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November 4, 2008 3:29 PM   Subscribe

Powerbook G4 (hardware?) woes, followed by death of battery LEDs.

Firstly, excuse my style of description.

Yeah, I gave my laptop a tap to the side, which was followed by the Beach Ball. The charge was low (according to the battery LEDs), so I let the thing cool down and, after a little charging, I started the computer. Backlight came on, but the screen remained black. The fan quickly turned on; it was obvious to me the thing was working very hard at some futile task.

The computer only correctly started once. After, like, taking out the battery, three PMUs, blah blah... The thing stopped working again mid-trash-emptying. Earlier, I noticed the LEDs only work when the computer's plugged in. Now the LEDs are always dead. :| What?

I'm itching to crack the thing open and look for something loose. If you have some advice for key signs of easy fix/dead mother board/etc... lemme know.
posted by Monstrous Moonshine to Technology (4 answers total)
Will it run with the battery removed?

Replacing the logic board in most PowerBook G4's is not a trivial task, and since you haven't provided us with a model (processor speed, screen size), it's hard to gauge even that.

You imply that it locked up while emptying the trash. In my long experience, there are only two things that could cause that problem: a HD failing/seizing mid-process, or a logic board failure. Your other symptoms make me lean towards the latter as a diagnosis. But again, because your description of the problem / of the order of events / of your observations, is less than adequate, it's very difficult to say.

If you have the restore DVD that this machine shipped with, you could try booting from it. This would help you to diagnose the HD as failed, because if it boots from another source like a DVD, then the rest of the hardware is likely okay.

Likewise, you could try target-disk-mode booting this via Firewire. The success or failure of this would be another indicator to help point the way to a successful diagnosis.
posted by at 4:33 PM on November 4, 2008

I had all sorts of strange behaviors (and an ultimate failure) on my G4 Powerbook and it turned out to be a bad battery - If mrbarrets's suggestions don't work, my next step would be to buy (or borrow) a new battery, before I went down the bad HD / logic board path - good luck
posted by jalexei at 5:07 PM on November 4, 2008

So target disk works. While transferring stuff, the screen began leaving artifacts (chunky trails from the floating FireWire icon) which began slowly and, after a few minutes, got pretty extreme. Starting the computer again (normally) led to no start up screen at all, just flittering horizontal bands of green over bright columns. These are examples with the power cable hooked up.
posted by Monstrous Moonshine at 5:17 AM on November 5, 2008

Logic board, logic board, logic board. Almost no question at this point, given your further description of this problem while in target disk mode. Gee thee to an Apple Store for a diagnosis and quote for a repair (hopefully still under warranty).
posted by at 1:10 PM on November 5, 2008

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