Yellow iBook G3
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Yellow iBook G3

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List of Supplies
  • iBook G3 500 - 700MHz
  • Set of screw drivers with security bits (1.5mm Hex driver, T8 Torx, 4 mm socket wrench or needlenose pliers, Phillips #0,#1)
  • 12 packs of RIT Dye
  • 2-4 bottles of 91% Rubbing Alcohol
  • 1-2 Cans of Krylon Paint
  • Painters Tape
  • Pair of latex gloves
  • Pan/Pot that is deep enough for dying/boiling the parts.

My iBook
A few years ago, I bought my first Mac; a 600MHz iBook.  Being a PC person, I really had the urge to hack it.  I resisted the urge for over three years, but after the logic board fried (and was replaced by Apple), and then hard drive, I started thinking about modding it once again.

Not for the Faint of Heart
I had seen many articles on taking apart the iBook, but when I took mine apart I didn’t have any idea what I was doing and came pretty close to destroying it.

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After taking my beloved iBook apart and putting in the 80 GB Fuji HD, I started looking at the case and the massive amount of screws and wires that I had to put back into place.  I thought, “Heck, if I have to put all these miniscule screws back into that laptop and make it all fit, I might as well do something cool to it!”

I started looking online for info on cool mods for the iBook and ran upon the sweet Tron mod and the Eve mod [NSFW], but I didn’t see anything that was completely painted outside the Colorware $400.00 paint job (the paint job was more then the current value of the laptop!). After surfing the web for a bit, I hit up eBay and noticed the case prices were pretty cheap.  if I screwed up anything painting it, I could always buy parts on eBay for about ten bucks.

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Later that night, I started to take apart my iBook’s screen.  I began by unscrewing the four screws on the side of the screen (two on each side), then I gently pryed off the rear display case.  Taking apart the screen was fairly easy but the front display bezel was a bit tougher since the bezel is fairly flimsy.

After taking the screen apart I took the exterior plastic pieces of the iBook, I put the plastic pieces in a small tub and soaked it in 91% alcohol to take off the paint. Allowing the case to soak for a day made it very easy to remove the paint by hand or actually even washing most of it off with soap and water (this actually is very good for prepping your iBook pieces for painting because it takes out all the fingerprints and smudges so that you can paint it very cleanly).

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The bottom and top pieces of the case were clear, the inside was ready to paint but the palm rest and the screen bezel were not clear, in fact they were a kinda muted white color after stripping the paint off. 

But what would I do with the palm rest area?  What about the bezels?  Heck, what about the DVD tray and the Firewire / USB bezel? If I sprayed the exterior with paint, I knew no matter how much I prepped it the paint would peel like rotten grapes.

The Dye Decision
I knew that there was no way I would be able to lay a smooth paint job onto the exterior of the iBook, so I pondered using a plastic dye. I did tons of research online and all the information I could muster was that Rit made a fabric dye that might work with plastic.

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So, I headed out to Wal-Mart where I grabbed a bunch of Golden Yellow Rit Dye for the job (runs about two bucks at Wal-Mart, three bucks everywhere else).

The Rit website makes it sound like you could just slowly simmer plastic and the dye would stick perfectly. The truth is that you have to do a rapid boil and you need put a good amount of dye into the water for the plastic to take the dye (roughly 3-4 packets).

Tthe plastic needs to be heated up enough so that the dye is able to enter the plastic, when you simmer the water/dye, nothing really happens except the dye just smudges off.

Oh, no! I'm Melting!

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I was worried at first about the water being too hot and causing the plastic case to warp and melt but as long as you have water in the pot, you and your plastic pieces of iBook will be fine (you can see the palm rest at the bottom of the pan, just make sure you keep stirring the dye.

After about four long hours of boiling the Palm Rest, the screen bezel, Firewire / USB port bezel and the DVD tray / bezel in Rit dye, I was finally finished. Here are the pics below.

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After Dyeing all the parts I decided that the clear top case and bottom case were not dark at all and that it looked like it was tinted an ugly yellow. So I wandered into my local ACE Hardware store and picked up a handy, dandy can of KRYLON Fusion ($3.00-$4.00) and layed out four coats to the inside of the Bottom Case and the Top Case, along with the Battery Cover.

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I waited about twenty minutes between coatings and gave it a final thin coat of paint the next day (coating number four).  I also taped off all the outside edges with a cloth tape to avoid overspray.

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The tedious job of assembling the iBook took roughly two hours (the first-time, now it takes me roughly twenty minutes to assemble the iBook. I’m getting better and now that I realize you don’t need all the screws, j/k), but it should take you roughly 45 minutes if you take your time.  I would recommend putting your screws and misc. parts in a zip lock bag and using a Sharpie to label the contents just in case you forget where the screws go.

Results
So I finally put it all together in the wee-wee hours of a work day, I then turned it on and it worked and looked very yellow and very cool.  I take my iBook wherever I go and it has become my favorite laptop again! 

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