Chameleon

by Nemo

presentation

Since I began browsing along the pages here at Applefritter I knew it was only a matter of time before I would disassemble my iBook to modify it.

Both the Tronbook and the Red & Blue iBook mods showed me how beautiful my laptop could become, so I began searching the web for information.

The first thing was a guide to take apart my mac, I will not go into detail now but I feel I should summarize some very important things.

  • Use a toothpick when separating plastic parts: you'll avoid markings.
  • Use alcohol to remove the paint, it's slow, annoying and a pain. But if you use paint thinners or sandpaper the cover won't be transparent.

Now it was time for inspiration. The iBooks painted on the inside are very beautiful but I didn't want to go out and copy what had already been done. What if i changed my mind and decided to change the color? I would have to go through the hassle of taking apart, removing the paint, carefully repainting, reassembling... I like changes and I can't keep still for too long.

In the meanwhile I found the SoBeRay gallery and an article from Wired magazine on Japanese modders that showed me some of the marvelous paintings done on Macs!

After doing my research, I decided it was time to take the great step. In mind I bear the thought that if I screw it up, it could cost me up to 1500 Euro + s&h to get my mac fixed. So I turn it off, take out the battery and hope that when I put it back in everything will be fine.

Four little hex screws hold the top case, off they go. With the help of a tooth pick I snap the top case off and I can finally see what it hides. The internal rim will be removed carefully: in some parts it's very thin; looks like it could snap apart very easily. Fortunatly the glue used isn't very strong, so everything works out fine. After removing the rim I put it back on the screen's back, I won't glue it back on the cover again.

top_exposed

I start to pour alcohol inside the top cover, let it rest a little and then scrub/wipe off the paint with a CLOTH. The alcohol "melts" the paint pretty well, some will just wipe off, the rest you scrub a little, add alcohol, scrub a little, add alcohol... you got it.

top_cover_1

This job will go on for some time, at a certain point when my hands hurt pretty much I had the idea to try using an old toothbrush. It prooved to be a very good idea. After a couple hours this is what I came up with.

top_cover_2

Removing the paint with alcohol is a pretty long task, but it is the only way that assured me I would not have an opaque cover wich is fundamental for what i have in mind. Here is a photo of the cover almost finished.

top_cover_3

The image I chose for the top cover is Hokusai's the great wave. It impressed me since the first time I saw it and I think it's perfect for what I have in mind. I did a search on the web to find the best image (biggest and of the best quality) and then did a few little modifications (resizing and smoothing).

inner_image

In the end this is what my hack consists of: a nice image and two sheets of photo quality ink jet paper taped together. Does it remind you of something? It's very similar to a clever Apple cube hack called Blue Smoke (thank you).

top_cover_4

Since the top cover is too big for a single sheet of paper, I had to split the image in two halfs, print them and then tape them together, after removing the borders. To fit the sheets correctly I taped them to the bottom of the top cover only and then put it back on (the rim remains attached to the screen's back). I adjust the amount of paper that remains out, put the four screws back in and then cut off the excess paper.

chameleon

This is an image of the ibook with it's new look (screen open and turned on - yes it still works!), sorry it's a bit blurry.

final

And there it is: my friends' envy. The iBook already had the best looks among laptop computers, now it's even better. I saw PowerBooks beautifully painted by Japanese artists and some iBooks painted on the outside: they require a lot or work and are pretty expensive. This is a nice do-it-yourself alternative.

Now for the lower half. While I was in my unpainting frenzy, I decided to remove the paint on the bottom shell too. There was some more work involved, more screws to remove and much more scrubbing. The toothbrush becomes very useful now.

bottom_cover_1

Yes, this is the final result. I haven't decided yet if I'll paint it some color that will go with the top, if I'll use some theme or a picture to print on paper.

bottom_final

The battery cover is glued on, so if I put paper under it, I would have to leave a small border to glue it back on. Not to mention the extra work involved in fitting the paper on the bottom shell. It will be an intriguing task. In the meanwhile I'll enjoy the top cover.

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westieg3's picture

next victim?

who wouldnt want to do this? you can glue the plastic frame back to the outer case, and then remove the case and change out the picture as you please. sounds like the clear cover for the 1400.