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You are here: MacNN Forums > Enthusiast Zone > Hardware Hacking > iBook clamshell mod - a plan

iBook clamshell mod - a plan
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Jul 1, 2009, 01:26 PM
 
Hello: I have always thought the clamshell was the best looking computer Apple has ever made. (Different strokes for different folks, I guess.) Anyway, I've often thought it'd be pretty cool to get one (preferably indigo) and update it to something reasonably modern.

Of course, given the tight spaces, it never seemed feasible......until the era of the netbook. I now believe that there must be some model of netbook with a motherboard that could fit into the spaces inside the iBook.

So, my plan would be thus:

- Research carefully the space available inside the clamshell case.
- Research the sizes of the smaller netbooks' motherboards
- Purchase iBook clamshell
- Purchase netbook
- Purchase higher rez 12" display compatible with motherboard inside netbook
- Take iBook apart.
- Mount new motherboard, HD, and display.
- Attach existing CD ROM drive, power supply, keyboard and touchpad.
- Use connectors to attach motherboard mounts to various ports (FW, USB, audio, etc.)
- Install OSX86.

Concerns:

- Mounting new hardware on old chassis. Clearly some adaptations will need to be made.
- Connecting power supply - I do not know if the connections are generic enough to match.
- Connecting keyboard and trackpad - I don't know if the connections will match up, and if they don't, how to adapt one to the other.

Anyway that's the plan. I would most appreciate some feedback on the feasibility of this, and also any place where I am being naive or have over-simplified a process.

Thanks!
     
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Jul 1, 2009, 03:22 PM
 
There are a number of problems you're going to have in doing this with a netbook:

Connecting the keyboard and trackpad will be extremely difficult, unless you can come up with the pinouts for both the netbook and the iBook keyboards, and hack together something that allows you to use the clamshell's keyboard on the netbook's motherboard.

The netbook doesn't have any way to attach a second IDE device, so unless you convert the 1.8" ZIF connector on the appropriate board (HP comes to mind) to IDE, you won't be able to connect the cd-rom.

Connecting the power supply (really just the DC in-board) shouldn't be too difficult - just figure out the pin configuration and solder away.

Getting a display connected is fairly doable, all things considered, although you might have a bitch of a time getting OS X to recognize the resolution. Netbooks appear to generally use a particular standard of LCD data connection that is frequently found on Samsung and LG 12" laptop LCDs. Windows and Linux are both nice enough to let you force a certain resolution. I think it could be relatively easy to do.

There's also the question of cooling - clamshells used a passive dissipation design with no fans, and there's very little ventilation in the case. You may have to end up modifying the case to allow for additional heat dissipation to prevent stuff from overheating.

The most difficult things you're going to encounter are with the keyboard, trackpad, and optical drive. You could be better off converting the drive to USB (look on Chinese sites like DealExtreme or this site - I bet you could find the hardware necessary to do so) and attaching it to the board that way. Netbooks that come with an integrated webcam have an extra internal USB header for the webcam - you could splice in a hub between the webcam and the motherboard to add some internal ports.

There is some information here on converting a laptop keyboard to a desktop keyboard:

GRYNX � Converted laptop keyboard

It's not exactly the same, but it gives a little insight into the pinout situation. Your best bet may very well be to just splice between the pins of the iBook keyboard and the keyboard connector on a netbook, and see what you come up with.

I've got a LiveJournal community dedicated to modding clamshell iBooks - if you want, join up over there and post about your project! You can find it here: The iBook Modification Project
     
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Jul 2, 2009, 12:44 AM
 
Ah, crap. Totally forgot about the netbook NOT HAVING an optical drive.....Duh! Ok, so that's a challenge......or, we could remove the CDROM from the equation altogether - just take it out (for extra space or whatever) and replace just the bezel to minimize the disruption of the aesthetics. Or the USB plan.

Speaking of USB: could I bypass the netbook's motherboard and route the keyboard and trackpad also through a USB? Would that save me some trouble? Is it any easier to work out the connection from the keyboard pinout to USB? I figure that most netbooks have three USB and I only need one of them connected out through the iBook's port. That gives me two to jury-rig - three if it has a webcam as you mentioned.

Cooling......that I'll have to think about. I suppose a strategic dremel hole could be made into the case that would minimize aesthetic impact......

Thanks for the feedback! Please let me know if you have any insights into my followup questions.......
     
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Jul 2, 2009, 02:16 PM
 
It's unlikely you could reroute the keyboard and mouse through USB. Desktop keyboards contain a controller board that changes the data signals to something USB-compatible. A laptop keyboard uses the laptop's motherboard for that conversion. I think your best bet is to try and patch together some kind of cable to connect the iBook keyboard to a netbook keyboard input, and then find software that will let you remap all the keyboard keys.

You might be able to embed a USB media reader into the CD-ROM bezel, if you're handy with a dremel. Then you could easily transfer files. It would also be cool to desolder the USB port from the iBook's motherboard and make it into an extension cable for one of the netbook's USB ports, to keep the original aesthetics of the laptop.

I'm not sure how you're going to connect the trackpad - at least the keyboard connector has regular pins. The trackpad is a ZIF connector, so figuring that out could be somewhat difficult. You might be better off removing the trackpad from the netbook, cutting out a square for it in the iBook's trackpad (maybe even keeping the silver layer intact so that it blends in?), and mounting the netbook's trackpad in the iBook. If you went that route, I'd recommend finding whatever netbook has the biggest trackpad so that you have a lot to work with.
     
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Jul 2, 2009, 11:36 PM
 
Well, it sounds like the keyboard is doable. I'm still concerned about the trackpad, though.....

The more I think about it, the more I'm inclined to leave the CDROM out altogether. a) it shortens the list of significant challenges and b) it opens up the case a bit. This means I can consider a larger netbook motherboard (with the appropriate internal frame modifications, of course). And, given the worries about heat, I can use the the port for the tray for some ventilation......

Thanks for the info, btw.
     
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Jul 12, 2009, 05:31 PM
 
FYI - It would appear that the trackpad uses Apple's proprietary ADB protocol. You'll need to figure out the pin configuration on the trackpad cable, and then find a way to turn that into an ADB connection, which you can convert to USB with the Griffin iMate.
     
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Oct 14, 2009, 01:52 AM
 
Yay, someone shares the same idea. I just bought two clamshells and am going to open them up to see how I could swap out the guts.
     
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Oct 15, 2009, 10:57 PM
 
Good luck. If you manage to do it, make sure you take loads of pictures and document everything. And post it here and on the community linked in my sig!
     
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Oct 16, 2009, 09:14 AM
 
anyone taken the display into consideration yet? isn't pretty much everything these days widescreen? and even for a netbook, 800x600 isn't cool. i believe the dell mini 9 i had was 1024x600 on a 9" screen but at least that's wide enough for a standard webpage.
     
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Oct 16, 2009, 09:04 PM
 
Originally Posted by shdwghst457 View Post
anyone taken the display into consideration yet? isn't pretty much everything these days widescreen? and even for a netbook, 800x600 isn't cool. i believe the dell mini 9 i had was 1024x600 on a 9" screen but at least that's wide enough for a standard webpage.
Originally Posted by shifuimam View Post
Getting a display connected is fairly doable, all things considered, although you might have a bitch of a time getting OS X to recognize the resolution. Netbooks appear to generally use a particular standard of LCD data connection that is frequently found on Samsung and LG 12" laptop LCDs. Windows and Linux are both nice enough to let you force a certain resolution. I think it could be relatively easy to do.
Translation: you can find an LCD that will be able to interface with the netbook's motherboard, because LCD data connections are standardized. You may need to hack together an extension cable to accommodate the taller LCD, but getting the two to interface should be pretty damn easy.

Whether or not OS X will play nicely is a different story, hackintosh or not - but in Windows or Linux, getting everything to work will be a snap.
     
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Oct 21, 2009, 05:48 PM
 
I realize this might be far-fetched and I realize it would be difficult. But why not simply use old mac logic boards? I understand that the white ibook logic board wouldn't just drop in. But it would eliminate a lot of problems such as LCD compatibility. I wouldn't imagine it would be too incredibly difficult to modify the trackpad and keyboard to work either.

Lining up the ports would be difficult, but it also seems like simply detaching them from the logic board could simplify things. Being good with a soldering iron is a must for that... but It seems like it could very well be possible. Optical drive is probably going to have to be forgotten, but seems to me that it would be easier to install mac os x without an optical drive than it would be to actually squeeze one in there.

As far as space is concerned I understand that the square ibook logic board would likely have to be centered in the case... so all of the case would have to be reinforced without using any of the stock reinforcements and shielding.
     
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Oct 28, 2009, 05:19 AM
 
A long journey begins with the first step......

My Clamshell upgrade project:

iBook G4 800MHZ logicboard (32MB VRAM) 1024x768 screen.
- no GHZ board a tribute to the heat problem -

Phase 1:
First step successful: Complete 800Mhz Logicboard including frame fits in the original Clamshell case. G4 Keyboard fits in nearly perfect.
DC in is nearly in the same position as the original one.
Needed to cut out some parts of the interior Clamshell plastic (battery compartment) and some parts of the aluminum frame of the 800MHz Board around the edges.


next steps:
Replace the original trackpad with the G4 trackpad
re-arrange the postion of the optical drive nearer to the position of original one (find a longer ide connection cable ?)
Solving the port problem: Short cable connections leading from the hole in the bottom case to the new ports ?
( Last edited by bund; Oct 28, 2009 at 05:35 AM. )
iBook-Clamshell.com - My fan site for the first colored iBook generation in german and english
     
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Oct 28, 2009, 08:26 AM
 
You might not even need to replace the trackpad - it may be that the G3 trackpad is compatible with the G4 motherboard. Older Apple laptops used the ADB protocol for the trackpad, but the clamshell and G4 iBooks may be new enough to use the USB protocol that all trackpads these days use. It can't hurt to try it! Some quick googling seems to prove that both use ADB, so you should be able to just use the clamshell's trackpad. IIRC, they use the same size ZIF cable. You could probably wrangle up some kind of extension from there.

WRT the ports - using cable extensions is definitely going to be the most painless method of extending everything. Otherwise, you can desolder the female ports and wire on new ports at the solder points. This would be easy for the USB and FireWire ports and the headphone jack; not so sure about the video out port.

I'm not sure what's going to be easiest on the optical drive front. You may actually be better off using a USB port (which you have to do anyhow since the clamshell case only has an opening for one USB port) and an adapter to connect the drive via USB.

Can you post pictures of your current progress? I can host them if necessary, or you can just use Flickr.
     
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Oct 29, 2009, 04:41 AM
 
Thanks, shifuimam.

I decided to run some tests for two weeks with the "new" board in the "old" Clamshell to see if there is a general heat problem - otherwise it will not make sense to go on.
(sealed the port holes with tape so far)

The iBook G4 800 boards are often affected by the logicboard problem, so I'm not sure if this was a wise descision, but by chance i got my hands on this G4 iBook with a small crack in the screen.

The G4 PowerBook 867Mhz might be a better solution, the form factor is even smaller and the keyboard size is exactly the same.

I will post some pictures next weekend.
iBook-Clamshell.com - My fan site for the first colored iBook generation in german and english
     
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Nov 12, 2009, 03:55 PM
 
Any updates on this project? I'm interested to see how things are going.
     
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Nov 13, 2009, 10:04 PM
 
weren't the 867's generally known as some of the hottest powerbooks?
imac g3 600
imac g4 800 superdrive
ibook 466
     
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Nov 15, 2009, 12:14 PM
 
Originally Posted by shifuimam View Post
Any updates on this project? I'm interested to see how things are going.
I second that enquiry.

Originally Posted by gooser View Post
weren't the 867's generally known as some of the hottest powerbooks?
And yes, I believe they were.
     
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Jul 18, 2010, 06:03 PM
 
Hi, I were having the same thoughts on my mind, did anyone succeed with their upgrade of the clamshell?

I was thinking on the MacBook Air, would it be possible to build that one in?, they are slowly loosing their value on the secondhand-market, and their size is ideal...

Since there is plenty of space around the original screen the 13,3" screen of the air should fit (even to the original is 12"). There are programs that can modify the screenarea that is being used by the computer, so hopefully that shouldn't be a problem.

The thing that I am most uncertain about is, what to do with the trackpad...
     
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Sep 13, 2010, 03:33 PM
 
I've had the same thought as other's here. We purchased two clamshells on eBay this past summer. Does anyone have a blog or website with "how to" somewheres that I can look at?

The plan is to fix these up & make them a bit faster, in the meantime we are using them as is. One is tangerine, one is turquoise (lighter blue) clamshell. They are mostly for my kids, and they are pretty young. So we have found a couple websites that work w/ these computers & also are looking at finding some games. If anyone is knowledgeable in these computers. I'd love to pick you brain. Thanks so much, Heather
     
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Sep 13, 2010, 04:32 PM
 
HaleyO...iFixit is a good source for how-to instructions.
     
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Sep 13, 2010, 07:58 PM
 
I found that under Mac OS 10.3 Opera 10.10 was the best browser, as far as performance and the ability to render modern web pages well. I don't know what version of Mac OS you are running though.
     
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Sep 19, 2010, 05:42 AM
 
Originally Posted by macaddict0001 View Post
I found that under Mac OS 10.3 Opera 10.10 was the best browser, as far as performance and the ability to render modern web pages well. I don't know what version of Mac OS you are running though.
that's the version of opera i was running. was very satisfied. of course opera automatically upgraded it to a newer version and killed the whole thing. only two options on their updater reminders, upgrade now or remind me later. guess opera finally got tired of me always clicking the remind me later option and just decided to upgrade itself.
imac g3 600
imac g4 800 superdrive
ibook 466
     
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Oct 15, 2010, 06:38 PM
 
Something interesting for you, from the iPad cases thread in the iPhone/iPod/iPad forum

Originally Posted by ajprice View Post
Google Translate
(linked to at TUAW - "iPad in iBook" stand merges past and present )

An iPad in an iBook


It'll be much easier if you just comply.
     
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Apr 8, 2012, 01:51 AM
 
Given that the last post was years ago, i don't know if anyone is still around, but I'll ask anyway:
I have an old iBook that I love and a netbook that I hate lying around, so I was curious to see how difficult it would be to swap out the iBook's guts. Did anyone actually have any luck with this? I don't care at all about the optical drive, but I'd really like to be able to connect the original keyboard and trackpad to the netbook motherboard, but I'm worried that that is going to fail miserably. I've read the various ideas people have come up with to solve that problem, but did anyone actually have any luck with them?
     
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Apr 8, 2012, 08:14 AM
 
Its doable, but its a lot of work. You have to re-house all the netbook parts into the iBook. This can be done with a bit of cutting and glueing most likely, the problem will be the internal cables. If they aren't long enough, you are talking about building custom ribbon cables which is tricky. The battery might also be easier said than done.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
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Apr 8, 2012, 01:35 PM
 
My biggest concern is really the trackpad... mapping the pins from the trackpad to ABD then converting ABD to USB sounded like the most promising plan, but no one ever mentioned whether they actually got that to work... guess it will be an adventure!
     
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Apr 10, 2012, 01:05 PM
 
Thats a good point. You might need an old USB to ADB adaptor stripped down and shoehorned in there. Assuming they ever worked on Windows. Might be easier to replace the trackpad with one from a PC. Or the one from the Netbook.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
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May 24, 2012, 10:52 AM
 
After adding up the long to-do-list for the G4 logicboard to Clamshell project i've ended up just in placing a 1024x768 display in the old iBook.
The topic has been discussed in the forum some years ago.
iBook-Clamshell.com - My fan site for the first colored iBook generation in german and english
     
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Jun 25, 2012, 10:04 AM
 
hay nice sharing....... it is very helpful for me......... thanks for this post.......... i really want to buy one for me.........


did you have any good source of instructing??
i am me and i love it
     
   
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