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Old Jan 30, 2010, 04:19 AM   #1
andy12
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Unsolveable PowerBook Problem

I have a 12" PowerBook G4 1.5ghz. I have had zero problems with this computer until just a few days ago. All of the sudden it froze. I manually shut it down. Waited a few minutes and tried to turn it on again. All went normal, however, at the boot screen the spinning wheel under the apple all of the sudden stopped. I tried again - same thing. I tried booting in safe mode - same thing. I tried verbose mode - same thing. I booted in single user mode and did /sbin/fsck -fy as well as /sbin/fsck -fn until it said that there were no modifications. Tried to start it up again - same thing. I plugged it in to my new iMac and put it in target disc mode. From here I went into disk utility selected the drive and repaired the permissions and disk twice. Tried to restart - same thing. Tried resetting the PRAM and you guessed - same thing. I used my friends MBP OS X disc to try and boot from the disc and got the same frozen wheel under the apple. At this point I thought there was something terribly wrong with the hard drive so I replace it with a brand new one. Thinking I was made in the shade I try and boot from disc and got the same thing! I have tried to read other forums and do suggestions but they have gotten me anywhere.

Any ideas? I love this little computer and was thinking about upgrading as soon as the new MBP is released.

Thanks for you help!
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Old Jan 30, 2010, 04:39 AM   #2
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Sounds like either the fan has failed or on it's way out. Or the logic board is about to die.
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Old Jan 30, 2010, 04:58 PM   #3
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When I do start it up the fan does make a 2 or 3 second loud sound. Almost like it is turn on power for that brief period of time. At the same time when it was in target disk mode there were lines every 3mm or so apart. When I do start it up to the boot screen there is no signs of lines. Thanks for your response!
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Old Jan 30, 2010, 05:34 PM   #4
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Ya, I think it's gone or on the verge of it, may be the time to actually consider that MBP.
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Old Jan 30, 2010, 10:25 PM   #5
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This is very sad news. Thanks for the help.
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Old Jan 30, 2010, 10:40 PM   #6
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Do you have added RAM in the computer?
You might try taking it out to see if it has any effect.

Good luck!
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Old Jan 30, 2010, 10:41 PM   #7
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Try removing additional RAM (yes, that will make the machine slow but may at least allow it to boot).

When you replaced the HD, what system did you install or try to boot from?

The 12" PB 1.5Ghz shipped with 10.3.7 Build 7T51 and later, 10.4.2 Build 8E90. A Retail 10.4, 10.5 disc should boot the machine.

If the DVD you used has "For MacBook" or "MacBook Pro" then you won't be able to boot from it since your PowerBook is PPC and not Intel.

Remove any third party peripherals (USB or Firewire, etc).

Remove the Airport Card from inside the battery bay.

Hope that helps.
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Old Feb 23, 2010, 06:35 PM   #8
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Apologies for letting so much time pass before updating you guys. I just found my Leopard disc that I used to install Leopard. I tried to boot from the disc and still it froze on the start up wheel. Is it safe to say that it is dead?
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Old Feb 23, 2010, 08:07 PM   #9
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Apologies for letting so much time pass before updating you guys. I just found my Leopard disc that I used to install Leopard. I tried to boot from the disc and still it froze on the start up wheel. Is it safe to say that it is dead?
Yes, and no. It's pretty difficult to do a full diagnosis via forum post.

I'm assuming you removed additional RAM and Airport card?

Troubleshooting this machine involves getting the machine to as minimal configuration as possible. The final steps would be disconnecting the Bluetooth board, internal HD and optical drive (though that's harder than the RAM and Airport card).
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Old Feb 24, 2010, 02:18 PM   #10
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RAM and Airport card were both out.

Looks like I will be diving in and disconnecting bluetooth board, internal HD and optical drive. I have had the computer apart before and know how to go about doing so. Any advice?
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Old Feb 24, 2010, 05:15 PM   #11
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RAM and Airport card were both out.

Looks like I will be diving in and disconnecting bluetooth board, internal HD and optical drive. I have had the computer apart before and know how to go about doing so. Any advice?
Yes... don't.

Seriously though, if you like playing with chinese puzzles, the best resource I can point you to is the ifixit.com guide, or a Google search for "pbg4_12in_1_5ghz.pdf"

I would advise AGAINST removing the modules. Disconnecting them from the logic board is sufficient enough for troubleshooting.

Of course, if the failure is with the logic-board, your efforts will be fruitless, but I'll keep my fingers crossed.

Dismantling a 12" PowerBook has to be the worst take apart ever devised. Removing the optical drive requires all but completely dismantling the machine.

Good luck!
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Old Feb 25, 2010, 06:55 PM   #12
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Alright this is exciting. The pull apart wasn't so bad. More difficult than a MB though. I unplugged the hard drive as well as the bluetooth board. Booted holding C and GOT PASSED THE START UP SCREEN! Well kind of. It went from the start up apple to a blue screen and then to a dark grey screen with the beach ball. The beach ball just kept spinning for ten minutes or so before I turned of the computer because the disc sounded like it was getting over worked. I assume this is good though. Any suggestions going further? Thanks for you help!
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Old Feb 25, 2010, 11:46 PM   #13
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Alright this is exciting. The pull apart wasn't so bad. More difficult than a MB though. I unplugged the hard drive as well as the bluetooth board. Booted holding C and GOT PASSED THE START UP SCREEN! Well kind of. It went from the start up apple to a blue screen and then to a dark grey screen with the beach ball. The beach ball just kept spinning for ten minutes or so before I turned of the computer because the disc sounded like it was getting over worked. I assume this is good though. Any suggestions going further? Thanks for you help!
According to this, your PowerBook should boot 10.3.7 as a minimum. If you have a Tiger boot DVD, try that. Or, refit your additional RAM. With only 256MB of RAM on the motherboard, booting from a read-only disc is going to be painfully slow.

If you have access to a friend who has a PPC mac and an external FireWire HD, you could try installing a bootable OS onto it and boot from that. Note that the drive must be FireWire, since you can't boot from USB on a PPC Mac. Also note that you must install the OS on a PPC Mac and NOT an Intel Mac.

OR, BETTER/EASIER; you can put a PPC Mac into Target Disc Mode, connect it to your PowerBook via FireWire, and hold the Option key when you boot your PowerBook to select the other Mac to boot from.

Without a few extra bits and pieces, it starts to get difficult to determine where the fault is.

Oh, and every now and then, reconnect the part you suspect is faulty so that you can see the fault return. If it doesn't, it may be a bad connector or a connector that simply required re-seating. And remember, intermittent faults are the worst!
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Old Feb 25, 2010, 11:51 PM   #14
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Have you tried to use diagnostic disc? It's your original system disc. When booting up hold down the "D" key on your keyboard.
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Old Feb 26, 2010, 05:58 PM   #15
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After I unplugged the bluetooth and hard drive and got the blue than grey screen I plugged in the hard drive and it booted fine! Everything looks normal all my files are there. I went to go do disk repair and after about 15 minutes it froze with the spinning beach ball of death.Thinking it was because I had the RAM out I reinstall it and boot it up. Booted fine again! Same thing happens 3 or 4 times. Finally I decided to just boot from the disc and do a zero data on the drive thinking this may help. It finally boots from the disc but as I go to select my language it friezes. Not with the beach ball but with these lines coming off my mouse. So I restart it and it goes and does its frozen wheel again. I try again - same thing. I pull out the hard drive. Same thing. Try booting from the disc and I get the boot screen with lines in it. After that it goes to a blue screen where I get the mouse with lines coming off of it and freezes. I shut it down boot in the command line to reset-nvram, set-defaults, and reset-all. These lines come up again. I do what I came to do. It reboots its self after reset-all and comes up to a clear boot screen that freezes on the wheel. I reboot same thing. I boot from disc same thing. I boot holding option and out come the lines.

Is this showing death of the logic board? I have no idea what it could be. When it did boot everything work awesome... until it froze.
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Old Feb 26, 2010, 07:20 PM   #16
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Is this showing death of the logic board? I have no idea what it could be. When it did boot everything work awesome... until it froze.
This is starting to sound like a logic-board problem. It's hard to say definitively, but given the lines on the display when it freezes, it could be voltage regulation/bad DC-DC Board or dry solder joins.... somewhere, or an over-heating/failing GPU.

You might want to try disconnecting and reconnecting any remaining connectors, and removing and reseating the DC-DC board.

Shame, the 1.5Ghz 12" is not such a bad beast. The dis-assembly gets worse from here, and doesn't really facilitate better troubleshooting at all. Unless you want to spend $$$ on buying another 1.5Ghz cheaply (perhaps with a cracked display), there probably isn't much more you can do.
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Old Feb 27, 2010, 01:18 AM   #17
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Seems like your GPU is failing.
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Old Feb 27, 2010, 03:23 AM   #18
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I'm going out on a limb here.

On the later iBook G4's, there is a regulator IC by Linear Technology that has become rather famous for cracked solder joints causing similar video problems.

If I'm correct, there is a similar IC on the 12" PowerBook's DC-DC Board.

Looking at this pic of the DC-DC board, the chip is located at "U8" and is marked with "1625" on it's bottom edge. It's an LTC1625.

If you place a small amount of pressure on this chip (forcing cracked solder joins to close), does this help the machine to run longer?

Just a stab in the dark.

EDIT: Oh crumbs....

On the bottom side of the 12" PowerBook (a nightmare to get to) is the same series chip as in the iBook G4.

Here it is near the top of the pic, labeled as ISL6227. I'm assuming it's purpose will be the same, supplying voltage to the GPU and memory.

Again, just a stab in an extremely dark room.
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Old Feb 27, 2010, 08:47 AM   #19
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This is a little unrelated so sorry in advance but, I keep seeing the Powerbook problem threads popping up recently. I just sold my fulling working PB G4 a week ago for a good price. These threads make me feel like I made the right decision.

I do feel for you OP, Good Luck!!
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Old Feb 28, 2010, 05:10 PM   #20
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I appreciate your dedication to my problem. However; I think the time has come to call it dead. Getting to the underside was a true nightmare that resulted in nothing gained. I still can't get over the fact that it came back to life only to break my heart once again. Thanks again for your help!
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Old Feb 28, 2010, 05:31 PM   #21
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Time to move on, your G4 needs a sister
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Old Feb 28, 2010, 08:00 PM   #22
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I appreciate your dedication to my problem. However; I think the time has come to call it dead. Getting to the underside was a true nightmare that resulted in nothing gained. I still can't get over the fact that it came back to life only to break my heart once again. Thanks again for your help!
Fair enough. If you've taken it to pieces, you might get more for it selling the parts!

The take apart is a real pain. It's no wonder dealers charge like wounded bulls to replace parts in them. I even heard of a dealer suggesting buying a new laptop to replace one with a failed DVD drive that was only 2 years old.

Even so, if you get into a Core2Duo, you won't regret that move from PPC.

A moment's silence for the Laptop that was...
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