Black Box

The Low-End Mac Portable Gaming Page


So you didt it. You left your powerbook in a sleep mode for more than a week (fresh battery) or just more than one night (dying battery) and now your machine does not want to start up. It does not react on the 'power' button, it does not even react on the 'reset' button. In some machines the sleep LED is light up, but it blinks in an abnormal way ('power' and 'reset' affect the way it blinks, but give no other apparent action).

So what you gonna do now? Relax and don't panic. If your trouble fits to the above description, it's just a typical case of the Powerbook Green Light Coma. I've run up on it only once, in a hotel in Slovakia, when I wanted to toy a little with my Black Box, traveling with me and my family in a car trunk. I left her in 'sleep' mode, but I took it out few days later in 'coma' mode. Here's the cure:

1. Find a reliable power source. This is vital. Therapy will fail miserably if you will use an AC outlet that is a little bit too AC and does not provide constant voltage. That's what happened to me in Slovakia - in this mountain hotel the power outlet in my room was too unstable - not a big deal with a table lamp, but bad for a computer. I succeeded with powerbook reanimation using AC outlet in restaurant.

2. Remove the dead battery.

3. Plug in the AC power supply. Remember it has to be connected into a really good AC outlet!

4. Locate the 'reset' switch  (some Mac users indeed have no idea where is it, because they never needed it). In powerbook 1400, it's a small, nail-sized button under a trapdoor on the backside of the machine, between the ADB and LocalTalk connectors. Some old powerbooks, namely the Blackbird (520 and 540)  series does not have a separate 'reset' and their users must press some cryptic keyboard shortcuts they will find somewhere else on the Web.

5. Now - with the battery out and power supply in - press the 'reset' and keep it depressed for 30 seconds. Normally the users manual suggests 20 seconds, but make it more to be on safe side. What you're doing now is called 'resetting the power manager', if you want to know.

6. You should hear some weird grunt from your powerbook - it's a sign of coming back to life. The 'sleep' LED should be gone by now. Just say your prayer and press on - hopefully you will soon see the 'happy Mac' welcome screen. Now you can insert back the battery, it will be charged normally. But if this happened just overnight, this means your battery holds not enough charge and you will soon need to purchase a new one.

If you want to know, what happened and what was all this voodoo stuff for, here's a brief explanation. Your powerbook contains a circuit called 'power manager'. It checks the voltage on batteries and the presence or absence of power supply and acts accordingly. If a battery runs below critical voltage, power manager might get fooled and falls into 'Green Light Coma'. You need to return it to reality, by providing reliable power source and removing the confusing battery.

If  this method failed, you might be in some deeper crap than I thought and I ever was and you need assistance of someone smarter than me. Hopefully it did not.

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