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Sell me your broken computer

re: your macbook keyboard replacement tutorial

edited December 2010 in MacBook
i'm pasting this from youtube, apologies for the brevity:

this is probably the most informative keyboard tutorial, but i've got a few questions. those liquid sensors you pointed out, am I right in assuming they turn red when wet? i discovered that one out of three of them was actually red so I assume they would have spotted it. More importantly, when you showed where you jumped your board, I noticed my unibody macbook (not pro) is a little different, its a 5.1 (late 2008/2009), would any ebay'd kit work? and do they come with new sensors/replacement black cover?


  • Hi! Thanks for the post.

    Yes, the liquid sensors turn red when wet. Generally, replacement parts do come with new sensors.

    On the unibody non-Pro MacBook, the contacts for jumping the board are right above the trackpad plug, a slightly different location than on the 15" Pro unibody. If you look in the bottom-left corner of the logic board, the trackpad connector is on the bottom edge just slightly to the right of that corner, and bright orange and square in shape. Centered immediately above it are the two silver contacts. Touch these with two ends of a paperclip, or the two points of a pair of metal tweezers, and it should produce the same effect as pressing the power button (assuming the power button is working). If it doesn't work at first, try disconnecting the keyboard ribbon cable, and then try again.

    Also, although it's possible to replace the keyboard, I've found it's often not a bad idea or all that expensive to replace the whole topcase. Keyboards can cost around $60, and entire topcases, keyboard included, can go for as low as $100-$120. It's still a little more, but it's less work, and you end up with an old topcase to use for spare parts (or to sell).

    Anyway, I hope that helps!

  • Hi, thanks for your reply it was very helpful. I ordered a top case for $100 on ebay, I have a MB466, and this is an exact match, and all the keyboards kits for sale had backlit keys which my macbook did not come with. Is it possible to retrofit a macbook with backlit keys?

    Also, pulling the ribbon cables out (the ones without connectors at the end) was sort of difficult, and I'm worried about how I'm going to get them back in. Do you have any tips? One idea that popped into my head was dipping the tips of a pair of forceps in a plastic coating (its called plasti-dip, used for making handles on hand tools). Thanks again for the quick reply, this job would have been mostly guesswork without it.
  • I don't believe it's possible to retrofit a non-Pro unibody with keyboard illumination, because I don't think the keyboard illumination connector (for the cable coming from the keyboard) exists on the logic board of that model. Granted, I have never looked for it, so you might want to determine where the cable lands on the logic board and see if there's a connector. I don't think so, though...if they bothered to put the feature on the board, I imagine they would have also sold it with the proper keyboard for illumination.

    For the small ribbon cables, I use Tweezerman tweezers. They are the best tweezers in existence, and they are far more precise than cheaper tweezers. They were not necessarily intended for computer repair, so you have to get them online or at beauty supply stores (Ulta, etc.), and they cost about $20/ea, but they are worth it, and there are a few different models...I suggest getting at least the fine-point and slanted-point versions, because they come in handy for different functions. Anyway, using two pairs of tweezers, re-inserting small ribbon cables becomes MUCH easier. They are all metal, which I suppose technically is a static hazard, but as long as you ground yourself, and of course make sure the computer is off, you should be fine.

    Also, make sure to check out for step-by-step guides when doing the topcase replacement.

    Thanks, and good luck!
  • edited December 2010
    Awesome, using tweezers is a great tip; I'll find or buy two pairs of nice ones while I'm waiting for the new upper case to arrive. By the way, do you know if its possible to replace the processor and gpu on these boards? I was looking at it and I thought I saw two square chips seated underneath one heatpipe; I'm going to look up the socket types and see if there are some better options, but I'm guessing something too beefy might run too hot for the cooling my macbook has.

    Thanks again for your advice, I'll search ifixit tonight and figure out which length screw goes where.

    edit: so I answered my own question. I can replace the cpu with a 2.4 ghz p8600, and obviously can't replace an integrated video card. oh well, maybe I'll pick up a degree in EE and figure out how to do it. in any case ebay has lots of neat macbook stuff, just have to know whats compatible and what isn't
  • Hmmmm...isn't the processor integrated? Most all Mac laptops I've worked on have had integrated non-removable processors. I could be wrong about that specific model, but I thought the processor was part of the board. Even if not, it's arguable whether it would be worth the expense and effort to go from a 2GHZ to a 2.4GHZ processor. But it would certainly be an interesting experiment!
  • edited December 2010
    took me awhile of searching but I found a person that actually managed to do it. its going to be awhile and a lot of practice (and equipment) before I can unsolder, reball (remove the pins from a retail cpu too), and resolder a chip back in place. it would be a great accomplishment though, for sure.

    edit: this is one is way more informative:
  • edited December 2010
    Oh OK, so they are soldered to the board as I thought, but you're considering doing soldering. That would require a decent rework station that costs $10K+, as well as a lot of practice, like you mentioned. Doing it manually with a heatgun/soldering iron would be totally reckless and not at all advisable -- believe me, I've tried it a hundred times, and it's hit-or-miss, and the one out of five that does end up "working" generally becomes problematic and eventually dies. It's a procedure that requires a high degree of precision that we as humans holdings heat guns and soldering irons in our shaky hands are just not capable of, and anything but the proper equipment is going to end with problems. If you do get a rework and want to get good at this sort of thing, I'd recommend finding a pile of iBook G3s with the video chip issue, and practicing on those. Heck, I could sell you a pile if you wanted some. But to get your feet wet by putting a nice unibody MacBook at risk for the purpose of a 15% speed increase...that's just crazy, and you'd most likely destroy the machine.
  • Ah yeah I know its totally unfeasible, but if I were to do it, I'd probably try to fix or upgrade other people's macbooks, this one is about 2000

    but this one is actually really affordable
  • Hey how much would a pile be? I want to start practicing soon.
  • I apologize, I somehow didn't realize that you posted the last few responses. If you are still interested in G3s with the video issue, please e-mail me at, and we can discuss it offline.

    Thanks for the links on the rework stations! The really cheap one is not technically a rework, and more like a fancy soldering iron. A good rework is all about precision and automation...something that involves you holding a tool in your hand is just not going to be very precise. The high-end reworks are programmable and have mechanical arms that repeat a program perfectly. It's the only way to go. Over the years I've probably tried repairing G3s by hand 20 different times, using every technique I've heard of, and every time it's come back to haunt me.
  • "On the unibody non-Pro MacBook, the contacts for jumping the board are right above the trackpad plug, a slightly different location than on the 15" Pro unibody."

    Could you explain where exactly the contacts for jumping the 15" Pro unibody are?
  • good question, Jon if you take a picture of the contacts when you find them I'll do the same, I think its an important tip that almost no one knows about
  • JonJon
    edited January 2011
    I finally managed to get hold of a service manual for the new Macbook pros, so if anyone is wanting to know where the jumper contacts are for powering it on without a keyboard here you are:

    13" MBP (Mid 2009)

    15" MBP (Mid 2010)

    17" MBP (Mid 2010)
  • WOW, thank you so much for posting the pictures! This info will definitely come in handy, since a bad keyboard/power button, and the need to test the board by jumping it, is turning out to be a critical repair test for unibody machines.

    Thanks again!

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