This page would not have been possible without the help of Joel M. Sciamma (
). Not only did he provide all the images in a resolution that is better than anything I would have been able to come up with, he also gave valuable tips that improved the instructions on this page significantly.
For more interesting information on the Apple Newton and eMate, donít miss his Inventors Emporium site. Apart from describing his activities as a private inventor, it is a collection of enthusiasms relating to technologies he has enjoyed using, for example Newton, Macintosh, HP41CX, FileMaker and more.
Well, taking apart an Apple eMate is not for the faint at heart. But donít despair, if you follow these instructions closely, you can do it...
If you are already sure you will have to take the eMate
apart, for example because the display is broken, letís try to save some of your data first. If you can still get a serial connection to your desktop (you wouldnít need the display for that), you might want to
consider downloading DataRescue (5 kB) before you begin. This little package does nothing but automatically open the Dock and wait for your desktop machine to make contact. You will then be able to back up your data to the desktop computer using the Newton Backup Utilities (PC version or Mac version) or similar software. DataRescue does so when it is installed, i. e.
when a card is inserted or the eMate is reset. In an emergency case like yours it can be installed on a card via a second eMate or an Apple Newton MessagePad.
If your eMateís problem is not a broken display,
make sure that this kind of surgery is really necessary. I hesitate to mention it, but check the contrast setting. If that isnít the problem, check the power supply. Make sure your ac adapter works. ďWorksĒ in
this context means around 7 volt at the plug that goes into the eMate. Donít continue if the voltage isnít at least 6 volt. NEVER continue if the voltage is more than 7.5 volt because you can very easily kill your
eMate that way. Plug in the ac adapter. The charging status light should turn orange or green. If it turns green, the battery pack is already fully charged, if it turns orange, charge it until the status light
turns green. If it hasnít turned green after more than two hours, thereís probably a problem with the battery pack and you might get used to the idea of refurbishing it.
If you can still get the eMate to boot, by all means do so before you plug the ac adapter in. The charge cycle is more reliably started and completed that way.
Nothing? Well, donít despair just yet.
There are still some aces left to play. We will now enter the wonderful world of resets. Donít run head-first into a wall if the eMate still seems unwilling to come back to life immediately, this might take up
to a couple of minutes. Before you start, remove all storage or application cards. Some cards can be damaged during a reset. For a start we will do a...
Software Reset You wonít lose any
data when performing a software reset. No matter whether the eMate is already turned on or not, press the reset button located on the eMateís underside for two seconds. This is the small button near the handle.
Use a pencil or a ballpoint pen, not the pen that came with your eMate. Be patient and wait for at least five minutes. If after that time the eMate hasnít answered, it is time for a...
With the eMate open, press the Reset button on its underside. Release the Reset button and flip the eMate over to get at the keyboard. Press and hold the Power key. After a few moments a message will appear asking
you if you really want to erase all data completely. If you donít get this message, you probably took too much time until you pressed the Power key. If you get the message, release the Power key. Tap ďYesĒ. The
eMate will display a second warning and ask if you really want to do this. It is usually safer to let the eMate go ahead and erase all data because there is probably some corrupted data that will cause you
trouble again. However, you might want to answer ďNoĒ to this message for the time being. If the eMate decides to boot, make two full backups and do a hard reset afterwards, this time allowing it to erase all data.
Still no success? Ok, then this is where the fun starts! Click on any of the images for a higher resolution image in a new browser window. But before we begin, some words of warning...
What you are
going to do now will take place very close to delicate electronic parts. Something that will definitely make these parts very angry is their getting in touch with static electricity. Clothes made of synthetics can
be a problem, so can office chairs on a carpet. Humidity plays a role, too. Working in a room with a wood or tiled floor in which the air is not too dry, and wearing clothes that arenít made of synthetics, are your
first steps towards a safe reunion with your beloved eMate.
Make sure to discharge yourself frequently before touching it. About the best way to do this is by wearing a grounded wriststrap. If you donít own one, touching a metal faucet or any large piece of metal (like a door, bed frame etc.) frequently will also help. The same applies to your soldering iron. Unless you have a soldering station with an extra grounding wire, it wonít hurt to discharge the tip as frequently and in the same way as yourself. Fortunately, you wonít have to solder that much.
Ah, nearly forgot... A word on tools...
Of course, you can try to use any old screwdriver you might
have lying around instead of the tools I recommend here. You might even be successful. Then again, you might not, and if this happens, you have quite a good chance that you will
damage a screw in a way that prevents getting it out even if you try it with the correct tool afterwards. Once you notice
this, you will probably try any other tool you might come across until finally you wonít be able to get the screw out with anything. Of course, if you have a drilling machine, thereís still a chance, but...
Myself, I do not have enough time and money to afford working with cheap and inadequate tools. This is why I always
work with adequate tools even if they are expensive. I strongly recommend you do the same. What you see here are the tips
of a Torx T-8 and a Torx T-10 screwdriver. You also need a Phillips #0 screwdriver, but I assume that most people bold enough to take their eMate apart do already own one of those.
Well, while we are at it... A word on screws and other tiny parts...
Small parts like those you are going to remove have a distinct urge to explore their surroundings as soon as they get the
chance. They enjoy doing this especially when they smell carpets, preferably long-fibred ones. The number of each partís
attempted jumps is in inverse proportion to its size. And, no matter where it lands, it will always manage to hide even when
there is nothing whatsoever to hide behind. And of course you will never find it anywhere near where you are sure you heard it drop (if you can find it at all).
You might want to print some of the following pictures, or you could draw rectangles on a blank sheet and mark them with the numbers shown here.
Remove each screw or other small part carefully and tape it to its respective rectangle. Using a magnetized screwdriver
will prevent screws from setting up their own business. If you think you do not have a magnet to magnetize your screwdriver with, you are probably wrong unless you donít have a single loudspeaker around.
Well, then... letís get down to business...
There are only two reason for starting an eMate disassembly with the display: If you need to replace a broken display, or if
you want to replace the backlight. If this is what you want to do, please click here, otherwise just read on.
If your eMateís screen looks somewhat like this, thereís a good chance that it
suffers from a punctured display ribbon cable. Most times this is accompanied by the eMateís not responding to pen input. More often than not this defect is the
result of a stupid little hinge spring changing its form over time. For more information make sure you see Joelís excellent description of this problem here.
All positional references in the following instructions assume that the eMateís
position is how you would normally use it with the keyboard pointing towards you. While the eMate is lying upside down, the left hinge will actually be on the right side of the pictures and vice versa.
Close the display lid, flip the eMate over and put it on a soft cloth. Use a T-8 torx screwdriver to remove screws 1 and 2 from the access door.
Tilt up the access door at the handle side, remove it from the bottom case and put it in a safe place.
Disconnect the battery connector and lift up the battery from the bottom case.
Using a fingernail or other non-metallic object to separate the two halves of the connector will make this easier and reduce strain on the wires and the main logic board (henceforth called MLB).
Using a toothpick or something else that is softer than the case, pry out the four
round screw plugs and the oval one in the handle that cover screws 13 - 17 (see next picture). Donít be puzzled because we leave out screws 3 - 12 for now. My
original disassembly sequence was somewhat different, we will take care of them later.
You might be wondering why the battery is still in there although you just removed it. Until I get another picture, please pretend it isnít there.
Using a T-10 torx screwdriver, remove screws 13 - 17.
To split the base, start at the handle by just gently pulling it upwards.
When loosened, insert the pry at the catch near the port cover and use an
outward motion (away from the machine) to release it. Do the same on the other side.
Once the bottom case is removed, you can start removing the MLB.
Unsolder the black and red backlight wires.
Unsolder the black and red speaker wires.
Unlock the connector to release the display ribbon cable.
This is done by pushing the top (usually black) locking clips at both ends towards the cable. Avoid touching the cableís contacts.
In case you are considering removing the ribbon cable without unlocking the connector first, let me assure you that there are worse things in life than having just killed a reliable companion. But not very many...
Remove screws 18 - 22. These are the screws that have a white symbol adjacent to them. Do not remove any other screws from the MLB.
Get the backlight and speaker wires out of the way. Push the card release button
in. Gently bend the port cover assembly (right side in this picture) outwards. Ease up the MLB on that side. Lift up the back right of the MLB and slide it
slightly to the right. Lift the MLB completely away and fold it down on the keyboard area. Avoid touching the MLBís delicate components while doing all this. Discharge yourself frequently.
I would now like to introduce you to three small parts that have a strong urge to explore their surroundings without bringing this fact
to your notice. You should retrieve them while you still have the chance. Start with the charge LED light pipe.
Retrieve the screen switch plunger. This is a tiny part that presses a switch on the MLB when activated by the bezel. This tells the eMate
whether the screen is open or closed. Hopefully, you will still find it close to the left hinge.
Retrieve the IR lens. If it hasnít escaped yet, you will find it at the top right side.
Unlock the keyboard ribbon cable connectors.
This is done by pushing the top (usually brown) locking clips at both ends
towards the ribbon cables. Without touching their contacts, release both cables. Remove the MLB and put it in a safe place. As static electricity has a tendency to
lurk everywhere, you might want to wrap it (the MLB, not the static electricity) in aluminum foil first.
Once you have removed the MLB, you can see the hinges. If both look like the
one shown here (note that both spring legs are still safely retained by the black middle screw), you are lucky. Your eMate has not yet developed the hinge spring
problem. Apply one or two tiny drops of oil where each spring touches the axis (the cylindrical part of the hinge around which the spring coils wrap). Donít
apply too much oil. Syringes are a cheap and helpful tool for solving this problem. If all you wanted to do was check the hinges, you can now proceed to the reassembly page (in preparation).
If, however, either hinge looks like the one shown here (note the left spring leg
that is still retained by the black middle screw and the right one that has popped out), I see a hinge repair coming. The reason for this weird defect is that over
time the friction between the axis and the springs gets larger. This causes more of the spring to turn with the axis instead of sliding over it, which in turn pulls
out the spring legs from under the screw whenever you open the lid. This sliding of the leg increases the friction even more, until finally the leg pops out. In 99
out of 100 cases where this happens with the right hinge, the leg that pops out will puncture the display ribbon cable. In this case you are not only in for hinge repairs, but also for a display ribbon cable fix.
If the spring legs of your eMateís hinges havenít popped out yet, but are significantly shorter already than shown in the picture above, you will be better
off doing the hinge repair anyway. Removing the hinges requires getting the display out of the way first.
Open the eMate so that the lid is fully open and lies completely flat.
Using a toothpick or something else that is softer than the case, pry out the four rubber screw plugs.
Using the T-8 torx screwdriver, remove screws 3 - 6.
There are twelve catches that will do their best to prevent you from removing the bezel.
To remove the bezel, insert something flat in the gap between the two halves of
the lid assembly. A kitchen knife will do just fine if you are careful. If you arenít, better use something that isnít harder than the case, for example a plastic letter
opener. Work carefully, otherwise you might accidently scratch the display. Start at the right hinge. Insert the pry in the slot and use a lifting motion to open
the first catch. Open the other three catches at the hinge edge the same way.
Open the bottom catches at the left and right side the same way.
Do the same with the top catches.
Lever the bezel up at the hinge edge to disengage the topmost four catches. Pull it towards you and put it away.
Remove screws 7 - 10 along with their respective washers using a Phillips #0 screwdriver.
Unless you have already removed the main logic board (MLB) and the screen switch plunger, do not even think of trying to close the lid from now on
. There is a switch on the MLB which is activated by the bezel you just removed. If you try to close the lid without it, you will hear the switch bid farewell to life with a
sound you are unlikely to forget for as long as you live.
To prevent the switch from being destroyed, you can slide a thin piece of plastic
gently below the the left hinge before you remove the bezel. Overhead projector film, which is thin, stiff and smooth, is perfect for this job.
Again, this is only necessary if the MLB and the screen switch plunger havenít been removed yet.
Disconnect the backlight connector. As with the battery connector, use a fingernail or other non-metallic object to separate the two halves.
Put something soft on the keyboard. Do not use any material like wool or
synthetics that is prone to static electricity. Cotton will do just fine. Lift the display assembly off its posts and tilt it gently until it lies face-down on the
keyboard. Pick it up by its edges, avoid touching its delicate components or the screen. Lift the metal shield off its posts and put it away.
Unlock the display ribbon cable connector LJ6.
This is done by pushing the (usually black) locking clips towards the right. Make
sure not to touch the cable contacts. Put the display assembly in a safe place for now. As static electricity has the tendency to lurk everywhere, it wonít hurt to
wrap it (the display assembly, not the static electricity) lightly in aluminum foil first. For good measure you might want to wrap it in bubble wrap afterwards,
this display is a fairly fragile thing that is nearly impossible to come by these days.
Pull the backlight connector wires out of the routing clips.
Using your Phillips #0 screwdriver again, remove screw 11 from the left hinge. Remove the grounding clip above it and put it in a safe place.
Remove screw 12 from the right hinge. Seperate the top cover from the top case.
Flip the eMate over. Before taking out the hinges, unwrap the display ribbon cable and lay it aside.
Remove screws 23 and 24. You can now remove the right hinge.
Remove screws 25 and 26 to remove the left hinge. Carefully thread it through the backlight wires.
Well, this is about all you can do to disassemble an eMate. Iím pretty sure that you want to do one of three things next:
Dead links? Questions? Anything unclear? Any syntax or grammatical errors in this description? Feel free to tell me about it. Yes, really. Donít be polite, be helpful. If you arenít, how am I supposed to improve my English?
Nothing like that? This page really helped you? Wow! What a perfect reason to sign my guest book...