G4 Powerbook dead - possible resurrection strategy?

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by quatermass, Sep 30, 2013.

  1. quatermass macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2009
    #1
    Hi all,

    After many years tireless service, my old 15" Aluminium G4 Powerbook is dead. When I try to turn it on, it gets halfway through the startup chime, emits a harsh screeching noise, much like an old modem used to make, followed by a few seconds of silence and then 3 ominous beeps. Screen doesn't come on, no HD noise, just silence, as the sleep light intermittently flashes 3 times. I've tried the obvious things like resetting the PRAM and the PMU, reseating the RAM, but no joy.

    Logically, the thing to do would be to admit its time has come and go and get a newer model, but the thing is, when I got my Mac Pro, my wife 'inherited' it, and she absolutely loves it. Doesn't want anything else, doesn't need newer software or apps, just wants it back, and is deeply upset about its demise. So, it's my job as dutiful husband to make her happy.

    Bizarrely, just a week before, a friend in the next town showed us this computer she'd been given, and could we help her out with it. It's exactly the same model as ours - A1046 - though it doesn't have a power supply, the hinges are completely floppy, battery won't hold a charge, the case is seriously bashed up, the speakers don't work and several of the keys are gone. But, it works - all the major internal parts seem to be OK. She'd quite happily part with it for a few Zlotys as she doesn't really need it, and I think would rather have cash than some beat up laptop.

    So, the obvious thing would be to acquire it as a source of spares and cobble together a functioning Powerbook, using our pristine case, display, keyboard, hard drive, but use the innards of the bashed up one.

    Question is: is this feasible? Is there a proper way to go about it? What is the nature of the ailment afflicting our original Powerbook and can it even be rectified using the 'donor'? Any advice, comments, suggestions would be most gratefully received! If it is possible to resurrect it, it'll add to the global sum of overall contentment, harmony and happiness, which must be a Good Thing!
     
  2. gooser macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2013
  3. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2011
    Location:
    Phoenix • 85037
    #3
    Your RAM is dead. At least one of the sticks anyway. Give your friend the cash and put the RAM in that PB in yours and see what happens.

    Bet it boots!

    And you'll have spare parts if you need them.
     
  4. Swampus macrumors 6502

    Swampus

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2013
    Location:
    Winterfell
    #4
    I bet this is right. But even if it turns out to be more difficult, you can still do what you want to do.
     
  5. Dannyshing27 macrumors regular

    Dannyshing27

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2013
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    #5
    Is the RAM that is installed occupying one slot or both? As (correct me if I am wrong) some powerbook G4s developed RAM problems associated with a particular slot?
     
  6. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2011
    Location:
    Phoenix • 85037
    #6
    You are right, there is a dead slot issue. The OP did not state it, but I am assuming that there is two sticks of ram here and not one. The dead slot issue only affects one slot and just otherwise makes the ram in that slot unavailable. It doesn't prevent booting or cause the issues the OP describes.

    Of course, the OP could have one stick and it could be in a dead slot if the Mac has this problem and that might be the issue. But most PowerBooks I've encountered, with the exception of the 12" PB come with two sticks of ram.
     
  7. quatermass, Oct 1, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2013

    quatermass thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2009
    #7
    Success! Well, partial success. Yes, it does indeed look like it's the RAM. I took the 512 stick out of the donor and put it in ours, in the top slot, and it booted up as normal! Much rejoicing, until it froze up after a few minutes. Restarted, booted up again, then after a few minutes, a kernel panic. And so on in this vein. I managed to extract the most important documents to a USB stick, and then restarted it in Target mode, connected by Firewire to my Mac Pro. Managed to copy off most of the contents, but after about an hour, it froze up again, and when I tried to restart it, it was back doing the same thing as when I started - partial startup chime, nasty screechy noise, three beeps.

    Seems like very odd behaviour - I wonder if there's a solder joint somewhere that's reacting to heat when it's been on for a while? I've disconnected it and took the battery out and will let it cool for a while then se what it does. In the meantime, I've negotiated a price for the donor PB - a second-hand washing machine! We do things different out here in Hungaristan!

    So, I'll try and extract the rest of the stuff, then reformat and reinstall Tiger to see if that helps. If not, then I'll transfer all the working parts from the donor into our case, and hopefully resurrect it as the Frankenbook!

    Long term I thing a new or 2nd Macbook Air will be the answer - there's a place in Budapest that does them.

    Thanks for taking the time to reply - it's much appreciated.

    Update: I've tried our RAM in the donor PB - 2 x 1Gb sticks, and each one appears to work. I guess this means the problem is "downstream" from the RAM modules.
     
  8. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2011
    Location:
    Phoenix • 85037
    #8
    Next thought would be that the hard drive has gone bad. But, I suspect the logicboard if this is still freezing after a while.

    Had an old TiBook do that to me. Inconsistent and frustrating until I found out I needed to uninstall some video drivers (it wouldn't boot outside of safe mode). Then I had to remove safe sleep so it wouldn't freeze when closing the lid.

    It's in pieces for spare parts now.
     
  9. quatermass thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2009
    #9
    Yep, I'm thinking logicboard too - the hard drive seemed fine when I was pulling the stuff off - no strange noises, unexplained activity, and it booted fine - for a while. I think the time has come to do the transplant and have done with it - I suspect I'll need to take an extra-strength brave pill to do it!
     
  10. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2011
    Location:
    Phoenix • 85037
    #10
    Nah, just take your time and work carefully. There's nothing inside there that's so sensitive that looking at it is going to cause it to break and cost you a fortune to replace. Get the right tools (Torx wrenches, spudger, dental tools (pick, hook, mirror)) and you'll do fine.
     

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