Help me charge my G4 Powerbook
February 16, 2006 12:40 PM   Subscribe

The power connector to my G4 Powerbook is almost dead. It only charges in one very specific position, and I have to twist it around for a few seconds to find the sweetspot (rotating it in situ). Nothing is loose and nothing is visibly wrong. I tried squeezing the metal sleeve slightly to make it more elliptical in the hope this would create a tighter connection, but it made no difference.

I *really* don't want to have to buy another power brick for what is probably a trivial issue, and I also don't want to have to pay an Apple service person $85/hr to dissect it. Any suggestions?
posted by unSane to Computers & Internet (18 answers total)
If you bring it to an Apple store, the genius will let you try plugging in another one of their adapters. For free. That'll let you know if it's your adapter or the interior of your computer that's messed up. If the genius bar is busy you could probably even just unplug one of the display PowerBooks yourself.

If you don't want to pay Apple's price for a new adapter, you could get a cheaper one from MCE Tech. I've never used their adapters personally but I know someone who was happy with theirs.
posted by bcwinters at 12:51 PM on February 16, 2006

First, borrow somebody else's power brick to see if it's the brick or the laptop. Second, it's almost certainly the brick -- specifically, a break in the skinny wire between the laptop and the brick. Someone handy with electrical things might be able to fix it for you.

It's sad but true: Apple power bricks are essentially consumables, and you should expect to buy a new one every 12-18 months.
posted by jjg at 12:53 PM on February 16, 2006

Are you sure it is on the adapter end? Have you tested it with another adapter? It may be that the connector on the laptop is screwy. If either side is just dirty you may be able to clean it up with a q-tip and some nail polish remover.

If it is the adapter, you can buy a replacement for ~$40. This seems like a no-brainer to me – you may soon be unable to use your computer.
posted by mzurer at 12:54 PM on February 16, 2006

the bending the wires back and forth and twisting thing might work for a while, but be dell adapter did the same thng and after a couple days of that it caught fire at the point where the connection was wearing out...luckily i was right there with it...for safety alone, it's worth buying a new one outright...
posted by troybob at 1:00 PM on February 16, 2006

I've got a similar issue. Is any of this stuff covered under applecare?
posted by soma lkzx at 1:03 PM on February 16, 2006

The laptop and the power adaptor should be covered by AppleCare, if memory serves.
posted by armoured-ant at 1:15 PM on February 16, 2006

as long as you HAVE applecare (or its with the 1st yr) then the laptop and adaptor are covered under applecare. trust me.

but its sounds like it maybe the DCin board. parts cheap, around $29 or so. the labor is costly though, most places will charge around 1.75 hrs labor.
posted by ShawnString at 1:20 PM on February 16, 2006

I have the same issue with the cord for my G4 Titanium. Started happening after someone pushed it way to the side on a desk, bending the cord quite a bit. It still works, but it has to be in just the 'right' position.

I noticed that Apple is hyping the new improved power cable connection system for their new laptops. Sounds like it's a quick-release system that safely disconnects if someone trips on the cord or something. Probably the issue we have was common with their laptops in the past.

I love my laptop, but the power cable has bugged me from day one. It's just so thin, wiry and insubstantial.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 1:58 PM on February 16, 2006

I've had this issue twice with my clamshell style ibook. Both times, my husband has taken the computer apart and soldered the connector on the inside. He's an expert at it by now and I hate to think what this would cost to have done anywhere else.
posted by jvilter at 2:07 PM on February 16, 2006

My TiBook adapter went bad after a couple of years (oddly enough it provided power but refused to charge my battery). I got a new Apple OEM one from the local electronics store, and I'm pretty sure it was only around $60. I think the newer models might be a bit sturdier too. I don't think this is the kind of thing you want to fix yourself.
posted by hyperizer at 2:14 PM on February 16, 2006

This happens to me once a year. Buy a new one. Otherwise, you might end up with 'voltage leak' issues like i did. Fried motherboard. tasty.
posted by mmdei at 2:19 PM on February 16, 2006

I am on my third one in 2 years. I made do until I could get a new one by taking the sleeve off and re-soldering the wires, but it is a temporary fix.

I am WAY more careful with this one, AND I always use it with the extension cord it comes with, giving me a lot more slack.
posted by The Deej at 3:23 PM on February 16, 2006

Probably the issue we have was common with their laptops in the past.

All laptops. I had a Toshiba that required regular plug replacements.

Apple's new magnetic attachment should make a world of difference.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:08 PM on February 16, 2006

I had the same problem on mine. The socket had to be replaced. Luckily that's doable.
posted by Ken McE at 4:29 PM on February 16, 2006

My sister's Dell laptop had an identical problem, but the issue was that the power connector had come unsoldered from the motherboard. It was still seated properly and there was no obvious clue that the connector was dead, but, alas, the brick was fine and the part inside the laptop had to be replaced.

So, like others have said, it happens.
posted by socratic at 4:54 PM on February 16, 2006

All my Toshiba plug problems were with the plug itself, not the socket. Damn plugs hate having the cord bent near the connector. Sigh.

I've taken to using the wire clip thingy on the iBook's power cord to create a loop that I hope acts like a bit of a stress buffer.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:18 PM on February 16, 2006

I've had this happen to two Compaq cables and two iBook cables.

Be careful that you're not applying ANY pressure to the plug that goes into the computer, or having the cord being tugged taut...
posted by fleacircus at 5:27 PM on February 16, 2006

This exact thing actually happened to me last week. My cord had been crapping out for a few weeks until I was laying in my bed watching a dvd and the plug started smoking really badly. It melted the plastic coating and smelled terribly, I was really glad I was there when it happened. I have applecare so they just gave me a new power unit.

I'd do something about this quickly.
posted by Sreiny at 8:44 PM on February 16, 2006

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