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Powerbook G3 Wallstreet with new PRAM still won't start

Message #1 - Posted 2006/05/21 - Bebop

This is a new episode in the problems I've been having with my powerbook g3 wallstreet (128 MB RAM ~4GB HD ).

I wrote in March about a problem with startup:

Just recently, I decided to install Mac OS X (10.1), and wanted a fresh start, so I backed up the hard drive, and checked the "reformat disk" box during OSX installation. I thought that this would mean that I would have no problems: starting all over again with OSX. But after installation, when I pushed the restart button the computer wouldn't restart.

It would not start no matter what I did. I tried holding command-option-P-R while powering on to "zap the PRAM", and resetting the computer using ctrl-fn-shift-power. It just displayed a floppydisc with a blinking "?" no matter what I do. I supposed that this meant that it couldn't find system software to boot up on, so I tried holding the C key while starting up from the OSX CD, and the OS9 CD. None worked.

People responed telling me to get a new PRAM

Following that advice, I have just installed a new PRAM battery this hour, and alas! it still gives me that question marked floppydisc icon, and will not start up neither from the harddisc nor from the system install CD for OS9 nor X.1.

Have I done something wrong, do you think? Or does the PRAM need some time to charge befor the computer will start up? Something else?

Any ideas? Thanks

Message #2 - Posted 2006/05/22 - Fred McKenzie

Previously, Bebop wrote:

This is a new episode in the problems I've been having with my powerbook g3 wallstreet (128 MB RAM ~4GB HD ).

I wrote in March about a problem with startup:

Just recently, I decided to install Mac OS X (10.1), and wanted a fresh start, so I backed up the hard drive, and checked the "reformat disk" box during OSX installation. I thought that this would mean that I would have no problems: starting all over again with OSX. But after installation, when I pushed the restart button the computer wouldn't restart.

It would not start no matter what I did. I tried holding command-option-P-R while powering on to "zap the PRAM", and resetting the computer using ctrl-fn-shift-power. It just displayed a floppydisc with a blinking "?" no matter what I do. I supposed that this meant that it couldn't find system software to boot up on, so I tried holding the C key while starting up from the OSX CD, and the OS9 CD. None worked.

People responed telling me to get a new PRAM

Following that advice, I have just installed a new PRAM battery this hour, and alas! it still gives me that question marked floppydisc icon, and will not start up neither from the harddisc nor from the system install CD for OS9 nor X.1.

Bebop-

It is my understanding that the Wallstreet's PRAM battery is rechargeable, and that it will run down if the main battery is left out long enough. Its purpose is to hold the PRAM memory contents long enough to change batteries. The penalty for letting it run down, is loss of PRAM data. This has the same effect as if you zapped the PRAM, except your clock is also reset.

The problem with a "bad" PRAM battery, is that with a bad cell or two, it doesn't have enough voltage to keep PRAM data intact, but it keeps some of the data or corrupts it. Now that you have replaced it, I wonder if somehow the old battery kept corrupted PRAM data alive until you changed the battery, and the new battery was installed quickly enough that the data was retained?

If so, you might try zapping the PRAM again. But be sure you keep holding down the Command-Option-P-R keys until the startup Bong sounds at least three times. (Twice should be enough, but you can be sure it gets reset if you wait for the third one.)

Otherwise, it sounds as if there might be a broken or partially disconnected internal cable. Perhaps one that involves both the keyboard and the HD.

Fred

Message #3 - Posted 2006/05/22 - Russell Sheptak

Previously, Bebop wrote:

This is a new episode in the problems I've been having with my powerbook g3 wallstreet (128 MB RAM ~4GB HD ).

I wrote in March about a problem with startup:

Just recently, I decided to install Mac OS X (10.1), and wanted a fresh start, so I backed up the hard drive, and checked the "reformat disk" box during OSX installation. I thought that this would mean that I would have no problems: starting all over again with OSX. But after installation, when I pushed the restart button the computer wouldn't restart.

It would not start no matter what I did. I tried holding command-option-P-R while powering on to "zap the PRAM", and resetting the computer using ctrl-fn-shift-power. It just displayed a floppydisc with a blinking "?" no matter what I do. I supposed that this meant that it couldn't find system software to boot up on, so I tried holding the C key while starting up from the OSX CD, and the OS9 CD. None worked.

People responed telling me to get a new PRAM

Following that advice, I have just installed a new PRAM battery this hour, and alas! it still gives me that question marked floppydisc icon, and will not start up neither from the harddisc nor from the system install CD for OS9 nor X.1.

Have I done something wrong, do you think? Or does the PRAM need some time to charge befor the computer will start up? Something else?

Any ideas? Thanks

(1) remove your battery and all external sources of power (2) let the computer sit for 10 minutes
(3) plug in the external power but do not insert a battery (4) reset PMU
(5) try booting off a CD.

I found recently that I was getting this persistant problem where the Wallstreet couldn't find its disk. I would boot off the 10.3 install disk, and reset the startup disk and it would work until the next time I powered it off and unplugged it from the wall.

The problem turned out to be a bad battery (not sure how its bad; it still holds a charge well). It is, after all, still the original 7 year old lithium ion battery that came with the computer. I replaced it with my spare battery (same age) and the problem went away, and the computer has been stable ever since.

Anyone have any idea what might be wrong with the battery. It caused instability in the system about 2 years ago, but I was able to use the old MacOS 9 battery zapper 2.0 and that fixed whatever was wrong with it. I no longer have OS 9 on my wallstreet.

rus

Message #4 - Posted 2006/05/22 - Bebop

Thanks both of you.

I tried your rezapping the PRAM Fred, and it still gives the confused floppydisc. (Just note: the harddisc is empty, I have no data on the computer... I am trying to boot of the install CD)

Russell, what is resetting the PMU? Is that the same as resetting the PRAM (cmd+option+P+R)?

One more thing:
to boot of a CD, you need to hold the C key during startup, right?

Thanks again!

Message #5 - Posted 2006/05/22 - Bebop

Russell, I just tried your
(1) remove your battery and all external sources of power (2) let the computer sit for 10 minutes
(3) plug in the external power but do not insert a battery (4) reset PMU <- i assumed this was "ctrl-fn-shift-power"
(5) try booting off a CD.
and still the _question mark on the floppydisc_ (it's getting kind of old now!).

The CD doesn't even start spinning up (it never has...) Mebbe its the CD drive.

Oy gevalt!

Thanks for any suggestions.

Message #6 - Posted 2006/05/22 - Russell Sheptak

Previously, Bebop wrote:

Russell, I just tried your
(1) remove your battery and all external sources of power (2) let the computer sit for 10 minutes
(3) plug in the external power but do not insert a battery (4) reset PMU <- i assumed this was "ctrl-fn-shift-power"
(5) try booting off a CD.
and still the _question mark on the floppydisc_ (it's getting kind of old now!).

The CD doesn't even start spinning up (it never has...) Mebbe its the CD drive.

Oy gevalt!

Thanks for any suggestions.

You did all the right things.

Other readers have suggested making sure PRAM gets reset at least twice, and that's certainly worth a try. The PRAM battery is meant to hold a charge for about 5 minutes, long enough to maintain the PRAM while you're changing batteries. Once PRAM loses power, it gets into an indeterminate state, and zapping it is a good thing, but Apple warns not to do it more than 3 times in a row. Likewise, its worth resetting the PMU once (cntrl-fn-shift-power). You can also boot into open firmware (command-option-O-F) and do a variety of resets that way (google reset nvram for exact instructions).

You had to remove the hard drive when you installed the PRAM battery. I suppose its possible the hard drive isn't properly connected to the motherboard. Can you hear it spin up? or does it remain quiet? If its quiet either there's something wrong with it, or its not properly connected. I'm not sure the CD drive will work without the hard drive being properly connected (I think the CD drive is set up as "slave"). I would open the machine back up far enough to take out and reseat the hard drive and check all the cables and connections around it if zapping PRAM again doesn't do it.

Yes, holding down the C key while booting should boot you from CD. The CD should spin up, even if its a non-bootable one. If your hard drive does spin up (even if its not bootable because PRAM is messed up), but the CD doesn't, there may be something wrong with the CD drive.

rus

Message #7 - Posted 2006/05/22 - Bebop

These are the things I have tried now:
=B7 cmd+option+O+F, (open firmware)
=B7 cmd+option+P+R, (zapping PRAM)
=B7 just the power button,
=B7 attempt to boot from cd with C key,
and it did the same thing as when I did these three things: It starts up after 5-15 seconds and then shows the "?" on the floppydisc. Then the harddisc spins up and then shuts down every 2 sec for about 2 min and then the computer shuts off again. (Note it does this whether I have battery ac power or both)
I also did these:
=B7 cmd+ctrl+power, (in which case it restarts)
=B7 ctrl+fn+shift+power (PMU reset, in which case it pops the speakers and stays off)

I can't get it to do anything but show that question mark... got any ideas?

Thanks!

Message #8 - Posted 2006/05/22 - Frank Graves

Previously, Bebop wrote:

These are the things I have tried now:
∑ cmd+option+O+F, (open firmware)
∑ cmd+option+P+R, (zapping PRAM)
∑ just the power button,
∑ attempt to boot from cd with C key,
and it did the same thing as when I did these three things: It starts up after 5-15 seconds and then shows the "?" on the floppydisc. Then the harddisc spins up and then shuts down every 2 sec for about 2 min and then the computer shuts off again. (Note it does this whether I have battery ac power or both)
I also did these:
∑ cmd+ctrl+power, (in which case it restarts)
∑ ctrl+fn+shift+power (PMU reset, in which case it pops the speakers and stays off)

I can't get it to do anything but show that question mark... got any ideas?

Thanks!

Have you tried just disconnecting the PRAM battery. You don't need it to boot or for anything for that matter except to hold you date and time settings.

I've had several Pismos/Wallstreets that supposedley were dead. I just disconnect the PRAM battery and they started right up. After they booted I reconnected the same PRAM battery and it worked fine.

Also you have described several things. If the hard drive is shutting down and starting up it could be bad. If the CD-ROM drive does not spin then it is probably bad. If there is nothing on the hard drive you should be able to put any bootable CD in the drive and turn it on and it should boot.

Good luck.
fmgtech

Message #9 - Posted 2006/05/22 - aliza.razell

Do you mean that I should completely re-disect the computer and unplug the PRAM, then put it back together and start up then take it apart again to reconnect, and put it back?

Wow... that will take a couple hours (and I'm not that comfortable that I won't make a mistake one of those times and break it)!

I just want to make sure that's what you're suggesting before I kill the laptop!

thanks
Bbop

Message #10 - Posted 2006/05/23 - Bebop

Oops! that last post was from me. I accidentally used my sisters account.

Message #11 - Posted 2006/05/23 - Fred McKenzie

Previously, aliza.razell@gmail.com wrote:

Do you mean that I should completely re-disect the computer and unplug the PRAM, then put it back together and start up then take it apart again to reconnect, and put it back?

Wow... that will take a couple hours (and I'm not that comfortable that I won't make a mistake one of those times and break it)!

Bbop-

As I recall, you had a problem before you replaced the PRAM battery. Now you have a different problem.

Yes, getting to the battery may be a lot of work. However it would give you a chance to recheck your work for loose connectors and pinched cables. Some ribbon cables have a locking connector that you may not have re-locked when re-assembling.

I've never replaced my PRAM battery, so don't know what you are up against. Is it possible you installed the battery backwards? Could the new battery be defective?

Fred

Message #12 - Posted 2006/05/23 - Bebop

Fred McKenzie wrote:

As I recall, you had a problem before you replaced the PRAM battery. Now you have a different problem.

Actually, I am having the same problem I had before I replaced the PRAM battery.

I guess I'll desect it again to make sure I didn't mess anything up last time. Though, I was really careful...

Wish me luck!

Message #13 - Posted 2006/05/24 - pailface88

Just to clarify, the purpose of the PRAM battery is two fold. It is to maintain the contents of the PRAM if both the power cord and the main battery are removed, and it is also to maintain the contents of RAM (no "P") if the power cord is removed and the main battery is being swapped out for a freshly charged battery while the computer is in SLEEP mode. In this second case, a good PRAM battery should maintain the contents of RAM for 4 minutes.

If the computer is Shut Down (not just in Sleep mode)and the power cord and main battery are removed then the PRAM battery should maintain the contents of PRAM for a very long time, measured in days, not minutes.

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