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Really Great if you're handy!
on July 27, 2013
Pros: "Easy" (see HowTo below) to install. Works perfectly. Very happy to have found this alternative to using a 3x more expensive non-Apple brick that might have fire or computer damage hazards. Our bag of old unusable Apple OEM bricks is now back in action safely charging our laptops.
Cons: Took over 2 weeks to arrive, not identical to Apple original (plastic end rather than aluminum, wire slightly softer and more flexible, smaller grommet on brick end, cord about 1" shorter than the original, little rubber clip that holds cord end when wrapped for travel doesn't hold because it's too big and too soft).
There are two criteria required if you want to take advantage of this excellent solution: 1.The courage, needle nose pliers, and strength to open your Apple power brick; 2.The skills and tool to solder two wires (or a friend with these two criteria). Then use some clear tape to greatly extend the life of your happy refurbished Apple power adapter (see TIP at the bottom of this Review). Note that you CAN do this fix without soldering (see below).
Since I meet both of the above criteria, it was a piece of cake. About 20 minutes per brick from gathering tools to finishing cleanup. I found <a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-open-and-replace-the-MagSafe-cord-on-an-App/" target="_blank">this article</a> on how to open the brick.
It was easier than that though, because I've now repaired two of our old bricks and didn't need to do more than open the brick and then pry the guts out enough to reach the top 1/2" of the wires from the circuit board. To aid this shortcut I pulled up the guts and slid a chopstick underneath to hold them up so I could work on it. This saves the above article's recommended delicate and difficult job of breaking the glue still holding the AC connector block to one side of the brick after it's open. It was opposite sides that remained attached on our two bricks, so they apparently don't always break open the same way. A second shortcut was to cut the old wires rather than remove them from the circuit board. More important than time saved, this also saves you probably ruining the circuit board by de-soldering and re-soldering on it if you lack the special tools and skills for that.
In essence, to break open a brick halfway as I did: pull out the AC power connector so your brick has one corner "missing" and then use medium-short needle nose pliers to separate the case starting inside the pop-up cord-winding arm closest to that open corner. You know, the two arms that can either lie flat or pop up individually exposing both arms to wind up the cord for carrying. So pop up the arm closest to the missing corner, put the tips of the pliers against the insides of the case at the base of the pop-up arm closest to the AC connectors, and pull the plier arms apart so they're trying to spread the case apart. It took several tries and lots of force on my second brick, but it eventually made a loud "Crack!" that was a little scary. The brick landed on the carpet (recommended, so it doesn't break on impact), and that corner was open. Then I repeated the process inside the other arm with some extra prying on the open corner and it cracked more easily. Then I pried the three open edges with just my hands, to break open the joint on the one remaining intact edge.
Cut only the old white wire about 5/8" above where it leaves the circuit board. Leaving the black wire intact for now saves you confusing which wire goes where (white to white). Use a razor knife or some other gentle method to cut and remove the top 1/8" or so of the wire insulation (the new cable ends are already stripped and pre-tinned for soldering). For best results, slide a piece of heat shrink tubing onto the white wire of the replacement cable (or have some electrical tape handy to put on it after soldering). Twist the white wires together and solder them, then either position and shrink the tubing or tape the bare wires. Be sure the connections are secure and well insulated with either heat-shrink tubing or tape. Repeat all this for the black wires of course.
Without Soldering: To safely do this fix without soldering, just be sure the wires are twisted together securely. Then be sure they're well insulated with either the heat-shrink tubing or tape. Best of all do both, so the shrink tubing adds a bit of strength and tape extending beyond both ends of the tubing further reduces oxidation. There's no strain on the connections during use because these connections are inside the brick and all pulling stress on the wire is kept outside the brick by the grommet. The only extra potential failure point is gradual oxidation of the connection, but that typically takes many years and the wire will probably fail outside the brick again before that.
After you snap the two halves of the case back together, use two small pieces of clear Postal Tape to hold the brick together without interfering with the cord, AC plug or arms. If you use dots of glue as suggested in the linked article above, it's both less strong and harder to re-open when the new wire inevitably fails.
TIP: How to extend the life of the wire on Apple power bricks:
1. Use this newer type of Mag-Safe connector that's a long cylinder with wire 90 degrees to computer rather than the older square tip type with wire that comes straight out. This reduces the pulling strain required to disconnect the Mag-Safe plug and also enables using this extra method of extending wire life.
2. Put a loop in the computer end of the cord. Use a piece of clear tape to secure the loop to it ("scotch tape" works fine, tho it leaves a sticky residue when it eventually has to be replaced). You want the end of the loop that goes to the brick to be next to the end of the wire that's going into the Mag-Safe tip. This way when you inadvertently yank on the wire, the stress is transferred to the long cylinder via the entire cord where it's taped, rather than via the electrical connections inside the cylinder. When the cord eventually fails, it will be inside the cord at the loop rather than inside the sealed cylinder where the connections are. This both extends the life of the cord, and gives you the option of slicing open the cord to repair it rather than buying a new cable and opening the brick.
3. Do something similar at the brick end of the cable, for the same reasons. I used a twist tie to hold the loop to an open arm on the brick. You could use tape there, or wrapped completely around the brick so that it's held firm and no force is applied to the cord's entry point on the brick if you yank the cord.
Adding these two loops of course shortens this already slightly shorter cord, so you might need the Apple AC power cord and/or an extension cord. Welcome to the Apple world. :)