Monday, December 11, 2006

Worlds First Carbon Fiber Macbook, sort of.

I was starting to get tired of people bitching about the limited availability of colors on Macbooks. I looked around to see how people are modding these things but everytime you go to a forum on the web regarding anything Mac, you end up with comments from a bunch of idiots that have never modded anything yet think they are experts on the subject. Let me say this, Colorware Macbooks look fantastic and if I were rich I would do it. However, I'm not rich, and I have serious issues with paying someone $450 to do something that I can do for $20 and a few hours of my time. I have painted a Macbook (blue) for my friend and it looks amazing. I, on the other hand didn't want to void my warranty so I thought long and hard about ways to change the appearance of my Core 2 Duo Black Macbook. This is my second one and is about 5 days old. I like this model because of its size and the power it has for a laptop. I just don't like the fact that it shows finger prints so easily. Long story short. I was at the automotive store looking for something completely different for my car (which cost less than my Mac) and I came across this stuff called "Carbon Graphix". If you aren't familiar with it, it's a vinyl sticker material that looks like real carbon fiber and it is quite durable. I had a light bulb come on in my head. This stuff can be removed, it's not paint, its tough, and it won't void my warranty. The reason that it saves the warranty is that you don't have to disassemble anything to put it on. Basically, it's a sticker, a really cool sticker. Having said all that, here are the pictures. It looks amazing and I get all kinds of looks with it now. With a lack of professional looking finishes for the Macbook, I think this will become a popular mod. Actually, its not even really a mod. It's just a sticker. This MB looks right at home next to the MBPs at the office now. I'm sure that there are tons of other patterns available at sign shops or other places that sell vinyl sticker/laminate material. You can like it or hate it but I just like the fact that mine is different now and it didn't cost me half a grand to get it that way. Don't worry about residue. I have taken this stuff off of other things already. The little bit of sticker residue comes of with a piece of duck tape dabbed repeatedly on the spots that it stays. I really appreciate all the good feedback guys and girls. I just wanted something cool and it seems I've found it. Be careful with the Apple logo. That was the hardest part about putting this stuff on. You'll need a really sharp exact-o knife and a steady hand. A lot of people have been telling me that they can't find the graphics material. If you are having any difficulty locating it let me know. I can sell you a sheet. I have a lot of extra and a good merchant account at ebay. I'll even pre-cut the outer edges for you. The Apple logo will have to be cut by you when the material is installed. The interior of this unit is not done. I started to CF it but it was really just too much. Let's face it. It is what it is. On the outside it looks good but when you plaster every inch of the Macbook with CF it kinda looks too unbelievable. I'll try to include some detailed installation photos. If you need any tips on this stuff, email me at Owners of White MBs aren't out of luck. There are other patterns and colors out there, although I'll admit CF doesn't look good on white. You'll just have to look around. The point of this whole post was to show that you aren't stuck with Apple stock colors. Will post more later.

I was gonna post more about the Carbon Graphix application but it seems that no one is interested anymore so I will be putting some other mods on here soon. Any specific questions can be directed to the email above which I check about twice a week.

Posted 01/30/2007
I have recieved enough emails lately to let me know that people are still interested. Please send any specific questions to my email and I will address them in this blog on soon. Due to a camera malfunction, it will be just a little longer.

First tip: Don't buy a Fuji digital camera. They are inexpensive and seem like a great deal at first. Heck, they even take great pictures but the XD media card will eventually leave you high and dry without your pics. I had one go out on me and I just thought that it was the card itself. After I purchased another card it malfunctioned too. The camera, a Finepix A345, then after I installed the 3rd card began to act wierd. The lcd went out and eventually the whole camera was useless. All this at the 18 month old mark. Yeah, I know 18months is considered old these days but still.

Anyway, for those of you that have been waiting for some tips on putting this stuff on I can offer the tips. I just can't post pics for now until I purchase a new camera. There are a few major ones listed below:

1. Calm, down. This stuff is not gonna go on perfect if you rush it.

2. Gather all of your materials which will include: Tagboard/Cardstock, Exacto Knife, Metal Straight Edge, Ruler, Masking Tape, Old Credit Card, Hair Dryer, & Paper Towels

3. Get a piece of tagboard similar to what comes folded up in a new dress shirt. I took a jumbo cereal box and used one of the panels off of it for the next step.

4. Measure the top surface of your Macbook. I recommend going only to where the bends start. That would mean, your measurements should be few millimeters less than the overall height and width of the computer.

5. Cut the tagboard to those measurements. This tagboard is a template for the more expensive graphix vinyl that you are going to cut later. You will want to use the Exacto knife and a metal straight edge to get those edges perfect. At the 90 degree corners, you should take a small diameter coin and round off those edges.

6. Ok this part is tricky. Roll out your vinyl material so that the printed side is up on a table. Then use your hair dryer to gently (on low) walk the stuff flat. That way you don't have to fight with the vinyl wanting to keep rolling back up on you.

7. Now lay your template onto the vinyl at an angle 45 degrees to the factory edge of the material. Take your masking tape and using 3cm strips, tape the template to the vinyl. You should only need to tape it in about 5 or 6 evenly spaced places.

8. Now, if you have a steady hand and a long pair of scissors you can cut out the vinyl which is taped to the tagboard. I used the exacto knife and cut it like that.

9. You should have your skin made at this point. Position it on the Macbook and get it exactly where you will want it to be. Now take a couple of pieces of that masking tape and tape one whole edge down to the Macbook. One of the side ends is preferred.

10. Now that it is taped into posistion on one end, lay the material back over itself and remove the backing from the taped end for about 5-10 cm. Use your credit card at this point. Wrap a paper towel around it and use it to walk down the section of vinyl with the adhesive exposed to the Macbook. Do this slowly and make sure to get all the bubbles out now, because it will look horrible if you don't. After that 5-10 cm section is down repeat steps 9 and 10 on an additional 5-10 cm section.

11. Repeat step 10 until you reach the other end of the top.

12. More steps later.

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