by Brad.R.Sturges


I started out with the simple plan of hacking my favorite Powerbook ever: the 2400c (codename: Comet). For those of you who are not familiar with this great piece of hardware, it is to this date the smallest and lightest Powerbook ever made. It is small enough to be called cute and powerful enough to handle serious computing tasks. But it looks like an old powerbook; gray and boring. Liking the new iBooks as much as I did, I decided to make the iComet.


The first step was to boost the 2400c's fading power. This is not as easy as it once was because of the machine's age. However, after many months scouring ebay and other resources, I got my hands on a 96mb ram card and a 400mhz G3 processor card. Before the 96mb card came along, the 2400c's max ram was a meager 80mb. Now with the card it is up to a reasonable 112mb. Interware (who is now out of business) made the 400mhz chip with 1mb of backside cache but sold it mostly in Japan. I found mine in a 2400c I bought on ebay. I was very lucky to find one. The most common upgrade cards for the 2400c are Newer's 240mhz card with 512k backside cache. The Interware cards are clearly much faster and actually better on battery consumption. I found the ram card and the killer blue Yu Co. keyboard from Bill Fox at macimports.com.


Taking apart this machine is more difficult than any other powerbook I've ever dissasembled. I drew diagrams and taped screws on the diagram where they went so that I could remember where to put them back. It seems like each screw is different and there are many of them. Beware.


Once I got all the plastics separated, I sanded off the rough texture older powerbooks have. I removed the apple logos and I then went from 80 to 120 to 220 to 400 grit sandpaper until every surface was smooth. Then I airbrushed all the plastics white with Pactra polycarbonate model paint. I used a clear candy blue Pactra paint for the screen latch to try to match my Yu Co. keyboard color. The Pactra paint works really well. Even the spray can kind.


I've always been intruiged by the track pad. By peeling off the gray plastic that covers it, you can expose the circuit that makes it work. I wanted to keep this cool looking board visible so I searched and searched for a proper covering that would allow the board to remain visible. This was a tricky task because the moisture on your fingers makes the trackpad act funny if the covering isn't just right. After much testing, I found that scotch tape works great. It doesn't have the right size, so I had to line three strips up perfectly to cover the board. But the texture of scotch tape is perfect. It allows even clammy fingers to slide easily and accurately across the trackpad.


Because of my upgrade card (I think) my computer takes very long to start up. The screen doesn't even light up until a couple of seconds. This creates problems if the volume is muted and if I have a doubtful battery in because I don't know if my computer is turned on or not when I press the power key. I decided to solve this problem with a power on LED. The screen hinge cover on the right side of the powerbook is the perfect place because it is right near the ADB port (which provieds 5 volts of power when the computer is on) and it is virtually empty because the screen ribbon is housed on the left side. The ADB port has 4 terminals which are labled on the I/O board of the 2400c right behind the ADB port. The terminals I wanted were terminal 3 (5 volts power) and terminal 4 (ground). I simply soldered the positive prong of a 5 volt blue LED to terminal 3 and the negative prong to terminal 4. I drilled a hole in the right hinge hood and positiond the LED in front of the hole.

When all the dust settled, the end result was the iComet. A very unique and very powerful Powerbook.

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iamdigitalman's picture

this looks really sexy, but i think it's blastphomy to cut into such a rare 'book. I also never knew the 2400 had a power LED. I know the 500, 5300, 3400/3500, 1400, wallstreet, lombard, and pismo all have a green sleep LED that flashes. Every other 'book after that has a while sleep LED that has this sweet pulstaing effect.

very nice mod, never realised it was here, since it is buried so deep.

-digital Wink