12" G4 Laptop USB stopped working

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DoctorClu's picture
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I have a 12" G4 867 Mhz Aluminum laptop that has been working fairly good, but the USB ports, while they will send power to devices, will not recognize USB devices.

Numerous USB storage devices have been tried, they will not work on the laptop, but will work on the other computers. Please help!

(Motherboard failure or something else?)

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iantm's picture
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First steps ...

There are a number of variables, and based on the fact that the only diagnostic steps you noted were ensuring that the usb storage devices were known good, I'm going to start with the obvious and not so obvious. Do USB keyboards and mice work? Have these devices been known to work with this machine before? What kind of usb storage devices are we talking about - flash drives? external usb powered hard drive? external hard drive with its own power supply? Unfortunately to make a completely accurate diagnosis, we'll need more info. But given what info you've given, here are my suggestions.

First, I'd try to zap the pram and reset open firmware. If this doesn't help, try reinstalling the OS via archive and restore. Do NOT do an upgrade style install. Sometimes, a weird USB issue can be traced to something wonky within OS X.

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DoctorClu's picture
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Thanks! How do you zap the p

Thanks! How do you zap the pram on the 12" aluminum laptops?

OSX is a possibility and will explore this after zapping the pram.

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pram zapping and open firmware resets

The classic pram zap maneuvre is the same on all macs from the 128k's to the newest mac pro. Hold down Apple, Option, P, R (make sure that Caps and Num lock are OFF) after you press the power button. After the computer chimes three times, you can let go and let it boot.

To reset open firmware is a little tricky. To get in, press the power button and immediately hold down Apple, Option, O, F (also make sure that caps and num lock are OFF). When you are at the prompt of grey/black text on a white background, you can release these keys. At the prompt, type (without the quotations of course) "reset-nvram" and press enter. Next type "reset-all" and press enter. The computer will restart. I hope this helps.

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DoctorClu's picture
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Thanks!

Thanks!

DoctorClu's picture
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Ok, just getting the spinning

Ok, just getting the spinning circle at startup now. First off I really appreciate the advice that has been given. Now, having it stuck at startup after zapping all, has this happened to anyone else, and how do you recover the system?

Disk utility on the OS X disk?

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You can boot from the OS X di

You can boot from the OS X disk and set the Startup Disk, or you might be able to choose your disk if you boot while holding down Option.

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DoctorClu's picture
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It restarted to a spinning ci

It restarted to a spinning circle, and never came back.

I tried to archive and re-install the OS, but that errored out.

A minor problem has turned into a complete system failure.

Frustrated. Putting laptop away for about a month. Shame too, this was my primary machine.

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The larger problem may be tha

The larger problem may be that the HDD is failing.

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DoctorClu's picture
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Brand new hard drive. I mean

Brand new hard drive. I mean only a month old. I seriously doubt that's the case. I'm thinking it is more likely:

1)The motherboard... it was a bit flakey when I got it
2)The Mac OSX might be worn out (I hated using the original, not sure how to make a backup... though I could try Nero or something) or OSX not working in the finakey optical drive of the 12"

Anyway, thanks guys. I have a plan to fix this, will require me taking the hard drive out and hooking it to my quicksilver desktop, getting important information off of it, maybe trying to install the OS from the computer, maybe having to reformat this drive. Not sure.

Either way, think I'll be taking a break from this laptop for about week as I now have other things going on.

iantm's picture
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Firewire target disk mode

No need to remove the hard drive from the computer. Hold down the T key after pressing the power button on your powerbook, and hook it up to your g4 quicksilver via firewire cable. It'll show up as a mountable volume on your g4 desktop that you can install to.

As for making a backup of an install disc - this can be done with disc utility - make a new disc image. With a little bit of messing around, it should be easy to figure out.

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Very handy. I'll try that ou

Very handy. I'll try that out in a bit.

DoctorClu's picture
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Working!

Well, it only took formatting my hard drive and reloading OSX but the laptop now works, and with USB as well. That was all weird.

That Firewire command is a neat trick! I liked that!

So is there any way to make it a USB drive?

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Nope, target disk mode only w

Nope, target disk mode only works with FireWire on post-Yikes! G4 macs, and with SCSI on older powerbooks.

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DoctorClu's picture
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Shame

Would have been a great way to make transfer with my PC possible. Maybe more of them will have Firewire built in at work. Have to check to see what the current Dell's are featuring at work... nope no firewire, but maybe I can get a firewire card and go from there.

Anyway, the SCSI trick sounds fun too. How old of powerbooks are we talking? I heard there was a similra trick for the Duos.

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SCSI Target disk mode ...

works on the Power Book 100, 160/165/165c, 180/180c, all Duos with the appropriate dock, 520/540/c, 5300/190 series, 1400 series, 2400 series, 3400 series, all G3 PowerBooks (all but pismo as that had fw) with the scsi port (with some limitations on the size of the hard drive in side). To do this, you'll need either the special cable or one of the scsi adapters. This one is the one I used back in those days http://www.amazon.com/Belkin-POWERBOOK-SCSI-ADAPTER-F2N985XTSW/dp/B00009017K . Good times! For some reason, the 140 and 170 are not capable of it. I don't know about the 145 as that's a warmed over 145, and recall there being weirdness with the 150.

Firewire target disk mode works on all slot load iMacs with fw, all agp graphics equipped g4 towers, the cube, all powerbooks and iBooks equipped with it, and pretty much any Mac made after 2000.

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Just wanted to say thanks again....

I have referred back to this message soooo many times. Smile

Still have a G4 12 and 17 inch Powerbook, and they are still very useful.

But thanks for taking the time to answer this.