Need some help/perspective in getting an old LCII to boot up. I'm stuck.

Discussion in 'Apple Collectors' started by anticlimatic, May 23, 2014.

  1. anticlimatic macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 23, 2014
    #1
    Has all the symptoms of a bad PRAM battery, but a new battery didn't help.

    Computer powers on with no chime. Fan runs. Monitor recognizes power. Typically the screen remains black, but ocassionally will illuminate with the standard gray, and go no further. Hard drive makes a few normal sounding clicks, then goes silent. On one occassion I noticed the mouse trying to come to life, and was able to boot the OS by resetting the PRAM. Strangely, there was no system folder on the hard drive (which includes all control panels), everything was in black and white, but it otherwise seemed to function. Disk drive worked ok. I have not been able to get it to boot since. Replaced the PRAM battery with no effect. If the hard drive was fried, wouldn't it at least boot to the blinking question mark? Any tips on where to go next with this?
     
  2. MacTech68 macrumors 68000

    MacTech68

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    Australia, Perth
    #2
    The hard drive may be suffering from a head park locking mechanism jam. If the drive spins up, but soon after spins down, this could be the problem. There is a particular series of Quantum HD that suffers from this with age.

    Regarding PRAM, try removing the PRAM battery overnight, during which shorting the battery terminals together also helps (power removed of course) - I've seen this many a time with LC475s and PM6100's and PM4400.

    The monochrome video is the default video setting after clearing PRAM.

    Check for leaking surface mount electrolytic capacitors too. There's no telling what kind of problem that might cause. If they're only starting to fail, warming them gently with a hair-dryer can get them working temporarily.

    The missing System Folder might have been dragged to the desktop or any other folder. Classic Mac OS doesn't care where the System Folder is so long as the System Folder pointer is valid.

    Pics of the logic board & HD might help.
     
  3. anticlimatic, May 23, 2014
    Last edited: May 23, 2014

    anticlimatic thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #3
    I'd say it spins up for maybe 2 seconds, and then just goes quiet-- actually, I'm not sure it spins at all-- or it's quiet if it does. Hard to tell over the fan. Would it hurt to unplug the fan and listen? All I can hear are a few of the usual clicks, then nothing.

    Thanks for the tip. I'll try that tonight.

    I included some photos this time of the logic board and hard drive. There's a bit of dust and a tiny bit of corrosion on the components underneath the ethernet card, and there's one cap next to the power supply that's got a bit of black residue collecting underneath it (both pictured).

    That's the strange thing, there were about 6 system folders spread around all over the place-- I bought it used on craigslist, so I'm not sure what the reasoning is behind this-- but none that actually contained anything. I found the one with the proper system folder icon, and like the rest the appropriate folders were there; extensions, control panels, etc; but they were empty. Cmd+F couldn't find any of the particular control panels I was after either (monitors, startup disc, mouse, etc), so I combed through the entire (small) contents of the hard drive, and it just didn't seem to be there.

    Disk utility was there, which worked ("no problems found" of course), a single artillery game which also worked, and a series of empty system folders strewn all over the place. The previous owner said it had been acting strange, and that files had been 'disappearing' from the hard drive-- but he assumed it just needed a fresh install, and didn't have the disks himself.

    Thank you for your help!
     

    Attached Files:

  4. MacTech68 macrumors 68000

    MacTech68

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    #4
    Unplugging the fan to check the sounds the HD makes will be fine. That model of Conner drive doesn't fit the bill for a head park jam, but it's not impossible.

    I suspect somebody has deleted everything - but the finder and system file can't be deleted. The folder with the correct icon should at least have those two files inside. Looks like you'll need to create some system install disks once the other problems are resolved. The directory structure isn't a mess since Disk First Aid says no problems found.

    Those caps are quite concerning. The vias (plated thru-holes) look pretty bad too. If you're really wanting to get this going and keep it reliable I'd highly recommend replacing them and cleaning the board in the process. If you're going to do this, then I'd recommend getting plenty of reference photos of any black and/or wetted areas before cleaning which will help in identifying any tracks or areas that may need special attention. It's not an easy task, so you'll need to weigh up the pros & cons.
     
  5. anticlimatic thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 23, 2014
    #5
    After leaving the new PRAM battery out of the machine overnight, I tried booting it in the morning with no difference. Left it running for most of the morning to warm up the caps (I think?), since I don't have a hair dryer, and although it was still hung up at the gray screen when I came back-- quickly powering it off and back on again resulted in the chime (first time I've heard it, probably due to the new battery), and it booted right up. You were right about those two files still being present.

    I wouldn't mind trying my hand at recapping, though I've never worked on a board before (I am a hack). Those caps look like surface caps, not pin-through caps, and I can't intuitively picture how one might get some solder between them and the board. Will have to research. I have another issue, though. The disk collection I got is from an older Quadra, and are 400/800 disks rather than the 1.4 that the LCII prefers. Unless I miss my mark, the LC2 should still be able to read these no problem-- but not a single one was able to be read or initialized.

    Is alcohol safe to clean boards and the floppy lens, or are other solutions recommended? Where are the vias that you speak of? Are they they ones that have no components attached to them on the board, and is there an easy method of cleaning?

    Thanks again for your help.
     
  6. MacTech68 macrumors 68000

    MacTech68

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    #6
    Actually, you are correct in that it was the warming of the caps that probably made it work - but yes, I should have added that a reboot would be necessary in that instance.

    It's not something that is easy, even for somebody with reasonable soldering skills who hasn't attempted it before. There are a number of methods, each with their pros and cons. If you decide to do it, see if you can get an old circuit board to practice with first. I'd also highly recommend using surface mount solid tantalum caps as a replacement - they will never leak, but you need to get the right case sizes to fit the pads.

    Where they have leaked, applying heat with a soldering iron will produce a horrible rotting fish smell. You have two choices. Clean the board first, remove the caps, then clean the board again, then solder on the replacements.

    As for cleaning, some say a cycle thru a dishwasher does a good job. I've never done this myself, and I'm a little concerned about water that stays in tight gaps. I guess if the dishwasher heats the water sufficiently and has a drying/heating element at the conclusion of the cycle, that might be sufficient, but I'd recommend a good inspection for water deposits immediately after the drying phase and suitable remedy (such as high pressure air to disperse under ICs and inside sockets).


    Since the earliest system the oldest Quadra can run is 7.0.1, and the LCII can also run 7.0.1 or later, you should be fine. You may have (as you suspect) dirty heads in the floppy. Be careful if you manually clean the heads. If you lift the head too high, you can stretch the spring and or buckle the copper bracket, rendering the top head useless. Try to find a head cleaning diskette FIRST and give it many tries.

    Also, another problem you may run into, is the DD/HD switch. There are three small white posts in the front edge of the floppy. They are, the Write Protect switch, the disk insert detect and the DD/HD detect switch. They may need a little - very little - spray with WD-40 or CR-2-26 to make them happy again. The other possibility is the lubricant for the disk mechanism may have hardened, and the disk carrier assembly isn't dropping down completely, producing a bad read. If it is working, there should be quite a definite "clunk" when inserting a diskette. Alcohol, methylated spirit or Isopropyl Alcohol will be fine to clean the heads, but remember, the heads are held in a sprung plate and can easily catch threads of cotton buds - hence manual cleaning is only a last resort.

    Check the link in my previous post on the word 'vias', but yes, that's them. In your pics some look black - a sign of early corrosion.

    Sorry for the long post - Ive probably scared the be-hee-bees out of you.
    (I'm often accused of this when giving such advice - C'est la vie) :)
     
  7. anticlimatic thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 23, 2014
    #7
    Did I just see logic board and dishwasher in the same sentence? That sounds like madness. I almost like the idea, but we have hard water.

    I took the disk drive apart to give it the Nintendo treatment (*BLOW-BLOWWWW*) and inspect the mechanical componants you suggested. Disk drops very nicely with a good audible click, and simulating it without a disk showed the headers coming together very nicely. There was quite a bit of dust and a couple stray animal hairs, and I gave the headers a quick light swab with alcohol for good measure. Waiting for it to warm back up now to see if it had any effect. I didn't check the HD sensor yet, will save that for if this fails.


    That link was enlightening, thanks for that. I'm going to start researching surface cap procedure, unless you think the 'hair dryer' warm-up technique might work for a year or two-- not sure what kind of time buffer there is between cold/standard conditions-fail, and complete "+heat conditions" fail. As far as soldering, does it work to lay down some solder as a lug, then just hold the component in place with tweezers and heat the base of it?

    I also really appreciate the length and detail of your posts, I'm hanging on every word over here! :D
     
  8. MacTech68 macrumors 68000

    MacTech68

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    Australia, Perth
    #8
    Yes, although I can attest to how well a dishwasher can clean fiddly things like exhaust fan grills, I'm a little hesitant. Yes, most boards are "washed" during manufacture after components are fitted, but many components have covers for washing to prevent water ingress, and the equipment is a little different to a domestic dishwasher.

    As for how long the 'hair-dryer' method lasts, it's probably not long. the worst thing is that whilst you continue doing that, the board is slowly being etched by the leaked electrolyte. However, there's no guarantee that with all that effort that corrosion won't get the better of the board.

    If it were me, I'd be doing it sooner than later, but then, I've been soldering since, well, Apple II days.

    My best advice, don't rush it. It usually takes me 3 hours to work over a Mac Classic, but that's after all the sourcing/purchasing is done.

    When hand soldering, I usually add solder to each pad, then remove it with de-solder braid to make sure the pads are freshly tinned and the solder will "take". Even after using desoldering braid, the pad should retain a nice shiny solder coating. As an old tech told me years ago, if you can remove all the solder, the pad needs cleaning. Some pads may need a VERY gentle scrape back to reveal clean copper if they've begun to corrode badly (solder won't "take" to these). I'll then apply a tiny amount of solder on one pad, place the component, and heat the junction of the component & pad. Using a downward force on the component will reveal when it "seats" against the board. I then remove heat and apply solder and heat to the junction of the other end - quickly removing the solder as soon as it melts. You can keep the heat on and jab at the join to apply more, but you don't want a "blob". I then apply additional solder to the first end if required using the same method. The heating should not be for too long or you risk damaging the component, tracks/pads or the board. Again, practice on something worthless - like a Dell ;) ;)

    As for washing. A very soft bristled brush can be used with alcohol or even methylated spirit. The methylated spirit may cut into the lacquer but can be "buffed" before it dries out. I usually go thru a fair amount as the best bet is to rinse thoroughly. You don't need to do the entire board, just those areas affected (remember those reference photos?). Be careful of ICs with fine leads so as not to catch a brush hair in them, pulling a leg. On the LC, the CPU (the one with the Motorola logo) is one to be careful with.

    Phew. Another long post and more information than I've ever posted on this topic. Makes me want to go thru some boxes and tackle some old boards. :eek:
     
  9. anticlimatic thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 23, 2014
    #9
    Hey, if you ever want to recap a board just for the fun of it, I've got one right here that needs it! :D

    When I'm ordering replacement caps, I'll need the uF rating (47), the vs (16), and anything else? Do I need a size reference? According to this pdf the 47s are 8x11.5, or is that redundant-- is it just the uF and volts that I need? Any good online distributors you'd recommend? I think mouser was the last place I ordered from.

    My soldering iron is a huge POS electric job that I bought for 10 bucks at home depot or some such. I typically file it down, dip it in flux, wrap it in solder, and turn it on to just let it melt on there any time I use it to tin it-- and it works fairly well after that (though it needs a lot of treatments of that if I let oxidize for too long without sponging). The very tip can sometimes not be hot enough to melt solder without a few second wait-- is this going to be a major hurdle? This could be the excuse I need to finally get a butane soldering iron, but I'm short on money.

    Great tips, I appreciate you taking the time to share your wisdom.
     
  10. anticlimatic, May 25, 2014
    Last edited: May 25, 2014

    anticlimatic thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 23, 2014
    #10
    EDITORS NOTE-- This is my second posting, it seems my first one went off to the 'pending moderation approval' graveyard-- I think because I accidentally mentioned a specific parts manufacturer, but im not sure. So if two very similar posts show up that's why.

    Hey, if you're looking for a board to tackle, I happen to have one! :D

    This might be the excuse I need to buy a new soldering iron. The one I have is a POS electric that I got for 10 bucks or so, and have to file down, dip in flux, wrap in solder, and turn on any time I want to tin it to get some use out of it-- and it oxidizes within a minute or so without sponging. I am assuming I'm going to need a pretty fine point to get heat under those caps?

    Did some experimenting with a hair dryer, finally. Cooking the pictured cap had little effect, but cooking the battery area and the caps underneath the ethernet card at least caused it to chime and light up the gray screen-- but no further. Unless I can isolate which caps need servicing, I might shy away from the procedure. One place I haven't looked is inside the power supply, and I'm wondering if that might be where the one I'm looking for is. The last time I took one apart I got a nasty shock, so I was wondering if I could at least take the cover panels off of it to see what's what without risk of shock. The sticker says otherwise, but we all know those types of warning tend to err on the side of excessive caution....right? :eek:

    Is a power supply cap a plausible possibility for it powering on but not quite booting up the drive, the way it's been doing? Logic seems to suggest that if it's powering on, the supply should be good, but my actual knowledge of the electrical pathway map is very limited.

    I also confirmed that the hard drive spins up and stays that way, it just really doesn't like launching the OS. I wonder why the heat isn't helping. Could this be another clue? *EDIT-- after letting it sit at the hung up gray screen, the OS eventually does boot.
     
  11. anticlimatic thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 23, 2014
    #11
    Now that I have it booted, I'm troubleshooting the disk drive. The eject motor works. The motor that spins the disk seems to work-- though it just pulses a couple times before prompting me to reformat it. At least it's now giving me the option of single or double sided, which it wasn't before. Attempting to reformat just informs me that the disk is write protected (even if I tape over both holes on a floppy). The only motor I haven't seen do anything is the one that (I think) advances the heads up and down the disk. Might try fiddling with that one a bit. Any other tips?
     
  12. MacTech68, May 26, 2014
    Last edited: May 26, 2014

    MacTech68 macrumors 68000

    MacTech68

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Australia, Perth
    #12
    Well, unless you live in Australia, I think the postage might be excessive.

    It depends on your skill level, but yes, a fine point is preferable.

    Whilst I understand the trepidation, replacing just the ones immediately causing problems is not what I'd recommend. Others won't be far behind, and it is probably easier to slowly proceed with all the caps. Make it a long process. Remove one a day until they're all done. Yes, it will be longer until you see the fruits of your labor, but it make alleviate some of the pain. Even I usually spread the task out over several days. It's tedious, minute, frustrating work, so take it slowly.

    Indeed. A switch mode power supply can pack quite a punch. However, the warnings are quite pertinent. The LC pizza box power supplies are quite compact, and one of the manufacturer's designs is a little difficult to take apart. Whilst a power supply can cause some odd problems, the design generally dictates that it will turn off all voltage outputs under a failure condition, so I doubt that it is the cause of your particular problem.

    That's probably the "Startup Disk" selection. By default, when PRAM is cleared, if it's not set, it will begin from SCSI ID 6 and count down until it finds a bootable device. Since the default ID setting for an internal HD on a Mac is zero, it can take a short while to get there.

    Again, the write protect issue could be the small switch with a white post on the front edge of the drive. The white actuator post may be stuck down or (at worst) broken off. The disk is write protected when you can look thru the hole in the disk. As such, the disk can be written when the switch is pushed down (completing the circuit of the switch). If the switch is faulty, dusty etc, then the contacts don't work, and the Mac believes the disk is write protected. Just to add a note - the white actuator post in these drives can be broken when the eject mechanism seizes and the disk is forcibly pulled out with pliers. This can often bend or rip off the top head too, especially with powerbook floppy drives which are a much lower profile than desktop floppy drives.

    As for the head stepper motor, if you carefully rotate the shaft of the worm drive to move the head carriage towards the center hub, IIRC when you turn the Mac on, the head carriage should return to the outer position. This is sensed by the optical sensor. If the head carriage doesn't move, it may be dust or other obstruction in the optical sensor, or more commonly, bearings on either end of the worm drive shaft in need of lubrication. In extreme cases, the guide shaft for the head carriage may need cleaning. This requires delicate removal of the head carriage.

    A good reference for much of the floppy drive tips is in a previous thread here:

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1354182
     

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