Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Update on 1400CS

Just a short update on the 1400CS restoration project.  As of the last post from long ago, I had successfully swapped out the broken trackpad but started to have issues with certain keyboard keys not working. I ended up disassembling the PowerBook one more time and cleaning out the keyboard slot on the laptop's motherboard. I used a little bit rubbing alcohol and a soft lint cloth to clean out the slot as well as sprayed it with a can of compressed air for good measure.  Either way, those two things seemed to have done the trick! All keys are functional and I am officially stoked.

Once I was able to restore all functionality to the keyboard I started to research what kinds of PCMCIA Ethernet cards would work with the PowerBook. To make a long story short, I eventually learned about a particular card and adapter that would work with the 1400CS PowerBook.  I purchased an Asante FriendlyNet Ethernet PCMCIA/Cardbus Adapter for PC and Mac on eBay for a measly $7.00.  The immediate mark of compatibility on the included box brought my hopes up.  I read through the included documentation, ran through the included installer and installed the necessary extension into my system's Extensions folder, but still no go, even after a reboot.  Honestly, I have no idea of what I am doing as this is my first real go with an older version of Mac OS.  I have also purchased a Transcend PCMCIA ATA Adapter that should convert a CompactFlash CF Card to work in the other PCMCIA slot.  We will see though.

Anyways, the previous owner of this old gem did not bother wiping the hard drive, so it is still running an old version of Mac OS 8 and includes software such as Photoshop, an ancient version of Microsoft Office for Mac, and VirtualPC to name a few.  When I started up VirtualPC it booted a Windows 95 VM and quite quickly for that matter. Not bad for this old beast of a laptop.

Lastly, and sadly, there is another reoccurring issue with the laptop that has been more than a little frustrating and unusual.  My current theory is a bad PRAM battery and why would it not be considering the PowerBook's age.  Here is what happens. I will be happily computing away (and by computing I mean trying to learn Mac OS 8) and the machine will completely lock up on me.  I am unable to power off the laptop in any way, shape, or form other than to pull the charging cable and battery out at which point the unit still seems to have some form of power and current flowing through it as the green light on the lower right-hand side of the display is still illuminated. Only for a couple of minutes though.  At this point, I usually leave it to sit for a couple of hours and then it works again for awhile.

On that same note, I am still searching for a working internal CD drive to use to install a Linux OS, but if nothing else, I will search for and use an external one somehow.  I see WeLoveMacs have some in stock still, but its hard to justify paying $150 for one.  The PowerBook already has a floppy drive installed, so I suppose I could utilize that for a Linux OS install although the complexity increases tenfold when going that route and I do not exactly have a huge handful of floppy disk lying around to make it happen.

Thoughts, ideas, comments, suggestions on these issues?  I would welcome any and all.


  1. The 3Com EtherLink III cards will also work (disclaimer: yours truly maintains a hacked driver for them, see http://www.floodgap.com/retrotech/mac/enet3c589/ ).

    The freezing issue is probably not PRAM, unfortunately, before you go through trying to get that damn battery out. I would zap PRAM a few times or reset the power manager first, see http://www.applefritter.com/node/2562 for how. Unfortunately, that may not fix it either. My first 1400cs/117 behaved in exactly that fashion and nothing fixed it, not even reseating the RAM or the processor card, pulling out the option video card or pulling out the PCMCIA cards. The only thing that fixed it was a bottom case swap to a 1400c/166 (which also had a bad PRAM battery, so it wasn't fixed by repairing that) and that's what I'm using now.

    But the fact that it's that repairable is delightful; I love the 1400's modularity and upgradeability. With an external video card, a G3/466, a full 64MB of RAM (with RAM Doubler to 128MB), PCMCIA Ethernet and a faster 4GB drive, it's a real nice little machine and the keyboard is luxurious. It's my favourite PowerBook by far.

    I don't think you'll like Linux very much on it, though.

    1. Thanks for the advice. I'll investigate each of the items you mentioned above and see what comes of it.

      I probably will not like Linux on the 1400cs, but it's more of something I want to do just to say I did it. :) However, I"m going to keep the Mac OS 8 installation where as is and continue to play around with it more.

      Kudos to you and work with PPC.