Thursday, April 11, 2013

Repairing a charred/burned/broken cable on an Apple Magsafe charger

I have spoken in a previous blog post about some issues with Apple hardware design here. To briefly recap, it is of my beleif that in general, Apple hardware is very well designed. However, they often overlook functionality in favour of form, sacrificing important aspects such as durability so that "it looks nice". A good example of this is the Magsafe adapter. In a bid to improve aesthetics, Apple shortened the rubber strain-relief grommet that protects the power cable from fraying at the charger end, and the connector end to the laptop. The metal strands inside the cable gradually begin breaking from normal use until eventually, with only a few strands left carrying a large amount of current, the last few strands overheat resulting in a burning smell and the the connection breaking completely. After Apple received many complaints with regard to this problem with the original Magsafe adapter, they extended the length of the rubber on the grommet to improve the durability of the cable. However, in me experience, this wasnt enough: the cable still ends up fraying, and the hardening of the rubber in the grommet over time only aggravates the issue. They also introduces a replacement program, details of which you can find here. However, this does not cover anywhere outside of the United States.

In case you find yourself in a similar situation as I was, here is a short guide on how to repair the cable on your magsafe adapter, without having to fork out the $80 for a new one. 

First off, you will need a large pliers, a high wattage soldering iron (I used a weller 75watt), solder, some cable ties of various sizes, a drill and a small drill bit, some glue and a sharp knife. 

1. Remove the plug from the Magsafe adapter. 

Removing the plug from a Magsafe adapter
2. Apple have ultrasonically welded the two plastic shells that cover the adapter. They do this by vibrating the two halves against other at such a high rate to melt the plastic at the junction and thus sticking them together. This results in the Magsafe adapter being pretty difficult to open without making some messy cuts in opening it up. So here is a quick tip on opening them up: Flip open the cable tidy arms and insert the pliers into the gap. Then slowly and firmly open the pliers pushing the two parts of the case apart in the process.

Insert a pliers in the gap for the cable tidy 
Open the pliers, splitting the case open 

Voila! An opened magsafe adapter with very little tool marking or scratching to the plastic.

Opened Magsafe adapter

3. Now, bend some of the plastic and copper shielding back around where the cable meets the circuit board to reveal two large solder points. Make a note of where the black cable and the white cable are soldered into the board. To help you, the board should be marked "GND" near the black cable. 

Solder points for Magsafe cable. White is positive, black (GND, cable shield) is negative


4. Using a high power soldering iron, desolder the two points and gently pull the cable from the board. You may find it easier to solder the points by removing the shielding from the circuit board. I left it on here. 
Weller 75w iron
Cable successfully desoldered from Magsafe adapter


5. Taking the cable, use a sharp knife to make a cut after the break in the cable. 

Cutting the good cable from the damaged cable
The damaged part ad grommet removed from the cable


6. Now, using the pliers again, pull the old black wire, and the white wire out of the grommet.  You will be left with a hole in the grommet as shown below. 

Removing the wires from the damaged part of the cable
The grommet, with the outside insulation of the cable left


7. Now, drill a hole all the way through the grommet removing the old cable and some of the grommets plastic along the way. You should make the hole large enough to pass the cable through, as shown below. 

Drilling the outside insulation of the damaged cable from the grommet
Weaving the good cable through the now cleared hole in the grommet


8. After you have passed the cable through the grommet, it is time to prepare the cable for soldering back to the board. Using the sharp knife, remove about 20mm of rubber insulation from the cable. Further remove about 3mm of insulation from the inner white wire. Then tin the ends of both cores using the soldering iron as shown below. 


Removing some outside insulation from the good cable
"Tinning" i.e. applying solder to the exposed positive and negative cable.
 A good tip here is to twist the ends before soldering. 


9. Now, carefully solder both wires back to their respective points on the Magsafe circuit board. 

The ends of the cable correctly soldered into place
on the circuit board. 

10. Place the circuit board back into one of the plastic shells of the cover. If you have done everything correctly so far, the adapter should be able to charge your laptop as this stage. If you are comfortable testing the adapter while the cover is off, do so now. Or else continue with the guide. 

Placing the circuit board back into one of the covers


11. Using a small cable tie, wrap it around the cable as tight as you can just inside the plastic cover. This is done so that the cable cannot be accidentally pulled out of the adapter during use. 

Adding a cable tie to the good cable


12. Run the plastic grommet down the cable back into position in the plastic shell.

Placing the grommet back into the shell

13. Using some glue, make a small bead all around the perimeter of the shell. Use the glue sparingly, but cover all the edges where both halves meet. 

Adding glue to the edge of the shell


14. Press the second half of the plastic shell back onto the Magsafe adapter. Wriggle the two halves to get them into place properly, and then firmly press the two halves back together. 

Squeese the two halves together to make sure that the glue spreads. 


15. Using some large cable ties, wrap them around the Magsafe adapter and tighten them using a pliers. You will need the two halves to be very tight together as the glue dries, or else the two cable tidy arms can fall out.

Adding cable ties around the adapter to make sure that they glue together properly.


16. When the glue has dried, remove the cable ties. You should be left with a working adapter that hardly looks like it was opened at all!

The finished, now working, adapter. 


Unfortunately I accidently ripped some of the rubber off the grommet as I was drilling through it, so go easy on that drilling! I have also repaired a few adapters where the cable has broken and burnt on the connector end. This is a slightly more difficult repair, but I can make a guide if requested.  

36 comments:

  1. You might be able to use a little Sugru to add back some of the strain releif functionality....

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    Replies
    1. Great idea, I might try this next to improve on the Apple design. Also, adding a spring or cable shrink may also work well.

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  2. Nice job, well documented. Would a small plug/socket not reduce the need to do it again?

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    Replies
    1. Yes, a good idea. I would make repair easier alright. It would alos allow you to add power adapters for different laptops too.

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  3. Since you mentioned it, I actually have a ''broken'' power supply that a friend gave me that is frayed and was shocking her on the magsafe connector end, as I was reading this I was trying to figure out how to apply your process to the itty bitty cracking thing!
    I would love to fix the adapter so I have one less bit of ''useless'' clutter around :)

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    Replies
    1. Also, excellent guide that was very easy to follow and understand!

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    2. Thanks! Im glad it was easy to follow. Yes, I have repaired a number of Magsafe adapters at the laptop connector end. It is not as easy, but I will have to write up a guide at some stage.

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  4. Hi !!!
    I don't have apple product but I still liked your tutorial !!!! I'm sure it'll be handy for some of my friend !! Thanks for them !!
    Anyway, I'm frenchy so my point is just : viola is actually spelt voila !!!
    You know how frenchies can be arrogant !! Don't take it personal !!!
    Hope you learnt something !!
    Bye !!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ahahaha, my apologies, I will have to correct that spelling mistake. My french teacher would kill me if she saw it...

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  5. Awesome thanks, just followed your guide and it worked perfectly, saved me loads of money!!!

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    Replies
    1. Good to hear! Im glad it worked out for you.

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  6. Personally I hate apple. Yes I have tried apple products from ipads and iphones.... I never liked them, though I don't like the Androids either, sadly I am a BB guy. But What I do have to tell you is that this tutorial, though I am not a apple person, is a great one. It does give me ideas and other thoughts on how to fix things, and then repairing it(as well as my neighbors problems with their apple products *rolls eyes*) since they have the same problems as well like you did, now I know, and I can actually safely do it since I have all the supplies and abilities to do this. I just have to say good job and keep up the good work.

    BTW YES on the 2nd tutorial, 2 of my neighbors have that connector side frayed and broken, one looks burnt, but it still seems to work. Since I don't fix apple things I would like to know how so I can fix it.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the good feedback! Yes, I will have to write up a tutorial on repairing the laptop connector end of the magsafe adapter. I will just have to get a hold of a broken adapter to get the photos from.

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    2. Looking forward to seeing the laptop connector end repair instructions. Thanks Warren! T Void!

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  7. Thank you for to sharing this informative idea that how to repair an Apple Magsafe charger. It’s true that all the times we cannot reach to the technician for repairing the electronics products. Then we need to repair ourselves. It needs some tactics which is given here. Thanks again. If you need technician for repairing service then you can contact with Gromtec Europe Limited.

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  8. Hey, thanks for putting this together, very helpful.

    I'm in the middle of doing a 85W adapter (ADP-85EB T V85), and there is a complication desoldering the white wire from the board. It looks like there is a metal crimped post that is on the board, and the white wire is in that (with a green heatshrink). Made it a bit trickier to get the wire out.

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    Replies
    1. Oh, and there was a metal bit inside the strain relief part. Probably another crimp.

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    2. Are you aware of http://www.instructables.com/id/MacBook-Mag-Safe-Charger-Budget-Repair-Disas/ ?

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  9. anybody have a fix for when one of the pins doesn't pop back out all the way on the end that plugs into the computer? It's not stuck all the way in, just doesn't come out quite far enough to make the connection, and can be pulled out with tweezers but pops back in part way.

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  10. what if you just use duct tape ? does it work ? or is it sort of kinda dangerous at some point ?

    seems to use for me but i'm no technician so i dunno if the ductape touches the shiny cables inside the white thing if that's ok or not. Anyway that's what i did, took me less time than the time it takes if you actually read ths tutorial (which you might guess, i didn't).

    So ? anyone will tell me if it works or if i'm gonna fry all my hardware ?

    thx ;)

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  11. Great article! Saved my day. Just a little force and a whiff of solder and all is back working again. Beats the burning smell from last night when the cable finally frayed and shorted out.

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  12. When you get the time, please please please write that tutorial for fixing the other end of the cables! I currently have TWO of those crappy Macbook power adapters, both broken at the end where they attach to the laptop.

    Frankly, I won't be buying another Apple laptop when this one dies. Marketing a laptop as being great for frequent travelers like they do with the Macbook Air, and then shipping it with an adapter that won't actually survive being carefully wound up and packed safely in a bag every few days or weeks, is not kosher.

    But as long as the laptop itself still works, I'm gonna try to keep the TWO power adapters I already have going; no way in hell am I paying Apple $90 for another one! And your tutorial looks a whole lot better (and more effective) than my current half-roll of electrical tape solution... ;)

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  13. thanks man i really appreciate it!!!
    i saved 80 bucks for a defective overpriced charger


    ReplyDelete
  14. Interesting article, at first it seemed like a lot of work, but I read through it again and it doesn't seem like it would take all that much time or effort considering the cost of replacing the adapter. Even if it took 2 hours at 10 per hour (job wage) it would only be 20 bucks, still saving a lot of money. (of course that is assuming you have the supplies at hand) Anyway, I mainly wanted to comment on your name. It would so much better if it was Warren T. Void. Just sayin...

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  15. Best "How to do it" post I've seen! I took the sheilding off completely so I could get at the soldered bits more easily but wish I hadn't. I touched something and got a nasty shock even though the charger hadn't been plugged in for a week or so. Not sure what but probably one of the capacitor terminals. Ouch. By the way, it might be worth reading this first: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4117

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  16. Nice blog, it is very informative and helpful for me , I am always ready to read informative and interesting blogs, thanks
    http://www.mobilepcdoctor.co.nz/

    ReplyDelete
  17. Awesome! for those in a hurry, and without soldering iron, the redneck way...

    Strip the cables, twist them together 1 by 1, secure with (you guessed it) duct tape, ziplock to immobilize the cable.

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  18. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  19. Hey, man! I just wanna thank you for this amazing tutorial. You saved me quite a few bucks! Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
  20. thanks for this awesome tutorial
    i will try to repair my broken cable,
    thkc

    ReplyDelete
  21. You guys allow it to be quite simple for all your folks available.
    Portable cord

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  22. Hi! I'm tempted to doing it, but Apple support says repairing the cable may result in current overload and damaging the computer?

    ReplyDelete
  23. I have spoken in a previous blog post about some issues with Apple ... 2imacair.blogspot.de

    ReplyDelete



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