What I Fixed, But Broke, But Fixed

My poor MacBook Pro has been through a lot lately. After spilling seltzer on it in July and then coffee in November that would require me to solder the fan back to the logic board, I had to do some additional unexpected repairs. To complicate matters, I also opted to replace the optical drive with a solid state drive and upgrade my 5400-rpm 500 GB hard-disk drive with a 7200-rpm 750 GB hard-disk drive.

Before I list all the parts I had to repair, a big shout-out is due for L2 Computer in Hell’s Kitchen. I’m glad to see that a computer repair and parts shop stills exist in Manhattan for cash-and-carry business, although judging from their pile of Priority Mail packages, it appears that a sizable chunk of their business is through the web.

  1. MacBook Pro Keyboard

    As I mentioned, it appears that the coffee I spilled took its tool on my keyboard. After six weeks, the entire home row of Latin alphabet keys stopped working entirely. Without plugging in an external USB keyboard, my computer became entirely unusable because I use a combination of those keys to log in to my computer. I took apart the entire computer and “cleaned” the keyboard with some rubbing alcohol. It’s not something I recommend doing, but it did help restore the keyboard to health for almost three months. Whatever corrosion the coffee caused must have returned because those same keys stopped working in mid-April.

    Someone on the web said that fixing the keyboard requires replacing the upper case. That’s hard and expensive. The iFixit Guide lists forty-two steps for removing the upper case and putting it together requires the same steps (in reverse). Also, the case lists on iFixit for just under $300.

    Since I had already removed the keyboard once, back when I cleaned it, I was brave enough to see if I could just find a keyboard to replace the bad one. L2 sold me one for less than $30. Replacing it took about ninety minutes.

  2. SuperDrive SATA cable

    When I replaced my optical drive with a solid state drive, I used one of these adapters so I can fit a 2.5” drive in the large optical drive bay. Since the day I installed the SSD, I had gotten intermittent I/O errors. Sometimes, after taking the computer from one place to another, the computer could launch any apps. If the computer was off, the ominous folder with question mark icon would greet me at startup instead of the reassuring Apple logo. The only way to “fix” this problem was to open the case and secure the cable back to the optical drive. I basically had to carry a #00 Phillips screwdriver with me like a big dork.

    In short, I had to buy a new SuperDrive SATA cable to replace the one that was either broken or I broke myself.

  3. MagSafe DC Jack

    In putting together the computer after replacing the keyboard, I drove one of those tiny screws securing the logic board into DC jack cable. In short, the computer would not receive any power from the AC adapter. To replace it, I cycled to L2 Computer and bought a used one for about $15. You can also find one on Amazon.

  4. Battery Indicator cable

    And as a last straw, when I was replacing the MagSafe DC Jack, I severed the battery indicator connector. I had thought that the indicator wasn’t a critical function so I had just let it go, but it turns out that the cable also controls the sleep and wake functions on the computer. Have you noticed that every time you “close the lid” on your computer it goes to sleep and when you raise to open the display, it wakes up? The battery indicator connector is critical for that function to work. Again, I rode my bike to L2 and replaced the battery indicator connector and cable with a used one.

My dad is an auto mechanic. When something broke on one of our cars, he would visit the local junkyard to find the part he needed. I remember when I lived in Santa Barbara and the fuel pump on my car stopped working, he came by one day to fix it, but we first went to the local junk yard to find a replacement. Yes, I am following his lead, but I should keep in mind that he didn’t break anything when replacing that part. I did.

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