07 April 2009

Apple's MagSafe Power Adapter

Update: It's up to Apple's discretion and I'm not sure if they are still doing it but, if you bring your frayed adapter into the store they may just give you a replacement. As long as it isn't to mangled and shows normal use.

Now I'm usually a big fan of Apple but some things they just don't get right. I got my MacBook Pro used, not a bad deal everything works great but noticed a bulge in the cable by the MagSafe connector. I thought nothing of it but I was still cautious, trying to not bend it wrong and eventually have it break. Well, over the course of a month the cable started to deteriorate. So much for being cautious. This last week it would only work if I held it just right. I had enough! I thought okay I’ll just get a new one. Sure, for $80 from Apple! What a waste of money when the only thing wrong was a bad spot in the cable. Okay so it’s a little more complex than that. The insulation was melting, the wires had poked through and started looking like steel wool. Not a good sign!

So I did what I do best. After a little research I started to take the plug apart. I used an X-acto knife, some miniature screw drivers and pliers. After getting frustrated with it I used the screw drivers to basically pry the cover off. There goes keeping it all nice and neat. I will not be using that part again. But with a little persuasion and the pliers I was finally able to remove the cover.

After taking the white soft plastic off of the circuit board I was ready to desolder the old wires. Everything went fine there. Now to strip the new wires and solder them on. Simple right? There is always a catch, the newly stripped wires have a coating on them that doesn’t allow the solder to flow (stick to the wires.) Not only that but Apple decided to use thin brittle wires in their cable, (For $80 you would think they would have better quality!) and to scrape off the coating most use a sharp knife but then half of the wires just break. (Thanks Apple!) So after being very careful not to break more wires than I already had, I was able to solder everything back together.

Finally, to test it out and make sure the solder points are good and nothing has shorted. I plug in the adapter to the wall, so far so good (no sparks.) Then I plug it into the computer and the LED’s come on; perfect! Now I can’t just leave with it a bare circuit board and wires, I need to encase it in something again. Before it had some kind of white plastic covering the board so I figured I would just use a hot glue gun and fill in the space with that. I wasn’t planing on using the cover again, but that’s mostly because I forgot to put in on the wire before I put the end back on (and I’m definitely not going to resolder it.) Once that was done I was set, for a little while anyway.

Still to do
  • Build up some wire resistance by the connector
  • Use some shrink wrap to make it look nice and neat
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