Raising the Dead
November 8, 2008 9:26 AM   Subscribe

PowerBook G4 won't react to power button. Are we SOL?

My parents are trying to move off their crusty old iMac to my brother's less crusty and old PowerBook G4 (FW800 model, 1.25 GHz, aluminum enclosure). I got their new user accounts and files copied over last weekend, and this weekend my brother sends me a text message saying that the machine will no longer boot. He hits the power button and nothing happens. He tried resetting the PMU to no avail, and the battery reports itself as full.

Is this machine fixable? I'm not sure what to try next without taking it into the shop. I'm wary of bringing it to the Apple Store, but there is a well regarded Apple-only shop in Boston (The Computer Loft) I would gladly bring it to instead.
posted by mkb to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
Unplug, remove the battery, pop it back in then hit the button. Alternately, hold down power for 5 seconds, release and press again.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 10:15 AM on November 8, 2008

The correct way to do a PMU reset on this machine is to simultaneously press Shift-Control-Option-Power.

Details in this article.
posted by dinger at 11:44 AM on November 8, 2008

Sorry if this is too simple but...
Be sure the volume is simply not turned off. In other words, let it sit for a minute even if you don't hear the start up chime.
posted by artdrectr at 12:25 PM on November 8, 2008

The battery shouldn't matter: even if battery is taken out, it could still boot up, drawing power from the AC/DC plug.

however, If there's no light from the end of the power input (where you plug the charger into the computer)
It's possible that the power adapter (on the laptop itself) is no longer able to draw in power from the charger and the battery is drained out.

If the light is still there, then the logic board on the computer is most likely no longer good (since you reported that there's no sign the computer would boot at all, the fan doesn't spin, the display doesn't come on, etc).
These are usually a bit pricey (> $300, iirc).
On the positive hand, the hard drive is probably still fine. To recover the data, you'd remove the hard drive out of the case (more info on this over at ifixit.com and then buy an IDE to USB transfer (I bought one of these at newegg for ~$20), similar to this one

Good luck, and let us know what happens in here or in a metatalk. , I hope it works out for you.

I went through this problem about 2 months ago with an iBook
posted by fizzix at 12:31 PM on November 8, 2008

if he hits the button and nothing at all happens or the sleep light on the front turns on and then immediately back off, then the PMU reset didn't work. dinger has it right as far as the KB article goes - if he didn't do the PMU reset like it says there, then it probably didn't take. I've had the most luck doing it with no power applied to the system, which it doesn't state in the article. (older machines required that you unplug it and remove batteries and whatnot. old habits are hard to break.) can't hurt to do it again. note that a corrupted PMU means that the power cord may also not light up like you expect it to - the PMU controls that too.

if you get a bong and no video, then you should reset the PRAM. boot, hold down Command, Option, P and R and wait for it to bong a few more times.

if neither of those fix the issue, then take it in. I'd bet that he didn't reset the PMU right - that's usually what causes these symptoms. if that doesn't work, I'd start on the DC-In board (which is what the battery and power adapter talk to, and is separate from the MLB). a DC-In board is far less costly than the full logic board and is usually the part that goes out, though you'd want a competent tech to diagnose and repair the machine at that point.
posted by mrg at 12:58 PM on November 8, 2008

Try pluggin into an external monitor/

Last year I thought I had a fried laptop but it turned out to need a new lcd screen, which I discovered after hooking into my tv via S-video and booting it.
posted by mannequito at 1:03 PM on November 8, 2008

It might be as simple as the battery is shitting the bed and has run down since it was last used. Don't know why they refuse to boot (even when plugged back in) when this happens, but they do. This is fast and free and worth a shot.
  1. Unplug it
  2. drop out the battery
  3. hold down the power button until the LED on the front goes dark
  4. Plug it back in with the battery still out
  5. hold down the power button
  6. Replace the battery AFTER it boots.
Don't leave it unplugged for too long unless you want to repeat this procedure.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:26 PM on November 8, 2008

OK, so to those who wanted an update, here it is: the machine is still dead. I tried both methods of resetting the PMU, to no avail. I tried plugging it in without the battery, to no avail. To re-iterate the symptoms:
1.) The battery reports itself to be fully charged. When I hit the little button, all five LEDs light up.
2.) The power adapter lights up green when plugged into the computer.
3.) When I hit the power button, there is NO REACTION WHATSOEVER. No fan. No optical drive moving around.

I guess I'll have them take it to the shop :(
posted by mkb at 8:27 AM on November 27, 2008

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