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MakeBook pro

Removing the guts of an old Macbook Pro, while salvaging as much as I can, and replacing it with a SBC and some other cool stuff

EliEli
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I have a late 2007 macbook pro I don't use anymore. I decided that I want to give it new life in the form of a "Maker Mobile Computing Station".
I'm sorry for the slightly lame title, but its the best I thought of...

I plan to remove the laptops logic board and optical drive and replace them with:

  • Banana Pro SBC
  • RTL-SDR
  • Arduino Pro Mini
  • Logic Pirate

Part of the goal is to maintain a normal looking macbook, so I will try to reuse as many parts as I can such as the keyboard, touchpad, LCD and what not.

Why am I doing this? mostly because I can...

The first stages will focus on mapping the hardware and determining what can be reused.

Later stages will focus on installing the SBC and adapting it to use the new peripherals.

One last thing - this project page will be used as a project detailed documentations, so be prepared for some junk in the logs - sorry :)

  • On Hold :(

    Eli10/27/2015 at 19:55 0 comments

    As you might have noticed the project hasn't moved in a few months. This is due to an unfortunate combination of events.

    In the past few months I:

    • Got married
    • Switched engineering fields at work
    • Started working on the final stages of my graduate degree
    • moved to a different city
    • and some additional things...

    Work on the project will resume in February 2016.

    As a side note:

    I did work on it a bit since the last update and all of the components have arrived, so if anyone actually cares the project hasn't been abandoned!

  • A Short Update

    Eli02/24/2015 at 21:28 0 comments

    After some time researching SBCs online I decided to go through with the Banana Pro.

    It might not be the best SBC around these days, but its the most reasonably priced one that meets my requirements:

    • LVDS support ( the LCD interface by online research )
    • SATA support for the HDD
    • full size mini PCIe / built in wifi with a UFL antenna connector

    I also decided on the peripherals I want to integrate:

    • RTL-SDR
    • Arduino Pro mini
    • Logic pirate

    To support them and other parts of the laptop I'm adding a usb hub to the mix.

    I already purchased all of the above and they should arrive within a month - month and a half.

  • Upper case and a bit extra

    Eli02/20/2015 at 12:06 0 comments

    As I noted in the previous log there are several elements in the upper case which converge to a single ribbon cable connecting the case to the logic board. At first glance this seemed daunting, however upon closer inspection I saw its a bit simpler.

    After disassembling all of the pieces the breakdown is:

    I spent a bit of time trying to see how can I interface with these parts and while researching the bluetooth module I came across a very helpful blog post by evilrobot: http://www.applefritter.com/node/23860

    I'll sum up the post:

    He talks about building a hackintosh with parts from a dead macbook and adds an important note: "in any iMac; MacBook; MBP; etc, etc - the Bluetooth module; keyboard and trackpad (on laptops); built in iSight; and IR Reciever are USB devices!!"

    so final conclusions for now:

    1. The power button has a built in capacitor to delay its operation, thus it only works with voltage applied to it.
    2. Reed switch is coupled with a magnet in the LCD enclosure and needs power to work unlike simpler reed switches.
    3. bluetooth module, trackpad and keyboard are USB devices, which fits the 8 pins I saw going to the keyboard and trackpad controller.
    4. backlight interface still unknown. I'll test it soon enogh.
    5. The bluetooth module USB connection is not standard! it uses 3.3v instead of 5v! this means other internal usb connection need to be examined as well.
    6. hackintosh forums seem to be a good source of information.

    Some notes regarding non upper case components:

    1. As mentioned iSight camera and IR receiver are also USB devices.
    2. I managed to use the front led (on the latch button) with a simple 3v battery, so I can simply use a GPIO connection to control it.
    3. WIFI antenna uses a ufl connector.
    4. The bluetooth module has a SPI interface which I assume is used to load firmware to the device.

  • Step 0 - Cracking it open

    Eli02/16/2015 at 22:05 0 comments

    My first steps in this project were not really opening the case. They were actually online research on the laptop.

    There are many guides on disassembling macbook pro laptops and breakdowns of their components: wifi cards, lcd and basically everything. So going into this first step I already had a good understanding of what I'm about to see.

    The online research also pointed me to the likely SBC that I will use: Banana Pro (the big brother of the banana pi). Mainly because of its support of both LVDS and SATA and its price tag.

    However online research can only take you so far and I am not going to spend money before seeing things with my own eyes. Which leads us to step 0.

    opening the case was fairly straight forward based on ifixit.com guides:

    https://www.ifixit.com/Device/MacBook_Pro_15%22_Core_2_Duo_Model_A1211

    These were very handy and also include many picture that helped me identify parts during the online research.

    Opening the case revealed my first of probably many challenges in the project - the keyboard trackpad interface, which seems to integrate the keyboard, trackpad, bluetooth and two other things into one connector.

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