Monthly Archives: July 2013

Reviving a drowned laptop

My friend spilled a glass of water into her 13″ MacBook Pro.  She had tried (unsuccessfully) to dry it out by sticking it in a bag of rice, followed up by a blast from a blow dryer.  The laptop would not turn on at all.  The battery was installed but fully depleted.  At that stage it was too late for her to heed my general advice for soaked electronics:

  1. Turn it off
  2. Remove the battery, if possible
  3. Open the case, if possible
  4. Seek professional advice before attempting to turn it on again!

Oh well . . .

With slim hopes of success, I set out to see if the laptop was salvagable.  As usual, iFixit had excellent teardown instructions.  Typical of Apple products, taking the MacBook apart was a lengthy, tedious experience.  I got the case open and shook out enough rice to make a batch of paella.  It seemed that the water had migrated directly to the bottom of the laptop where the logic board is.  So the worst case scenario looked like a new logic board, which would run around $650 unless we could find a better deal on a used part.

One hour and a couple dozen screws later the logic board was out.


As far as I could tell there were no burned components on the board, so perhaps the apparent short was correctable.  However, there was white corrosion/residue present in several places.


I managed to clean the board up with a new medium-bristle toothbrush, working carefully to apply just enough pressure to dislodge the corrosion but not enough to pop off any of the surface mount components.  I reinstalled the cleaned up board, reassembled the laptop and crossed my fingers.


Voila!  It’s alive!  One happy Mac and one happy friend.


Hello world!


Radio Shack TRS-80

Networking circa 1981: A Radio Shack model TRS-80 computer attached to a blazing fast 300 baud dial-up modem

This personal blog should have been started a long time ago.  Every time I need to solve a problem or satisfy a curiosity, the routine is always the same:  do a Google search and invariably end up finding the information on somebody’s blog.  So here’s my way of giving something back.  My interests are somewhat diverse, including electronics, home automation, programming, photography, robotics and travel.  I hope that others will find the various bits of random wisdom posted here in the future useful.