Traveling, dead MacBook pro, and pin 5 and pin 29

My daughter and her fiancé, Sean, having finished several years teaching English in South Korea, are traveling around various parts of the world. That is their story, so it won’t impinge on that. Leah has been writing quite a bit on it here.
A few years ago, Sean was having some difficulties doing good video editing with his older and tired laptop. Knowing what he wanted to do, I recommend he get a MacBook pro. This he did in South Korea. Then, they started traveling.
The problems with his MacBook were slow to develop. Once in awhile, the power button would require an extra push as well as possibly a magical push and turn, or possibly a magical push the button while squeezing the bottom while standing on 1 foot. However, eventually, the MacBook pro would simply not start.
They were in Thailand when this first occurred. As they were going through Bangkok, they went to an “authorized apple repair shop” and discovered that the entire keyboard top of the laptop would need to be replaced. So, they left it for repairs, and went on to one of the islands for few weeks. Upon return, the Mac was working correctly, with a shiny new keyboard cover. And $250 poorer to boot.
Fast forward a few months, they are now in Uganda, and the keyboard is behaving exactly the same. It will not start.
Leah mentioned this to me on a telephone call as a sideline hassle to their traveling. They were going to ship the laptop Ontario where Sean’s mother was going to pick it up, get it into a repair shop, and probably just hold onto until they arrived in Canada in May. Seemed like a lot of hassle for a simple power button problem. [My brother in law, Dave, and I (mostly Dave) had just recently taken apart two older [dead] (yes Macs do die too) Mac book pros and combined them into one functioning MacBook pro. So basically I looked at this as a mechanical problem with a lot of screws that needed to be undone.]
While I was talking to Leah on the phone, I did some searching on the Internet, and discovered that they were not alone in this issue, and that while getting the keyboard cover fixed, if under warranty, was the ideal solution, the first repair was not under warranty, and neither the second. I did find a few curious posts from some “geeks” who discovered that if you were to briefly short together pin 5 and pin 29 on a very small connector that looks like a miniature piano on the bottom side of the motherboard, the computer “should” start. I guess the operative word there is “should”. Since the computer was already off warranty, and not functioning, Sean decided to go ahead and try.
They found a small screwdriver, remove the ” millions” of screws from the bottom, located the connector that looks like a miniature piano, identified, based on my descriptions, which would be pin 5, and which would be 29, and decided to go ahead and short end of the two contacts. Leah located a piece of wire somewhere in their hotel room, and as she possibly had a calmer hand, they decided she would do the surgery.
Carefully, she touched one side of the wire to pin 29, which the brief description on the Internet indicated was the positive pin, and then touched pin 5.
The MacBook pro sprang to life!
All they needed to do now was reset the time to sleep on the laptop so it would not shut down, but only sleep when the top was closed, and test how long the battery would last in sleep mode. So that night, with a fully charged battery, and not plugged in, they put the computer to sleep. If in the morning, after 10 hours, the battery was only discharged charged 5%. This meant that they would be able to safely put the computer to sleep on long flights, as they would be doing in May, and not need to worry about doing this type of surgery on a regular basis.
When they get back to Canada, Dave and I might take an opportunity to see if we can repair the original cover, or, at least attach two the wires to pin 5 and pin 29 so they can jumpstart the computer without having to take bottom off!
The real question is this: why would the power button fails so easily?


1 thought on “Traveling, dead MacBook pro, and pin 5 and pin 29

  1. Kat

    Had an issue with a Canon camera. Even though the camera wasn’t still under warranty, Canon agreed to fix the problem for free because it was technically a defective camera. Could try that route.


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