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Troubleshooting a PowerBook 180c


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I have one "good" machine (that doesn't work) and some parts machines.  I thought maybe I would make things easier on myself by checking the Troubleshooting section of the Service Source book for the PowerBook.  And, basically, the steps for each symptom the different machines exhibit are check every board or cable, reseat every board or cable or replace each board, cable or the display.

 

Which basically does not help narrow things down at all.  That was going to be my process anyway; was kind of hoping for better targeting of effort.

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I've been on much the same  journey over the past year with a similar inventory. I started with the goal of making one very nice unit, but one of the "parts machines" I purchased for an LCD surprised me with its condition and I've been able to get 2 very nice, complete 180cs up and running, with a 3rd complete unit that has numerous failed / damaged components. I've encountered many of the common failure modes of this platform along the way (PRAM battery replacement, re-capping LCDs, rebuilding interconnect and LCD cables, etc.) What problem(s) are you having?

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My "good" machine doesn't start at all.  It had been working then, one day, nothing.  I initially marked it down as a bad hard drive, but I don't think that is right at all.  With a bad hard drive, I should get a question mark at startup.  Instead, nothing.  So, my guess is that something is bad with the internal power board.  I think the power adapter/plug itself is fine.  Pretty sure I started other units with it.

 

My first parts machine does not boot at all.  Not sure if I ever had it working; pretty sure I bought it as a parts machine and I don't remember what was described as wrong with it.  In any event, I tried starting it the other day.  Nothing except a bad electrical odor.  Guessing something very bad inside it.

 

Second parts machine starts up, I think it made a boot sound, screen lights up but just a gray static-y screen, sounds like it goes through the boot process, so I'm thinking there's a functional hard drive in there.  But nothing on the display.  Tried connecting an external monitor and same thing.  My guess here is something wrong with the video card.  Also, I think this is the unit that makes a crashing glass sound when you power it down, which is strange because I think that warning usually happens on startup if something is very wrong.

 

Third parts machine powers up, screen goes on, but nothing.  Sounds like it's running.  There is no hard drive so it cannot boot, but I would have expected the question mark and it never displays that.  But the display looks like you'd expect on a normal startup with the normal gray background.  This machine also lacks a trackball, but I don't think that would impact startup.

 

My goal is to get my "good" machine back in working order.  That was my personal first computer (used a shared family computer before that) so I'd like to keep it running if I can.  If possible, I'd like to get a second machine working.  At the same time, I don't want to waste a decent machine.  As it is, I could probably mix and match parts to get two working machines, but, if the fixes are fairly simple, it'd be better to have four working machines.  Plus, working on the parts machines and restoring them gives me practice before trying things on the one that's most important to me.

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Posted (edited)
22 hours ago, dcr said:

My "good" machine doesn't start at all.  It had been working then, one day, nothing.  I initially marked it down as a bad hard drive, but I don't think that is right at all.  With a bad hard drive, I should get a question mark at startup.  Instead, nothing.  So, my guess is that something is bad with the internal power board.  I think the power adapter/plug itself is fine.  Pretty sure I started other units with it.

 

I'd definitely double check the adapter. The 180c is a power-thirsty beast and needs a power supply that can provide a consistent, clean 3A.

 

Quote

My first parts machine does not boot at all.  Not sure if I ever had it working; pretty sure I bought it as a parts machine and I don't remember what was described as wrong with it.  In any event, I tried starting it the other day.  Nothing except a bad electrical odor.  Guessing something very bad inside it.

 

Acrid burned chip odor? Fishy leaked electrolyte odor? The later is inevitable if the screen hasn't been re-capped.

 

Quote

 

Second parts machine starts up, I think it made a boot sound, screen lights up but just a gray static-y screen, sounds like it goes through the boot process, so I'm thinking there's a functional hard drive in there.  But nothing on the display.  Tried connecting an external monitor and same thing.  My guess here is something wrong with the video card.  Also, I think this is the unit that makes a crashing glass sound when you power it down, which is strange because I think that warning usually happens on startup if something is very wrong.

 

Is anything visible on the screen, or is it completely blank? If the former, it may just need re-capping / voltage adjustment (POTs on the front of the LCD). If the later, it could be a cable issue. Unfortunately, the fragile ribbon cables are easily and often torn.

 

Quote

 

Third parts machine powers up, screen goes on, but nothing.  Sounds like it's running.  There is no hard drive so it cannot boot, but I would have expected the question mark and it never displays that.  But the display looks like you'd expect on a normal startup with the normal gray background.  This machine also lacks a trackball, but I don't think that would impact startup.

 

Same question as above. Could be a cable issue. My first 180c had a similar blank screen condition as a result of a torn cable. My fix outlined in the thread below, but hopefully not necessary in your case since you have several parts units :)
 

 

Also referenced in that thread is a rebuild of the interconnect cable. If that is loose or has dodgy conductors, you'll get all sorts of strange issues with the screen and keyboard.

 

Quote

 

My goal is to get my "good" machine back in working order.  That was my personal first computer (used a shared family computer before that) so I'd like to keep it running if I can.  If possible, I'd like to get a second machine working.  At the same time, I don't want to waste a decent machine.  As it is, I could probably mix and match parts to get two working machines, but, if the fixes are fairly simple, it'd be better to have four working machines.  Plus, working on the parts machines and restoring them gives me practice before trying things on the one that's most important to me.

 

It's a nostalgic pursuit for me too. I had a second-hand 170 in college, but always lusted after the 180c I couldn't then afford!

Edited by sutekh
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20 hours ago, sutekh said:

I'd definitely double check the adapter. The 180c is a power-thirsty beast and needs a power supply that can provide a consistent, clean 3A.

 

Now, did I buy a new multimeter or did I think about buying one after realizing I needed one?  Will have to check.

 

 

20 hours ago, sutekh said:

Acrid burned chip odor? Fishy leaked electrolyte odor? The later is inevitable if the screen hasn't been re-capped.

 

Doesn't smell fishy to me.  More like burned electronics.  No smoke or popping, so there's that.

 

 

20 hours ago, sutekh said:

Is anything visible on the screen, or is it completely blank? If the former, it may just need re-capping / voltage adjustment (POTs on the front of the LCD). If the later, it could be a cable issue. Unfortunately, the fragile ribbon cables are easily and often torn.

 

It's a gray screen.  No images visible, but it's not a blank black screen.

 

 

20 hours ago, sutekh said:

Same question as above. Could be a cable issue. My first 180c had a similar blank screen condition as a result of a torn cable. My fix outlined in the thread below, but hopefully not necessary in your case since you have several parts units :)

 

Third machine: Screen lights up, not blank black.  This one could be a loose board or cable because it's not entirely in the most assembled state.

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19 hours ago, dcr said:

It's a gray screen.  No images visible, but it's not a blank black screen.

 

Third machine: Screen lights up, not blank black.

 

Torn / disconnected cable manifests as a blank, white (could be described as light gray) screen. No lines, or anything else. Image (or lack thereof) doesn't change at all regardless of what the machine is doing.

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On 4/14/2021 at 11:46 PM, sutekh said:

 

Torn / disconnected cable manifests as a blank, white (could be described as light gray) screen. No lines, or anything else. Image (or lack thereof) doesn't change at all regardless of what the machine is doing.

 

The ribbon cable was disconnected.  Also made sure all the other connectors were snug and boards properly seated.  Then powered it up and I get an arrow followed by the blank disk with a question mark.  So, working as expected sans hard drive.

 

Downside is that I am pretty sure it only has the base 4MB of RAM.

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Posted (edited)
21 hours ago, dcr said:

Does anyone happen to have a Digi-Key or Mouser parts list for caps, batteries, anything else that needs replacing (and is available) for the 180c?

 

 

Caps:

 

 

PRAM battery:

 

 

Edited by sutekh
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Thanks!

 

If I'm correct, here are the Digi-Key part numbers for each:

 

(1) VL2330 Battery: P085-ND

(4) 47uf, 16v, p/n# UUL1C470MCL1GS: 493-9509-1-ND

(2) 10uf, 25v, p/n# UUL1E100MCL1GS493-9511-1-ND

(3) 10uf, 16v, p/n# UUL1C100MCL1GS493-9503-1-ND

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 4/14/2021 at 11:39 PM, dcr said:
On 4/14/2021 at 10:40 PM, sutekh said:

Is anything visible on the screen, or is it completely blank? If the former, it may just need re-capping / voltage adjustment (POTs on the front of the LCD). If the later, it could be a cable issue. Unfortunately, the fragile ribbon cables are easily and often torn.

 

It's a gray screen.  No images visible, but it's not a blank black screen.

 

Following up on this.  I booted it again yesterday.  The screen is dark, but there are bands.  Didn't count, but about 7-10 pixels high dark bordered by maybe one pixel in a lighter color.  Not perfectly straight.  Kind of like an old TV getting bad reception but bands not snowy.

 

Caps ordered.  Ordered enough to do two machines.

 

On 4/14/2021 at 10:40 PM, sutekh said:

I'd definitely double check the adapter. The 180c is a power-thirsty beast and needs a power supply that can provide a consistent, clean 3A.


I might have to look for a modern replacement.

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