Fixing a Broken IBook G4 With Airport Kernel Panic Issues

Hello everyone!

Finally I accomplished something that is worth to make an Instructable about :-)

You are probably here because your good'ol iBook started acting weird after the update from Mac OS 10.4.8 to 10.4.9. In the manner that you allways get kernel panics (KPs) when you try to work with activated Airport-WIFI. For some people only when working on battery, for others all the Time.

In my case the notebook even sometimes refused to reboot after a KP and I had to leave it for about 15 minutes to cool down. But it definitively KP'd as soon as I switched Airport on.

I tried the widely distributed "paper-patch" where a folded piece of paper is put on top of the airport card, under its plastic holder to tighten its seating even more - with little effect. It only accomplished that I now could work for about half an hour before it KP'd again.

So hence the reason seemed to be a loose connection between the card and the mainboard (which the driver before the 10.4.9 handled flawless) and the connection between card and socket was tightened as it could be - more drastic measures had to be taken:

Once again I took the whole frickin' thing apart completely and this time removed also the mainboard to have total access to it from all sides. Since the socket is made of plastic, a hot-air reflow was out of question.
So - I manually resoldered all those tiny (ca. 0.3mm each) pins with the smallest tip in my soldering iron which i acuminated even more with sandpaper. And what can I say - after putting it back together, I started it up and loaded several ISO-images over the Airport-connection for hours and put it in standby once in a while.

It works perfectly now :-). No KP whatsoever since the repair. Not the tiniest hickup - the problem is completely gone!

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Step 1: Preparation

Since this Instructable is aimed more at experienced people who are aware of what they are doing I'll not be listing every single micro step. This is not a cooking recipe! Before you start make a mental inventory if you know the following things:

- How to work inside computers and what has to be taken in account when doing so.
- What electrostatic charges are - and how to avoid the damage they can do.
- How to solder and if you have a steady enough hand for this.
- How much heat can be inflicted on circuit boards and small electronic components.
- And last but not least if you are able to take this thing apart and put it back together.

When you can answer all of those with a yes, go ahead :-) - If not - you should better retreat until you can - before you have a completely broken unit afterwards.

Step 2: Taking It Apart

OK - as said before - this is not going to be step-by-step. So this step is described very well in several easy-to-find youtube-videos and on For example here: iFixIt: replacing the IO-Bezel. Be aware that this is a little bit different for the 1.33 and 1.42 GHz Models - but only slightly :-).

After you followed those steps, your notebook will look like on the 2nd picture - now you need to go on and remove the HDD (what is pretty easy) and the optical drive (its held by 4 screws - one at each corner).

Now remove every extension card you can find - RAM, modem, Airport (remove the antenna cables and keep their order in mind for later). Remove also every cable connection carefully - not breaking the sometimes pretty small sockets.

Now your notebook looks a bit more stripped as on the third picture.

To get the mainboard out of the frame remove all screws on the bottom side and remember their positions! I do this by putting them head-down on the table in a scaled-down orientation of how they were positioned on the board.
Now remove the last screws from the top side and from the heat spreader. You'll also need to remove the two main fixing-screws besides the CPU - they are 4mm hex heads.

By now you should be able to remove the board completely (best way is IMHO to set the notebook on the back of the display - 90� opened - and carefully wiggle the board out. Afterwards you have your notebook-carcass separated as on picture 4.

Step 3: Making the Actual Repair

Take a look at your board - probably you are aware that the target of your re-soldering is positioned near to the IO-Ports on the lower left side of the GPU (with the ATI-Logo on it).

There will be no possibility to check if your resoldering worked before you put everything back together - so be sure to do your best :-).

Take your smallest tip in your soldering iron, clean it well and put a thin coat of tin-solder on it (and wipe it clean afterwards!). I'm sorry for the bad quality of the pictures - my cellphone is the only camera which was able to get 'macro' enough for the job.

Since the pins/legs of the socket are so tiny I didn't solder them one by one. I put the iron sideways horizontaly over the rows, heating two or three legs at once. Everytime for a period of 3-4 seconds (until my feeling told me that the connection must have been liquefied). In this manner I went on until I had resoldered all connections on both sides. Take a sharp look at the connections afterwards if you bonded two or more together - if so: fix it :-).

You probably'll touch the foam cuboid aside the socket from time to time, but I think removing it would likely result in its destruction.

So ... thats it! All you have to do now is to put it all back together without having any surplus screws or cards afterwards ;-).

Step 4: Put It Back Together

This is gonna be a nice puzzle. Especially if this has been the first time you took an Mac Notebook apart. But aside from the huuuge load of screws which were somewhat annoying - its not so bad.

Don't forget any cables! Really!

And hopefully - if everything went well - your iBook is fixed by now.

Hope this instructable will be of help to you in getting back what apple took from you. (Allthough they don't admit that this problem was (made by Apple) ™)

And if tehre where anny fanny mistackes - I'm german and this is only my school english :-).

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    25 Discussions


    5 years ago on Step 4

    Hi, It worked for me. I had looked in the machine logs and located reference to the Airport card so this seemed like the way to go. I think it would be a good idea to take a photo of each layer and then mark on a print out of each photo the screws needed as they were removed. Some of the electrical screens have screw sizes punched in to them, but there are some holes which have no sizes for reference. Jot them on the photo as you remove them. Watch out for the plug connectors on the main board which are for the on off switch and the feed to the reed switch. My on off switch connector pulled off the main board and I ended up wiring it directly to the board. After the resoldering fix my G4 booted, reached the main screen and then went into sleep mode. This was caused by the reed switch being damaged (which it wasn't before). I disconnected the reed switch and the fault cleared presumably because the system thought the lid was down and felt it had to go to sleep ! In searching for this topic do I understand that it is possible to switch the airport card causing the trouble via its connection off and use some other device to replace it. I also note that I have seen photos of an airport card in the "memory bay", but not sure of where or how this connects......perhaps it uses the connector which is the cause of all the trouble in any case. Anyway, no more kernel panics......thank you for the instructable. Regards Dave


    10 years ago on Step 3

    First try was a failure... You can see the frame in the pictures because I haven't removed it. I'm simply accessing the socket by lifting the frame, thus keeping everything attached, making it easier to test if it works or not.

    4 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Step 3

    Sorry to hear that. But glad anyway that someone else tried it. Wasn't it pretty hard that way to solder the pins on the frame-side of the socket? Maybe you didn't reach each of them sufficiently. Are you good in soldering? I found it hard to solder on such a small scale since I wasn't able to optically tell if the tin flowed already correctly and if all the legs got proper contact or not.

    One more thing - be careful with the "lifting the frame"-part of your plan. Since its still attached to the board on some places it could bend the board and produce even more severe damage. For example breaking of a circuit on a lower layer inside the board.


    Reply 7 years ago on Step 3

    Is there a way to do this without removing the heat-sink? I don't want to have to re-apply thermal paste...


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Hey BT! thanks a lot for teh brilliant idea!.

    As it's always easier to be improving rather tahn inventing, I thought that, maybe, if a resoldering solved the pb, it might just be a contact problem.



    removed the keyboard, remove the airport card, spray the slot AND the card contacts with my favorite deoxit (you can find it in any guitar center, radioshack, etc...), wipe the excess liquid, and voila!

    make sure to reinsert the card tightly.

    it worked for me, at least


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I know it has been ages since anyone posted this but I've had iBooks do this and you're telling me all I had to do was use an older version of Tiger?
    What about Leopard?
    Finally, what about removing the airport card all together and using a USB wifi card?
    These things are a pain to get apart without using a spatchula.

    Thanks again.


    9 years ago on Step 4

    Awesome Pic. of your iBook. My band director has an iBook G4 also.


    10 years ago on Step 3

    Worked the 2nd time around, but time will tell how long it will last. It wasn't that hard. The only part that was attached to the frame were the 2 hex nuts, so I had a lot of room to work with. I don't usually solder on such a micro scale, but I had nothing to lose with this. Thank you for your tutorial.

    2 replies

    Apple has released a Mac OS X 10.4.11 Combo Update for PPC and Intel. In fact, they released it only a few years back...


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Hi All In my case and for the majority with this problem has the design mistake that Apple made that the connector’s contacts loose the strength from the worm that they were nearly permanently. The connector sit near to the processor cooler and to the HD. Not only that. The plastic that kept the connector was closed to the cooler channel of the processor. Even it is plastic and not pass the warm so much it is quite bad. If I was make such a final project in the school was not pass the exam. So it is not a soldier problem. Sure that any other soldering problem in the processor or in the BUS can make kernel panic. Anyway after 14 months of use I can not use the computer. Not it is 4 years and not bought any Apple products more. Best regards, Laszlo

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    One more word for my earlier comment; I spoke about the airport card connector. In the earlier attached photos can see correctly what I mean. I was expect from Apple to admit this problem. Laszlo


    10 years ago on Introduction

    got my dad to solder it today, and so far so good! i can actually turn it on without a KP and i'm using airport right now! thanks for the instructable. i'm so glad my dad used to work at IBM...LOL

    4 replies

    Too bad :-/. But I guess its probably the same Issue. Maybe the resoldering was not 'thoroughly' enough. Ask your Dad if he's willing to do it once more - mine is still working perfectly.