$5 Apple Cinema Display Cable Fix

Posted by on Mar 29, 2012 in Blog, Tech | No Comments
$5 Apple Cinema Display Cable Fix

How I saved $495 and a trip to the Genius Bar®…

In an effort to have the best gear at the lowest prices sometimes you need to be creative. I recently purchased an ‘as-is’ style 30″ Apple® Cinema Display via eBay™ at a significant discount. When it arrived I quickly assessed the damage; perfect, distorted, and flickering seemed to be the 3 modes of operation. While perfect mode was pretty good it only lasted for short spans, would require constant powering down, or the occasional insult.

At this point I was convinced I needed a new LCD screen which are few and far between…-or an expensive trip to the Genius Bar®. I decided to keep ‘using’ it which quickly became frustrating. They say the more screen real estate you have the more productive you are but this is certainly not the case with a malfunctioning monitor. After exhausting all patience and powering off and on again not really fixing the distortion I started tilting it up and down and noticed a trend. The monitor would work perfect when it was at either extreme. This led me to believe this problem was connection related a.k.a. easier on the wallet.

After some online digging and a call to the local Apple store I found out I was back to square one, looking at a $500 repair. Yup $500 bucks to replace a cable. Being the type to usually give up at this point I stood up and declared “No! Apple you’re not ruining my credit anymore!” So I started looking for the cable online and of course it turns out they are basically unicorns for the 30″ models. And no, the other sizes are not compatible. At this point the only option was to crack it open and see what I was working with. I got my courage up but first my tools…


Required Tools

the required tools for the job

  • Towel
  • Knife, sharp
  • Pliers, assorted
  • Paint Scrappy thing, this is crucial
  • 3.5mm + driver
  • Wide painters tape
  • Electrical tape
  • Tons of small zip ties
  • Voided warranty acceptance

Step 1 | Open it Up

This really isn’t as bad as you might think, you just need to be patient (i’m not even close to but still pulled it off. so i guess it’s optional.) First things first clear a large working area and cover it with a towel. Make sure you get a thin-blade paint scrapper, the official Elite Web Scraper is 1.25″ or 90 pixels wide (if you scratch your monitor attempting to measure your paint scraper you should quit now). Start at the top on the left side (facing you, do the left side first i’ll explain why later) and wiggle your scraper under the top of plastic end cap until you can pry up. There is a sticky-as-all-hell strip of super foam holding the cap on and you just need to work it free. A heat gun / hairdryer may help but is not necessary. When you get that off do the same on the right side BEING EXTREMELY CAREFUL AT THE BOTTOM THAT YOU DON’T RIP THE SOCKET OUT OF THE POWER PANEL. Use your pliers to hold the base of the socket on the power panel and pull the wire and plug free. You should now be looking at this:

end bracket

Using your phillips head screw driver take out the 4 screws on the left and the 4 on the right. Put those somewhere safe like a magnet. You can now remove the brackets on the end that keep the bezel tight, pry them with the scraper if needed. Now all you have to do is pull the slide locks on either end.

case slider

Now pull the cable thru the hole in the stand if you haven’t already. At this point lay the monitor down on its back, you can remove the stand but i don’t suggest it because you will end up putting more stress on your already stressed cable; the stand acts as a buffer keeping the cable from getting bent too much. So with the bottom of the stand facing you gently lift the bezel from both ends, then stick the roll of tape or whatever fits in there to hold it up. Disconnect the led as clearly illustrated in this crappy after photo:


Now I seriously advise that you tape the top bezel where it clam shells together or you risk scratching up your screen. Push from the white button in the back and the lcd will come free. Then you need to feed the cord thru the back while you slide the lcd out the bottom. It’s awkward for sure…

Step 2 | Assess the mess

So you’ve now got a plethora of cables staring at you, do a thorough check of all connections, looking for any fraying or obvious signs of trouble. You can power test with the monitor in this state, just keep it on a towel to be safe and I plugged the power switch back in, but you might not need to…If you don’t see anything obvious there’s a couple things you can try. This is a picture of my initial ‘lockdown’ technique:

main connection

It worked well for a day or two for me, I just clamped down everything with some longer screws and big washers. I’ve since realized that when the whole unit is buttoned up this mod is pointless because there’s already pressure on the connection from the whole thing being sandwiched together so tight. It’s potentially worth a shot because the next step is removing them for good.

Step 3 | Strip it

The reason why you get a bad signal is because there is a tiny break in your cable somewhere. I found that slack helps complete the circuit more effectively. Remove the 3 main connection screws from the previous image. Remove the lower two screws that tie down the secondary sheathed cables.

Since I had no clue where the damaged part was (and after several attempts to adjust, wiggle etc) I knew the ring needed to go because it was going to put pressure on the cable as long as it was there. Using cutters remove the connector, plastic ring cap and I did a half inch of the insulation as well:

removed parts

Step 4 | Wrap it up

There’s nothing complicated here, shrink wrap would be awesome but would be all but impossible to get it over the cables so just start wrapping them as tight as you can with electrical tape being careful not to further stress the cables. Next go to town with the zip ties, the more the better in my book. The best technique for tight zip ties is to get them started then pull them quickly, it gets them super tight:

cables wrapped

You should also wrap the newly exposed hole in the case

exposed case hole

Step 5 | Test!

Put it all back together, plug it all back in and give it a shot! If all goes well you should be good to go until something else breaks!

The Ugly Backend

Ugly backside

The Pretty Frontend

The pretty frontend

Working perfectly for: [countup date=2010/10/05-hh:mm:ss][timer][/countup]

Feel free to ask me any questions via commenting or live chat

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