My “Mac in the Shack” Days May Be Over

Yesterday, when I went down to the shack, the hard drive in the Mac iBook G4 that I’d been using in my shack for logging and PSK31 was making a terrible noise. I turned off the computer and turned it back on, but just more of the same.

This wasn’t totally unexpected. A couple of months ago, I had some hard drive problems, and I had to get somone to “repair” it with some heavy-duty software. Although the hard drive seemed to be work OK, I always suspected that it was just waiting to go. Yesterday, it went.

I called the shop where I bought the thing (I bought it used), and asked what it would cost for them to put in a new one. They told me “$80 for the drive, $120 for the labor.” Yikes! I don’t think the computer is even worth that much, even with a new hard drive. For one thing, the battery is probably going as well, and since the computer is only a G4, it can’t run the latest Mac OSX.

I Googled around for some guidance on perhaps replacing the drive myself. After all, $80 for a new hard drive isn’t such a bad deal. I came across the page, “Installing iBook G4 12″ 800 MHz-1.2 GHz Hard Drive Replacement.”

Now, I see why it costs $120. This Web page describes 42 different steps— and that’s just to get the drive out. You have to repeat those 42 steps in reverse to get the computer back together again! None of them seem really hard, but I’m not sure that I want to spend the two or three hours to do this.

So, my “Mac in the shack” days may be over for now.


  1. C’mon, man… you’re a ham! You shouldn’t be afraid of changing a hard drive! :-)

    I’ve swapped drives out of various PowerBooks, iBooks and MacBook Pros over the years. While it’s not exactly plug-n-play, it’s not terrible difficult either as long as you take your time, use good tools, and remember which tiny screws go where. A 30-min job max.

    Good luck!

    73 de WW2PT

  2. Dan KB6NU says:

    OK, OK. You’ve shamed me into it. I’m going to buy a new hard drive and give it a go. Too bad you’re not closer, or I’d get you do it for me! :)

    In the meantime, I’m using a Compaq laptop running Windows 2000 to do my logging. I haven’t tried loading any digital modes software on it yet.

  3. I’ll let you in on a few secrets, Dan. It is not necessary to include many of those steps.

    I have replaced the HD in an iBook G4 three times. The first time through, I followed all of the steps outlined in the tutorial. After it was disassembled, I found that many of them were unnecessary.

    Steps 10-12 can be eliminated.

    On step 13, only the two screws up near the hinge need to be removed.

    Steps 22-26 can be eliminated; it is not necessary to remove the back, back RF shield or DC board.

    If care is employed, the HD ribbon cable can be removed from the drive, without the need to detach it from the board.

    Good Luck, if you have not yet tackled this project. It can be a bit tedious, bit is not difficult. It took me a little over an hour and a half the first time I did it and less than an hour the latest.

  4. Dan KB6NU says:

    UPDATE 7/27/09:

    Last week, I stopped in at Beagle Brain, a new-ish computer store here in Ann Arbor. They quoted me $125 to fix the computer—much cheaper than Affordable Computers.

    I took it over Saturday, and not only did the computer boot OK, it wasn’t making that god-awful sound. I’m thinking now that maybe it’s the fan that’s bad, not the drive. Who knows? I’ll play around with it a bit more, but be prepared to take it in when it does fail again.

  5. You wont find anything like Cocoamodem on windows.

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