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Thread: Powerbook shuts off within seconds

  1. #1
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    Default Powerbook shuts off within seconds

    Many thanks for any thoughts you may have on this!

    My G4 Powerbook started suddenly having the screen go black randomly. I could restart and it would be ok for a little while. I was assuming maybe it was something wrong with the screen, but now I see that's not the case at all. The latest is that when I have it hooked up to an external monitor, it will boot to the point of the apple screen and then suddenly shut off. It does the exact same behavior in Target Disc Mode---I get the firewire symbol for a few seconds, and then it shuts off.

    Except when it doesn't. And by that I mean, it also will often not start up at all, though it doesn't shut itself all the way off either. I often have to take out the battery and the A/C power before the power really dies. Then when I push the button to start it up again, it will sometimes just make a kind of defeated little sound (definitely not a chime) and not come on. Though, again, I usually have to undo battery and power to get it to shut down.

    The fan sometimes comes on, sometimes not.

    Interestingly, when it did come on in Target Disk Mode briefly before it shut itself down again, I did see all the volumes from the laptop showing up on other computer's desktop as they should, with correct icons and everything. This makes me hopeful that it's not the hard drive. Then again, maybe it's all the rest of the laptop innards!

    I've got a call out to borrow a power cord to make sure it's not part of the problem. Also, I've tried resetting the PMU a number of times.

    I'm really perplexed. It's just so very, very random, and increasingly, it's very hard to get it to start up at all, which makes troubleshooting difficult (trying to start up from the CD was a total fail).

    Definitely a problem for a guru and not a mere mortal like me.
    Thoughts?
    Many thanks!

    MJ

  2. #2
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    Default

    Just to cover all bases, do a Open Firmware reset.

    Hold the Command+Option+O+F keys during startup. At the '<' prompt type:

    >reset-nvram
    Hit Return
    >set-defaults
    Hit Return
    >reset-all
    Hit Return and your computer will restart. This resets a bunch of things on the motherboard. Maybe it will catch the problem?

    R
    molṑn labe'
    "I am a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power. I am naturally very jealous for the rights and liberties of my country, and the least encroachment of those invaluable privileges is apt to make my blood boil."
--Ben Franklin

  3. #3
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    I would love to try that. At the moment, I'm afraid it's in the no chime-no fan-no screen mode. When I press the power button, I just get a sort of soft, brief "spin-down" whine and then nothing. Though it still thinks it's "on" b/c I have to unplug it and take out the battery to make it shut off to try again.

    Not sure if I'm explaining this well. It does make normal troubleshooting really difficult.

  4. #4
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    Stop the presses!!!

    I just did another PMU reset and was then able to get into OF and give it those commands. And now it's completely back!!!!!

    So that was the explanation, do you think, for the weird computer screen going black but not really off randomly, etc., etc.

    Thank you so much!!!!
    MJ

  5. #5
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    Possibly the reason.

    Just one step in the diagnosis and repair of problems that are are strange and of unknown cause. Proof that it got it is in the puddin. Does it keep running, or not.

    Best of luck, I will keep my fingers crossed.

    R
    molṑn labe'
    "I am a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power. I am naturally very jealous for the rights and liberties of my country, and the least encroachment of those invaluable privileges is apt to make my blood boil."
--Ben Franklin

  6. #6
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    Well, you are indeed a wise man. It stayed on for only a few minutes acting completely normal before it again went completely black. I reset the PMU again and restarted in Target Disk Mode to see how it would behave in that. It went into TDM ok and the correct volumes show up on my desktop. I just successfully copied something from the laptop to my desktop. It has stayed in TDM for 5 minutes so far, which is about 4 minutes and 50 seconds longer than it stayed in TDM when I tried it before.

  7. #7
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    Sounds like something wrong with the motherboard. Hate to say it. A refurb or new MacBookPro may be in your future.......

    R
    molṑn labe'
    "I am a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power. I am naturally very jealous for the rights and liberties of my country, and the least encroachment of those invaluable privileges is apt to make my blood boil."
--Ben Franklin

  8. #8
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    I'm thinking you may be onto something. Frankly, if I have to hear that my Powerbook is not long for this world, I'd rather hear it from you than anyone else. I'll keep copying things off it while it's in TDM (it's still on in that, at least!). I've been needing to look into an Intel Mac for a while b/c I do graphics-intensive work, though this 17" G4 has served me really, really well.

    Thanks again for your help!
    MJ

  9. #9
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    I was actually going to ask you about this before. Do you sell external enclosures for laptop HD's? I would love to get things off this at my leisure. I've run out of space on all my external backup drives and need to solve that problem before I solve this one.

  10. #10
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    The current Mini Firewire enclosure is for SATA drives.

    Your Powerbook will have an older ATA drive. I do have a enclosure that is identical to the SATA one but the older model that uses ATA drives. Brand new, I have had it here for at least 2 or 3 years, maybe more. Never had a drive in it

    Cheap enough. Maybe $25 plus whatever to mail or UPS it? Is USB or Firewire 400.

    Rick
    molṑn labe'
    "I am a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power. I am naturally very jealous for the rights and liberties of my country, and the least encroachment of those invaluable privileges is apt to make my blood boil."
--Ben Franklin

  11. #11
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    Sorry to have been away. That sounds wonderful. Firewire or USB are good---Firewire maybe a little better.

  12. #12
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    This is both FW400 and USB - either. Here's a link for it.

    http://www.macgurus.com/store/ecom-p...-ATA+test.html

    Should be able to pull your drive, install in the KC21 and mount on any other Firewire or USB Mac.

    Rick
    molṑn labe'
    "I am a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power. I am naturally very jealous for the rights and liberties of my country, and the least encroachment of those invaluable privileges is apt to make my blood boil."
--Ben Franklin

  13. #13
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    what model of 17" powerbook? it could be your hard drive that is causing this,

  14. #14
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    Thanks for weighing in!

    You know, I did remember another telling detail. I believe the first time the screen went dark but was still technically on was when I was repositioning my laptop and grabbed it in sort of a pincer move with my right hand on the bottom and top of the bottom right of the computer (near where the CD/DVD drive is). It could have just been a coincidence---don't know.

    The model is the Powerbook 17 inch aluminum 1.67 GHz processor.

  15. #15
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    Sounds like it could be the display cable. I have seen it be the logic board though. We used to have trouble with those machines years ago. Where we would replace a display, and it turned out to be the board but the board would blow the inverter in the display, so we'd need both parts again..

  16. #16
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    I feel like I may have seen something about the display cable in a general google search about the symptoms. Would definitely be worth my looking into, I think. Especially since it's just being a bit of an expensive paperweight at the moment. Any good threads you'd recommend? Or maybe I should just look for "display cable" and "powerbook G4". I know someone who fried his motherboard and has a machine similar to mine sitting in his garage. Might be worth seeing if he'd be up for my poking around in his for parts.

  17. #17
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    Then again, thinking through it a bit more----seems as though perhaps it's not a display problem if it seemed to happily show me the Target Disk Mode firewire symbol for a few hours. So maybe it's pointing to the logic board?

  18. #18
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    If it is hard drive that is bad then that should not have any effect on it when it is booted to an installer CD. Make sure you try that as well. Also, from the installer CD you can run Disk Utility on the drive.

    Rick
    molṑn labe'
    "I am a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power. I am naturally very jealous for the rights and liberties of my country, and the least encroachment of those invaluable privileges is apt to make my blood boil."
--Ben Franklin

  19. #19
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    Yes, I had tried to start off a CD before and could get nowhere with it. Have tried it again just now, and it actually showed the apple logo and was clearly accessing the CD. Then the screen went dark; it kept accessing for a while, and now I see that the menu from the install CD is onscreen but so incredibly dim that I can't make out what is what.

    Maybe this is progress?

  20. #20
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    That sounds like the cable. Not sure any more what progress means.

    Do you have a monitor you can plug into it?
    molṑn labe'
    "I am a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power. I am naturally very jealous for the rights and liberties of my country, and the least encroachment of those invaluable privileges is apt to make my blood boil."
--Ben Franklin

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