Pondering PowerBook G4 Keyboard Backlighting

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TheUltimateMacUser's picture
Joined: Jan 28 2004
Posts: 615

I dunno if it is just me, but, the keyboard backlighting on my PowerBook G4 17" is a bit crap. Seems like it's gotten dimmer over the years. Anyway, i know the light is distributed via fibreoptics, but, what exactly is the light source? Is it LEDs? If so, is it possible to replace them, perhaps with a different color LED (red, perhaps)?

If so, anyone know what sort of LED to get (i'm handy with a soldering iron, and have been inside my PowerBook several times, so, the only real issue is figuring out exactly what i'm dealing wit here).

Thoughts & feedback welcome.

-Ult

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TheUltimateMacUser's picture
Joined: Jan 28 2004
Posts: 615
Noone knows the specifics of

Noone knows the specifics of the light source for the keyboard backlighting? Damn.

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Eudimorphodon's picture
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Joined: Dec 21 2003
Posts: 1204
Re: Noone knows....

TheUltimateMacUser wrote:

Noone knows the specifics of the light source for the keyboard backlighting? Damn.

I'm not sure how specific you want people to be. My understanding is that the keyboard backlighting is provided by four tiny surface-mount LEDs which are mounted inside the keyboard assembly itself. (You'll have to pry the backplate off to find them.) Desoldering and replacing them may be a problem because they *may* be bonded to a plastic ribbon-cable-like material rather than a circuit board. (I can't find any pictures clear enough to say. You'll have to pull yours apart and check it yourself.) Should you dig your way down to the LEDs if you look at them under a microscope you may be able to discern a part number, and Googling that should tell you the electrical requirements of a replacement LED. People used to do similar backlight swaps for the LCDs inside mobile phones (back before every phone had a color LCD), so finding a howto on how to do that will probably help you gauge the difficulty of desoldering/replacing such tiny components.

Also, there is a video on YouTube where someone demonstrates pulling the keyboard apart and placing a colored film inside to change the backlight color. Obviously a filter like that would make for a dimmer backlight than an LED replacement, but looking for it might help you pry your own keyboard apart and decide whether it's feasible to proceed.

TheUltimateMacUser's picture
Joined: Jan 28 2004
Posts: 615
Balls...

I was afraid they may be surface mount LEDs. I've got a bunch of free time to kill tonight, so, i think i will pull the keyboard assembly off and have a poke around.

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Eudimorphodon's picture
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Joined: Dec 21 2003
Posts: 1204
Good luck...

It might be interesting if you were to post photos of what you find inside once you take it apart. Some suitable closeups would undoubtedly be helpful should anyone else be interested in trying a similar hack.

TheUltimateMacUser's picture
Joined: Jan 28 2004
Posts: 615
Will do.

My desktop is running updates and such, so, i probably won't pull apart the powerbook until tomorrow, but, i will post pics when i do.

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