Bizarre iMac G3 problem

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tmtomh's picture
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Joined: Dec 20 2003
Posts: 568

Hey folks,

Hope you can help with a stumper.

Machine: iMac G3/350 slot loader (Summer 2000; Indigo, no Firewire)

Problem: Machine powers on with green light, hard drive spins, but no startup chime, no video, no reading/loading OS from HD.

More info: Got the machine like this from a friend. Removed a stuck CD from the CD drive, played with it a bit, then after a few tries of resetting the PRAM, booting into Open Firmware, etc., all of a sudden the video came up in Open Firmware after I pressed the programmer's switch on the side. I typed "Mac-boot" as per the OF prompt, and the machine booted. All seemed well.

But then: I tried to do a fresh OS install (OS X). Booted from the CD, got to the "Use English as the Main Language" screen, then clicked the continue button, and the machine froze, hard - not a kernel panic, just a frozen screen and frozen mouse and keyboard. I turned the unit off by pressing the power button, and then the original problem resumed - green light and HD spinning on power on, but otherwise dead. PRAM reset, OF key combo, and pressing the programmer's and reset buttons haven't worked at all.

I then tried opening the unit up and resetting the PMU, but that didn't help either.

This unit HAS had the firmware update applied prior to updating to OS X, so that's not the issue.

The Apple Service Manual describes Troubleshooting procedures if the unit won't power on at all, or if it will power on and fails POST, or if it powers on to a grey screen.

But this situation is in-between - it powers on, but it doesn't even get to POST - no startup chime, and no error beeps.

Any ideas?

TIA!

Best,
Matt

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tmtomh's picture
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Joined: Dec 20 2003
Posts: 568
Update - I let it sit, with t

Update - I let it sit, with the power on, not POSTing or booting, for quite a while. Then I turned it off, and on again. And for some reason this time I got the startup chime and the machine worked normally again. Wierd.

It seems the one common denominator in this is that the machine gets wonky after crashing with a CD in the drive - it happened with the OS X installer CD in the drive, and when my friend first gave it to me, with a CD in the drive.

Perhaps the CD drive is on the way out?

M

dankephoto's picture
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Joined: Dec 20 2003
Posts: 1900
RAM?

You probably already tried it, but . . . bad or unseated RAM can cause wonky behaviour, try reseating and/or replacing the RAM.

Bad CD drive? Hmm, could be but I doubt that's the primary issue.

dan k

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tmtomh's picture
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Joined: Dec 20 2003
Posts: 568
Thanks for the reply, Dan.

Thanks for the reply, Dan.

It has had the firmware update applied.

RAM's not a bad idea, esp. since OS X is so picky and this unit first shipped with OS 9 (which is less picky).

I'll run some RAM tests and see what turns up.

M

Hawaii Cruiser's picture
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Joined: Jan 20 2005
Posts: 1434
Leaving it powered on for awh

Leaving it powered on for awhile and then it finally boots reminds me of my Classic II's which do that, apparently from the leaking capacitors issue. They need to build up the steam.

It also sounds very much like what I experience with one of my B&W's, which are from around the same generation as your iMac. If I mess around with it, especially changing startup disks, it can fall into a funk where I get no chime and no video, and everything I try will not bring it back to life (zapping the PRAM is usually the ultimate killer), except if I shut it down, leave it overnight, start it up the next day, it boots up just fine like it never had any problem. I've never figured out why it does that, but it does it consistently. Leave it be and it's a great computer. Mess with it and it refuses to play.

Is your install CD a retail OS X, machine specific, or a CD-R? RAM does sound like the first bet. You might want to try trading out the hard drive too. I don't remember the jumper situation with the iMacs. If you've got another Mac, you could always just install the X on the hard drive in another Mac and put it back in the iMac and see what happens.

The battery's good? Might as well go down the list.

Also, the obvious. A bad CD drive? Disconnect it and see how things go. I've got a few iMac slot-loading drives sitting in boxes. I find iMac DV's that have been thrown out fairly frequently. They almost always have the bad PAV problem. I did have one that wouldn't boot until I switched out the CD drive, but figured out later that the drive was not defective, so that was a mystery situation. What will probably happen is, you'll fix your problem, use the iMac for three days, and then your PAV will spark out leaving you a dead machine. Those slot-loading iMacs should play a little fading chuckle after they do that and the last video image should be a fading thumbing of the nose.