The iNoteBook

iNoteBook cover

The iNoteBook started out as a non-working iBook 500 with no display, hard disk, memory, or battery, and the DVD drive bay was on the fritz. In other words, a perfect candidate for a hack! I was able to get the machine to boot with some new memory and a little work on the DVD drive, so I began to think about what kind of machine I wanted to make.


I have seen all the great hacks on Applefritter and was interested in trying my own modest hack/mod. This was my first attempt so I tried to keep things relatively simple.

All of my lectures are on a flash memory key and I haul my PowerBook or iBook to every class to run the slides. What I wanted was a stripped down machine onto which I could easily load my lectures and carry to class. Each classroom has an overhead projector which is sufficient to start up the machine and launch the lecture. I have some old Duos and 5300s that could have worked, but a broken-down G3 with USB ports was too good an opportunity to pass up, so I decided to make the iNoteBook.

I began with an MO/floppy disk case (I'm in Japan so MOs are plentiful) and I used wire cutters to cut out the clips that hold the disks in the folder:

Original floppy case

Prepared case

Without the palm rest and bottom case, the iBook skeleton fit easily inside the prepared notebook, and a few extra cuts with the wirecutters produced a good fit. I really got lucky here; I knew the notebook was about the right size, but it turned out to be near-perfect.

iBook guts in case

Cutting holes for the ports (power, fan, and the Ethernet/USB/display set shown here) was relatively straightforward. The plastic is hard but not brittle, and a box cutter made short work of the cuts. In this photo, I show the port cut-outs next to an iBook. The iNoteBook is a little thinner and a little larger than a regular iBook.

Ports open

After that, there was nothing left but to hook up an external keyboard and display and fire it up.

with monitor
closeup of working iNoteBook

I didn't have to secure the machine in the case as the stubs left over from cutting out the floppy disk clips hold the machine firmly with no movement. The speakers fit into their original holes and while they are not screwed down, they don't move around or rattle. The photo is a little blurry, but you can see the start-up button in the upper-left corner of the iNoteBook. When you push on the plastic cover, there is just enough give to activate the button and start the machine.

The translucent blue of the original MO case gave the machine a retro iMac look which is pretty cool, but I wanted to try for a real notebook look, so I put together mock front and back composition book covers using Photoshop,


printed them out on reasonably good paper, and taped them onto the MO case:

finished iNoteBook

I'm pretty happy with the final product. It is light (no display or battery), and since the covers are taped (rather than glued) onto the case, I can easily go back to the translucent case, or put on different covers. I am also looking for a hard cover book of the right dimensions to use as a new cover. If I ever find one, I'll be sure to post pictures here. In the end, it was a pretty easy project. I'm already looking forward to my next project. Questions and comments welcome. DS :macos:

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DrBunsen's picture

That's beautiful. I'm building a Duo tablet for a friend, and you've inspired me.

simon_C's picture

o that is really cool! i say go back to the retro imac look

First, that is one cool hack, well done, good looking and useful!

Second, have you thought about mounting the power supply where the battery used to be? From the pictures it looks as if there is room for one (the white square kind). That would save some extra space and cable fiddling. Just a suggestion.


Thanks for the idea. I had considered stripping down and installing an old battery; assuming the battery lasts longer than the lecture (90 minutes here), I could leave the power supply behind.

simon_C's picture

whered you get that display? ive never seen that kind of apple display before

g3head's picture

Its not Apple, its a common PC brand monitor with a nicely attached Metal Apple from a Beige Mac (or some other Beige Apple product)

Didn't apple make a black studio display?


"Duct tape is like the force, it has a light side, a dark side, and it holds the universe together"

simon_C's picture

yes they did. but it didnt look like that.

o btw its: "duct tape is like star wars, it has a light side and a dark side. and only one holds things together."

westieg3's picture

hell yes! someone should defenitely do that. for anyone whos not crazy enough to paint their ibook like this, i highly recomend cuztom macskinz. im planning on it.

westieg3's picture

it looked much like the origional studio display. very interesting. translucent graphite and a classic apple logo. my discovery on ebay. looks very rare to me.

westieg3's picture

will you be posting that hack? sounds interesting.

I'm just concerned about the cooling. Don't iBooks cool themselves through the keyboard? Now that you've covered the guts with a solid substance, it might get kind of hot in there.

I had no idea people were modding dead laptops. Gee, I've got a couple of dead Duos that I can't bear to throw away. Anybody want them for the cost of shipping? (last time I tried, they would not boot.)


macfreak4's picture

Awesome mod! Just one question: I can understand why one would leave the 56k modem covered, but why did you leave the headphone jack covered up? Seems to me it would be an important thing to have available...

Thanks for the observation. I didn't think about it until I read your post. I guess the reason is that the main purpose of the iNoteBook was to show PowerPoint/Keynote presentations in lecture halls so I didn't really need sound out.