Dead power source? And is it fixable?
June 7, 2007 4:17 PM   Subscribe

Question about power source on an iBook G4. (Namely: I think it's broke. Is it, in fact, as totally borked as I think it is?)

Basically: My beloved, sturdy iBook G4 has suddenly stopped recognizing the power cord. I noticed it last night when it wouldn't charge up, and bought a new cord today. Plugged it in, left it for a few hours, and when I came back the battery hadn't charged, and I could only turn the computer on for a few seconds before it went to sleep or shut down.

In those few seconds, I noticed the little power meter up top -- for a moment it would get a lightening bolt, like it had recognized the power cord, and then it would flash back to the empty-battery with 0% for a moment, then shut down.

I'm 98% sure this means the actual power source (is that the right tem?) in the computer is dead/broken/whatever. Is this right?

And if so -- is this something repairable for a reasonable amount of money, or is it time to go shopping for a new computer?

Thanks :)
posted by kalimac to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
i wish i had something to offer other then my ibook G4 is doing the same exact thing. I also purchased a new cord ($80) thinking that was the problem. When it's plugged in I have to wiggle the cord a bit to make sure it is orange (charging) and not green (fully charged). Left to its own devices, I don't know what it would do. I plan on bringing it to the Apple Store when I get back from vacation. Hope you purchased the extended warranty!
posted by jessica at 4:26 PM on June 7, 2007

i have no idea, but if you don't get a satisfactory answer, i've found apple's support discussion boards to be really helpful in the past. (and they are gentle to the clueless, like me.)
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:26 PM on June 7, 2007

go to thinkingwoman's link. reset the PMU [search apple support site for reset PMU iBook and you'll see how to do that]. It could fix the problem.

Also, how old is your battery? Batteries only have a finite set of charges until it gives up the ghost. And when they are gone they won't hold a charge.

If it is a short on the computer side, Apple will probably charge $350 to fix it. But the fact that it seems to run fine left plugged in, indicates the logic board is getting juice.
posted by birdherder at 4:39 PM on June 7, 2007

The part that might be affected is called the DC-in board. It's the chip that actually connects your power adapter to the other bits of your computer.
posted by thejoshu at 4:42 PM on June 7, 2007

Aw, thanks you guys.

I reset the PMU, and that didn't do anything, but I'm checking out the apple support boards too.

A little more information that might be helpful: I got the computer in fall 2004, but just replaced the battery, probably no more than 2 months ago, so I don't think that's the problem. Also, last time the battery died, the computer ran just fine while plugged in -- which makes me think it's definitely related to the (brand-new as of today) cord and the internal power stuff, since it barely turns on anymore.

If it still sounds repairable, I can take it to an Apple repair place tomorrow -- I'm just trying to get a feel for what might be wrong :)
posted by kalimac at 5:18 PM on June 7, 2007

The adapters do die (though it took mine longer) -- have you tried another one?
posted by advil at 5:59 PM on June 7, 2007

It could be the jack, or the DC-DC converter on the notebook. Wiggle the cord, see if the power state changes.

If it is the jack, the proper fix it to replace whatever it is mounted on. This could be very expensive. The other fix, if you can solder, is to resolder it.
posted by eriko at 6:21 PM on June 7, 2007

Good chance it's a broken solder joint on the internal part of the power cord coupler, unfortunately a very common problem on iBooks and PowerBooks due to the constant stress of the cylindrical connector being plugged and unplugged.

And yep, this is a job for a pro. You need to open the case and resolder the broken connector, and that's a delicate job.

But if you can take it in and have Applecare, just be patient.
posted by spitbull at 6:24 PM on June 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

You might be able to confirm my theory by jiggling the connector while watching the power meter display to see if the lightning bolt flashes on and off. Often the broken solder joint creates *intermittent* failure to charge, which makes this problem come and go, for a while, before it jumps the shark completely.
posted by spitbull at 6:25 PM on June 7, 2007

Oh, eriko beat me to the diagnostic punch. Cheers.
posted by spitbull at 6:26 PM on June 7, 2007

it definately sounds like a bad DC-In board, go find a local AASP (Apple Authorized Service Provider), if they know what they are doing they should dignose it pretty quick. The part is cheap, < $50, labor shouldnt be too bad (it isnt too hard for them to do, no more then 1hr). the reason i recommend a local shop is they tend to do more out of warranty work and know what they are doing and also because 95% of the bozos who work at the apple stores are....well lets just say they arent the sharpest tools in the shed. br> best of luck.
posted by ShawnString at 6:53 PM on June 7, 2007

Another quick thank you to y'all -- eriko and spitbull seem to have come the closest to nailing the problem -- wiggling the powercord *did* seem to help, for about half a second.

Anyway, I dropped it off with a local AASP as ShawnString advised -- I'll update when I know what the problem is for sure.
posted by kalimac at 10:12 AM on June 8, 2007

For future searchers: it was the DC-in. Total cost to fix it (at a local AASP): about $150.
posted by kalimac at 8:46 AM on June 12, 2007

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