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Tangerine iBook Battery Issue

Message #1 - Posted 2004/12/02 - Andrew Boyd

Hi guys,
I have a tangerine iBook, 300 MHZ, with 160 meg memory (ie quite old now, but its all i have and i love it!).

I have a problem with the power supply / battery. The battery itself has been pretty dead for many years now. So, I only ever use the machine plugged into the AC supply. Usually this is fine. However, a problem has developed. No matter how long it is plugged into the mains, the indicator on the plug always shows orange - it never goes green (fully charged). The icon for the battery also says the same - it is 'nearly charged ' but not quite.

Sometimes the machine will just shut itself down - not crash - but a sudden shutdown - and of course the time is set to 1904 or something silly when I start it up again.

This may be a problem with the charger, in that sometimes it sparks when I plug it in (at the electric plug site). And sometimes no light at all comes on at the indicator when i plug it in - i have to replug it in. But it seems odd that once the charger *is* going, then it will not give a green light.

I have tried resetting the PRAM - no good. :(

As funds are limited, is there a way of telling whether this is a charger or battery problem, before I go around seeking a replacement part?

Many thanks :)

Andrew.

email:

aboydie2003@yahoo.co.uk

Message #2 - Posted 2004/12/02 - John Johnson

Previously, Andrew Boyd wrote:

Hi guys,
I have a tangerine iBook, 300 MHZ, with 160 meg memory (ie quite old now, but its all i have and i love it!).

I have a problem with the power supply / battery. The battery itself has been pretty dead for many years now. So, I only ever use the machine plugged into the AC supply. Usually this is fine. However, a problem has developed. No matter how long it is plugged into the mains, the indicator on the plug always shows orange - it never goes green (fully charged). The icon for the battery also says the same - it is 'nearly charged ' but not quite.

This is not necessarily related to your other issues. There are a couple of battery guru's here who might offer more/better insight here.

Sometimes the machine will just shut itself down - not crash - but a sudden shutdown - and of course the time is set to 1904 or something silly when I start it up again.

This behavior is usually a symptom of a failing PRAM battery. Your machine is old enough that the PRAM battery is suspect unless you have replaced it fairly recently (say, this year).

This may be a problem with the charger, in that sometimes it sparks when I plug it in (at the electric plug site).

This is perfectly normal.

And sometimes no light at all
comes on at the indicator when i plug it in - i have to replug it in. But it seems odd that once the charger *is* going, then it will not give a green light.

I'd say, look into the cost of having a new PRAM battery installed. If you have to tear the iBook apart to install the PRAM battery (and I don't know), then it almost certainly won't be worth paying anyone to do this for you. If you're handy, you can do the teardown yourself, with time and patience. As money is tight, be sure to look at prices of used computers online before investing much at all into your iBook. Substantially better machines are pretty inexpensive these days. HTH

Later.
johajohn@indianahoosiers.edu
Let 'indiana' be a 'noln', and 'hoosiers' be a 'solkk'. Leave only the 'noln' and .edu after the @ to reply .

Message #3 - Posted 2004/12/03 - Andrew Boyd

Thanks for the promt advice - no, the PRAM battery has never been replaced in my machine - for as long as I have had it (3.5 years) - it was bought second hand, when it must have been a couple of years old. Unfortunately this is news i didnt want to hear! I know all about the difficulties of opening up the ibook - i used to have a performa, and of course that was a piece of cake - same for the 7300 which was another fine mac I used to own. Any idea where exactly the PRAm is located? I am fairly handy, but am not that patient anymore!! Is it a case of the machine being on its last legs now - please no!!

Andrew ;)

I'd say, look into the cost of having a new PRAM battery installed. If you have to tear the iBook apart to install the PRAM battery (and I don't know), then it almost certainly won't be worth paying anyone to do this for you. If you're handy, you can do the teardown yourself, with time and patience. As money is tight, be sure to look at prices of used computers online before investing much at all into your iBook. Substantially better machines are pretty inexpensive these days. HTH

Message #4 - Posted 2004/12/03 - John Johnson

Previously, Andrew Boyd wrote:

Thanks for the promt advice - no, the PRAM battery has never been replaced in my machine - for as long as I have had it (3.5 years) - it was bought second hand, when it must have been a couple of years old. Unfortunately this is news i didnt want to hear! I know all about the difficulties of opening up the ibook - i used to have a performa, and of course that was a piece of cake - same for the 7300 which was another fine mac I used to own. Any idea where exactly the PRAm is located? I am fairly handy, but am not that patient anymore!! Is it a case of the machine being on its last legs now - please no!!

Andrew ;)

I'd say, look into the cost of having a new PRAM battery installed. If you have to tear the iBook apart to install the PRAM battery (and I don't know), then it almost certainly won't be worth paying anyone to do this for you. If you're handy, you can do the teardown yourself, with time and patience. As money is tight, be sure to look at prices of used computers online before investing much at all into your iBook. Substantially better machines are pretty inexpensive these days. HTH

Just a quick note:
I don't remember now whether the iBook has a separate PRAM battery or not. If it doesn't, it's your failing main battery that's the problem...I don't see any PRAM batteries for sale on pbfixit, but I don't have the time to search exhaustively.

Basically, you likely need to replace a battery. A new main battery likely would run you about half the cost of a better used machine. A PRAM battery (should it have one) would be about half of the cost of a main battery, or something like that.

Later.
johajohn@indianahoosiers.edu
Let 'indiana' be a 'noln', and 'hoosiers' be a 'solkk'. Leave only the 'noln' and .edu after the @ to reply .

Message #5 - Posted 2004/12/02 - Joe Heimann

John Johnson wrote:

Previously, Andrew Boyd wrote:

Thanks for the promt advice - no, the PRAM battery has never been replaced in my machine - for as long as I have had it (3.5 years) - it was bought second hand, when it must have been a couple of years old. Unfortunately this is news i didnt want to hear! I know all about the difficulties of opening up the ibook - i used to have a performa, and of course that was a piece of cake - same for the 7300 which was another fine mac I used to own. Any idea where exactly the PRAm is located? I am fairly handy, but am not that patient anymore!! Is it a case of the machine being on its last legs now - please no!!

Andrew ;)

I'd say, look into the cost of having a new PRAM battery installed. If you have to tear the iBook apart to install the PRAM battery (and I don't know), then it almost certainly won't be worth paying anyone to do this for you. If you're handy, you can do the teardown yourself, with time and patience. As money is tight, be sure to look at prices of used computers online before investing much at all into your iBook. Substantially better machines are pretty inexpensive these days. HTH

Just a quick note:
I don't remember now whether the iBook has a separate PRAM battery or not. If it doesn't, it's your failing main battery that's the problem...I don't see any PRAM batteries for sale on pbfixit, but I don't have the time to search exhaustively.

Basically, you likely need to replace a battery. A new main battery likely would run you about half the cost of a better used machine. A PRAM battery (should it have one) would be about half of the cost of a main battery, or something like that.

That series of iBooks does not have a PRAM/backup battery at all. Just a capacitor to keep the clock running for a couple of minutes while the main battery is exchanged. That is why the iBook can not have its battery changed in sleep mode, it removes all power if not plugged in.

The spark when plugging into AC is normal. What you may have is either the power socket has become partly detached from its board inside the iBook, or there is a partial break in the connection from the wires of the AC power supply into its plug. Both are fairly common problems after a few years.

Joe

Message #6 - Posted 2004/12/03 - Andrew Boyd

The spark when plugging into AC is normal. What you may have is either the power socket has become partly detached from its board inside the iBook, or there is a partial break in the connection from the wires of the AC power supply into its plug. Both are fairly common problems after a few years.

OK Well thanks for all replies. Very helpful :) Good to see it isnt a PRAM problem. We seem to have it down to 3 possible issues:

(1) the battery is so dead that it never shows green (it could be that dead, as it is probably about 6 years old now)

(2) there is a problem with the connection from the power socket to the internal board inside the iBook

(3) there is a problem with the ac adapter.

Now, obviously it would be nice to work out which is the actual problem, before, say, ordering a battery. Is it really possible that it can be problem (1)? What i mean is that surely as long as the iBook is plugged into the mains, it is simply running off the mains - or does the state of the battery influence even this?

For problem (2) - can this connection be easily accessed once the keyboard is taken off? Perhaps then it is a matter of tapping this area to see if the green light comes on (a note which might help - I occasionally get the green light during startup, but it goes orange once loaded up).

For (3) well the only way to tell is to plug another adapater in - I do have one, however it is broken! (no light at all - either orange or green, appears on the iBook). The closest Mac shop from here is quite a drive, so this one is hard to check.

We may be nearly there...... :)

Andrew.

Message #7 - Posted 2004/12/03 - John Johnson

Previously, Andrew Boyd wrote:

The spark when plugging into AC is normal. What you may have is either the power socket has become partly detached from its board inside the iBook, or there is a partial break in the connection from the wires of the AC power supply into its plug. Both are fairly common problems after a few years.

OK Well thanks for all replies. Very helpful :) Good to see it isnt a PRAM problem. We seem to have it down to 3 possible issues:

(1) the battery is so dead that it never shows green (it could be that dead, as it is probably about 6 years old now)

The easiest way of checking this is to swap in a new battery. On this machine, I believe that this requires disassembly of the machine.

(2) there is a problem with the connection from the power socket to the internal board inside the iBook

(3) there is a problem with the ac adapter.

[snip]

Even though I'm the guy who originally proposed (1), I'm now voting for (2). I had completely forgotten about the connector issue (thanks for the save, Mr. Boyd), but it is fairly common on these machines (and on the Pismo that I owned as well).

For problem (2) - can this connection be easily accessed once the keyboard is taken off? Perhaps then it is a matter of tapping this area to see if the green light comes on (a note which might help - I occasionally get the green light during startup, but it goes orange once loaded up).

The connector is soldered directly onto a board, so the only way to access it is to completely disassemble the machine. If you can get the state of the light to change be manipulating the plug (while it's connected to the machine, of course), and/or get the machine to power off when this happens, it's likely the connector being loose.

I have to say, spending money on this unit does not strike me as a good investment. However no matter what you decide to to you should be keeping backups of everything on the machine. I'd also start looking for a replacement. Sometimes you can get very good deals on used machines via eBay, local computer lists, etc. I'd sell you my Pismo, but it's CPU failed and it's in parts now. I miss that machine every day.

Later.
johajohn@indianahoosiers.edu
Let 'indiana' be a 'noln', and 'hoosiers' be a 'solkk'. Leave only the 'noln' and .edu after the @ to reply .

Message #8 - Posted 2004/12/04 - Andrew Boyd

(1) the battery is so dead that it never shows green (it could be that dead, as it is probably about 6 years old now)

You know what - I think it might just be (1) - isnt that a turnup for the books!! let me explain...

the only way to

access it is to completely disassemble the machine. If you can get the state of the light to change be manipulating the plug (while it's connected to the machine, of course), and/or get the machine to power off when this happens, it's likely the connector being loose.<<

I fiddled around with the cord - and not much luck. Then I thought, what happens if i pull out the plug completely - and whammo, total shutdown. That made me think - hmmmm the battery is *so* dead that whenever the cord comes loose in any way, there is not enough battery to keep the machine going, and it shuts off. I repeated this twice. Also, when the machine goes into sleep mode - taking out the plug has no effect - obviously there is enough power for it to sleep OK and keep flashing that green light (assumedly it would die eventually in sleep mode). As soon as I open up the clamshell (still with ac power cord disconnected), however, power is completely lost - ie not only does the machine not start up, but it will not then sleep.

I have to say, spending money on this unit does not strike me as a good investment. However no matter what you decide to to you should be keeping backups of everything on the machine. I'd also start looking for a replacement. Sometimes you can get very good deals on used machines via eBay, local computer lists, etc. I'd sell you my Pismo, but it's CPU failed and it's in parts now. I miss that machine every day.

Seems to me that as long as I can keep the machine plugged in, I will be OK - I would like to keep this machine going - its been around the world with me, and suits my purposes fine. And maybe as a treat I will get it a battery :)

Andrew (Mr Boyd).

Message #9 - Posted 2004/12/05 - Andrew Boyd

As an added note - last night I let the iBook sleep, with no power connected. In the morning, it was still sleeping ok - so there must be enough battery power to do this. However, when I plugged it into the mains, and started up - the battery icon was lower (about 1/3) and for the first time in ages, the charging icon (lighting bolt) came on - it charged it up, and then the icon came off, when the battery was about 1/2 full - now it will not charge it past this 1/2 way mark. Before it was always indicating almost fully charged (but never full) - hence always the orange I suppose.

So, it seems the battery must be the issue. Thoughts?

andrew :)

Message #10 - Posted 2004/12/04 - Greg

This behavior is usually a symptom of a failing PRAM battery. Your machine is old enough that the PRAM battery is suspect unless you have replaced it fairly recently (say, this year).

I don't believe this model of ibook has a PRAM battery. I have the Service Manual for many ibooks. The one which shows a picture of a tangerine colored clamshell model says:

"The iBook has no backup battery. You will lose all data stored in RAM if you change the battery while the system is in sleep mode and no power adapter is connected. Therefore, shut the system down before changing the battery, or make sure a power adapter is connected."

This suggests to me that your main battery is working well enough to supply power to keep the PRAM alive most of the time, assuming you are able to unplug the computer and not loose time and date most of the time. Personally I would not hesitate to buy a new battery for it if you still like the machine. The common attitude of "it's outdated, get a new computer" doesn't mean anything at all if the computer does what you need it to do. I recently bought a 1GHz G4 iBook and it is only marginally better at doing the tasks which I had been using a 1998 year model Powerbook G3 for (first G3 PB produced).

Greg

Message #11 - Posted 2004/12/05 - John Johnson

Previously, Greg wrote:

This behavior is usually a symptom of a failing PRAM battery. Your machine is old enough that the PRAM battery is suspect unless you have replaced it fairly recently (say, this year).

[snip]

This suggests to me that your main battery is working well enough to supply power to keep the PRAM alive most of the time, assuming you are able to unplug the computer and not loose time and date most of the time. Personally I would not hesitate to buy a new battery for it if you still like the machine.

As a purveyor of the advice mentioned below, let me just say that I agree wholeheartedly with the last sentence above.

The common attitude of "it's outdated, get a new computer" doesn't mean anything at all if the computer does what you need it to do. I recently bought a 1GHz G4 iBook and it is only marginally better at doing the tasks which I had been using a 1998 year model Powerbook G3 for (first G3 PB produced).

No question there. I only replaced my Pismo because the CPU failed. I could have fixed the CPU, but the Pismo was a bit limiting in my useage. I don't want to be taken as saying "what a piece of #%$, get something else!", but rather that it's worth considering one's options. For example, one of the principle limitations of the early iBooks is a lack of firewire. On the other hand, they're built like tanks and have handles (and I'm not joking, this is a feature that I really admire).

That said, you could likely buy a Pismo for maybe $300. If you spend $90 for a battery AND $100 for someone to install it, I'd suggest going with the PIsmo. It's better spec, more flexible, still pretty reliable, and damn good looking. If you can get the battery installed more cheaply, it might be a different bag.

On a different subject, the OP might consider replacing the hard disk while the iBook is opened up (assuming that you have to tear the thing entirely down to replace the battery). It's no extra work, and only a marginal expense, if you plan on keeping the machine in operation for a while longer anyway.

Later.
johajohn@indianahoosiers.edu
Let 'indiana' be a 'noln', and 'hoosiers' be a 'solkk'. Leave only the 'noln' and .edu after the @ to reply .

Message #12 - Posted 2004/12/05 - Andrew Boyd

The common attitude of "it's outdated, get a new computer" doesn't mean anything at all if the computer does what you need it to do. I recently bought a 1GHz G4 iBook and it is only marginally better at doing the tasks which I had been using a 1998 year model Powerbook G3 for (first G3 PB produced).

Exactly - we really do live in the throw away society dont we?! This tangerine iBook is an absolute classic - so reliable - I've taken it on conferences around the world for years. I love it! New battery coming up!

A. :)

Message #13 - Posted 2004/12/05 - Andrew Boyd

No question there. I only replaced my Pismo because the CPU failed. I could have fixed the CPU, but the Pismo was a bit limiting in my useage. I don't want to be taken as saying "what a piece of #%$, get something else!", but rather that it's worth considering one's options. For example, one of the principle limitations of the early iBooks is a lack of firewire. On the other hand, they're built like tanks and have handles (and I'm not joking, this is a feature that I really admire).

Yes the handle is pretty handy, and they are famous for their robustness. Plus they look extremely cool - and lets not underestimate that! Firewire is not something i miss at the moment.

That said, you could likely buy a Pismo for maybe $300. If you spend $90 for a battery AND $100 for someone to install it, I'd suggest going with the PIsmo. It's better spec, more flexible, still pretty reliable, and damn good looking. If you can get the battery installed more cheaply, it might be a different bag.

Surely the battery is pretty easy to replace? It looks like you just have to undo a couple of screws at the back and slot it out. True?

On a different subject, the OP might consider replacing the hard disk while the iBook is opened up (assuming that you have to tear the thing entirely down to replace the battery). It's no extra work, and only a marginal expense, if you plan on keeping the machine in operation for a while longer anyway.

Yep - thats the only limiter for me - the 3 gig hardrive - but I am just economical with my files now - I mean, what do you *really* need?! I like to keep all my old eudora emails, and they are just texts so no prob there. Pics I can burn to CDs, or store on zips.

a.

Message #14 - Posted 2004/12/05 - John Johnson

Previously, Andrew Boyd wrote:

No question there. I only replaced my Pismo because the CPU failed. I could have fixed the CPU, but the Pismo was a bit limiting in my useage. I don't want to be taken as saying "what a piece of #%$, get something else!", but rather that it's worth considering one's options. For example, one of the principle limitations of the early iBooks is a lack of firewire. On the other hand, they're built like tanks and have handles (and I'm not joking, this is a feature that I really admire).

Yes the handle is pretty handy, and they are famous for their robustness. Plus they look extremely cool - and lets not underestimate that! Firewire is not something i miss at the moment.

That said, you could likely buy a Pismo for maybe $300. If you spend $90 for a battery AND $100 for someone to install it, I'd suggest going with the PIsmo. It's better spec, more flexible, still pretty reliable, and damn good looking. If you can get the battery installed more cheaply, it might be a different bag.

Surely the battery is pretty easy to replace? It looks like you just have to undo a couple of screws at the back and slot it out. True?

I've never owned or torn down one of these things, so wasn't sure whether you had to pull everything apart to get to the battery or not. Looking at some guides online, it appears that you just pop open one cover and replace the battery. That's much less of a hassle than...well doing almost anything else on that thing, really.

Go ahead with the battery then. It seems like a reasonable thing to do.

Later.
johajohn@indianahoosiers.edu
Let 'indiana' be a 'noln', and 'hoosiers' be a 'solkk'. Leave only the 'noln' and .edu after the @ to reply .

Message #15 - Posted 2004/12/06 - Andrew Boyd

I've never owned or torn down one of these things, so wasn't sure whether you had to pull everything apart to get to the battery or not. Looking at some guides online, it appears that you just pop open one cover and replace the battery. That's much less of a hassle than...well doing almost anything else on that thing, really.

Go ahead with the battery then. It seems like a reasonable thing to do.

OK - thanks for everyone's advice - truly helpful. :)

Until next time...

Andrew.

Message #16 - Posted 2004/12/07 - Duncan Langford

Previously, Andrew Boyd wrote:

Go ahead with the battery then. It seems like a reasonable thing to do.

OK - thanks for everyone's advice - truly helpful. :)

And - you'll let us know what happens, once you've installed that new battery?

- duncan

Message #17 - Posted 2004/12/08 - Andrew Boyd

Previously, Duncan Langford wrote:

Previously, Andrew Boyd wrote:

Go ahead with the battery then. It seems like a reasonable thing to do.

OK - thanks for everyone's advice - truly helpful. :)

And - you'll let us know what happens, once you've installed that new battery?

- duncan

Yeah sure - although it may be some time - as long as it works on the mains, then It should be fine for a while. It was just the sudden shutting off that was really the main hassle, and that seems to be just keepin an eye on the powercord - thats all it is. Anyway, i'll let you know.

Andrew :)

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