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Pismo dead drive controller?

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I've had a PowerBook Pismo for the longest time. I got it for free from a guy who said it wouldn't start. I took it home, got it to turn on, and what followed was an obsession with...the G4? Yeah, it had a 450Mhz G4 processor in it, along with 768MB of RAM and a 40GB HDD. I loved this little machine to death, and I think I just did it literally to death.


Just this morning, I was using it to surf the web, and singing its praises to all my friends who were amazed that such an old computer could still actively be useful in today's world of internet (thank you, classilla)


But as I'm writing some papers, the last ones before finals...I hear this awful hard drive click, the screen goes dim for a second, and I thought I had accidentally unplugged the machine (its battery lasts for just 5 seconds). But no, the screen rebrightened, but I couldn't move the mouse, I couldn't press any keys, and worst of all, the hard drive didn't spin back up.


No, the hard drive didn't die. In fact, I transplanted it to my Titanium PowerBook G4, and am using the OS and software from that hard drive, and was able to recover one of my documents. But the problem...oh, the problem: the Pismo won't recognize a hard drive anymore.


I put in the Titanium's 160GB, a previous 20GB drive, even the original 10GB hard drive the guy gave me with the laptop. Nothing. The drives don't even spin up. I've taken the thing as far apart as I can without fully dismantling it. The drive ribbon cable looks perfect, no breaks, no tears, no spots...nothing. The processor card is okay, nothing messed up with it. The airport card, fine. The only thing that I noticed was that the drive cable was kind of loose when I pulled the processor card out. I pushed it back on after checking the connections, and replaced the processor, and started it up...nothing. Flashing folder with a questionmark/finder face on it. When I have the DVD drive in, it does a quick spin shortly after hitting the power button. I've tried absolutely evertyhing I can think of, but I cannot remember the PMU or PRAM reset for this laptop, but something tells me that won't matter.



Is there anything I can do about this other than trying to get a new logic board? I hate to lose the laptop, but I'd also hate to waste money on it when I've already got a few Powerbooks...its more than just a brick in the wall, but it is one nonetheless.


Any ideas?

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well the part about the screen dimming out and freezing before brightening up, is the gasp/scary part. Being an electronics tech, This is caused by a substantial short-term current surge. the system freeze really scares me because that meant that a voltage rail dipped below a certain point, and/or a glitch was induced in one of the power rails which sent the CPU into the weeds from a malformed instruction execution. Now the HDD doesnt spin, it could very well have been your +5v rail going bye bye, lost the MOSFET and the system drug down until a microfuse let go. Do you have a CDROM drive? Check to make sure it still ejects on its own. they both share the same +5v circuit. if the HDD dont spin, and the CDROM wont eject, then there you go.


its this result from a MOSFET or an IC chip deciding to go short during this time period.


Best thing to do is remove the HDD, and grab a meter to measure the rail voltage on the HDD connector of the powerbook. should be 5V. if its present, you lost the control IC for sure, or even bad PMU/PRAM settings. if its not, you lost the DC-DC converter circuit.

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It scared me to death when it happened...even worse, I was typing a study guide on it for exams (ain't college life exciting...)


Yes, I have a DVD-ROM in it, and it does eject. In fact, it boots...kind of. Did a bit more testing while I was waiting.


After I shut the laptop off, I immediately turned it back on to a grey screen (I had the volume down, so no chime). No flashing folder, no nothing. I unplugged and replugged the hard drive...this time I got a flashing folder. I pulled the processor card out and reseated the cable...no dice. It now will randomly switch between just a grey screen and a flashing folder. I pulled the hard drive out, then pulled out and put back in the DVD-ROM, and booted while holding Option. I could eject the CD tray using its button, and I refreshed the drive list and was able to get something loading. Got the white Apple screen and the loading swirl, but after it had done that awhile (and the drive sounded...sketchy), it just loaded to a blank screen of a weird shade of grey. NO other activity (I'm guessing it wasn't liking the fact there was no hard drive?)


After this, I had a file I needed to get off the drive, so I pulled apart my Titanium and loaded up OS 9 to perfection, got my file. Now I'm back to where I am now. No hard drive I have will work with it. No RAM configuration (and TBH, I only have a 512 stick and a 256 stick) changes anything, having the long dead PRAM and Main batteries out changes nothing, and I've even let this thing sit for about 3 hours and tried again.



Well, since I've let this thing basically full reset with no luck, Logic board is shot.


What are my options. I don't have the money to get a new motherboard just yet...at least, not with the prices and my income. That might change over the summer, but I'd hate to find out my processor had something to do with it. The G4 speed is definitely what makes it more useful to me, but if that's contributing to my board killing, I'll let it slide. I might could sell it off, but I'd want to keep the airport for my G4 tower (which doesn't have one yet). Mine even had a perfect display, no tinting, no darkness...And unlike alot of people I've noticed, I'm alone in a wasteland of PC bits. I could find something to fix almost any nice laptop I'd like, but Apple pieces? They're so rare they don't stay anywhere, and shipping is a major hassle.


I'm insanely mad I've just lost this thing. I was just using it as an example of reliability. Its been through more trials than any other laptop I own, but has never failed to serve...till I needed it most.

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i'd say grab your self a usb 3n1 data.ide/sata converter at microcetner, 11bucks and while you are there get your self a new Macbook Pro,


There is a point to where you start to cross the line of: The excitement of vintage computing vs but really i am too cheap to spend any money on something much more practical and useful!


this "scared me death comment", over a laptop, come on, get it together....

throw the pos in the trash and get something practical so you don't fail at college...

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I've got a good Asus G73, dual booting Windows 7 and Mac OS X Lion. And if I had the room on my desk, I'd be bringing a 3Ghz Core 2 Quad desktop with the same setup here. I'm at no shortage of money or practicality (except to drop 2k$ on a MacBook Pro with the specs I need to do what I want).


But I like my more 'vintage' computers. They run nicer, and still do all I need. I've used the iMac since I got it in 2010, the PowerMac and Pismo since I got them in early 2011, and the Titanium since I got it just earlier this year. Every single one has been used and still is being used. Currently in the process of getting what I need to make the 180 more useful (though I've already used it for typing notes as well). Main thing is that I like nicer keyboards, and the Pismo and 180 have better keyboards, and I dont' have room on my desk for a full sized one, else I'd grab one from home. I'm hoping I can fix that next semester, but oi, whats it to you?


Vintage computing has always been exciting and practical, and I just so happen to be able to get it for a cheaper price. I mean, my name is even a reference to a 2600 I got in 2006. Ever since that, I've been a very older styled person.


And honestly, 'get it together'? I had some really important stuff on that computer, not just study guides, papers, and geeky vintageness. I had a lot of my music library, camera back ups, some video stuff that I directly captured. I'm glad I'm able to retrieve that. For a moment I didn't think I could. That's quite frightening, honestly. If I had the space, I'd just have all my hard drives here, my desktops here, and rely on one notebook that just gets backed up constantly as not to lose anything. I don't, so I spread jobs and stuff across different computers that I happen to have with me.

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I'm sorry about your loss! The Pismo is a really neat machine, probably the best of the G3s from a modern standpoint. It's old enough to be vintage, yet still new enough to do most modern tasks (especially when heavily upgraded, which is possible because of its many facets of expandability).


If you like, I could find you a spare logic board I have laying around. I don't need or use it, and I would like it to be put to good use somewhere by someone.


Anyway, whatever method you choose for your repairs, I wish you good luck!



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I can help you with testing the controller.


I posed a question a while back about the CPU Daughtercard and the chipset. the CPU module contains the chipset and from what I determined the IDE controller should be on the daughtercard, so swapping in another G3/G4 module should verify if it's the controller or the board.



I have my pismo and am willing to help you out with testing the card. if the controller is indeed dead, the HDD in my pismo should not boot. The board as I can tell, except for the cardbus controller is just pin-outs from the ZIF socket the card plugs into. Almost no logic except the cardbus is on the logic board.

Also, for testing 5v, check USB/FW, those both probably get the 5v from the same place. So if no power for USB, that could be the DC-DC board. In that case, I wish you luck finding one of those.


Like I said, the chipset and IDE controller (if on the daughterboard like I speculate) should be tied to the CPU. swap that and your drive works, your G4 CPU is toast. If not and the HDD doesn't spin, the 5v rail is gone.


I can offer my testing (and possibly collateral for insurance) with my pismo which is in perfect condition. With that I can rule that out. Otherwise, if you want to provide collateral to me, I am offering to ship my 500Mhz G3 module to you to test (with known working RAM) to check on your board. My pismo is sitting around so I don't mind offering to help troubleshoot.

I assume you are in the USA right? I am right in the middle (Nebraska) and have done several deals on the forum.

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Thanks for the responses, guys.


I'd hate it if my G4 is dead. But after looking at some pictures of the logic board online, it seems that the only place the controller could be IS on the daughtercard...darn.


I'm smack dab in the middle of exams, so doing anything isn't feasable for a few days. However, I am more inclined to try out a new daughtercard before going to logic boards. They're easier to ship around, so maybe I can get one of those faster.


The more I think about it, I don't think having a G3 should make a difference. Since I got my Titanium I don't do video work on it anymore, and for notes and internet, a G3 should suffice. I'd glady accept the help, but I would hate to wreck someone else's computer. I found a G3 400Mhz Pismo board with new heatsink for just a few bucks on ebay. I'll try and get that in a few days. If it doesn't turn out, then I'd be happy to get this to any of ou, if you'd like it.


At least I know where I need to go, now.

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I don't think the HD controller would be on the daughter board. The service manuals says to take these steps, in order, if the hard drive doesn't spin:


1. Make sure power adapter is connected.

2. Disconnect external devices.

3. Check hard drive connection.

4. Replace hard drive cable. Note: Pull up evenly on the cable to avoid bending pins.

5. Replace hard drive.

6. Replace I/O logic board.


It's a pretty safe bet that it's the logic board and your awesome G4 upgrade is okay.

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Found a harddrive cage and ribbon on ebay for just 10$.


My only wonder is how could that explain the random failure that happened. I was typing, no background process active, had been using it for awhile, then the screen dims, and the hard drive stops spinning...I think one of the fans was on, and making some noise...


But I got my iPod 2nd Gen hooked up with firewire, and its charging after having a nearly dead battery...that's a good sign, yeah? And the fact that I can boot off the CD means that the drive controller (wherever it is) is probably not dead...Hmm. Another random side effect is that the screen will not even cut on when a hard drive is connected to the cable. Chime, but no display. On rare occasions it'll show the flashing folder, but meh.


I can do one more bit of testing, and that is firewire booting. In fact, I can do that right now, got the titanium holding the pismo hard drive...Wow (with all these PPC macs I have, first time I've done firewire booting), and it works perfectly. VERY slow in comparison, but hey, the machine lives. I even popped in Dark Side of the Moon and could listen to the tunes. I'm feeling ALOT better now, though.


I guess that means I'm going for the ribbon. (and is there any way to download one of those service manuals?)



One last random question: the G4 upgrade. Is there any way to tell what type it is, or do stuff with cache enablers? Or do I not even need to mess with that. I was pretty sure I saw an enabler on the original hard drive, but something was up with the system software, and it kept freezing all over the place. Me, being an OS 9 noob at the time, didn't back up ANYTHING. So I cant' remember what type of accelerator or anything it was. If I don't need to worry about it, I won't. But I've always been curious if there's some sort of boost I can install. I haven't tried tiger since I got more memory, but when I did previously, it was awfully slow, even compared to my 600Mhz G3. :shrug:

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Sorry for the double post...


The cable came in (with a new hard drive 'holder'), and it looks in much better shape than the original one. Problem is that it didn't fix the problem.


Next step is...what?


I've got eyes on rather decent prices for the:

- DC in board

- Voltage regulator/PMU card

- A 400mhz G3 CPU card (which is what my Pismo should have in it)


- a 400mhz model logic board


When I bought the drive cable, the guy there mentioned trying to original CPU card (I don't have it). Techknight was talking that it can be a power problem, maybe DC input, or maybe the power board. I have noticed as of recently that sometimes the battery won't do a thing. It won't even say its charging a dead battery, it'll just say there isn't one there, even after pulling it out and putting it back in. And, I just saw a good picture of all sides of the logic board, and on the bottom, I think I see a Lucent chip. I think they also did drive controller chips, so...its the logic board if its the drive controller.


I've got the money to get at least the logic board and one other. 40$ board, 13$ cpu, 8$ pmu, 22$ dc-in. Any suggestions as to what to try next?


(I'm also about to pull this thing completely apart to clean it up, so putting a logic board in would be easy then.

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I have thought all along that it is the logic board. I'm on Pismo logic board #3 myself. I have used it on a daily basis since 2002. It just keeps going and going with the occasional repair.


Consider looking for a "for parts" complete or nearly complete Pismo laptop, you might score a great deal. This is a great source now and in the future from which to harvest parts as you need them. I have accumulated 2 spare Pismo LCDs, various boards, and a bunch of case plastics from these sorts of things. I don't have any spare logic boards that work though!


From your description, my guesses are as follows:


85% chance logic board

10% power supply board

5% something else

0% chance processor board (Verrrrrry unlikely)


From what I understand, 400 and 500 MHz logic boards are identical - either will work. But Lombard boards WILL NOT work, not even close. You can tell by looking at the connector where the processor board connects. Pismos have the big beige rectangle and Lombards have 2 long skinny connectors.

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I have honestly not loved a laptop more than this Pismo. Simply looking at it just gets me nostalgic. Ever since I first used a random Mac in 2001 or so (running OS 8, at school, for some edutainment game), I've been attracted to them. 11 years later, I've got 6 genuine Macs (one Intel) and a Hackintosh, as well as a few PCs. I love em all, even my PCs, but there's something about this Pismo...


Its the perfect weight, it still has style, its expandable like nothing else, accessible like nothing else, high quality, great design, and especially with my G4 in it, amazingly fast and usable. Hopefully, when it starts booting again, I'm going to load Tiger on it. Get a new battery, and use it more. It's totally worth that. My other computers just don't friggin compare. This is how I wish all my laptops would be like.



But, yes. I'll go ahead and grab a logic board then. Then I'll start disassembling.

I've looked on ebay for a good 'parts' Pismo, but they all seem to be working and wanting decent money for 'em. IDK, if I ever get this working again, that will be a future plan.

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I would use my pismo more, but it needs more memory, and my needs are more intel architecture oriented. (I have to use Windows XP at work so I use virtualbox.) The Pismo just simply would not be able to keep up with me, like it did in 2006 when I got my first one. I used the heck out of that machine. Actually I only had 2 pismos, the second one was a parts machine! The first one is still hiding i hope at my friends computer shop with good memory and I cant find it!


Today, unfortunately I need more out of a computer than when I was in high school. All I was doing then was SSH, word processing web surfing and watching the occasional movie file and some youtube. Now I run a couple virtual machines while using photoshop and browsing with chrome.


But the Pismo still makes a great web surfer and note taker with its two batteries and airport!


The only laptop I loved ALMOST as much was my Dell Latitude C610 Those are also awesome machines, so versatile, so very easy to work on and parts are so easy to get! Not to mention durable and run great with two batteries! Not to mention that the PIII's in those machines are the newer models. They went up to 1.2GHz, mine was a 1GHz and it even ran Windows 7 Beta great!

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I have always liked the Latitude series, never had one myself. To think, I found this Pismo, a dead iBook, and a dead 12" PowerBook G4 for FREE in a flea market, yet they wanted 150$ for a Pentium II desktop. No.


I scavenged the iBook for RAM and the screen. The RAM went into the Pismo (which originally had 320), and the screen went into the PowerBook G4, which made it work again. Used that for awhile, then sold it back to the guy I took it from (for a deal, he's a cool guy for letting me walk away with that much stuff in the first place :lol: )


So I ended up with my Pismo. At first disregarded it, then realized it had a G4, and did small video work with it using iMovie. Worked fine. I moved all that to my 1Ghz Titanium when I got it, but then I hit college and video work ceased. *sadness* Summer is here, so I'm definitely going to be messing with it some.


Now, back to the subject at hand. I just did a full disassembly of this laptop, and it is in all the bits and pieces over my desktop. After looking at the board (TINY thing, thought it was much bigger, but, it honestly couldn't be to fit the rest of the stuff, y'kno?),the large Lucent chip on the bottom is the drive controller. It doesn't look damaged, but what can I tell, its a sealed package. Also, it appears that two of the screw points on the right of the pismo have broken off. They got the little brass bits that stick in the plastic...the plastic surrounding them has either split or shattered. if I line them up right, can I superglue or JB Weld em back to their spots so I can have a good anchoring there?


Well, I've got about a week to wait for this board to get here...I'll just wait till that happens.

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Well what do you know!

One extremely dodgy logic board and about 2 hours worth of disassembly/reassembly, I've got the Mac back! Awesome. Thanks to all you guys for helping out with this.


I will say though, that last time I checked, the thing said 450Mhz. After looking all over for 450 G4 upgrades for Pismo, I found like...none.


Now System profiler says 500Mhz... :shrug: ???


Either way, it works, and I'm very glad.

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