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FAQ--PowerBook 500 Series PPC upgrade from IMAX

Last updated 1/28/97, 4:00pm PST
From: (Darryl Lee)
Newsgroups: comp.sys.mac.portables
Subject: FAQ--PowerBook 500 Series PPC upgrade from IMAX
Summary: A FAQ of sorts...
Keywords: 500 5xx 520 540 520c 540c Imax PPC PowerPC upgrade PowerBook

Hi...well, here's the latest version.  HOPEFULLY people will read this
instead of posting some of the same old questions.  (Like the drive
spindown problem!  Yeesh!)  i'll be adding some stuff about software
conflicts soon, but i still think my advice about starting clean is the
ideal way to go.

[Originally posted 10/29/96.  Newer stuff is at the top.]

Ok, i'm tired of seeing the same questions and answers.  So here's:

A rather long-winded FAQ for the Imax PPC upgrade for the PowerBook 500 series

Q.  Hey, i heard that IMAX was sold out of these things!
A.  Yeah, that's what i heard too.  Called them and confirmed it.
    They sold out last week, Jan 20ish, i guess.

Q. am i SOL?
A.  Well, there's talk on the newsgroup that "Sonnet (800-786-6260) has 
    the same price listed for the Apple 100 MHz 603e upgrade (page 169 
    of the MacUser I got yesterday)."

Q.  $199 or even $269 seems awfully cheap for a PowerPC upgrade.  Are
    these guys at IMAX serious?
A.  Yes, and apparently they're seriously greedy (or finally smelled
    the coffee), because it's now listed at $299.  Dang.
    To see what you missed, skip down to the *OLD* section of this

Q.  Yikes, this install sounds scary.  Are there instructions 
    anywhere that have diagrams?
A.  Why yes!  There is:
    (This is instructions and a diagram that shows you how to install 
    more RAM into a PB 5xx.  You'll be replacing the card that the RAM 
    plugs into, the CPU daughterboard.)

Q.  Hey, i upgraded, and now my hard drive doesn't spin down when i
    put the computer to sleep.
A.  Hey, you know that Disk Tools floppy that came with the kit?  Pop
    it in, run Drive Setup, select your hard drive, and from the
    Functions menu, choose to upgrade the driver.  There, problem 

Q. still doesn't work!  What gives?
A.  Hrm...perhaps you have a non-Apple drive that Drive Setup doesn't
    recognize?  Well...  one person mentioned using the upgrade CD to
    completely replace his (old) Silverlining software with Apple
    stuff.  Not sure if he had to reinitialize his drive to do this or

Q.  Hey, my Global Village PowerPort Fax/Modem software doesn't work 
    anymore.  What's the deal?
A.  You probably need to upgrade.  Latest version is 2.5.5.  If you 
    have version 2.5, then there is an upgrader to take it to 2.5.5.  
    If you have an earlier version that 2.5, the upgrade to 2.5 is 
    $24.95, and then you have to run their upgrader, i guess.

Q.  Does Speed Doubler need to be upgraded too?
A.  Yeah, probably.  Check at
    for information on version 1.3.1

Q.  Man, why don't i just do a clean install starting at 7.5.2
    (included with the upgrade) and then go out and find all the latest
    versions of whatever Extensions and Control Panels i used to have
    and make sure to get the Native versions if they have them and then 
    add them?
A.  Hey good idea.  And you'd be surprised how much cruft you can
    clear out of your System Folder that way.  But be sure to bring it 
    up to System 7.5.5 before doing that.  (Which requires that you 
    bring it up to 7.5.3 first.)  Oh yeah, and i'd hang on to that old
    System Folder for a little while, in case you can't remember where
    you downloaded "Joe's Stupid Little Extension That I Can't Live
    Without" from.

Q.  Hey, is this really worth it?  Is it faster, better, stronger?
A.  Yes, and we can rebuild it too!  Oh...wait, that was a different
    tv show.  Anyways, uh...well, uh, to tell you the truth, i haven't
    been pushing my PowerBook to the max, ever since i got a Power Mac
    7100 at home.  So well, it runs Netscape 3.01 (w/ Java) better
    ( only crashes 5 times a day, instead of 10!  Woohoo!);
    and Eudora 3.0 Pro runs fine, but Eudora was always good.

    But like a few friends have pointed out...  When people start
    refusing to develop for 680x0 processors, i'll be still able to 
    run their native PowerPC apps.  People who haven't upgraded

Q.  Hey, if i have one of them PC Card Cages (you know, the ones that
    suck power like Dracula sucks blood?), will it work after i upgrade?
A.  Uh, yeah, but you'll need to get the Rev. C of the cage.  (The
    model number will end with a /C like M2864 V1/C).  This is
    supposed to be covered under warranty.  i got a Rev. B cage (that
    i bought used, even, with no papers!) exchanged by my friendly
    neighborhood Apple dealer.  (If you're near Santa Barbara, i highly
    recommend the UCSB Bookstore's Apple service center.)  i don't
    know what to do if your dealer won't do it, except raise hell, i
    guess.  :P

Q.  What is this IMAX PowerPC upgrade i keep hearing about?
A.  It's just that.  IMAX Computer Corporation (apparently a division
    of InterMac Technologies, Inc.) is selling the authentic Apple 
    branded 603e/100Mhz PowerPC upgrade card w/ 8mb of RAM on-board 
    for $269.  If you heard that it was $199, well, it was.  They
    would give you $50 back if you went back your old 040 
    daughterboard.  But not anymore.  It's $269, and you get to keep
    your old 040 board.  (Great, just what i needed--another lapel
    pin.)  Sorry.  By the way, if you have somebody who can wait for 
    the package, you should do COD, because they give a cash discount.

Q.  You's really an Apple card?
A.  Really.  The box has Apple printed on it, and has the following
    description:  Macintosh PowerBook Processor Card Upgrade Kit with
    PowerPC 603E.  Model number M3081LL/A.

Q.  Ok ok, so how do i get in touch with them?
A.  IMAX can be reached by voice at 800/914-MACS(6227), as well as
    847/696-3434.  Fax is 847/518-8856.  Their address (for reference) 
    is 8725 Sunset Road, Niles, IL 60714
    *NEW* They now have a web page:

Q.  What did you get with the upgrade kit?
A.  Well, as i said above, IMAX sent me a pre-paid mailer for the old
    '040 processor, along with some instructions.  But other than
    that, it's all the original stuff.  Here's the packing list:

      1	Macintosh PowerBook Power PC upgrade card
      1	Disk: Macintosh PowerBook Power PC Upgrade For The PowerBook
	500 Series Computer (This is a bootable floppy that has Disk 
	Tools like Disk Setup and HD First Aid on it.)
      1 CD: Install Me First (This is a bootable System 7.5.2 install
      1 Manual: Macintosh PowerBook Power PC Upgrade For The PowerBook
	500 Series Computers (One of the most useless wastes of a tree 
	i have ever seen.  Basically it says:  "Read the online help 
	in Apple Guide."
      1 Power PC label (Which they tell you to install over your
	"PowerBook 5xx" label, which i find offensive.)
      1 Product registration card (i told you it was really an Apple

Q.  Do they tell you how to install it and everything?
A.  In a word, no.  They send the installation kit that goes out to
    Apple dealers.  However, the instructions on how to actually
    install the hardware is _not_ included.  According to the
    one piece of paper in the kit, "Dealer Upgrade Instructions:
    Installation instructions are found on the Service Source CD."  
    i presume this is some CD that official Apple service technicians
    all have.  i don't.

Q. have to go pay some shmoe $50/hour to install this?
A.  Well, sure, if you're a wimp.  >:}  No, seriously, if you have any
    reservations whatsoever about opening up your PowerBook--and there
    _are_ some easily damaged parts in there--then please please do
    take it to an authorized dealer and stop reading this right now.

    BUT...if you're a little more adventurous, AND, if you've done a
    PowerBook memory upgrade before, then no worries, it's just as
    easy.  In fact, i hung on to the little booklet that came with my
    TechWorks 8mb memory upgrade that i bought waaaay back when (ok,
    last summer), and it actually takes you through the whole process
    of opening up your PowerBook and installing more RAM.  Installing
    a new daughterboard is one additional step more than that.
    <#begin sidenote about RAM and stuff>
    For some strange reason, the official "TechWorks Memory" that 
    i just bought for cheap from Other World Computing, Inc.  (32mb 
    module for $269 + $8 next day shipping!) didn't come with this 
    handy little book.  Maybe the $20 more you pay to TechWorks to 
    order from them directly is worth it, just to get the book.  
    (And to have their fine fine technical support staff at your 
    disposal.  Those guys are _good_.)  

    Oh, numbers for this RAM stuff?  Other World is 800/275-4576, and
    TechWorks is 800/765-6187.

    More information on these vendors is available at the otherwise
    pretty useless RAMWatch page:

    i say it's otherwise useless because it _used_ to track which
    vendor actually had the lowest price.  But now it just shows the 
    high, low and average price for RAM, and basically serves as an 
    a billboard for memory companies who _pay_ to be on his page. 

    i mean, the contact information is useful, but you still have to
    call each place up yourself to see which place has the lowest
    price?  That's 1) kinda lame, 2) kinda cheesey, considering these
    companies are all paying the guy to be listed on his page.
    <#end sidenote about RAM and stuff>

Q:  Ok, well, all right, i'm game.  How do i do this upgrade myself?
A:  Well, somebody already posted some instructions on how to do this
    upgrade to comp.sys.mac.portables.  If your news server has
    already expired it, check out or and in Usenet look for "Installing
    the PB upgrade"  It's a little short, but it gets the job done.

    If you want more information, and even a few diagrams (although i
    just checked and there aren't any for the 500-series...darn),
    there's an Adobe Acrobat file that has detailed instructions on 
    taking apart any kind of PowerBook you may have.  You should 
    download it and print out the pages need.  It used to be at:
    but hrm, that site seems dead now.  Hrm, ok, you can download 
    it from _my_ site,

Q.  Ok, so i think i got the thing installed right.  Now what?
A.  You'll need to have access to a CD-ROM player that you can plug
    into your PowerBook.  Why?  Oh, because if you're going to do 
    it right, you're gonna want to do a clean install from the CD 
    they shipped with the kit.  There's instructions on how to do 
    this on, you guessed it, the CD itself.

    Yes, i know 7.5.2 was totally buggy.  i'm getting to that.  AFTER
    you do a clean install, you should take your trusty System 7.5
    Update 2.0 CD (which you got free with your copy of MacWorld back
    in June or something), and upgrade to 7.5.3.  And THEN you should
    get your System 7.5.5 installer floppies and upgrade to 7.5.5.
    (Oh yeah, and while you're at it, why not go to Open Transport
    1.1.1, since it's now native!)

    i think that's about the right sequence for upgrading.

Q.  Dang you're long-winded.  Do you have anything else to say?
A.  Nope.  But if i think of anything else, i'll post it at

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