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[GUIDE] Fix iMac flickering and dark screen problems out of warranty

55672 Views 170 Replies Latest reply: Apr 4, 2014 5:55 PM by NEO3663 RSS Branched to a new discussion.
  • shiler Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    What did you end up having to do with your iMac?  I believe I had the same bad luck you did and now have a black screen.

    Thanks,
    Scott

  • Chesron Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Give them a shout.

     

    Basically once my mate spoke to them he just boxed it up and shipped it to them, then had a call 3 days later telling him it was ready to collect, all working.

     

    he used parcel2go to ship it. It was less than fifteen quid each way.

     

    He had a go at fixing it himself but you need a clean room, PCB rework experience and equipment and a very careful hand!!

  • shiler Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I sent them a message on their site.  We'll see what they say.  Do you know how much they charged your friend?

  • Chesron Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I'm not sure about their costs. I think it was around £200, which isn't cheap but a whole lot cheaper than a new LCD!

     

    They also buy damaged stock to refurb and sell so maybe you can just sell it to them??

  • Cluno Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Wonderful job! Thanks. Will try to do the fix.

  • cholechu Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Hi guys,

     

    First of all, thanks for this thread. I've been follwing it for a while and it has been super useful to correctly troubleshoot the issue. I also tried most of the tips, from pressing the screen, to adding a piece of cork, to finally soldering (big failure, the pins are **** too small!)

     

    Anyway, I was extremely frustrated at the situation and wanted to find a different solution that would not involve buying a LCD panel (LM270WQ1) from eBay. So I started searching online for the faulty connector.

    With some google-fu, I think I found it, it's a JST connector, specifically the SM02B-SRSS-TB (http://www.jst-mfg.com/product/pdf/eng/eSH.pdf).

     

    I just order a couple online, along with the full cable, just in case if I mess up again or if the defect is from the cable to the JST SH connector. I'm assuming though that you don't need to solder the connector the the female part that is tied to the LCD panel... Fingers crossed!


    connector: https://www.sparkfun.com/products/10210

    cable: https://www.sparkfun.com/products/10361

  • FlunkedFlank Level 1 Level 1 (65 points)

    Veni, vidi, vici.

     

    Thank you to everyone in this thread and to Kaos2K especially for starting it. I went through a long process of reading this and other related threads and planning out the attempted fix for many weeks. The issue was with a 27" 2011 iMac that I bought off of ebay. Everything else about the iMac was perfect except for this issue. From talking to the seller extensively I'm fairly certain that the issue was introduced during shipping. (Which makes perfect sense, more on that later.) I'm here to say that I went the route of the full soldering fix, and it worked!! But it is not for the feint of heart, and certainly not for those unfamiliar with soldering. You could potentially train up just for the purposes of the fix if you gave yourself enough time and are at least somewhat technically inclined.

     

    First, a few responses to some of the posts over the last few pages.

    cholechu wrote:

     

    Anyway, I was extremely frustrated at the situation and wanted to find a different solution that would not involve buying a LCD panel (LM270WQ1) from eBay. So I started searching online for the faulty connector. ...

     

    It's cool that you found that part, but I really don't think it's going to help you. I've seen this mentioned a few times in this thread: that you might be able to fix the problem by doing something to the white female piece and then putting it back in. An earlier poster even wrote:

    The white plastic plug assembly actually has three parts. The female part is embedded in the mac and not removable but has two little plastic extensions holding the wire and 2 male parts of the plug/socket assembly in place. I prised the white plastic lugs to the side and the wire with plug attached came out easily.

    See, there's already a misunderstanding in that description. There aren't three parts. The white part that people keep pulling out of their LCD, which is the same as the female connector in cholechu's links, isn't supposed to be able to come out of the LCD. It's supposed to be soldered directly to the board in the LCD and not budge. There's no "third female connector", there's just an open area where that thing is supposed to be sitting attached to the board. The fact that it can come out at all is the entire problem. That's why I don't think a replacement part is going to help. I realize that a few people mentioned that they "pushed it back in" and got it to work, and I guess there's no harm in trying, but I find it very unlikely that it will make solid, continuous electric contact just by being put back in. The contacts in question are extremely tiny, and the pressure required to sit on the board properly would have to be so exact that I wouldn't count on any fix except the soldering fix. And yes, I tried the "re-seat it approach" myself a few times, going through all the trouble to reconnect up the LCD each time only to find that all the lights still wouldn't stay on consistently.

     

    The shocking thing is how commonly that entire piece has been breaking off for everyone. When I opened up my LCD for the first time to take a look, it just slid right out without any resistance whatsoever. It was obviously already completely severed from the board. Perhaps this was from the jostling during shipping, but still, it is obviously a poor solder connection that is not holding up to even the most minimal specs for robustness. It's just shoddy, shoddy work. It is downright criminal negligence that Apple is making people pay many hundreds of dollars for this if they are out of warranty. This should absolutely be turned into a class-action lawsuit, but I have no idea how to go about doing that.

     

    Also just to see if anyone would bite I called three different local Mac fixi-it shops, and none of them would attempt to do this even after I talked them through the details and showed them this thread. I also visited the local Apple store and tried to convince them that they should fix it. The person was very nice and did several database searches to see if there was an authorized fix, but nope, not a recoginized problem. Grrrr. (And since I'm not the original owner it's a little hard for me to become indignant and demand a manager.)

     

    So, on to the fix ...

     

    Kaos2K basically spells it all out, but I'll throw in my observations. First, you need to know how to solder, and if you don't you need to buy a practice kit and practice practice practice. Start by watching both of these amazing youtube videos:

     

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_NU2ruzyc4

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3NN7UGWYmBY

     

    Also, you must have a proper temperature-controlled iron. No simple "plug directly into the wall" iron will suffice. You need to be able to maintain a perfect tempterature where the solder will stay nicely melted on the tip without burning. And yes, you need a very fine tip.

     

    Second, you need to use the wire that Kaos2K recommends: 30 gauge wire wrap wire. This wire seems extremely tiny at first (Kaos's photos don't do justice to how small everything is), but relative to the contact sizes it is perfect. One person posted pictures of their fix using what seems like 22 guage wire, and I can't imaging how they got anything done in there with the wires taking up all the space. And to be honest, their "after" picture looked like some of the LEDs were still not on.

     

    Third, at no time are you ever going to touch the solder to the iron  directly at the contacts. The technique needs to be more like the second youtube video above that shows "surface mount" techniques. Like Kaos says, you'll be putting solder on the iron tip and then touching the tip to the contacts. I recommend using flux, but this too is tricky as you need to be able to clean the flux off, which isn't easy in there. Or use "no clean" flux.

     

    Fourth, you need a very good mounted magnifying glass and light. There's just no chance of seeing properly in there without it. You need to get used to soldering with one eye closed while looking through the magnifier.

     

    Finally, you need a lot of patience. I think the whole fix took me about five hours.

     

    I'll post some pictures I took tomorrow, but I think that about sums it up. Oh, and if anyone in the Los Angeles area is interested in having this done, contact me and I would consider doing it. (For modest, fair fee for the time and effort required.)

  • Clymmer Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Cholechu: Did the connectors and cables you ordered fix the issue for you? 

     

    I'm incredibly frustrated with the lack of Apple support on this issue.  We didn't purchase the Apple Care as we were under the impression that the design and manufacturing quailty of Apple devices was far superior to other device makers.

     

    Unfortunately, on this one, we were wrong as half of our screen is getting darker and darker as time passes.  We bought this in December of 2011 and it's September 2013 now.  I would expect a display to work without problems for more than 18-19 months. I would also expect a manufacturer to own up and fix this faulty component problem when I paid $2k for a computer. 

     

    That aside...just really interested to hear if your solution worked. 

     

    C.

  • cholechu Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Hi Clymmer,

     

    So as FlunkedFlank warned it, without soldering the fix is not goign to work well. The missing piece was the correct one, but it couldn't stay in place with all the contacts on. I even tried to pad the area so that the connector align perfectly with the pins (there's some little room for the connector to move a bit), and it sorta works for like 3 hours but then something (gravity?) slightly moved the connector and the infamous darker left screen did its comeback... After multiple trials and errors, I simply gave up, and am contacting local repair shops that could do surface mount soldering. Sorry for the false hopes.

     

    C.

  • Fritz S Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I just joined the Apple Support Communities to paste in this email chain (which I had under the subject "Wanna Scream: iMac Total Screen Fark") I have on my problems on this since 1 am this morning.  In short, though my AppleCare plan expired at the end of 2012, the guy suggested that I take my 2009 27" iMac to a local Apple Store here in LA and they said they would check the computer for me (and fix it, if it is just an "LED ribbon" connection problem), generally for free.  I am busy now and will go after mid-month and report back at that point.  Here's my email chain:

     

    Put it in the category of no good deed goes unpunished.

     

    Turned my iMac on this morning and I have a darkened screen on the left.  Not an uncommon problem they say, which may have been precipitated by the machine's 1 am hot flash.   Some relatively unsophisticated and/or unorthodox solutions are offered out there for iMacs like mine that are off warranty (hitting it randomly around the edge didn't seem to help much), the first of which from Kaos2K Spain looks the most promising and has lots of skookem pictures of him ripping his iMac to bits:

     

    https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3081411?start=75&tstart=0

    related by Kaos2K:  https://discussions.apple.com/message/18690234#18690234%2318690234, looking in particular at this procedure for just making sure the screen is properly attached:

    I did this last nite and I will post a video ASAP

     

    Here is my exact procedure for fixing it:

     

    1. stand mac up normally

    2. put fingernails behind top of screen cover, pull sreen cover off

    3. lay mac down on rear

    4. remove the eight (8) useless screws

    5. stand the mac up again

    6. the display comes out at the TOP.........

    7. very simply lean the mac forward, and the top will ease out

    8. DO NOT PULL IT OUT MORE THAN TWO INCHES AT THE TOP,

    as there are a number of short cables inside connecting the display

    9. keeping the top out, lay the mac down on its back

    10. now ease the bottom of the display out (again only two inches all round)

    11. now put the TOP in, and using say an iPhone, wedge the BOTTOM open a few inches

    12. plug in the power and let the mac start

     

    13. LOOK AT KAOS' IMAGES TO SEE EXACTLY WHERE THE PROBEM IS.

     

    it is at the extreme bottom left of the display towards you.  ie get down onthe floor and look up at the underside of the display and you will see it.

     

    Carefully rip off and throw away the stupid silver tape covering the problem plug

     

    it's now incedibly easy to fix. with your finger, gently tap or push on the faulty loose plug.

     

    in my case a tap fixed it - I added a tiny wedge (say a pirce of rubber) to put more pressure on it

     

    I just didn't bother replacing the pointless eight screws in point (4) above.  Slip the display back in, stand it up, put on the glass cover and get back to work.  It's that simple!  THANKS TO KAOS.

     

    Summary:

     

    1. remove glass screen

    2. lay mac down

    3. ease display out, but leave it connected and running

    4. have the top of the diaplsy IN the mac, and the bottom OUT, wedged up two inches by any object

    5. absolutely identify the problem area using KAOS' INFO

    5. carefully remove and throw away the stupid silver tape

     

    7. the whole problem is just a loose plug - tap it and you're done

     

    8. ease the display back in, put the glass cover back on (if you bother using the glass cover) and work away.

     

    that's the simple solution.  the "badass" solution is to fully remove the diusplay (ie disconnect all the cables that hold the display to the mac), and have a workshop fix the tiny broken plug)

     

    I'll post a video in a minute

     

    IT IS JUST A LOOSE PLUG .... it's that simple.

     

    I decide I am not ready to handle pulling my iMac apart personally.  So, I call Apple Support.  The cyber receptionist mentions that my telephone conversation may require a $19.95 payment. The real guy, with whom I am connected, confirms my Apple Care bought with the iMac only extended the one year warranty by two years and expired in December 2012 (bought in late December 2009 -- yes, the reportedly most likely model to experience this problem/defect).  Still, he talks to me and mentions that it may be a "LED ribbon problem" with a connection between the "mother board" processor thingy and the display screen, like what all the discussion threads (mostly from Europe) seem to be having a problem with.  He tells me that I can make an appointment to take the iMac to either of my nearby Apple Stores and they will look at the computer and that there is not usually a charge for a simple fix, like fixing is an "LED ribbon" connection issue.  I told him that I would double check with an external display to make sure the problem is localized in the integrated iMac display, but said that I expected it was because I did not see the dark left at 1 am when I accessed the iMac with my MacBook on Screen Share while the iMac screen was totally black.  I don't have time for this nonsense for a couple weeks and I can kind of see everything on the left side okay (best to keep documents in a window on one side or another of the dark divide).  I will report back in late October after I haul the iMac into the Apple Store.

     

    Begin forwarded message:

     


    From: Fritz S

    Subject: Wanna Scream: iMac Total Screen Fark

    Date: October 2, 2013 2:18:56 AM PDT

    To: Friends and Family


     

    WHY NOW?  WHY ALWAYS AT THIS UNGODLY HOUR?  WHY DOES IT ALWAYS HAPPEN TO ME?

     

    It's after 1 am in the morning.  I am on my iMac just finishing the 2-1/2 page, small-print, single-spaced email memorandum that I have written to my client summarizing our meeting Tuesday afternoon, including complicated bits and worm holes of international tax law.  Of course, I have not saved it. The screen goes black...  That would be after hitting "send," but just before I finish the spell-checking and the machine actually launches it.  My iMac still seems to be making processing sounds, but the screen will not come back on.

    WHAT DO YOU DO??

     

    After mindlessly  rolling around my mouse and clicking it randomly, I think about turning off the computer.  Without having sent or saved the email, however, that is the surest way to lose 2 hours of work.  So, I feel the computer; it has a temperature.  It's hot, maybe burning up, frying.  I think I smell the faint scent of burning electronics.  It's still making sad, intermittent processing sounds.  I think my iMac is a seriously sick puppy, like the languishing diva in the last scene of a Puccini opera; this is not going to end well.

     

    Then, I remember, I can look on my MacBook to see if the computer had auto-saved a copy of the email to the iCloud (which this morning told me that my 20 GB complimentary data base in the clouds, from the Mobile Me shut down last summer, while in Africa, was up this morning, like the federal government, at the dawning of October 1, but I was able to buy the additional 10 GB of storage that I needed apparently before the cloud started randomly regurgitating my content over the base/free 5 GB limit into cyberspace).  Booted up the MacBook.  No sign of the draft email in the clouds.

     

    WHAT DO YOU DO????

     

    So, I go to the Apple technical chat pages that address google searches, like "iMac screen goes black."  Seems like this has generated a lot of chatter.  Seems like 27" iMac get overheated, go on the fritz and go black with no small infrequency.  Similar problem with MacBooks too, it seems.  Apple seems to be offering to fix the problem for people who are suffering it with new MacBooks.  People are crying about hard reboots, which lose all data which is not backed up, because the iMac black-out takes down the hard-drive with it.  This is not looking pretty.

     

    WHAT DO YOU DO??????

     

    Then, I remember, Lou set up my MacBook so that I could screen share with my iMac.  So, I find that in my MacBook directory somehow (network) and it asks me if I want to screen save and I say, YES, and give it my iMac password and suddenly there it is my 27" iMac screen on a window in my 13" MacBook, looking like Kansas from an Airbus on a JFK to LAX flight.  I think, if I take off my glasses and touch my MacBook 13" screen with my nose, I can maybe read the email, which is still open.  I think I can maneuver that tiny, tiny, Lilliputian cursor on my iMac shared screen into the tiny, tiny, Lilliputian icon controls to print out a copy (the HP printer regurgitates that content), and, then even edit it (undo change) for the chunk of the email which mysteriously -- no doubt from my random iMac mouse activity during the black screen -- got deleted and print it a second time, and, finally, finish the spell checking and send it (and, oh, yes, lastly, turn my iMac off so it has a chance to regain its cool and hopefully its screen to the world).

     

    THANK GOD SCREEN SHARE WAS THERE...

     

    Is there a moral to the story?  Yeah, maybe, just maybe, you want to turn on your computer's screen share capability and set it up so that it can be accessed by your second computer (or someone else's nearby computer, maybe without telling that someone else your password, so you will have to go on their computer to access your computer when you need to access it). 

     

    Which reminds me... I don't think that I have the screen sharing turned on in my new my MacBook so that I could access my MacBook from my iMac if the situation were reversed.  Now how do you do that, again????

     

    Oh and there's a seeming solution to mac overheating seizures mentioned by yvettegri on a tech page August last year:

     

    https://discussions.apple.com/thread/4053857?start=30&tstart=0

     

    I had this problem also. My hard drive stopped working because of all the sudden stops without properly parking the drive. I had to reformat it, but couldn't get the operating system to load. The fine Apple Geniuses were able to load a system. I took it home and it immediately started going to black again.


     

    I did massive research on the web and solved the problem, and came up with a reason for the problem.

     

    The cause is heat. The SMC fan is not cooling down the system which is then shutting down because of the heat.

     

    There is a temperature sensor in the drive to supposedly prevent this. However, if you've changed your drive like I did, and replaced it with a drive that did not have a temperature sensor, then the fan control gets all confused, doesn't turn on properly, everything heats up and then shuts down.

     

    This also happens on factory installed drives when the temperature sensor goes bust. A lot of Apple's early drives for iMacs and MacBooks were really cheap and the sensor failed. I had to replace my factory isntalled drive because it failed. (Thank you time machine).

     

    The solution is a simple FREE software download called SMCfancontroller that turns your fan on at specific RPMs, and turns it off when you aren't overheating. I installed the software and haven't had a "go to black" moment since. The software can be downloaded here: http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/23049/smcfancontrol

     

    There is also another fan controller called Ultrafan which is also free.

     

    There is a paid fan controller, but you don't need it. the free ones work exactly the same. The paid fan controller gives you a 1 HOUR DEMO, which is not enough to evaluate whether or not it works.

     

     

    Hum, now that's something I need to do with my abundant free time, add a fan controller software to my Mac computers to address a problem that I have sort of experienced, but hardly understand completely.

     

    MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.  THANK GOD FOR ALL THIS TECHNOLOGY...

     

    I check my in-box in iCloud and my email to my client is there (my in-box, not my out-box:  I always bcc myself a copy of all emails that I send, just to increase the cyber-clutter of my life).  Time to sleep, before my iPhone alarm goes off at 6:55 am.

     

    URBAN DICTIONARY, DEFINITION #6.

    fark 3 up, 5 downhttp://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=fark#http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=fark#

    the burned skin on barbecued chicken

    "That chicken is burned."

     

    "No!! The fark is the best part!!"

  • Rain Man 777 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Hello Everyone!

     

    Have an other issue. I wondered if somebody could help me. I cleaned my 27" iMac display inside and made a stupid misstake. Cut some wires unfortunatelly. Is there any way, that I can change/repair this part of the display?

    The iMac is Late 2009. Some pics about my fault.IMG_8370.jpg

     

    IMG_8371.jpg

     

    IMG_8372.jpg

    Does anybody have this part for sale? It's with the black glass and with the board named ETF5 (its the back of the display!)

     

    Thanks for the answers!

  • Danfunk Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    This same thing happened to my 2011, barely 18 month old iMac. Left hand side of screen predominately darker than the right hand side. After quotes of £450 upwards for a brand new screen from repairers and no apparent 'quick fix', I opened her up myself as I wasn't prepared to shell out anymore money.

     

    I followed all of the threads above. The afforementioned white connector/socket that is meant to supply power to the screen is the single worst piece of equipment I've ever seen installed in any electrical product. Absolute rubbish and it is a disgrace that people have been charged silly amounts of money for new screens etc, when this component has been used within a supposedly top of the range computer.

     

    I had absolutely no chance of soldering the wires directly (hats off to KAOS for managing that) so what I did was pull the flat black cable tight (towards the top of the screen), then, with quite a bit of difficulty, managed to use some fresh metallic tape to hold the cable in place. It took a while but the screen is back to it's original state and looks beautiful.

     

    Many thanks to KAOS and John-Paul May for their detailed analysis above. It worked for me and saved me a few pound notes! I will be logging this problem with Apple and also the relevant consumer rights authorities as Apple should not be allowed to get away with this.

  • John-Paul May Level 1 Level 1 (20 points)

    I am so pleased it is fixed in your case!  that's the best possible out come when it is "just" a matter of pulling and pushing on the cable, somehow.

     

    "The afforementioned white connector/socket that is meant to supply power to the screen is the single worst piece of equipment I've ever seen installed in any electrical product."

     

    Could not agree more. Well said.  It's truly unbelievable.

  • FlunkedFlank Level 1 Level 1 (65 points)

    Rain Man 777 wrote:

     

    Hello Everyone!

     

    Have an other issue. I wondered if somebody could help me. I cleaned my 27" iMac display inside and made a stupid misstake. Cut some wires unfortunatelly. Is there any way, that I can change/repair this part of the display?

     

    Eesh ... that's from inside the LCD itself, right? I doubt you'll find any replacement parts for the internals of the LCD. I think your only hope is to buy someone else's dead LCD on ebay (or similar) and salvage it for that part. Or, just buy a replacement LCD. Search ebay for 'iMac 27" LCD' and try to find a matching LCD for your exact model. In the US, at least, there are a lot of results from that search and quite a few at decent used prices.

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