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Old November 23rd, 2004, 12:14 PM   #1
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MAYDAY-SOS-911 PowerBook accident

Yikes! I got a big problem! My PowerBook fell on the floor with a speaker plugged into it, and apart from putting a big crack in the bezel (what a stupid idea to make such a part out of plastic!), the major issue is that the tip of the plug broke off inside the headphone jack, both shorting out the internal speakers and making it impossible to plug anything else in. Which means this machine is useless for any audio applications, including Final Cut Pro. I have though about workarounds, but I can't get my applications to port the audio to USB, etc.

I have tried several methods to get the tip out, but it won't budge. And the jack has a fully-enclosed back, so I can't just push the piece out the back. Of course, Apple has a perfect solution, they want to replace the entire motherboard. Yeah, right!!!! Spend over a grand to fix a 3-yr-old machine! Like that's gonna happen!!!

Anyone have experience replacing the headphone jack on these?

Thanks!


PS, I epoxied the bezel back together...gotta love that Marine-Tex!
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Old November 23rd, 2004, 12:30 PM   #2
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Can't you disable that port in the OS? Otherwise, try a set of tweezers to pull it out?

I'd take to the Apple store near you. Sometimes those geeks in the "genius" area can do some cool stuff. They might be able to fix it, or bypass that input.

Sucks man, sorry. I know when I had a PB the stupid power supply almost killed me when it overheated...3 power supplies later that I had to buy I realized Apple had a class action against them for horrible power supplies. I never pursued, but goes to show you how serious something so stupid can become.

Murph
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Old November 23rd, 2004, 02:15 PM   #3
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I'm assuming you go to New York fairly often? If so, try the apple store there, if they are a no go the people at Tek-Serve are awesome and would probably fix it for free. They are on something like 17th street between 7th and 6th avenue I think...
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Old November 23rd, 2004, 04:52 PM   #4
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If you can't get it fixed for a reasonable amount, you could get a Griffin iMic or something like that and route your system sound through it.
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Old November 23rd, 2004, 05:20 PM   #5
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Re: MAYDAY-SOS-911 PowerBook accident

Hello,

You can try "Audio Hijack" which re-routes sound out (and I think in) from port to port in software. Look for it on versiontracker.com

<<<-- <snip> and apart from putting a big crack in the bezel (what a stupid idea to make such a part out of plastic!), <snip>

PS, I epoxied the bezel back together...gotta love that Marine-Tex! -->>>


<snip>

As for the mini-pin itself, how about a really small easy out?

-Ian

edited to fix my hasty reply.
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Old November 23rd, 2004, 10:19 PM   #6
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>>>>What would you rather make it out of?<<<<<

Answer: How about actually using titanium like the name implies? Or any metal for that matter. Aluminum, recycled steel from soup cans...materials which inherently would dent or bend instead of fracturing. I have an IBM Thinkpad which has sustained a drop from a similar height with no damage. Of course it is a dreadful computer and I hate it. That's why I own a PowerBook.

It is easy to criticize the user for having an all-too-commonplace mishap. I am hardly the first person to observe how much more fragile the G4 Ti chassis is than the average laptop, as can be discovered by surfing around this topic. And I am counting my blessings that one or both of the hinges didn't break, as they are legendary (not in a good way) for being breakage-prone, and they are ridiculously expensive.

The story of student driver who hit the tree is a ludicrous analogy, and I don't recall ever threatening to boycott the brand, but I do reserve the right to complain about being forced to replace the entire guts of the machine over a 50 part.

I can actually understand Apple using plastic for the bezel, they have a reputation to uphold for creating sleekly styled machines. Plus all laptop manufacturers are chasing the holy grail of light weight, and Apple is the champion...who else makes a 17" that weighs less than 7 pounds! Of course, the price is fragility.

But, in my almost 40 years of working with electronics, I have never seen a more hideous configuration for installing an input or output connector, it is inexcusable. If you want to use the car metaphor, it'd be like having to replace the entire nose of the car including the engine if you accidentally scrape a fender. Unrepairable circuitry might be understandable in a $20 boom box, but throwaway design in an almost $3000 computer is unacceptable, even in this disposable age.

The bezel is the small-potatoes issue, I have already fixed it, and the small scar is almost funky-chic, plus I know that I could get a spanking-new bezel for $99 if I wanted to make the machine look pristine (other than all the little nicks and scratches in the titanium skin, which I am not about to replace unless they get severely dented). Most importantly, the bezel is not a functionality issue like the headphone jack.

I couldn't find tweezers narrow enough, I haven't seen an easy-out small enough but am willing to look. I couldn't figure out how to get iTunes to port the audio to USB with the Griffin iMic; I have used the iMic with DJ1800, because the headphone monitor cueing goes through USB while the main program output goes through the headphone jack (but that will still leave me with one too few audio paths for DJing).

I already know what Apple wants to do in terms of fixing my problem, so I will leave that on the side, but I like the idea of letting some independent techno-geek dealers have a look at it. I usually only go to NYC if I have a gig there, haven't been in a few months, but might just take a ride if I get in the mood.

I can't afford to be on a deaf-mute computer for too long, so I'm already looking into a new PowerBook, just need to decide between the 15 Super and the 17. But I do want to sell this machine in 100% working order.
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Old November 24th, 2004, 06:26 AM   #7
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If it was a long term solution, you could get USB speakers like the SoundSticks from HK. They are automatically recognized by the Sound Preference and an additional option for output automatically appears in the output drop down. I thought the iMic was one way, getting sound into the laptop, not out.
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Old November 24th, 2004, 09:57 AM   #8
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Jeff,
iMic has a switch to select between mic (input) and speaker (output) usage. My main purpose in having it was to provide a cueing output for listening to the intro of the next song while program output from the virtual mixer was flowing out to the PA system through the (now-lamented) headphone jack. The iMic is the item recommended by DJing software suppliers to accomplish this.

Out of curiosity, does the H-K have a headphone jack on it that could feed into the PA? Of course, that leaves the question of whether my software will support two USB signal outputs: the H-K and iMic. Y'see, I still need two separate simultaneous signal outs in order to use this machine for DJ'ing. Obviously, that's not necessary in video editing, so one alternative is to retire this machine from DJing and keep it as a dedicated FCP edit workstation. Not that I want to own a plethora of single-purpose computers.
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Old November 24th, 2004, 10:09 AM   #9
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Hi Mike,

I went off to class and had that feeling in my gut that my post was ham fisted. It was not ment to be as pointed a comment as it sounded.

What I was trying to say was that I doubt the type of material had much of an effect during an impact with enough force to shear a headphone jack. Even with less cosmetic damage, that energy had to be absorbed by something.

The car wreck story was just my own shock at how insane the 'blame the gear' attitude has become. It seems its never anyones fault anymore. A car crash now being the fault of the car not stopping in time, or as I said in the last post (which I edited out earlier), for absorbing an impact by deforming more than deemed acceptable by the owner. Never mind that the user created the event. The next sentence you usually hear is "I'll never buy another one of those again" as if a flaw has been revealed.

Calling the use of plastic in a powerbook case as stupid just got me going. its been a long day. Heck, an all plastic case may have absorbed the impact with less damage. Who knows.

Did audio hijack work?
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Old November 24th, 2004, 12:42 PM   #10
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How about the return of the HANDLE to the iBooks and add it to PowerBooks... Next time you are transporting your laptop somewhere think about how awkward the whole process is... Its ridiculous! Just like the iPod is easy to drop, so are laptops!
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Old November 24th, 2004, 02:38 PM   #11
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Hm I know magnets (?? vocab problem.. magneto??) aren't really good for computers but.. Couldn't a strong one be used to remove the pin?

feel free to disregard.. =)
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Old November 28th, 2004, 05:25 PM   #12
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Adding a handle might be a good idea going forward if it wouldn't significantly add to weight (you know how Apple is about those bragging rights). It wouldn't have helped in this case. The computer did not slip out of anyone's hands. Instead, it was sitting on a desk, with speaker plugged in and lid open for viewing a DVD, the speaker cable got accidentally wrapped around the arm of an office chair of a neighboring desk unbeknownst to anyone, and when the person seated in that chair (who did not see this) turned around, the wire pulled the computer right onto the floor, shearing off the plug.

Magnet would have no effect, since it only attracts ferrous (iron, steel) metals and not the brass typically used in these connectors. Plus, even if the plug were made of a magnetic material, it is unlikely that even a big magnet would exert enough pull on the tiny mass of metal in the plug, especially when it needs to overcome the spring tension internal to the jack which is what holds the plug in place during normal operation. Most likely to work is if a technician drills out the rear of the jack's plastic housing and uses a stiff wire or the blunt end of a drill bit to push the offending bit back out. This will require removal of the motherboard to get access with the tools, which I am letting a local technician have a go at.

The plastic bezel is moot, having been repaired with Marine-Tex* (a strong, machinable epoxy used in general boat repair) and sanded down with a Dremel and sprayed with silver paint, leaving a bit of a shabby spot in the area of the break on the bezel if you look closely enough, thus a battle scar. Here's an offshoot on my rant about the bezel: Apple molded it in black plastic and painted it silver, so any scratches or wear on the edges or nicks from wristwatch buckles etc. are highly conspicuous. Would it have been so hard for them to use a light gray substrate to mitigate this effect? I think not. End of sermon.

My next PowerBook (still have to decide between the Super 15 and the 17") will be housed and carried in a Pelican case, and I will be paranoid about issues concerning connecting through the headphone jack, which was the direct cause of this accident. I am thinking about rigging a short extension cable (about 3 to 6 inches long) and gaffer's taping it to the side of the machine, giving us a breakaway feature in case the output cable gets yanked like that in the future, which also would be easily replaceable if damaged.

*In my decades of owning boats, I have needed to repair a variety of things, and always kept a can each of white and gray on board. It will adhere to metal, fiberglass, glass, masonry, ceramic, wood, and most plastics (not polyethylene or polypropylene). It can be sawn, drilled, ground, sanded and painted. It is waterproof and impervious to gas and oil, and is as strong as or stronger than many of the materials being repaired. No, I don't have any connection to the company, just a satisfied customer. www.marinetex.com
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Old December 26th, 2004, 09:21 AM   #13
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Here's the "rest of the story" as Paul Harvey might say...

After epoxying the bezel into a functionally repaired condition, I set about correcting the deaf-mute issue, with the internal speakers still in a permanently shut-off status because of the stuck plug fragment. I took the computer to a local authorized Apple dealer (name and address on request) which charged me $44 to tell me that they tried their best but could not solve the problem. (For the record, it soon became very clear to me that they had never attempted to remove the mother board.)

Dissatisfied, I went hunting on the web. I downloaded and printed out (free of charge) complete instructions on how to disassemble this particular model PowerBook from www.PBFixit.com (who sell a variety of PowerBook parts, including the best price on mother boards)...it told me I needed a Torx T-8 screwdriver. The only place locally that stocked this size was Sears, this cost me $2.11 with the tax. As directed, I removed the keyboard, RAM, bottom cover, battery, Airport card, modem, hard drive, Combo drive, and finally the mother board. With the board free in my hands, I had a good look at the open end of the headphone jack, and used a pair of submini needlenose pliers (cost $1.99 at a local discount store) to extract the offending tip of the plug. I reversed the steps to reassemble the computer, and took a deep breath when I started it up. Hallelujah, it fired up just fine, and the speakers worked! The headphone jack is still dodgy, with one channel cut out, but at least now the computer is no longer silent.

Wasted trip to computer dealer.....$44
Tools to take it apart yourself.......$4
Having your speakers work again...Priceless!!

(this is not a MasterCard commercial, hee hee)
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Old January 1st, 2005, 10:44 AM   #14
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Dude you should go back to that dealer and show them you fixed it for 5.00 bucks!! That's absolutely ridiculous that they obviously didn't even try!
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Old January 1st, 2005, 03:06 PM   #15
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you understand now why so many people are assembling their pc themselves...
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