the boat on the design of my 65W Powerbook G4 adapter.

About one year after I bought my $3900 Powerbook, the power supply started to short out. Of course this event occurred after the warranty had expired. The smaller white cable coming out of the supply takes on a ton of stress through daily use. Eventually this thin cable weakened and shorted out completely. It shorted out to the point of actually sparking and melting the plastic. I’m lucky I didn’t have to sue Apple for my house burning to the ground.

repair3When my first power supply shorted out I looked at it for a bit to see if I could fix it. But the white casing was pretty much permanent and I didn’t want to destroy it. So I ponied up the big bucks and bought a new one.

This week my 2nd adapter shorted out completely. And since my battery only lasts about 7 minutes I was dead in the water. I really didn’t want to fork out more bucks on another new supply so I decided to crack it open. I was able to fix the problem and put it back together, just like new….sort of.

First I had to crack open the casing. The supply was obviously designed to be disposable and the casing had no latches or screws holding it together. I had to hammer a thin screwdriver around the edges and eventually cracked the egg open.

repair4The short in the cable was at the weak point where the cable goes into the casing. So I cut off about 2 inches of the cable, twisted it back together, soldered it and covered it with electrical tape. I tested it out before I put the case back together and it was good to go.

I then put the casing back together and used some gaffer’s tape to attach the casing’s shells back together. As you can see in the final pic, the case looks just like new….sort of. I didn’t want to use glue or epoxy, as I figured I’ll have to do this repair again. So I used Gaffer’s tape because it can easily come off to do the repair again.

I saved myself at least $80 this time. I only wish I would have done it the first time.

219 Comments

VXO

Heh… congratulations. I’m sure you had just as much fun getting the power adapter open as I did, when I repaired one for a friend.

I think my version’s a bit more colorful, though.

(This was on one of the old adapters where the cord goes into the funnel-shaped area, not the new ones with the external rubber strain relief that fails to inspire confidence.)

Rob

Hi Tony,

Had the same problem. Thanks for you directions. The ‘repair’ worked great!!

— rob —

Ferdia

Oh yes! Mine broke at the psu end inside the 1 year warranty. I had to crack it open to fix it as I couldn’t wait upto 2 weeks for a replacement to be sent. When I pushed for a warranty replacement I was asked to send the faulty one in – some how I managed to convince the nice lady that it was really broken and they would save money by just sending one out to me and not having a return courier fee! Since then I’ve used the old power cable to double the length of the new cable after it’s plug got damaged! Now I’ve just popped the cover off the plug to do another solder repair at the plug end. My 3rd party incar 12v psu isn’t giving these problems. Maybe another $1 in the manufacturing cost would be worth it?

EA

Acually this adaptor was originally dseigned as a 50W back in 2001, I know I was the PS development engineer on it. Yes the case is ultra sonic welded for safety reasons, not throw away. I really don’t know how Apple can pass safety requirements at 65W other than specify its’ use and conditions, and lower the life expectancy. In addition, the cable, well it’s thin yes for egonomics and the internal gromet was extensively tested as in October of 2001 this was the very last hurdel. It used to not break but was expensive so perhaps a cost savings was put in place.

The orginal 50W chargere was a fine product! Too bad!

S-Cpin

Sounds familiar. First power supply broke within a year, wire broke right next to S-Cpin. Apple store would not replace it, said it was excessive user abuse, and not covered. I told them it was poor design. I bought a new one, brought it home and noticed the new one had a slightly thicked cord. (maybe it’s the design) Second one broke same place in about another year (ok I travel with it and use it everyday, but I was much more careful with the second one). I took the S-Cpin off old power supply cut it open and shortened the cord. It worked fine, until this morning when the end of the S-Cpin broke off. Maybe it’s the design. Maybe it’s me, but I’ve had other laptops and never had this problem.

Anyone knows where to just get the S-Cpin, please post it! Thanks.

agentazure

Hi Nick, Thanks for your response.

I didn’t even think about it when I plugged it back in while it was wet. I let it dry for 24 hours and it still doesn’t work. I guess I’m gonna have to buy another one. Damn me.

Agent

Christopher

I managed to crack open the the small piece that plugs into the laptop. I very carefully sliced the hard plastic open with a small utility knife, cut and retinned the wires, soldered them back on, and sealed it with shrink tubing. It works!

Nick

You may have shot yourself in the foot by plugging it back in. At this point, I’d recommend letting it dry for a good 24 hours or so and trying again. Odds are, by plugging it in wet you’ve hurt some of the circuitry inside, but one can always hope! What part of the adapter did you spill on?

agentazure

Hey is anyone around? I spilled some water on my 65W AC G4 power adpter about 2 hours ago. It won’t work. Is it dead for good or do I just need to let it dry?

Jess

do you know where to get the male plug for this power supply that connects to the G4 power book??
The plug on my power cable needs to be replaced. I have found the name called “S-cpin” connector but no source to buy a placement.

Thanks

Jess

WiLi

The problem on the original Power Supplies is with the insulation.

The copper strands are actually reinforced with kevlar fibres, so these will hardly break. (you can probably tow a tank with it) But the insulation between the inner and outer conductors is too thin and too weak.
Also, the copper strands are quite thick and therefore they break when bent sharply

So, if you own a new supply, this is what helps:

Do NOT bend the cable sharply, therefore do NOT wind it around the supplied hooks that flip out. Always just easily turn the cable around your hand and just let that loose coil sit beside the case during transport.

If you can provide shrink-wrap tube, then put some of it around the ends of the cable to stiffen them at the points where they are bent the most.

If you have to repair a cable:

Microphone cable is sometimes available in the same dimensions and its copper fibres are much finer stranded than the original. Although these are not reinforces with kevlar.

On the plug side of the cord, the wires go through a HF-arrestor, thats a ferrite beed where the wires are slung through by 1,5 turns each. It is a good idea to reuse this ferrite block, although it is quite a fiddle work to do it.

The casing of the plug will slip off with a little force and bending: put a breakfast knife between the litten up ring and the sleeve and apply force, trying to turn it against its innards. Once the outer shell is off, you are able to do the soldering and reinstalling the ferrite block.

When everything is apart, this is the moment to put on the stiffening shrink wrap tube onto the cable.

Do NOT try to undertake this if you are not really experienced with fine solder work. You will need a lens to do it properly. And do not forget to prove the proper polarity!

happy repairing!

WiLi

Tony Korologos

George…. I could have used white tape but I thought the black looked much better :-) I think it enhances the “effect” of being an apple do it yourself repair.

Whit

The Madson bricks look really nice, but unless you really care about the appearance of your power adapters you’d be crazy to pay $70-80 for that when you can buy this for just $25:
http://macally.com/spec/specialties/accessories/psac4.html

I have one and it works fairly well. The only problem is that if your battery dies you have to let it charge for a couple of minutes after plugging it in before the machine will power back on. I assume this is because the wattage is a bit lower than the factory adapter.

Rich

Wait for one of these: http://www.madsonline.com/index.html?acadapter.html~mainFrame
Or get the iJuice Go whatever it’s called from Radio Shack (or Maplin in the UK).
Don’t bother splicing cords from 3rd party to the original – the Apple power brick is Broken As Designed. The internals are abysmal and run too hot. It only gained a strain relief sleeve after I suggested it to them a couple of years ago. Just shows how incapable their engineers are and how strong Ives’s Pretty Looks department is. It’s a PSU! It doesn’t need to look like a sexy piece of yoghurty soap!

j

why not use the warranty and receipt for the first power supply you bought to get warranty on the second one that died. i have done this twice now with no hassles and would certainly not be chiseling open and repairing anything that could burn down my house ( as one nearly did!)
jas

Mark

Nick:
If you’re talking about the the connecter going into the laptop, I had the same problem a few months back. It’s probably worth it just to buy a third party adapter but if you’re in the mood for an electrical hack, here’s what I did. Find an airplane to Powerbook adapter somewhere online. They can be had for less than 15 dollars with a little looking because they often do not include a voltage regulator. (Sorry, I can’t locate the shop where I purchased mine). Cut off the failing connector off your Apple supply, cut the airplane connecter of the new adapter and splice the wires. if I recall, the outside shield is ground and the inner conductor is V+. VERIFY THIS WITH A VOLTMETER. Double and tripple check the polarity and you should be good to go! Good luck.

gopi

When I had one die, I bought a replacement at CompUSA, and got their replacement plan thing. It, of course, died in less than a year due to cable fraying. I walked in to CompUSA with the dead one and walked back out in less than 5 minutes with a brand new one in the box.

The newer Apple ones have more reinforcing in some places than the original ones, at least on the adaptor side. Of course, mine died at the PowerBook plug side, so the reinforcement wouldn’t have helped.

Adam Meltzer

Apple has a 1 year warranty on the power bricks. I had a friend who had one catch fire (out of warranty, natch) and had to buy a new one. The new one died after a month. Apple sent him a replacement no questions asked after verifying the information on his receipt.

Matt

Nice one, my power supply looks exactly the same, with a bit more gaffer tape holding it together after the hot glue failed to keep it together.

Nick

Anyone know how to fix the other end? The power supply -> laptop connector has been trying to pull off on me for 6 months or so. Thus far, repeated tapings have held it together, but I know the day is inevitable.

Mark

I had the same thing happen to me… does anyone know why, my 17″ power doesn’t go to sleep when my power is low… it just shut’s off…

M.A.Pryor

Well, mine had lasted about two years before it did it, but when I went to Apple store all they were willing to do was sell me a new one.

Mark Wubben

These things aren’t supposed to happen, so AppleCare or not, I’d expect a replacement.

And how come they are certified if they break down this easily?

Michael

I recently had my second power supply short out on me. The first time, a local Apple authorized repairer replaced it free of charge under the original warranty. The second time I called Apple and they sent out a new power supply two days later under AppleCare.

First though, they took a credit card and told me that if I didn’t return the broken adapter, I’d get charged for the new power supply. Returning was pretty easy, take new adapter out of box, put broken in, tape box box up, tear off top label, hand back to delivery person or drop in Airborne/DHL box.

Since I mentioned shorting, burn smell, and smoke, Apple did send me through an extended questioning to determine how much of a hazard the power supply was. They do indeed seem to worry about this.

I agree with others, this shouldn’t happen in the first place. I now have on power supply left at home and another that travels with me. Hopefully, I’ll not have another shorting issue for a while.

Dalle

Are u shure apple dont cover thhis as i know they gets really scared when things melt and stuff like that try and see what happens if you call them about it. I would like to know the result if u call.

Eric

You could always look into third-party AC adapters that are half the cost and more of a traditional design, but usually use heavier wiring.

It is good to fix things though…

M.A.Pryor

AppleCare wouldn’t help in this situation-at least mine didn’t. They just want to sell a new power cord. However, I did the same thing on my old one and glued it back together.

Dan Lurie

There is some talk about this on the apple discussion boards. Also, you should really look into getting applecare, its really worth it.

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