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Powerbook charging troubles
January 16, 2008 9:32 AM   Subscribe

Help me diagnose my Powerbook’s power supply woes.

I'm running 10.4.11 on a powerbook g4 (1GHz, 768 MB RAM). The trouble started yesterday when I got to work and plugged it in: the light at the site where the cord connects to the laptop doesn't light up, although the indicator in the menu bar says that it's charging. It shows a 95% charge, and that hasn't changed.

When I got home last night, I plugged it in again - I have two different powercords, both the standard Apple-supplied brick kind, one for home and one for work - and the home one does glow (green), but again, the charge doesn't increase. It isn't dropping either, at home or work.

The original battery for this powerbook keeled over in September or October, so it's got a new battery in it. I have googled, but found nothing helpful. So, help?
posted by rtha to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
 
Have you tried resetting the PMU or PRAM?
posted by mphuie at 9:47 AM on January 16, 2008


I've reset the PMU. The connection still isn't glowing, and the menu bar indicates a 95% charge, so no love there.

I'm beginning to suspect this may be a physical problem. If so, how deadly (expensive) is it to fix?

If there are other diagnoses out there, please chime in.
posted by rtha at 10:41 AM on January 16, 2008


Hooray! I am SO excited to see this question!

I am having very similar problems, but not identical -- so I don't know if this is relevant.

I recently upgraded to Leopard, have a 15" Powerbook, and am using a "recall" battery from The Great Apple Powerbook Exploding Battery Recall Episode of 2007. Next, I had the powerbook sitting around for a few days without being plugged in. When I went to turn it on, I found that the battery could hold ZERO charge, such that when the plug came loose, the computer would immediately turn off.

I tried resetting the PMU (or the PRAM? Whichever one it was in which I had to power it down, then hold down the power button). Now, the computer won't start up at all, even when plugged in. Yippee.

I couldn't find *anything* about this problem online, until I was sent to a macfixit article, which has since become inaccessible to non-subscribers.

The article noted that several users were complaining of similar problems. I then found this thread on Apple. In it, there are some others who hit exactly the same parameters as me (recall battery, Leopard, sitting around unplugged, powerbook) and having the exact same issue. Others are having variations, like you. You can actually see my comment at the very end of the tread. Seems like I somehow killed the discussion with my contribution. Sorry.

So far, Apple doesn't seem to have acknowledged the issue, though it seems a few have managed to get replacement batteries - others have not.

I actually have been planning to call Apple for a few days now, but since I don't live in the States, haven't been able to swing it. I might call this evening if I can get my Skype configuration set up.

If I get through to them, I'll post any useful (or unuseful) info here.

Please let me know if you figure this thing out! It's almost certainly not an isolated incident, but Apple hasn't copped to it quite yet.

(additional notes: I realize your symptoms are different than mine, but I gotta believe they're related. also, I am similarly using a replacement brick - because I'm in a 220v country. My charge is stuck at 0%, but I think that's because that's where it was when this all went down.

were you using a recall battery (before you exchanged it)? was it sapped/unplugged/powered down before you plugged it in? should we all just buy some macbook airs?)

In retrospect, this probably wasn't all that helpful, but I just wanted to celebrate that I'm not going crazy and let you know that I feel your pain.
posted by prophetsearcher at 11:31 AM on January 16, 2008


Eeeeenteresting.

The new battery that I installed in the fall is new-new, not a refurb, and replaced a battery that I believe just died a natural death (it was at least 3 years old). I've had no issues re: the Great Exploding Battery recall. And this pb is unplugged for a grand total of about an hour a day, as I drive to and from work. It also pretty much never gets shut down, unless I have to reboot for a software update.

C'mon, Mefites! I know there're lots of Mac folk here - any ideas?

...And I just remembered that I'm going to Macworld tomorrow, so I'll ask around there, too...

the macbook air is so pretty...so very very very pretty....
posted by rtha at 11:43 AM on January 16, 2008


The percent of charge is unlikely to ever go up. Apple says it is an "estimate" and while a PMU reset might 'fix' it,
according to apple there is actually nothing in need of fixing. Especially if the only issue is that the % charged never goes past 95%. (Mine maxes out at 96% and has done so since the day I took it out of the box.) If you were experiencing issues where you are running on battery power and it suddenly turned off or forced itself to sleep at some random percent like 40% or so then I'd suspect battery or PMU issues.

You've got two power adapters, one that glows orange/green for charging/charged and one adapter that now never glows. The one that never glows is broken and you just need to replace it. You haven't said anything that makes me suspect your computer or battery are an issue.

Also, if you have a 15" powerbook make sure you are using 65w adapters. A 12" powerbook will run fine off of either 45w or 65w.
posted by J-Garr at 12:09 PM on January 16, 2008


You've got two power adapters, one that glows orange/green for charging/charged and one adapter that now never glows. The one that never glows is broken and you just need to replace it. You haven't said anything that makes me suspect your computer or battery are an issue.

Before yesterday, though, the pb regularly showed a "full" charge of 99%. And if the non-glowing one is broken, then why does the menu bar indicator still show that the computer is running on power sucked from the cord, rather than the battery.

Puzzling.

But thank you, J-Garr. I'll see about borrowing or otherwise acquiring a different "work" cord and see what happens.
posted by rtha at 12:45 PM on January 16, 2008


if the non-glowing one is broken, then why does the menu bar indicator still show that the computer is running on power sucked from the cord, rather than the battery.

Because it is broken but not totally broken. :)
posted by J-Garr at 12:50 PM on January 16, 2008


I have a 12" Powerbook (w/ new battery from the recall) and it's corner got knocked a bit once and ever since I have to push the cord in just so or the charging light won't go on. I guess that's not your problem since the icon says that it's charging.
One thing you might try is re-calibrating the battery by letting it drain down to zero and then charging it back up (which your supposed to do every once in a while, as is my understanding.) Sometimes my PB charges up to 96%, other times 100% depending on if I've let it drain all the way or not.
posted by chococat at 1:17 PM on January 16, 2008


Well folks, looks like J-Garr was right; my work power cord is kinda, but not totally, broken. I'm home now and the home cord is glowing and the charge level is rising. Many thanks to you all.
posted by rtha at 6:15 PM on January 16, 2008


I have the exact same problem as prophetsearcher! And I mean exactly exact. Thanks for the links, I'll have to add my complaint to the list.
posted by gofargogo at 9:51 PM on January 16, 2008


sorry to hijack, but for others like gofargogo here's my follow-up:

i called apple. the rep was pretty clueless. he kept asking me if the battery was bulging, or indented, or if i dropped it. i tried to explain that it was almost certainly not a hardware issue, since so many other people seemed to be describing the same issue. i persisted in asking if i can direct him to the discussion on the apple support page, but he really wasn't interested.

so he said he would send me instructions to the battery re-calibration process, and if it didn't work, they would send me a new battery.

stupidly, i waited til i got off the phone to read the instructions, which include "fully charging your battery." right. that's kinda THE REASON i called you in the first place. I can't.

so I need to call back to get my new battery, but it's complicated for me because I'm abroad, and my local place is kind of obnoxious and apple won't ship me the battery. so, for the time being, im still powerbookless.

but hopefully this'll help you and others who google this ridiculous situation.

sorry again for the hijack, rtha -- so glad you figured out your issue! apple power cords are awful.
posted by prophetsearcher at 4:37 AM on January 17, 2008


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