Bought a 12" Powerbook G4

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by DarkSel, Dec 22, 2012.

  1. DarkSel, Dec 22, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2012

    DarkSel macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2012
    #1
    I bought a 12" Powerbook G4 for $100. It's in fair condition, but there are quite a lot of case deformities/bumps. It came with the original boxes/packaging, a case, iWork disk, Leopard disk, and Office Mac disk. Do you guys think this was a good deal?

    1.5 GHz G4
    1.25 GB RAM
    12" screen

    There were some issues I was having, however.

    First of all, it didn't come with the OEM Apple AC adapter, it came with a Newertechnology 3rd party adapter, and I noticed that the power would constantly become disconnected with the shifting of the notebook if the cord was all the way inside the slot. I'm wondering if this is because the power slot is deformed or whether the power adapter is just won't stay in the slot/is there a way to fix this? Pics are attached.

    Also, the keyboard works, but the delete key doesn't. Is there any solution to this or am I going to have to buy a $30 replacement keyboard?

    Thanks guys.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. MisterKeeks macrumors 68000

    MisterKeeks

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2012
    #2
    Congrats on the purchase. I don't see anything wrong with the power input, so it is probably a cord issue. As for the key, I remember some thread around here where people fixed an issue like that with a ribbon cable. Might be wrong, I'll go check it out.
     
  3. ConCat macrumors 6502a

    ConCat

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    #3
    Personally, I wouldn't buy any product as unsupported by just about everyone as that. Not many people would have a clue how to help you with this ridiculously obsolete product. Why you'd spend your cash on this is beyond me. Just my $0.02.
     
  4. DarkSel thread starter macrumors regular

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    Dec 22, 2012
    #4
    So would you recommend purchasing another power adapter?

    Can you link me to the thread about the key?


    Also, to the other poster, when I was a poor college student, I dreamed about having one of these; since I can afford it now, I thought it would be a good first-Mac. This is my first Mac.
     
  5. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

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    Aug 31, 2011
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    Phoenix • 85037
    #5
    Most of the people on this particular forum here spend money on "obsolete" products like PowerPC Macs because they want a PowerPC mac. If you don't see a reason to be using one of these old Macs and think that your money is best spent elsewhere, well Macrumors is a big place and I know they have an Intel Mac forum around here that can help you out. Intel Macs being the latest, not obsolete and probably worth your money.

    We know there is no support when we buy these Macs. We expect none. We accept the risk, but also the fun of playing around with these old Macs. And we are the ones who have a clue on how to help, because we use/work on these Macs every day. The OP is asking questions in the right forum.

    OP, $100 is a fair price. I paid $50 for my wife's 12" PB, but I had to put out another $24 for a replacement screen (I ordered both at the same time). That PB rolled down a flight of stairs, but once I replaced the screen everything has been fine.

    Your power issue could be a DC-In board. Over time the constant wiggling in and out of the power cord can weaken the connections on the DC-In board. Also, unless you are a glutton for financial punishment just about any third party adapter will work fine. Third party goes for about $10-30 whereas Apple will charge you $50-100 for OEM - if you can find one.

    As to the key, no idea. Most likely just the keyboard or the key itself as the rest of the keys are working. Getting the keyboard off is a bit of work so unless you really want to replace that key I'd find a way to fix it or live with it.
     
  6. DarkSel thread starter macrumors regular

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    Dec 22, 2012
    #6
    Is the DC-In board fixable/worth my time fixing?

    I downloaded a key remapper and made my F12 key be backspace instead.

    Thanks for your help!
     
  7. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

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    #7
    Well, that depends. If it's a mechanical issue you could try replacing with a new key. eBay does brisk business selling PowerBook/iBook/Macbook/MBP keys for around $1-2 a pop. But if it's the switch, you'll probably need to replace the keyboard.

    You have to pull two keys off (F1 and another F key on the opposite side). You remove two little, round stickers and then unscrew two screws under those stickers. You can then pull the keyboard off, but it's attached to a ribbon cable that goes through the top case to the logic board.

    Just depends on how much you want to do that.
     
  8. DarkSel thread starter macrumors regular

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    Dec 22, 2012
    #8
    How do I know if it's the switch?

    Also, the DC-In board -> is it worth fixing/how easy would it be?

    Thanks.
     
  9. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

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    #9
    Pull the key off carefully. Wiggle on a top corner and pull up when doing that. Wiggle slowly and pull up as you go. If you do it right you'll hear a "click" as the scissor frame pops out of the lock. Work the other end. Then remove the key. You should see a scissor frame and a little knob. If pressing on the little knob yields nothing it's probably the switch. If it does work then it's probably something wrong with the plastic key.

    I would wait for the DC-In board to fail before doing anything. It usually takes a long time to fail and if you can live with the current problem, I would. There is a Preference Pane called Unplugged that you could download and install. Unplugged's only feature is to tell you when you are plugged in or not. It does that via Growl. It's a good way to see if the connector has come unplugged.

    The DC-In board is connected to the logic board and will require removing the top case to get at. THAT is a right PITA! If you pull the keyboard off you will see a bunch of screws underneath. You have to unscrew all those plus the two on the right and left side of the screen. THEN you have to pull up the logic board connecter (without ripping it off the logicboard). The connector is accessed through a square hole that is about 1" by .5" underneath a silver piece of tape. You'll have to use small electrical needlenose pliers here, unless you have really small fingers.

    If you get that far there's a number of other stuff you'll need to move out of the way first before you can get to the Inverter board.

    You might look at iFixit.com to see a guide on all of this. It has pictures and can show you the cramped nightmare space you have to work in.

    These are awesome Macs. It's just that tolerances are so tight in there you have to really take it slow so you don't seriously damage anything.
     
  10. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

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    #10
    Oh yeah. If you do intend to open her up you're going to need Torx wrenches. Depending on brand/quality/quantity this could be anywhere from $5-8 and up.
     
  11. MisterKeeks macrumors 68000

    MisterKeeks

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    Nov 15, 2012
  12. DarkSel thread starter macrumors regular

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    Dec 22, 2012
    #12
    Thanks for the help guys, I didn't realize how active the PowerPC community is :)

    The key is clearly dead, and I'm not sure if cleaning the ribbon cable will do anything, so I just remapped the delete key to backslash. As for the power issue, the computer still has a decent battery that lasts about 2 hours surprisingly (considering it's 4 years old), so the cord issue does not bother me.

    Maybe in the future I'll try to fix the keyboard issue.
     
  13. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

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    #13
    Well, have fun with it. The 12" PowerBooks are a blast to play with. And despite my hellish repair scenario it was fun working on it even though it was a bit nervewracking.
     
  14. skateny macrumors 6502

    skateny

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    Jul 19, 2012
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    New York, NY
    #14
    Hey. Welcome to the PowerPC forum and congratulations on your purchase. As far as PowerPC laptops go, the PowerBook G4s are as good as they come.

    I had the same power problem that you're having. Turns out, after doing all kinds of twisting and turning with the power adapter, that it was a bad DC-in board. I paid twelve bucks for a used one on eBay. I can't know if the replacement process is the same on your PowerBook as it is on my iBook. It took me less than an hour to replace the board on my iBook, and most of the work was unscrewing and placing the screws in a safe place.

    If you do go this route, the best (and free) manuals are on ifixit.com. In the meantime, if you can test out the adapter without making a purchase, this would help in diagnosing the problem. Third party adapters work fine and don't cost a whole lot on eBay. You can also get torx kits on eBay for ~$5.00. (Just don't make a purchase from Chine or any other vendor in the Far East -- you'll wait weeks for it to arrive.) My iBook was specced with a 45W adapter, but the 65W version works better.

    Good luck.
     
  15. Falstaff macrumors member

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    Dec 11, 2012
    Location:
    Arizona
    #15
    Bravo! I don't why these possibly good intentioned,but ill informed individuals feel the need to even post in this part of the forum. Maybe they'll figure out that we buy powerpc (horrors!:eek:) Macs on purpose! As far as support goes, that why we all come to this forum, to get and to give support.;)

    I see the Apple original A/C adapters on epray all the time for $9.99 plus shipping. Replacement keyboards can cost as much as an entire parts unit. I am always looking for bargain basement parts units to pick up as new parts are becoming scarce. The one thing that I recommend spending your cash on are Apple OEM batteries or at least a known manufacturer such as Newertech. The inexpensive chinese ones you see are hit and miss and mostly miss.
    Otherwise, congrats on your purchase, I have the same exact model and am adding a 15in 1.5gh model to the remuda. Also, welcome to the forum.
     
  16. skateny macrumors 6502

    skateny

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    #16
    I agree.

    Also about the batteries. A company named technobit also makes good batteries, and they're not overpriced.
     
  17. DarkSel thread starter macrumors regular

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    Dec 22, 2012
    #17
    I found keyboards compatible with my Powerbook for about $30. I'm not sure if it's really worth it, however.

    I wish there was someway to find out whether my DC-In module is defective or the adapter.

    I got two batteries with the Powerbook, but one only holds about 30 minutes worth of charge, and the other is 20 minutes. It's a shame :/
     
  18. skateny macrumors 6502

    skateny

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    #18
    Take it to an Apple Store, and ask them to plug it in.
     
  19. DarkSel thread starter macrumors regular

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    Dec 22, 2012
    #19
    I didn't know they even kept power adapters for G4s anymore.

    Will do, thanks.
     
  20. DarkSel, Dec 22, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2012

    DarkSel thread starter macrumors regular

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    Dec 22, 2012
    #20
    Also, I just wanted to note that my actual DC-In port is very wobbly. Do you guys think that if I stripped down the Powerbook I would be able to correct the wobbliness by securing the DC-In in tightly or something?

    Would I need to purchase a brand new DC-In module?

    Thanks.

    EDIT:
    It seems that wobbliness indicates that the actual port has become unsoldered from the DC-In board... I might have to drop another $15 on a new DC-In board and another 3 hours to disassemble the entire Powerbook. Of course the DC-In board would be the most likely to break and also be the hardest to replace.

    Not going to bother to spend another $30 on a new keyboard.
     
  21. tom vilsack macrumors 68000

    tom vilsack

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    #21
    You sure you wanna take this on?

    powerbook dc-in-board

    i might cut my loses and resell for 80-100 and buy something in better cond...
     
  22. Falstaff macrumors member

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    Dec 11, 2012
    Location:
    Arizona
    #22
    I am not going to mislead you. It is a time consuming process, but very doable. Just clear the necessary space you need from a desk or even better, the dining room table.

    I've disassembled everything from a PB 165 to MacBooks and this is no more difficult than those models. Just take your time and try to remember which screw goes where for reassemble.

    In fact, it will be a great learning experience for you just in case there are future repairs needed. but you CAN do it. Don't let others intimidate you otherwise. Many times in life it's their own inability they are referring to and not yours.
     
  23. cocacolakid macrumors 65816

    cocacolakid

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    Chicago
    #23
    I was looking for that link for the OP so they could see the major pain to replace that part.

    The Powerbooks are great, but just getting to the logic board to do anything is a lot of work itself.

    ----------

    You're right that it is relatively easy, it is just taking out a few screws and following the ifixit guide, but it is a lot of work. And once the DC input finally dies that Mac won't work at all because it will have no power.

    Once the OP has it open they might as well upgrade the hard drive if they want more storage or a newer drive. Heck, put an SSD in it and it will feel much faster.
     
  24. mike457 macrumors 6502

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    #24
    I'm a big fan of the 12" powerbook; it's probably my favourite Apple design. The first time I opened one up, I was pretty nervous, but it's actually not that bad. The guides on ifixit are clear and easy to follow. You just need to be calm, methodical, and patient. Yes, there are a lot of screws and a lot of steps. By this point, I've done pretty much everything including replacing the DVD burner; in my experience, that one was the worst of the lot.

    Congratulations, and I hope you enjoy getting it back to 100%!:)
     
  25. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

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    #25
    I agree that it's a lot of work, but pretty basic in the sense of remove this, unscrew that, etc. But some of the parts, like getting the top case disconnected from the logic board through a small hole in the top case without pulling the connector off the logicboard are nervewracking. This is especially the case if the Mac hasn't been worked on before so all the innards are still factory sealed.

    When I replaced the screen on my wife's PB it required dissassembly of the entire machine. I had parts everywhere, including the logic board and the damn heat sink. I ended up having to replace the latch button because I stripped the sleep sensor wire out of the connector. It's just really involved and the tolerances and room is nothing like the space you have in the 17" PowerBooks (which I am used to since I have two of them).
     

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