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Thread: Firewire port busted in iBook G4

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Posts
    7

    Unhappy Firewire port busted in iBook G4

    Hi Gurus,
    I've got an 800mhz iBook that I decided I should start backing up to an external HD. So I bought a drive and set it up with HD Utilities, and accessed it several times, backing up with Backup.

    The HD is standing in my guest bedroom, where I take the iBook when I need to hook it up to the scanner or the external drive. So I have to plug the firewire chord into the iBook each time. The last time I tried, the HD would not come up on my desktop. Being an beginner idiot, I tried all different combinations when it didn't work (computer on first, HD on first, plugging the HD in after startup, before startup), thinking this would help the computer recognize the HD. But nopey, nothing worked. Now, after reading through your forum threads, I'm worried I've "fried" the port.

    I ran the Apple Hardware Test, and was greeted with an error message for the firewire port: "2PFW/2/3: Firewire" which I guess confirms it.

    I tried resetting PRAM and Open Firmware, per suggestions on the Apple Discussions site. Also tried to reset the compupter by turning it off, removing the battery, and holding down the power key for 15 seconds.

    None of this has helped. To confirm that its not just the HD, I've tried connecting my digital camcorder, and my iSight camera, and they don't work either.

    Am I hosed? How should I proceed?

    Jon

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    on the landline, Mr. Smith
    Posts
    7,787

    Default

    Hi Jon,

    Sounds bad. Based on everything you say, it may be fried. If yes, I don't know of any fix other than replacing the logic board, which is very pricey on any laptop, and hard to do as well. Not a first-time computer repair for most.

    So if that is the case, you have to decide to keep or sell, fix or use as-is?

    And if the choice is use as-is, do you have another way to back up? Another machine that you can network to? Burn CDs?
    "Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining." -- Jef Raskin

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Posts
    7

    Exclamation Say it aint so!

    Uncle Mac,
    Thanks for the reply. Did I burn the port by doing something wrong? My only other choice for backing up data is the 8600 that is gathering dust in a cabinet next to the scanner and printer. The last upgrade I made to that was a Barracuda HD and Miles Bluenote card from the Gurus. It doesn't have a firewire port, no USB, and no CD burner. I don't know if I want to sink any more money into it. Maybe its time to get that iMac or Mac Mini, eh? What do you think?
    Jon

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    on the landline, Mr. Smith
    Posts
    7,787

    Default

    I doubt you did anything "wrong".

    Some of us have learned the hard way that it is safest to treat FW like external SCSI: Shutdown before you plug/unplug anything.

    It is not supposed to be that way. Should be hot pluggable, and it is 99% of the time. But I have seen a few ports get fried myself on various machines, mostly imacs. And we have seen enough folks reporting the same problem here and around the net to know that it can be an issue. Some folks think that a high quality FW cable can help....always a good idea, but not sure it would have prevented it.

    Last time I looked, a new logic board for a fairly recent ibook cost about the same as a Mini. So it depends on how mobile you want to be.....
    "Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining." -- Jef Raskin

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Location
    Mobius Strip
    Posts
    13,045

    Lightbulb

    Plugging a FW cable with the drive and computer both on is probably the worst scenerio. There is a current at all times (which is why you can have a FW bus powered hdd) and made worse by quality of cable, or trying to put it in "backwards" (it isn't as obvious as it should be).

    I leave the cable in at all times. Have found that one port on the FW case works better. I don't daisy-chain drives or devices off FW hdd. And I can turn on the FW drive when needed, either while the computer is on, or before. But changing FW drives while the system sleeps.... never done that and I don't think I would. All the FW cases 'Gurus came with were the Granite FireView/Isolator cable ($29) to help reduce the potential for frying FW ports (which can happen on the drive end or the Mac end).

    If it was the port on the FW drive, try the other connection there. If both don't... FW ports on some macs are better than others, use different chip controller. Same for FW drives probably. With an iBook you don't have the option of adding FW PCI that a powermac would.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Posts
    7

    Default cable backwards

    Both ends of the cable looked identical. Are there two separate sides?

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