2.8.1 - Do those signatures in my Mac make it valuable?

The short answer? Nope. Sorry. If you see one of those SEs on eBay that occasionally pops up where the seller claims it to be worth $40,000.00 because it has signatures (yes, it HAS happened), point the seller to this page. They're not worth a premium, but there is a rather interesting story behind some of them. The Plus and earlier all had the signatures of the original Macintosh development team molded into the back of the case. Many of the SEs had the same signatures, and some of the SE/30s had them. The Classic and Classic II did not have any signatures. The IIci has signatures of its development team on the casing underneath the motherboard. The IIfx doesn't have signatures, but the names of the developers are printed on some of the motherboards near the back of the power supply.

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2.8.2 - Where can I get parts to repair my Mac?

The best source for out-of-production Mac parts is eBay. Most of the service parts for early Macs (up to the middle of the Quadra line) have been discontinued by Apple as of late summer 1998. If your Mac happens to be new enough to still be supported, your local Yellow Pages probably has the names of several local computer repair shops, one or more of which may specialise in Mac repair. Shreve Systems and Sun Remarketing also stock parts for older Macs, though their prices may be several times higher than those of comparable parts on eBay.

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2.8.3 - How do I open a Compact Mac?

All the Compacts have Torx screws in them unless the original screws have been replaced with something else. To get at these, you need a Torx T-15 screwdriver with at least a 6-inch (15cm) shaft. The Craftsman Professional Torx T-15, available as part number 47431 at any Sears store or through their catalog, is a great choice and costs just $4.99 in most of the United States. Some people have reported success with using an Allen (hex) wrench, but I recommend against this as it has a tendency to eventually strip out the Torx heads, rendering the screws nearly impossible to remove.

Those of you in the US who aren't near a Sears or are out of the mail-order range of Sears might like to check out your local hardware store, courtesy of Bill Brown, for the Vermont American 6-inch T15 hex shank, part number 16093. It costs $3.99 and works with most standard hex-drive removable-bit drivers. Home Depot's Husky line of tools also includes a long-shaft version of the T-15 that will work.

Not in the US? No worries. I've compiled a list of international sources for Torx drivers thanks to readers around the globe.

Don't forget, if you're taking apart a Plus or earlier, to remove the fifth screw INSIDE the battery cover! If you don't, you'll be tugging and tugging and wondering why the heck you broke all your fingernails and the Mac still isn't open.

A good method to follow is to set the Mac on a carpet or thick towel or pillow with the monitor down. Unscrew all the screws and lift up on the case back. If it doesn't come off right away, try using your thumbs to push down on the SCSI and floppy connectors while gripping the sides of the case with your fingers. If this still fails to yield results, set the Mac on the floor and take off your shoes (or don't, if you're wearing clean shoes). Hook your big toes (or the edges of the shoe soles) on the top front corners of the case, in the groove between the faceplate and the case back. Now try the thumb trick, while pulling up hard on the case. If this still doesn't do it, get a wooden popsicle stick (or a spring clamp, if you have one) and work on gently prying the two halves of the case apart a little bit at a time.

If you prefer not to use your toes, try this method: remove the handle screws about halfway and grasp the handle while pushing down on the screws with the Torx driver. This should loosen the caseback around the top of the case and the rest of the caseback should follow. I've never been able to get this method to work as well as the others, however.

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2.8.4 - Where can I get instructions for repairing my Mac?

Apple provides their Authorised Service Providers with Service Manuals for the various models of Macintoshes and other Apple products. Unfortunately, most do-it-yourselfers (yours truly included) do not work for an AASP or otherwise have access to these manuals through Apple. Thanks to the ever-vigilant Gamba, you can now download most of the service manuals directly from Apple's servers. (Note: IE displays the page very slowly due to a table rendering problem in IE. iCab and Netscape work just fine.)

Larry Pina wrote a series of books on repairing early Macs back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. They are, regrettably, ALL out of print now, but used book stores may still occasionally have one or two in stock. I highly recommend getting at least The Dead Mac Scrolls, which covers everything from the 128 to the SE and a few non-computer Apple hardware pieces as well. Macintosh Repair and Upgrade Secrets is at least as good as The Dead Mac Scrolls, if not better, for hardware-level repair information and tips. Half.com sometimes has a Pina book or two available and has been the best source of Pina books for the past year or so. eBay is also a possible source for the occasional Pina book.

S. Hamada has written up a page that has common problems with the SE and SE/30 video along with instructions for repairing some of them. If you're really stuck, check out his page (based at least in part on Larry Pina's books) and see if it helps.

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2.8.5 - I turned on my Colour Classic/Colour Classic II in the back but nothing happened. What gives?

The Colour Classic, Colour Classic II, and 5xx(x) series Macs (including the Macintosh TV) all have two power buttons. Once you turn them on in the back, you need to press the power key on the keyboard to start them up. Using one or the other by itself will NOT start up the Mac.

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2.8.6 - My Mac II/IIx/IIfx used to work fine but now it won't boot. Why not?

You probably have one or more dead batteries. The full-size Mac II series machines used two PRAM-style batteries - one for the PRAM and the second, in series with the first, to kick-start the power supply. One or both may be dead, which will prevent the Mac from booting. See the logic board section for places to get the batteries.

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2.8.7 - What's the slot in the back of my Mac with the chain icon?

That's for a security device. Several third-party manufacturers made a small metal slab with a ring on it that snapped into the slot and was impossible to remove without opening the case up. The ring was for running a security cable through in order to lock the Mac to a desk, table, or other secure surface. If you have the security rings in several Macs and want to remove them, simply push the device firmly into the interior of the case (this may require the case to be opened in some instances) and it will pop out.

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2.8.8 - How can I solder or repair components on my Mac's board?

First, you'll need a soldering iron. Radio Shack makes a great low-wattage (15 watts) grounded soldering iron, sold in the US with a blue handle. It costs about $8 or $9. In general, look for a low-wattage, grounded iron if you use an electrical iron or be very careful with a gas-powered iron. (Gas-powered irons can get extremely hot and damage components and boards if not used properly. The risk of this is lessened with a low-wattage electric iron.) Getting a grounded iron is VERY important, as is keeping yourself grounded during (or at least before) the procedure, because static electricity can damage sensitive electronic components quite easily.

If you're going to be doing a lot of soldering and desoldering, you'll probably want to invest in a good Weller soldering station. Doing a Google search for "Weller soldering" will find plenty of information.

Next, you'll need some solder. The solder you use should be made specifically for electrical component repair, with a low melting temperature. Again, this avoids damage to the board and makes repairs easier. Avoid acid-core solders as the acid can cause damage as well. Most electronics hobby shops (including Radio Shack) sell an appropriate electronics solder for a few dollars that will likely be more than you'll ever use. Most solder you'll want to use won't need to be any thicker than a pencil lead; for very small and delicate work, you'll want even finer solder, the thickness of a fine wire. Martin Perras has this to say about soldering (edited and commented slightly for clarity):

If you want to practice first, that's a great idea. Here are the basics:

Always make a good mechanical connection: twist or crimp wires together or to their contact(s) before soldering them. [Apply a bit of flux on the connection if at all possible, as it will make things infinitely easier.]

Tin the tip of the soldering iron first with solder by coating it with solder so it's shiny silver, not raw copper. I personally like to file one side of my standard conical-point flat so it looks a little like a chisel, so I can hold the flat side of the tip against the contact. The more contact area, the faster the contacts/wire will heat, which is also important.

Hold the iron against the wires/contacts lightly but firmly, and after a second or two, apply the end of the solder wire to the opposite side of the contact/wire. The solder should melt at once, and flow into (not over) the contact area, evenly coating the wires and contact area. Keep pushing the solder wire gently until the connection is coated with solder, then remove the iron and solder. This entire process should take no more than a few seconds. It's important not to heat the components for any longer than you must, as heat can damage components.

Finally, do not move/jiggle or disturb the solder joint for a few seconds. This is the cause of most solder joint failures or poor electronic connections. Moving the connection while the solder is setting will make a "cold" solder joint, which is often evident by its dull appearance. Good solder joints are bright and shiny.

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2.8.9 - There's some kind of gunk on my Mac. How can I get it off?

There are lots of different types of "gunk" that can get on Macs. Probably the most common form of gunk is dirt or grease, which can be washed off with detergent and water. If you're really ambitious, take the Mac apart and just toss the case in the dishwasher. Let it dry thoroughly and reassemble.

If the gunk won't come off after a good hand washing or machine washing, it's time to break out the big guns. Rubbing alcohol and/or lighter fluid work wonders on soap-insoluble gunk. Goo Gone works pretty well when used sparingly and lightly without hard rubbing. Park Tools' Chain Brite, available at most bike shops, works incredibly well to remove just about any soiling from Mac cases; mix three parts Chain Brite with one part water and start scrubbing.

For ink or marker spots, Techspray makes an "Ink and Mark Remover" product that Terry Laraway swears by.

Whatever you do, DO NOT use any solvents containing acetone, such as nail polish remover. It will dissolve the case of your Mac and remove the texture from the finish. Xylene and toluene, both key ingredients of Goof-Off, a common household cleaner, will also dissolve the case. I repeat, DO NOT use solvents when cleaning a Mac (or most anything plastic).

Special note for Macintosh TV owners: there has been at least one reported incident of rubbing alcohol dissolving the black colour on a Mac TV case. A product called "Back to Black" successfully restored the original colour, but at this time it is recommended that Mac TV owners use nothing more than a mild detergent and soft rag for cleaning the case of dirt and marks.

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2.8.10 - How can I determine my pre-Plus Mac's type via its model number?

The Macintosh 128 has a model number of M0001. This model number should be present on both the case back and under the screen near the brightness knob on the front of the case. The model without "128K" is somewhat rarer.

The Macintosh 512 has a model number of M0001W. This model number should be present on both the case back and under the screen near the brightness knob on the front of the case.

The Macintosh 512Ke has a model number of M0001E. This model number should be present on both the case back and under the screen near the brightness knob on the front of the case.

The Macintosh ED sold in Europe (a rebadged 512Ke) has a model number of M0001D. It says "Macintosh ED" on the front and has a 512 label on the back. The model number should be present on both the case back and under the screen near the brightness knob on the front of the case.

The Macintosh Plus has a model number of M0001A and is often found as an upgrade for the three previous machines. The upgrade replaced the logic board and case back. Factory-original Macintosh Pluses say "Macintosh Plus" on the front.

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2.8.11 - How can I get rid of that ugly yellowing on my Mac's case?

Jeff Garrison recommends you follow this procedure, which seems to work to lighten the yellowing pretty well (though it won't completely get rid of it):

If you can find Clorox Cleanup Gel, use that instead of Outdoor Cleaner. Jeff says it's gentler to the plastic and gives a lighter bleaching.

Keep the Mac away from UV light (including fluorescents) and sources of smoke and ozone to keep the yellowing from coming back.

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2.8.12 - How can I determine when or where my Mac was made?

Macintosh serial numbers have a built-in date coding that can tell you the week and year in which your Mac was made, as well as the factory in most cases.

The first digit in the serial number is the last digit of the year of manufacture. To determine this with certainty will require a bit of common sense (i.e., a Power Mac whose serial number starts with 6 probably wasn't made in 1986).

The next two digits are the week of the year, which ought to be reasonably self-explanatory.

The serial number begins with a letter or two in most cases, and this is a factory code. Below is a list of all the factory codes I'm currently aware of; if you can add to or correct this list, e-mail me.

If you have a Mac made in 1990 or earlier, I've written a Perl-based decoder that takes the serial number for most of them and gives you a whole load of nifty information about the Mac.

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2.8.13 - What buttons on my remote control can be used to control the TV tuner in my 580/630-series Mac or MacTV?

Galen Tatsuo Komatsu was kind enough to do some exploring. Note that only Sony-branded (or Sony-programmed universal) remotes work.

FunctionRemoteButton Pressed
volumeTVVolume up/down
channelTVchannel up/down
Display (switches between full screen and window)TVDisplay

Some of the other buttons generated an audible click, but none appeared to perform any function. Most notable is the failure of the "record" button to do anything.

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Last Modified on 06 November 2013
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