I got a $90 12 year old Powerbook, now what?

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by occupant, Apr 30, 2012.

  1. occupant macrumors newbie

    Sep 15, 2010
    I haven't had a Mac that ran this well since 2007. My last Mac was a G3/400 Blue and White with 384MB memory and a 10GB hard drive and 10.2.8 Jaguar, and this is better with 640MB memory and a 40GB hard drive and 10.4.11 Tiger!

    My generic USB mice work great with it, it has a clear and fairly bright screen, no pink tint to it, and cosmetically it's great with the back port door still opening and closing right and the battery/optical modules go in and out smoothly and click right into place.

    So basically, the only thing I have to ask is what is the deal with these batteries? Only 50 Wh? This one says copyright 2000 so it's 12 years old and it discharged from 100% to 75% in 20 minutes. I guess that means I can only count on it for 75-80 minutes at best?

    So when I figured that out I went looking for batteries and figure I can just buy two known good batteries plus this one I've got and I'll be able to switch out as needed to get more life. My goal is to have this where it can run six to eight hours in the car (I have other devices using DC power so an inverter is out of the question until I can upgrade the alternator or something).

    Looking around it seems I've got several choices, which was surprising considering this computer is older than 5 of my 7 kids...

    a) buy used original Apple-branded batteries on eBay that the seller claims are good for 3, 3-4, 4, or 5 hours (cost $35-$50 each depending on discharge time)

    b) buy new generic Chinese batteries on eBay or Amazon that are supposed to be 9-cell, 71Wh units good for 5-6 hours (cost $40-$60 each)

    c) buy new NuPower batteries, probably from OWC, which are new and warrantied and stuff (cost: 71Wh are $80, 84Wh are $100, twice as much as the Chinese ones)

    My question is, would it hurt if I mix it up a little? I was thinking of buying one used battery, one generic Chinese battery, and one of the NuPower batteries, and rotate them in and out as needed, as one battery gets low, pull it out and swap in another, then when I get home, the two batteries that are in there can charge for a few hours, and then I can swap in the other one to charge while I burn data CD's on the other side.

    What kind of experience do MacRumors members have with the el cheapo batteries? I imagine they are not nearly as good as the NuPower or Wegener models, but if they can provide good service, wouldn't they be worth it?

    Another question, for those of you who have PC's as well, what is the simplest way to connect a Powerbook to a PC to transfer data? Would it be simplest to just put it on a flash drive (these are roughly 200-300MB Excel and small text files I need to move, by the way, otherwise I'd email them or use DropBox) and go that way? Or can I connect using a USB or FireWire cable directly, computer to computer? Or is it possible to connect to like, the Windows 7 Homegroup?
  2. tayloralmond, Apr 30, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2012

    tayloralmond macrumors 6502

    Mar 26, 2009
    Michigan, USA
    First and foremost, what specific PowerBook is this? Is it a "Lombard" or "Pismo?" If it doesn't have a Firewire 400 port, it's most likely a "Lombard." If you happen to have a Firewire 400 port, it's a "Pismo."

    In regards to the battery: I have a Chinese battery in my iBook G3 Clamshell and it's worked great for me. I can easily get 3-4 hours out of it unless I'm really making it work hard. For the price, the Chinese batteries are the way to go. If you have the money to spend, then I'd tell you to buy an OWC battery instead. I would not recommend buying a used battery. Also, in regards to battery charge longevity, those "hour" ratings are usually a best case scenario (screen turned down low, no WiFi, no video, etc.) so I wouldn't get my hopes up on any battery lasting 5-6 hours with normal usage.

    In regards to transferring files: If you have a Pismo, your most simple option would be to boot into "Target Disk Mode" by holding down the "T" key upon hearing the startup chime. This puts your PowerBook into a mass storage mode and your PC would see your PowerBook as an external hard drive (obviously, you'd need a FireWire 400 cable and a FireWire 400 port on your PC as well).
  3. occupant thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 15, 2010
    Oh it's definitely the Pismo, not sure why I left that out. Has FireWire and is the 400MHz model, not 500MHz.

    That's why I'm thinking have 3 batteries available to me total, and having 2 bays to install them in, means I can hot-swap one battery when they both get low, that will give me enough time to finish up whatever I'm doing and shut down until I get back home. If I can get the 5-6 hours with two batteries installed, then have another hour or two with the 3rd battery alone, that would be great.

    That is what I needed to figure out, I thought there was a mode like that, just had not read it could apply that way to a PC. I thought Target Disk Mode was Apple-specific. I don't have a FireWire port on my PC, but I have two open PCI slots and an open PCI x1 slot and I can drop a card in there and use that. It's my understanding FireWire 800 is backwards compatible, so if I get an 800 speed card I can still connect the PB at 400, right?
  4. tayloralmond macrumors 6502

    Mar 26, 2009
    Michigan, USA
    With that battery setup, you should be good to go. As far as the Firewire question, that should work. The main problem you will run into is you need to install a program such as MacDrive on your PC. This will allow your PC to read the HFS hard drive partition in your PowerBook.

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