Editing Gear Salvage

It has occured to me that I share photography and I review things. I have also touched on some of my processes – how I process film and so forth. I have multiple computers that I use for photos and other things, but I have also salvaged gear as well. We’ve seen the Pentax lens that I disassembled, cleaned fungus out of with vinegar and alcohol, and reassembled over the course of several weeks for one dollar. I wanted to share with the audience a salvage that I’m uniquely proud of. I also wanted to touch on gear that I use to edit photos once they are scanned from film or copied off the memory card.

I had a unique opportunity to salvage a broken and nearly dead Macbook Air from 2014, a computer that I have dubbed “enigma.” By trade, I work in information technology. Desktops, servers, and other things. Laptops, however, are really not my specialty. Furthermore, working on them is very cumbersome and uncomfortable for me. One false move and it’s irreparably broken. But in this case, I managed.

There were two major issues with this unit. Actually three. Firstly, the display was loose and wobbly, making it nearly impossible to use with any hope of comfort. Secondly, it wouldn’t always turn on. When it did turn on, it would only stay on for a few minutes and if you unplugged the power it immediately cut off, making it less comfortable. Thirdly, it had 7 years of grime inside and out – dust, coffee stains, and adhesive (oh my).

The first order of business is to figure out how to get in it, and for that, I relied on YouTube. Studying different videos, I managed to learn my way around it over the course of a few weeks. The second order of business was tools. Just about everything that comes from Apple is unique to apple – including the screws. For $9.99 on amazon with a few weeks of free shipping, I purchased a set of screwdrivers that could work with the unique “pentalobe” screw design that is unique to Apple products.

The next order of business was figuring out how to replace a battery in a computer thin enough to fit in a mailing envelope. Again, thank you youtube! For $49.99, and a few more weeks of free shipping, replacement battery could be had at amazon. After a painstaking hour of gently removing screws and trying not to make any false moves or sneeze and one more hour meticulously cleaning with the electronics cleaning brush my wife graciously got me for Christmas, I was left with a very sparkly inside laptop. Who knew something that’s only 17mm thick could suck in so much dust? It’s amazing how much they can stuff in such a tiny space. The difference is that the new battery is a generic brand not bearing the little Apple logo and the “Designed by Apple in California” line. I’m sure some aficionados of Apple products think that’s heresy.

The first hurdle is clear! No more random poweroffs, no more incidents where the on button doesn’t work, and the battery charges with a freakishly long life.

So it runs, but now what about the wobbly display? Several days of YouTube research ensued. The results were horrifying. I found videos where you have to disconnect the display, separate it, remove the plastic wire cover, and then tighten the hinge screws deep inside. There’s no way I am comfortable with that. One broken wire and I’m done, and $60 poorer. There has got to be an easier way. I finally found a video where the guy shows how to just remove the long plastic piece (in the picture above it’s at the top), then disconnect wires, then tighten screws. Still uncomfortable, but it gave me an idea.

I removed the long plastic wire cover, gently put the screwdriver in next to the wire, and got all 6 screws, which were severely loose due to time, and got them as tight as I could. No fragile disconnecting and reconnecting required. The display was fixed!! Nice and firm. Except i had a new problem. That plastic cover was cracked. In removing it, I made the crack worse and broke. The laptop was fixed, but it was naked with a hole in the back.

One trip to amazon, $9.99 and another week of free shipping later, I had a new plastic cover that was nearly impossible to get in place. But, I managed and long as I’m careful it will do fine. After copious amounts of isopropyl alcohol, the outside was clean and I had a finished product which only makes a gentle noise when you open the lid. Thankfully, nothing was broken in all my fumbling. For $70, it’s a good salvage.

Now, if they could finally fix the macOS version of GIMP so it doesn’t hang up when trying to actually edit, that’d be lovely. Shoot photos, not each other!

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