It was a late sunday afternoon, and I was considering getting my hands on a Mac. I have almost never worked with them, but found it interesting to try out doing an app. Just like everybody else.
The problem is that owning a Mac is kind of expensive. Even for a used one.
So I looked through the used ads and finally found a broken Macbook Pro, dirt cheap. It was suffering from some sort of graphics error that kept it from booting normally. The owner said that it could boot in safe mode, but it was useless because you could not read anything. I could see from the add that the image was distorted at regular intervals, so my guess was that it had to do with the GPU memory being bad. I picked it up for 1000DKr and drove directly down to the local hackerspace, labitat, to examine the thing.
My hunch from the beginning was, that it could be fixed by reflow soldering the board. At least it was worth a shot. The fallback was to pickup a new logic board from eBay or similar.
Anyways: I took the beast apart and carefully placed it in the labitat reflow oven at 200 degrees C, for 60 seconds and let it cool slowly afterwords. In the process I melted a couple of plastic thingies I had overlooked in the disassembly process. So if you copy this procedure be very carefull. Also try to photograph every step.
I put it carefully back together and it booted without a problem in normal mode.
I figured a machine as cheap as that was worth a shot, and I succeeded. But I don’t know if the fix will last, and I don’t know the amounts of recklessness I have been guilty of in the process.
But on the other hand I have now got my hands on a dirt cheap Macbook Pro I can use to explore the world of app development.
If you copy this procedure it is on your own responsibility. Personally I would only try stuff like this as an absolutely last attempt to revive old hardware.
During my “research” I read that there might be lead in electronics, so don’t use the oven you feed your kids with!
It has to be mentioned that this is not my first attempt, and I have failed in the past. More than one to be exact.
So think carefully before you play on the reflow roulette.