WTF??? Computer hell

Discussion in 'Mac Help/Tips' started by nitz, Mar 27, 2003.

  1. nitz macrumors member

    nitz

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2003
    Location:
    Germany
    #1
    I have a wierd problem with a Quicksilver G4 800mHz running 9.2.2. The computer was bought in August of 2002 in Europe, assembled in Ireland. The description is long so please bear with me.

    The computer started randomly crashing shortly after we installed Quark Xpress 5.1. Naturally I thought it was at first the software and reinstalled it but it didn't solve the problem. Soon the problem got worse and the computer would crash when we tried to print to a network printer. It didn't matter from what program. Then soon after that it started to crash at start up. It would start to load the first ethernet extension and then crash. We would always get the error "Ungültige Anweisung (3)". This is a german system. roughly translated it means "Invalid Statement (3)"

    I then started swapping extensions. If I turned off all exstensions it would start. But then it started crashing doing that as well. I then removed the the network cable to no avail. I zapped the PRAM, rebuild desktop, trashed preferences and exstensions. I pulled all cards (graphics, Scsi) and swapped all cables and it still didn't start.

    Well then I thought maybe it was a wiggy RAM chip so I pulled one out and Bingo! It worked. Put it back in, Crashed. Took it back out, Bingo! I thought I had solved the problem. The next day we started having the same problems even with the RAM chip removed. We tried putting the RAM in a different socket and it started. We shut the door, started it up and it crashed. Opened the door, it started. Closed the door, it crashed.

    We then did a complete system reinstall and the problems seemed to go away for 2 days. Then on the third day the same start up problems started appearing.

    We did all the swapping again, reinstalled ATM, removed and swapped RAM. It started working somewhat but intermittently.

    We then concluded that it was probably a problem with the motherboard or something mounted on it. We sent it in and the tech guy, after accusing us of being incompetent, said it was a system software problem and that it worked after he reinstalled the software. It worked fine for me too after we reinstalled the system software, but only for a few days. He was quite insistant that it was a software issue, even though I said it seemed to start better when the door was open.

    As soon as we got it back it crashed on the first start. The only constant variable was the monitor. We swapped it and it started right up. We put the suspect monitor on a G3 with the same version OS but different graphics card and the G3 started right up. We tried it on another Mac and a PC and had no startup issues at all leading us to think there was no problem with the monitor, but rather with the Graphics card. In the System Profiler it is listed as an ATY, RV200. I think its just an ATI RAGE (agp). We took it out and put a ProGraphics PCI card in and hooked it up to the suspect monitor. It started up without any problem. Then we swapped back the the ATI card and it crashed again. We swapped two more times with the same results.

    We send it back again telling him to focus on the monitor card and a week later it was sent back with a note saying they could not find the problem and it was probably our monitor. ARRRRGGGHHH!!!
    :mad:
    :mad:
    :mad:

    I plugged it in only with the suspect monitor hooked up to the original ATI card , and the pro keyboard and mouse. We had done this so many times before sending it back and it always crashed. This time however it started right up. No problems. I did restart 3 times and shut it down and restarted it 3 times with no problem. Then I plugged in a USB zip drive and it crashed with the same error message. I tried a different Zip drive, reinstalled the Iomega software, and tried a usb floppy all with the same result; crash. Then I switched the usb plugs so that the keyboard is in usb 2 and the ZIP drive is in 1. So far I can only get it to crash when a USB device, with the exeption of the keyboard, is plugged into USB 2. And that is how far I've gotten so far.

    So my questions are:

    Who doesn't think this is a hardware problem and why?

    Are there any know issues with this model concerning motherboards, graphic cards, etc with this model? The number on the motherboard is 820-1342-B 2001. I did a search on google but found nada.

    Does anybody have any other ideas about what could be causing these problems. When I send it back for the 3rd time what should I tell the guy to be on the lookout for?

    Thanks for any help/advice you can provide,

    Nate
     
  2. Billicus macrumors 6502a

    Billicus

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2002
    Location:
    Charles City, Iowa
    #2
    Have you tried updating the firmware for your computer? It almost sounds like a firmware issue. Otherwise I agree that it would be a hardware issue. On second thought, could it be an irronious extension? You said you tried that but you also said you install the same stuff over and over when you get the computer back. You should also try updating all the software you have on that computer. Hope this helps.:D
     
  3. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    Joined:
    May 19, 2002
    #3
    Have you checked your power source, a noisy line or bad power can really cause a lot of problems.

    Usually results in a computer that acts badly at home and works fine at the computer repair shop.

    Though I did have a Performa 6400 that didn't like being moved or sitting on one side of my monitor. Worked fine on one side but crashed on the other -- darned mag fields. :(
     
  4. kungfu macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2002
    #4
    I would make sure that the motherboard isn't shorting out -- if any of the metal on the bottom of the board is touching the back of the case, the motherboard might become unstable. Maybe try taking everything out of the case and then running the computer. Just an idea if nothing else works..
     
  5. nitz thread starter macrumors member

    nitz

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2003
    Location:
    Germany
    #5
    Okay here is an update,

    After I got the computrer back for the 2nd time I ran into the problems with the USB devices. Now sometimes it doesn't matter what USB port it is in but it crashes more often than not when the USB ZIP is in port 2. When the Computer was returned it cam with a fresh reformatted hard drive. There was no extra software on it other than System 9 and the things that come along with it. As described I did download and install the latest Iomega drivers when the USB problem first came up when the computer was returned.

    Most of the time it will start up if I disable exstensions, but then again sometimes it won't.

    This morning I used Software Update updated the firmware and updated an ATI driver. That still didn't help. Checked to make sure there were no pieces of metal touching the casing. I didn't find any.

    Now I think it may have something to do with the power circuit it was on. I moved the computer to another part of the building, hooked it up with USB and it started right up. I then moved it back to where it originally was and it started crashing again. I still want to try the computer in the different part of the building but with the same monitor, USB drive, Keyboard, etc. We did take an identical computer (Quicksilver G4 800mHz running 9.2.2) and hook it up to the suspect socket and it worked fine. Although I was expecting that for some reason. The wierdest thing is that as soon as you think you have the problem narrowed down to some variable, the problem goes away and another one pops up.

    Maybe we'll have an electrician come in and look at the circuits in the office.

    Hmm
    :confused:
     
  6. G4scott macrumors 68020

    G4scott

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2002
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    #6
    You could get an uninterruptible power supply (or UPS). You don't need a heavy duty one, just enough to supply the computer with enough juice, mainly to keep fluctuations in the power lines out of your computer.

    If that doesn't work, I'd say it's a firmware or mobo issue.
     
  7. nitz thread starter macrumors member

    nitz

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2003
    Location:
    Germany
    #7
    I'll see about getting a UPS. Before I get it though I want to determine if it will solve the problem. I just ran an Extension cable down the stairs to a socket on the first floor and it still crashed. Could be the length of the cable though. I brought the computer downstairs after that and it didn't crash. Hmmm
     
  8. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    Joined:
    May 19, 2002
    #8
    What do you have parked around it -- fans (or something with an electric motors), flourescent lights (even overhead), stereo speaker, tv/monitor, or signal generators?

    How bout on the same circuit? (Same as above including copiers & big laser printer)

    You might try turning everything else in the room, and the circuit off, and see what happens.

    Or try moving the computer to a different part of the room.

    Might be something on the same circuit breaker, or on an alternate phase (unbalanced load)...
     
  9. Gus macrumors 65816

    Gus

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2002
    Location:
    Minnesota
    #9
    Doubt it will help, but I once had a similar problem with a PowerMac Digital Audio 733. It turned out the circuit my computer plugged into in the house was the same one that the dishwasher and refrigerator were on. Because they were causing such a load on the line (an old line too-wired in 1929!), there was a lot of fluctuation. Once I moved the computer to another circiut everything was fine. Our cordless phone base was screwy when plugged into the original circuit as well. It's worth a shot!

    Regards,
    Gus
     
  10. nitz thread starter macrumors member

    nitz

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2003
    Location:
    Germany
    #10
    Okay, So I moved the computer and monitor and same USB drive to another part of the building and.... The same problem. It seems that when the computer is hooked up with this certain monitor, Miro Radius L-3FD, and USB drives it ceases to start up properly. Apparently, it doesn't matter what room its in so I don't think power fluctuation is the culprit . I've tried different settings and resolutions to no avail. The monitor works fine with any other computer and the computer starts up fine with any other monitor while having a USB drive attached. I'm waiting for someone to tell me its all part of an elaborate April Fools Day joke. HA HA very Funny.

    NItz
     
  11. nitz thread starter macrumors member

    nitz

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2003
    Location:
    Germany
    #11
    Hopefully the third time is a charm

    I swapped out the monitor cards with one that it exactly the same from the same kind of computer we bought at the same time. It still crashed. Then I switched the cards back to their origional machines. It crashed once and then I took out the RAM chip and put it back in and it started up no problem. I still haven't gotten it to crash. Whenever I move or fiddle with cards, chips, or cable in this general vicinity of the motherboard the specific problem goes away for a short while or it emerges later as something else. As soon as I think I got it narrowed down to an error I can replicate, it shows up as something else. A few weeks ago I already took out the RAM chips and it worked for a few hours before it froze and the startup problems returned. As of yesterday I couldn't get the problem to pop up again. I'm not about to reinstall all of our programs and scripts just to have it start crashing again.

    So I sent it off for the third time. We convinced him to replace the motherboard so we will see what happens. :rolleyes:
     

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