Converting a TiBook with dead display into a desktop?

Posted by: flabbergasted

Converting a TiBook with dead display into a desktop? - 10/05/07 03:32 AM

Hi everybody,

I have a Titanium PowerBook 800 DVI with a dead display lying around. Other than that, it works perfectly.

Now, I would like to turn it into a desktop-only computer with an external monitor hooked up to it, and, while I am at it, I would like to perform the following modifications:

- detach the defective display as the backlight still goes on when the computer starts.

- take the guts of the machine and build it into some sort of desktop case

- add an internal 3.5-inch hard disk and a standard DVD burner

- get rid of the battery.

My questions:

Is this possible? Has anybody done that before and if so, is there a PC case that would be particularly suitable for that?

Is it possible to "convince" the PowerBook that there is no internal display (i.e. that the display signal is only sent to the DVI port) as a default setting? Is it enough to disconnect the PowerBook display and connect an external monitor?

Thanks for your advice.

Posted by: Rubyducky

Re: Converting a TiBook with dead display into a desktop? - 10/05/07 07:36 AM

I was able to completely remove the display on my iBook and still use it through the mini-VGA video out. Don't know if the iBook still thought there was an internal display though.
Posted by: Waragainstsleep

Re: Converting a TiBook with dead display into a desktop? - 10/05/07 11:53 AM

OK, you can detach the display and use the unit as a headless desktop. The powerbook doesn't care too much if the internal display is connected or not, though I guess it might restrict the allowed resolutions slightly on the external. The LVDS cable which supplies the picture information also tells the powerbook about the display, so disconnecting it will make the display undetectable. The other cables running through the hinges are both two pin cables, one for the backlight and one for the sleep LED.

As long as you have heatsinks in proper contact with the CPU and GPU, you can mount the guts in pretty much any case you like. You may find some innocuous looking connections, components or screws also act to earth things, but there shouldn't be too many and most of them are for earthing the shielding on cables.
The machine will happily run without its battery as it is so if you don't want it, don't use it.

You can add full size drives if you want to using readily available adaptors from eBay. You will need something to power them though. These are also available, I know they come with the USB to IDE/SATA adaptors which can be bought for $25 or so. Alternatively, you could run big external drives from firewire, there should be plenty of room in something like an ATX case.
The power button is connected to the logic board by a two-pin cable which can be easily extendedto a button on the front of the case.

When you say the display is defective, is it cracked? There aren't too many of these panels which fail without being cracked or suffering from a failed backlight. It may be that the internal video output has failed on your logic board, or it may be a problem with the LVDS cable.
Ignoring that, if you want to mount the thing in a bigger case, you might be able to make good use of the backlight. If you put a window in the case, you could use the backlight to illuminate it. It will work fine if you remove the backlight from the display, but I don't advise this since the backlight contains mercury and if you break it, you could poison yourself. Nasty stuff.
Posted by: flabbergasted

Re: Converting a TiBook with dead display into a desktop? - 10/05/07 02:54 PM

Hi, Waragainstsleep,

thank you very much for the helpful pointers. I will try to find a nice compact case then.

I already thought about something along those lines but it's great to hear from somebody who has actually done something like that before as I am a complete newbie regarding such mods.

Regarding the defective display: no, it is not cracked. The display has already been replaced twice by Apple under warranty. The symptoms were: the display would start to flicker (all white areas started flickering in a bright, green-ish color). Things would get worse all the time while sometimes, depending on the opening angle of the display, the flickering would go away. One day, the screen went completely white and since that, it has stayed like that. When I power up the machine, the backlight comes on and the screen goes white. When I connect an external display, the image on the external monitor is ok. This is why I believe that the hardware (logic board etc.) is fine while the built-in display seems to have gone bad. The machine itself has not been damaged in any way.

@Rubyducky: Contrary to the iBook, the Powerbook supports screen spanning which is why I care about not having the Powerbook "believe" that the internal display is available.

Anyway, thanks for all your advice. I will see what I can do with it and post my results in case anybody is interested.
Posted by: manhackman

Re: Converting a TiBook with dead display into a desktop? - 10/05/07 04:11 PM

Originally Posted By: "flabbergasted "

I will see what I can do with it and post my results in case anybody is interested.

Yup please post your results!!! Pics are always nice too!