MacBook won't start / no chime / black screen / blinking light

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by phatphil, Dec 1, 2007.

  1. macrumors member

    Jul 6, 2007
    I've got a nasty issue with my 13-mo. old MacBook.

    I'm pretty sure it's a dead logic board and possibly a dead hard drive, which I really, really, really hope not as I don't have backups of everything on the drive. I just upgraded to Leopard this past week and did a clean install so not all of my stuff is setup yet.

    Power adapter and battery are inserted. All 3rd party peripherals and RAM have been removed.

    MacBook does not chime at boot. The screen flickers, but stays black. If I hold down the power button then try to let it boot the light on the front right flashes constantly (like when it's sleeping but a faster pace), like a turn signal on a car. I can hear the cd-rom drive whining but everything else is dead silent.

    I've done everything here with the exception of calling Apple.

    I've also tried FW Target Disk Mode, but the MacBook drive does not show up.

    I've done everything I can think of and I'm out of ideas at this point.

    Additionally, there's a cd-rom (Tiger Restore CD) stuck in the drive. Holding down the mouse button during restart does not eject this CD. Where is the force eject button (I see no pinhole)?

    I have business documents, emails, etc. that I HAVE TO get off this hard drive. How can I do it? I don't have a 2.5" drive enclosure but if that will solve the situation I will pick one up asap.
  2. macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    If it is in truth a deal logic board, then all you can do is remove the drive, put it in a SATA/USB enclosure and recover to another Mac
  3. Moderator emeritus


    Apr 27, 2005
    San Francisco, CA
    If you did a clean install, surely you must have all of your data somewhere?

    At this point, you probably need to call Apple or make an appointment with a Genius.

    How you access your data is really dependent on the condition of the drive. If the HD is OK (which I suspect is true), an enclosure would work. However, if the HD failed, you'll need to resort to data recovery specialists.

    PS - There is no force eject button on these drives.
  4. thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 6, 2007
    I had the same situation with an iBook a few years ago and I couldn't remember if I was able to mount it in Target Disk Mode or not then. I should be able to, shouldn't I?

    I was afraid of that. Lame.

    What does this constantly blinking light mean? I've read that an alternating fast/slow blinking light can indicate corrupted firmware, but this isn't alternating. It's a constant slow blink.
  5. Moderator emeritus


    Apr 27, 2005
    San Francisco, CA
    That would depend on your logic board situation.

    Also, were you making any hardware changes right before this happened? ...Like swapping the RAM?
  6. thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 6, 2007
    Nope, no new hardware at all. It had 2GB of RAM, but it had been in there for over a month with no problems. Right now it's stock with no added RAM.

    For the record, it went through the "random shutdown seizure" yesterday, which should been an obvious sign for me to backup immediately, I had planned to do it this weekend after I finished a project (which I was working on hours ago when it had the final crash). :(
  7. macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    No Chime - blinking light is also a symptom of improperly installed RAM. You said you removed third-party RAM - are you sure you pushed the Apple RAM ALL the way into the socket?

    Wait - Stock, no added RAM.... Do you mean to say there are no RAM modules in either of the 2 sockets??
  8. thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 6, 2007
    Dobt! I forgot it has no MOBO RAM. Let me grab the Apple RAM and put it back in.

    Edit: We are alive & kicking. Right now I'm backing up crucial files, then having Time Machine back up in the entire drive. Thanks so much for that tip. I can't believe I would overlook something like that.
  9. macrumors 6502a

    Jun 5, 2007

    if you didn't know that your system needed ram, (mobo ram?!) then you should NOT be messing with ram.

    and in this instance calling apple would have been the very first thing i would do.
  10. Moderator emeritus


    Apr 27, 2005
    San Francisco, CA
    In fairness, it is not (or at least, was not) uncommon for laptops to have built-in ram plus DIMMs for expandability.
  11. macrumors 6502a

    Jun 5, 2007
    no i don't think thats much of an excuse. you take your ram out, put none back in, and the system doesnt work. duh?
  12. thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 6, 2007
    Motherboard RAM... as in built-in RAM. All pre-Intel Apple laptops (to the best of my knowledge) came with built-in RAM. Installing/removing or "messing with" RAM is no big deal, it was just an oversight.

    Thank you.

    As I said above, most/all Mac laptops before the Intel Macs did include built-in memory. Pulling 3rd party memory was one of the first things you would do when solving a hardware problem, so that was one of my first instincts here. That's a very unprofessional attitude to have when you're representing a business.

    Eric - Can I attribute the "random restarts problem" above to faulty 3rd party memory or do you think the logic board is going out? I've been running on 1GB of Apple memory for several hours now with no problems, but the system feels very sluggish after being used to 2GB.
  13. Moderator emeritus


    Apr 27, 2005
    San Francisco, CA
    That could have been the problem. Only time will tell.
  14. macrumors 65816

    Aug 20, 2006
    Carlisle, PA
    As others have pointed out, Apple did in fact have a propensity towards onboard RAM, usually located on the motherboard (Sometimes they would put it in the Optical Drive, but they found out later that the spinning disks caused a DouSchenBägh Effect on the RAM and abandoned that idea). I think that the G4 iBooks had 128MB onboard, the old G3 PowerBooks had 64-128MB onboard... you get the idea.

    So what if he called it MoboRAM, it is as good a name as any.
  15. macrumors 6502a

    Jun 5, 2007
    sorry :(

    rereading your original post i think i might have missed the fact that this problem happened prior to you pulling out your ram. i thought you had a kernel panic then just pulled out your ram and then it didn't work.

    no hard feelings?

    did you try reinserting your third party memory? if it still doesn't work then it looks like that's the obvious culprit, considering your OEM sticks work.
  16. macrumors regular

    Nov 3, 2007
    You just made me feel good about installing only Crucial RAM in my SR MB. :)
  17. macrumors newbie

    Apr 10, 2003
    Derry, NH
    Thanks for this helpful tip. I managed to put my heart in my throat after taking my MacBook apart and putting it back together and having it not do anything. Thankfully, it was just poorly seated RAM.

    Good show.
  18. macrumors 6502

    Oct 7, 2007
    my macbook pro is doing te same thing.

    when i press the power button, the white light comes on and stays on, nothing comes on the screen, all black and i can hear the harddrive boot up.
    yesterday at work it happened, and when i resstarted my macbook i pressed the option key and pressed the power button and i was able to click on the harddrive to load up snow leopard. and now i cant even get to that screen. i don't know what to do. and i can't afford to have any of the parts replaced and i need all the data that is on the macbook.

    please help

  19. macrumors newbie

    Mar 18, 2008
    any updates to your case ?
    Ive just got the exact same problems this morning.

  20. macrumors newbie

    Jan 20, 2010
    Me 2

    Same problem. just happened. will check the ram today after work but I'm not hopeful. Has anyone else noticed, that after the optical drive makes noises,that the hard disk just immediately switches off as it shuts down (as if the power button was held down for +10 seconds)

    No chime, black screen here. I really want to turn it on just once to get some data before sending it in to applecare for 2 weeks.

    Anyway is there also a way to use the HDD as an external drive without opening it and voiding the warranty?

    Btw these are my symptoms:
    On power up, drive noises, glowing light, no chime, black screen. 5 seconds later, Immediate shutdown
  21. macrumors 6502

    Nov 7, 2007

    Well consider your knowledge officially non best

    Don't ever remember my TiBook having RAM soldered to the motherboard.
  22. macrumors newbie

    Jan 20, 2010
    @ MOEL wow you are continuing a discussion on redundant portables that was last discussed over 3 years ago... (Dec 2, 2007, 06:47 AM phatphil)


    How about some help instead! most people when starting up their computer on this thread have a black screen. all my symptoms are theirs but I also have an immediate shutdown before the chime. does anyone have the same problem??
  23. macrumors newbie

    Jan 23, 2010
    Last night my 13" white MacBook unexpectedly shut off and now does the same thing. I turn it on, DVD drive makes a noise (sometimes more than once), I hear the hard drive spin up, no chime, black screen, light on the front is on. It doesn't power off after five seconds, however.
  24. macrumors newbie

    Jan 20, 2010

    Try the ram. Have you changed/upgraded it recently? Try pressing it in more, or removing the new piece completely. Here's something I found on the web for your problem, it might work:

    1. Get rid of the PSU.
    2. Get rid of the battery.
    3. Do the >10 second thing on the Power Button with everything off.
    4. Take all the RAM out. (This was what made the difference IMO).
    5. Do the >10 second thing with the Power Button again.
    6. Have a cup of coffee.
    7. Do the >10 second thing with the Power Button again.
    (I have to wonder if whatever that does takes a lot longer to drain / clear the PMU than Apple thinks.)
    8. Stick the RAM back in.
    9. Stick the battery in.
    10. Connect the power.
    11. Blow on your fingers, and fire her up.. et voila: Your Mac is back.

    Hope that helps some people anyway.
  25. macrumors newbie

    Jun 27, 2002
    Status LED does not have to blink for bad RAM!

    Hi all

    Just a note that I had a RAM module go bad last night. The symptoms were the same as often described. Namely:
    1) No startup
    2) Status LED comes on, stays lit
    3) HDD spins up, spins for a while then stops
    4) No screen startup!

    After trying everything I could find, including pulling all RAM, power and praying :D, I tried a trick from a user over at "Powerbook Medic". I tried the RAM modules individually. After the first one, same thing. Changed to only have the second one installed and voila, it started up!

    So the moral of the story is that RAM can still be the issue even if the LED status light is not blinking.

    Cheers and good luck to the next poor soul that needs this!


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