View Full Version : Disk spins, won't boot, chime, or beep

Erik Jon
09-11-2008, 03:52 PM
Dear, friends. Thank you so much for whatever suggestions you can offer for my problem.

I am temporarily living in South America where I have no access to Apple repair, and all the more reason I need your help.

I have two identical iBookG4s (model a1054), both were bought used from different sources, each has: 1.2GHz 256MB RAM 30GB HDD, OS 10.3.9, AirPort, combo drive. Neither came with the original disks, but I ordered two sets from Apple.

Coincidentally, the first set installed successfully on both of them, so I did not open the other set. I updated everything to 10.3.9.

I used the first computer for one year without any problem, and only recently have decided to use the second.

It did not have Classic installed, however, and I had misplaced the Classic installation disk, so I decided to archive the Classic system folder on the first computer, and transfer the archive to the second, to expand it there. There was already a half-empty Classsic system folder there, but I re-named it, deleted it, and put the clean copy in its place.

I rebooted numerous times, installed programs, ran them, closed them, and all was well. In fact, I had never used this computer since I bought it, only turned it on and inspected it briefly.

The next day, the computer would not boot.

It will power on, however, but will not chime, will not beep, and will not READ any CD inserted (including bootable system disks), although it does receive them mechanically. It will not eject them with any keystroke, nor by rebooting with the trackpad key depressed.

At first, I was more concerned about getting the CD ejected than about the boot. I found online the suggestion of inserting a business card into the slot, and stopping the movement of the CD until the computer would eject it. This trick did work successfully, and, in fact, I got a startup chime and the computer booted normally, taking me to a normal desktop environment from which all programs worked normally.

I zapped the PRAM upon rebooting, and ran Disk Utility, but the program did not detect any problem. I did not run Tech Tool Deluxe, or any hardware inspector, but I should have.

I re-booted several times without a problem, and then shut it down completely.

The next day, it would not boot. It powers on, I hear some minor disk activity, the fan spinning also, possibly some movement from the optical drive, and then, that is all. No chime, no beeps, black screen.

I re-started, got the same series of results, and inserted the bootable installation system CDROM. It was not recognized, so I had to force-eject with a business card, but this time I got no chime or start-up sequence, as before.

I inserted a bootable AppleCare TechTool CD in the drive, hoping to boot from that, but no results.

(In both cases I held down the "C" key as I re-booted, but still, no recognition).

I have tried each tip that I have found online, but to no avail. I have tried to zap the PRAM many times, or start with SHIFT depressed, or with CMD + CTRL, or with CMD + OPT + CTRL, but no results. I have tried to reset the PMU many times (holding down CTRL + OPT + SHIFT + POWER for thirty seconds, releasing, waiting thirty seconds to try a re-boot), but all to no avail. I also tried starting up by holding down CMD+OPT+O+F, but nothing, other than the series of events described above (i.e. disk and fan spinning, brief optical drive movement, etc.)

Incidentally, if I close the lid while the computer is running, the computer will NOT go into sleep mode; rather, the disk continues spinning as if the lid were still open.

I have tried about fifteen times to re-create the environment of when I got a startup chime simply by force-ejecting a CD, so that I can at least get to the desktop again--and that is why I have inserted and ejected several CDs--but I cannot seem to reproduce that event either.

Someone suggested applying pressure to the left palm rest, to see if there was merely a bad connection below. This did not work for me.

Someone suggested removing the AirPort card, RAM, and the internal keyboard (of course all other peripherals also), before resetting the PMU and re-booting, but still no results. (There is no RAM module installed under the AirPort card anyway. It has only the 256MB that came with the computer, although I don't know where it is located, or whether it is simply soldered onto the motherboard.

Thank you so much for whatever suggestions you can offer for my problem. Incidentally, I do not have regular access to the Internet, so my responses may take a few days.

Suggestions, anyone?

09-11-2008, 06:34 PM
Thank you for the detailed description of the problem and what you have attempted to fix it so far. I've never worked with the iBooks much so my knowledge is limited on this. We do have a few Moderators that are familiar. One ofd my first thoughts was RAM but as you mention your not sure if it is soldered or can't see it. I don't either. You have done everything I would suggest.

See if this Apple document helps at all until someone has other ideas. http://www.apple.com/support/ibook/

Erik Jon
09-12-2008, 07:06 PM
Dear RWM,

Thanks for the lead. Someone did tell me just now that the RAM was soldered on somewhere.

Anyway, I appreciate your ideas.

Anyone else have any?

09-12-2008, 10:46 PM

That is a tough one. Have never seen that exact thing before, but the fact that it seems to be running, but without video makes me wonder if it is the notorious failing video problem that certain iBooks are known to have (http://www.apple.com/au/support/ibook/faq/), but others sometimes have as well.

This recent thread (http://macgurus.com/forums/showthread.php?t=24812&highlight=ibook+video) may have other clues too.

Seen alot of ibooks over the years, and alot of video failures (sent back about 20 for the extended warranty repair over about a year's time). I lean towards that........which is bad news.

Have you tried booting to target mode? If you can scavange up a firewire cable to connect to another Mac, you could try target disk mode (http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1661), to see if it functions. will allow you to get at the hard drive, though it sounds like you don't have any critical data on it.

Wish I could give you more to go on, but it sounds like a hardware issue to me. You've done your homework and tried everything reasonable. :(

Erik Jon
09-13-2008, 01:24 PM
Dear Uncle Mac,

Thank you very much for the suggestions.

The sounds it makes do not sound quite like something that is booting correctly and missing only a video connection. The disk activity sounds fairly minor. It spins, writes a little, and then does nothing more than to continue spinning.

Today I will try the firewire idea. Meanwhile please keep the ideas coming. Thanks a lot.

09-26-2008, 01:07 PM
If the fans start going on with no boot chime or other operations, the most likely candidate is IC U28 on the underside of the motherboard. The pins need to be reflowed.

If you boot shim and get HD activity, but nothing on the screen, it is more likely that the video chip needs to be professionally reflowed.

Mad Dog


Erik Jon
06-14-2009, 02:43 PM
Dear Mad Dog,

I think I hold the record here for the longest time on a forum without responding to a comment. It has been many months since you posted your comment. I do not have regular access to the Internet here in Venezuela, South America, and I was suddenly overwhelmed with a slew of responsibilities not worth explaining. I did not even READ your response until a few weeks ago.

I think you may have hit the nail on the head. After lots of online research, and even taking my computer to an authorized repair center, it seems that re-flowing is indeed what the computer needs.

I don´t know if I mentioned that the computer was supposed to be a gift (second hand I paid only fifty dollars for it while it was still in excellent condition), and since it was not particularly urgent that I have it repaired, I beated around the bush for quite a while.

Then, suddenly nearly the same problem occurred with my other iBook G4. This computer was the one that I was using regularly. Now suddenly the issue is rather urgent.

You might not believe it, but after going online I discoverd from Apple´s site that the only authorized Apple Repair Centers here were a six-hour bus-ride away from where I live, in the capital city of Caracas. Moreover, the district is located on the outskirts of the country´s most dangerous neighborhood, Petare.

So I had to take the bus ride there, spend the night in a motel, and the next day take the computer in, leave it off, and make another trip back, days later, to pick it up. (In fact I took both iBooks there for the repair: the "gift" and my main computer)

They concluded that it was indeed something in the motherboard, in both cases, but that they could not fix it. (In fact when I suspected that it was a question of bad soldering on the circuits I was not so sure that I WANTED them to fix it, because Venezuelans tend to be a bit careless here, even if they work at an authorized repair center). I later asked them if they were experienced with the process of reflowing, and they told me that they were not.

So I made the second trip to pick them up, and brought them back to the city where I live, where everyone ELSE here uses PCs and Windows, where the repair technicians are easy to find. (If it weren´t for the few thousand documents that I have already created on the Mac with expensive programs bought specifically for the platform, I might have switched long ago). If I had more money I might even buy a used PC to use in moments like these.

So now any computerwork I do for one month now has been exclusively in an "Internet cafe", where one pays fifty cents per hour to use their computers for typing, internet access, or whatever. It is an uncomfortable environment, however, with lots of children playing video games all around, defective keyboards, and frequent viruses.

Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for your comment and apologize for the very long delay in responding.

As soon as I finish one last urgent project here, I will either try to find a used Mac laptop online, and have my family to send it to me, or else find someone in the U.S. willing to take this one apart and see if he can fix it for a reasonable price.

I wonder whether you yourself feel up to it?

In fact, I had bought a 120GB replacement drive for it, one year ago, and a DVD drive, thinking to have my main laptop upgraded, and if I don´t, these will go to waste.

Please let me know.

Sincerely yours,


Erik Jon
06-14-2009, 02:49 PM
Here is one of many links that I came across, describing the same problem that I myself had, which leads me to conclude that it is a soldering problem.

In fact, I am not sure that even after re-flowing, a year or two of continual heat would not cause the same or other soldered areas to break apart as this one appears to have done.

Anyway, check out this link:


Erik Jon
06-14-2009, 02:53 PM
This one seems to be a better explanation of the problem, with a temporary fix suggested:


06-14-2009, 08:18 PM
I would be tempted to spend the time, effort and a minimum of hard earned cash to try resoldering it myself. 1) you learn a bunch and is better than tossing the thing in the trash. 2) might just be a permanent fix. 3) its fun.

I like the last answer most. That said, I am not afraid of damaging a broken computer, and I am fearless. I tend to have spectacular failures to go along with spectacular successes in life. But I live my life instead of vice versa.


06-14-2009, 09:32 PM
I don't have the skill or the time. If you can find a skilled PC repair person there, they could do......assuming he/she is good with at soldering. Nothing "Mac" specific about the way the machine comes apart or the repair itself, just need to find someone who can "reflow" the thing.

Honestly, almost nobody does that sort of thing in the U.S. -- except as a hobby -- because if you paid a tech, the repair would cost more than a G4 ibook is worth.........at least around here. Sad. But that's the way it is.

06-15-2009, 02:20 PM
I don't have the skill either. But I'd give it a 50/50 chance I could get it right for under $25 expense this way. Beats sending it to someone who charges you and you still don't have a computer with any longevity.

The other alternative is a replacement motherboard.


Erik Jon
06-15-2009, 02:46 PM
Dear Ricks and Uncle Mac,

You gentlemen are very helpful. I appreciate the comments. When one is stuck overseas in a third-world country, every little comment he can get online is in itself worth a lot. (We take it for granted sometimes in the U.S.)

It did not dawn on me, for example, that soldering circuits was not a common service anymore--even in the U.S. It makes sense, though.

Let me look into what a courier would charge to send the computers back to the U.S., and then I will get back to you