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My Covid MacBook Retina Project

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Turns out I tested positive for Covid19 yesterday. The anxiety of not being able to be at work and manage everything hit me quickly.
So...I decided to embark on a new project thanks.
:laugh:laugh:rofl:rofl
Time to blow that stimulus money!

The project is simple: build two 15" MacBook Pro Retina models between Late 2013 and 2015 from parts sourced from eBay.
My goal is to build them with the cheapest parts I can find without them being all mangled up...after all, I do want them to look ok.

Before anybody goes crazy on me about how I probably won't save money versus buying a complete MBP, I already know...I'm a lost cause:rofl
I'm doing this because this is what I love doing.:)
I will say though, it seems that costs of late 2013 to 2015 Retina 15" models have crept up a little since my last "retina research", so I probably will break even. I used to be able to find retina models with working screens with Buy-it-now from $550. Now everything I'm seeing has a cracked screen, which is pushing up the cost of good screens sold separately.

With the parts I buy, one MBP will be put together with the best parts, while the other will get tinkered with. The combination of parts needed will depend on what I have to start with, but I'm 95% locked in right now.
The idea of anodizing one of them is stuck on my mind, but I haven't figured out a way to do the screen without taking the screen assembly apart(not something I want to do):smarty

I will give a sneak peak into what's to come-
One is a Late 2013, and the other is a Mid 2014. My total cost for all parts should be just shy of $1200.

Really looking forward to this:)

Also, if somebody has any kind of suggestions, questions, or ideas, please let me know!!
 

pigoo3

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Turns out I tested positive for Covid19 yesterday. The anxiety of not being able to be at work and manage everything hit me quickly.
Sorry to hear that man!

You're a young-strong-stud...your gonna kick that Covid19's butt no problem. I suggest drinking two cups/day of "fresh" Lake Erie water to help with the recovery!;)

But seriously...take it easy & follow the suggested advice for handling things. Also please keep us up to date with how you're doing.:)

Thanks,

- Nick

p.s. Good luck with the project!:)
 
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Thank you bud, much appreciated!:)
I honestly barely felt anything. I work at a hospital and everyone gets screened as they walk in. They ask about symptoms and what not, and I just said I've been having a headache and sinus problems. Didn't think much since it's pollen season. They said I wouldn't be allowed to stay, and recommend I get the opinion of my doctor. I didn't know this before, but I guess workers in the healthcare field get preferential treatment when it comes to covid testing, otherwise they recommend self isolation without a checkup. Now I'm hunkered down in my computer/tv room doing squat except catching up on tv shows and hunting on eBay. LOL
 

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Take care of yourself.

BTW Document the heck out of that little project. I've always wanted to tackle such a project but I don't trust my eye-hand coordination.

×
 
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I put together a quick cost chart of some of the things I knew I had to order. I already own and have a spare Samsung 970 and adapter that I will be using on it, but felt it wouldn't be fare if I didn't add the cost of it to the build since I would've had to pay for it anyways.

Screen Shot 2020-05-01 at 9.32.24 AM.png

I think that should be all that I will need to order from the issues I know.
 

pigoo3

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Hey Iggibar. I know you said that you said we shouldn't be concerned about the cost...since you said you weren't concerned about the cost.:)

But $1174.62 is kind of pricey (including purchase cost of the MacBook Pro's themselves)! Of course this isn't anything to be concerned about if someone was able to assemble these 2 MacBook Pro's...then sell them for close to the total cost (even if it was a little less since this is a hobby interest project...and not necessarily a money making project).:)

My two questions are:

1. Where are you getting the terrific deals on each of these? I know you said eBay in post #1...those are good prices for eBay. 15" MacBook Pro's usually aren't cheap...even older one's. $200 for a 2013 and $240 for a 2014 are pretty good deals!

2. What sort of shape are they in cosmetically & functionally? I think you said they may not be 100% working...or might have some defects.

Thanks,

- Nick
 
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My two questions are:

1. Where are you getting the terrific deals on each of these? I know you said eBay in post #1...those are good prices for eBay. 15" MacBook Pro's usually aren't cheap...even older one's. $200 for a 2013 and $240 for a 2014 are pretty good deals!
Everything except for the Samsung 970 and adapter were bought off eBay. I won both MBP auctions by submitting my best offer. I kept lowballing the offer until eBay approved it and I had to wait until the seller approved/rejected the offer. To my surprise, both accepted them quickly. I won both of the screens through regular auctions.

This is the first time I've done something like this- where I buy a bunch of used computer parts and still end up with a used computer in the end.
I've done the opposite with buying new parts to put together a new computer, but finding the parts for this project surprisingly took a lot more effort because of varying prices and mixed physical conditions.
As I mentioned, I wanted to try to buy things as cheap as I could find, while they were still visually appealing to me. Like for the top case for example, I bought one that was almost $52, but the cheapest available at the time was 12.99 with lots of scratches and scraped edges.....:Evil: which gives me ideas for my next project...it will be called MY WAR READY MACHINE...made from the cheapest parts I can find via eBay and Buy-It-Now! Looks like crap, but goes like stink!:rofl



2. What sort of shape are they in cosmetically & functionally? I think you said they may not be 100% working...or might have some defects.

Thanks,
- Nick
Originally, not the best LOL. The main(most expensive) damage to both MBPs were their screens. One unit was dropped to where only the internals were salvageable.
I tried to leverage damage towards my favor. I looked at parts where the damage reduced the cost more than the cost of a replacement part.
My thought process also went a little more in depth. I wanted one of the computers to have a trashed topcase so I can use it to experiment with anodizing. I've done work on de-anodizing and anodizing, but those were all done on bare aluminum. I wasn't sure how hard the anodizing is on the MBP, and thought I could kill two birds with one stone.


Honestly though, I didn't want this to be a simple job where you just had to swap screens and call it a day.
 

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.:Evil: which gives me ideas for my next project...it will be called MY WAR READY MACHINE...made from the cheapest parts I can find via eBay and Buy-It-Now! Looks like crap, but goes like stink!:rofl
Zombie apocalypse MacBook. I Love it.
 
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Much to my surprise, I few things ALREADY got delivered faster than their scheduled delivery time! The 2.2GHz MBP, both screens, and bottom cover came in.
My mind is BLOWN!!

The 2.2GHz MBP is in near MINT condition! The left side of the MBP appeared to have a small scratch from the listing pictures, and the description definitely said it had scratched and possibly dents, but what I received is....wow, better than my own Late 2013 retina!!

And then the screens!! If you look at eBay, you will have a HARD time finding good screens for under $350. Both of the screens I had pictures that showed what seemed to be slight delimitation and scratches on the screen of one of them. When I opened the second one, sure enough, I saw what seemed to be deep scratches, but when I touched them, they felt nothing like a scratch. I took my WHOOSH screen cleaning spray and wiped ALL of those screen 'scratches' right off!

And last but not least- the back cover. Pristine condition.

Either I got super lucky, or I'm thinking eBay sellers must automatically describe it the worst possible way to prevent buyer fraud.

I'm super excited right now, and am in the process of taking the 2.2 apart for a DEEP cleaning...not that it really needs it that badly though because it's pretty darn clean.
 

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Congrats. Sounds like a great start for the project!:)

- Nick
 
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Looks like luck has done a quick 180 on me. Turns out the MBP has an issue outputting power to the LCD. I’ve inspected all the LCD logicboard related connections and fuse, and do not see continuity or voltage being carried from the LCD fuse to the LCD connection. Fantastic.

I don’t have any extra fuses, but I do have a spare logicboard from my retina 13” that I swapped out. I’ll be plucking its fuse and sticking it into the 15”. Only problem is my Hakko soldering station is not wanting to turn on when I need it the most.

Trying to see if I can get someone to do a quick Microcenter run for me. I’m determined to get this working today.


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Since the 2.2GHz arrived first, I'm going to start with that one first on this thread.
Below are the photos of the 2.2 MBP-
IMG_3688.jpg
IMG_3689.jpg

The first screen is mint-
IMG_3709.jpg
The second screen has the delamination and smudges. It hasn't been cleaned yet-
IMG_3710.jpg
What looks like scratches are not scratches on the screen. It's just how the coating gets affected when something comes into contact with the screen and starts to deteriorate the coating quicker.
 
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I started taking the 2.2 apart and cleaning it.

This is what it looks like after I opened it. Pretty clean, but I disconnected the battery and proceeded to clean around.
IMG_3690.jpg
Removed the heat sink and wiped off the old thermal compound.
IMG_3691.jpg
Removed the fans and cleaned them.
IMG_3694.jpg
After the WHOLE thing was cleaned, I installed the 970 EVO and heat sink. My personal favorite thermal compound is Kryonaut Thermal Grizzly.
IMG_3696.jpg
 
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After cleaning, I went to plug in the "clean" screen to test it. Andddd, it was a no go. Flashing a light behind the Apple logo revealed the screen was on, but there was no back light. I tested the "dirty" screen to check that out. Same thing. Then I took my current Late 2013 Retina and tested the screens on it. Worked great. Plugging its screen into the 2.2 also showed the same back light problem. These steps took about 30 minutes, but it was needed so that I wouldn't be sitting on 2 screens without definitively knowing if they worked, and it helped narrow down the issue at the same time.

Knowing that the backlight was not working is usually related to two common things-
1. The backlight fuse popped.
2. The LCD connector shorted.

It was time to pull out one of my favorite measuring tools-
IMG_3703.jpg
This is a FLUKE T5-1000 volt meter. I have a few electrical testers, and some much more sophisticated, but I always pull this out first. It's simple, automatic AC/DC meter, and it's super easy and quick to use. I highly recommend it!!!

This is the LCD fuse-
IMG_3697.jpg

To check the fuse, I connect the magsafe power and turn the MBP on. I place the ground probe of the FLUKE onto any I/O metal shroud, and place the red probe onto the end of the fuse. It should be around 12.5v. One side was, but the other showed 0 volts. That's a problem! A fuse should always have continuous voltage from one end to the other when the system is on.

To double check this, I tested for continuity by placing my FLUKE into continuity testing mode.
Continuity checks pathways of electrical flows by testing if current can flow between both FLUKE probes.
This is used to see where electrical paths have been broken, and is especially good when checking fuses.
A working fuse works by connecting connection A to connection B, and acts as a weak point should a voltage increase occur in order to protect connection B. If the fuse is overloaded, it pops first and saves the connecting components from burning. If a fuse pops, the FLUKE probes will not be able to flow current between either probes.

So, to test this, I placed both FLUKE probes on either end of the fuse. And surprise surprise- there was no continuity. To make sure there was no other short, I tested continuity from the fuse all the way down the LCD connecter #1- which is the line that carries the power to the LCD. There was no continuity.

I examined the LCD port, and tested to see if the #1 connection was damaged. When the backlight goes out, it's common to see the #1 connection to be completely melted. This one was perfect. I tried taking a picture, but my skills were lacking at the moment and everything was fuzzy.

Unfortunately, fuse don't usually pop on their own, and it's not 100% possible to know what caused it to pop without replacing it and giving it a run.

Good thing my 13" retina that I replaced the stock logicboard is a good parts donor:D
IMG_3708.jpg
This is the LCD fuse I will be plucking out of it.
IMG_3706.jpg
 
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This was when I found out my old HAKKO soldering station was not working(after probably 15+ years of work!).
Had a friend go pick a new one up for me at MicroCenter-
IMG_3702.jpg
IMG_3701.jpg
This HAKKO FX-888D is a crazy reliable station, is simple to use, and offers very stable temperature controls- all without breaking the bank. Definitely recommend it!
There are various soldering equipment that you can use, but having tried many, I will never own anything except Hakko.
I would've taken apart mine to see what's wrong, but I was wanting to buy a new one anyways because the plug connection was becoming a little loose.

For soldering, I always use a mix of 60% tin and 40% lead. It's easy to work with and allows for a very reliable connection.
For flux, I always use Chipquik SMD291. It's super easy to use, and VERY easy to clean!!


Unfortunately, hat's all I have for tonight folks. Be back soon!
 

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This is a FLUKE T5-1000 volt meter. I have a few electrical testers, and some much more sophisticated, but I always pull this out first. It's simple, automatic AC/DC meter, and it's super easy and quick to use. I highly recommend it!!!
I'm impressed Iggy! I still have my Fluke 8020A that I used many years before I retired. Of all the VOMs and VTVMs that I have used, no one makes a better instrument than John Fluke. And I have used some very expensive instruments made by HP, Sencore, and Simpson.
 
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WOW, impressed! I've baked biscuits (cookies) during lockdown...:Mischievous:

IMG_9284.jpeg
 

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This was when I found out my old HAKKO soldering station was not working(after probably 15+ years of work!).
Maybe a 2nd project for later.:)


This HAKKO FX-888D is a crazy reliable station, is simple to use, and offers very stable temperature controls- all without breaking the bank. Definitely recommend it!
Very nice. Really great for precise temp control when working in tight spaces & don't want to overheat surrounding components.:)

- Nick
 
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I'm in a little predicament.

I contacted the seller to let him know the 2.2 has an issue with the display not working when connected, and told him the troubleshooting I've done to confirm it's an issue with the board and not any of my 3 screens that I tested it with.

He's going to contact me back on Monday to see if they have a replacement. Only thing I see in their store is for a complete MBP that is over $400 with a cracked screen.

Ideally, I would prefer to get a partial refund, and fix the unit myself.

So, until tomorrow, I don't think i should work on it.
 
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