MacBooks forum

Question

Powerbook ejecting all disks

by waltl / October 11, 2011 6:52 AM PDT

My Powerbook G4 17" is suddenly ejecting all disks. I've tried cleaning, Disk Utilty, trashing preferences, and various exotic suggestions I found on the internet.
It takes disks in, spins for awhile and then ejects them.
I have been able to"force" it to accept some Audio CDs by positioning the drive upside down.
I am thinking that the firmware may be faulty?
I looked all over to find firmware for my drive UJ-845E( mATSHITA) no luck.
Any ideas? Thanks.

the drive is a UJ845E and the firmware is DMP2

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All Answers

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Answer
I'm thinking that the drive is faulty
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / October 11, 2011 8:23 AM PDT

They do go bad and yours is not exactly new.

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That's possible
by waltl / October 11, 2011 10:28 AM PDT

Dear Mr. Fixit,
Yes, that's possible. I'd like to eliminate all software solutions first. I use my Mac for work and having it in the shop for a week would be a big problem. It did accept an audio CD and the cleaning CD with a little coaxing.
It played the audio CD so it is not completely dead. I know just enough about computers to be dangerous. Could it be corrupt firmware? Is it possible to get another copy and reinstall it? I have scoured the internet and it is a common problem with this superdrive, I have tried some of the recommended solutions(some pretty crazy) to no avail. Usually the drives fail preceded by degraded performance. This was not the case with mine. It may be dead ,but I am not quite ready to give up.

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Take a look at these,
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / October 11, 2011 10:19 PM PDT
In reply to: That's possible
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Bingo! Give the man a kupe doll!
by Jimmy Greystone / October 11, 2011 12:34 PM PDT

Got it in one. The drive's bad, but there's a real simple test you can perform that will rule out all software issues.

Reboot the unit, hold down the option key. When you get to the open firmware boot selector, insert a disc. Make sure it's a disc other computers can read so you know it's good. If the drive still spits the disc out, then the drive is bad. Since the OS hasn't even loaded at this point, we can rule out any software related issues.

I wouldn't wait too long. Virtually all PPC units are on Apple's vintage list, so that means the clock's ticking before you won't be able to get any parts short of gray markets like ebay and craigslist. In such cases, the drive is probably already on its last legs when you get it. If you have an actual repair shop put in a drive, from Apple, it will likely be a used drive, but I'd put your odds much higher that the drive will last you a good couple of years more.

I also wouldn't recommend attempting this particular repair yourself. It involves removing the top case, and on the PBG4s there's two kind of nasty gotchas. The first is there's a very fragile connector on the logic board. There's a plastic lock lever that is very easily broken or lost, and then your top case cable won't stay in the connector, which is bad. There's no way to fix that short of a whole new logic board. The second gotcha is that unless you know what you're doing, you're going to bend up the bottom case pretty bad trying to get the top case off. There's a trick to it, but that trick makes it more likely you'll damage the connector I was talking about a minute ago unless you know what you're doing. I've replaced one or two logic boards on these units because someone went all cowboy trying to get the thing open. It's not a cheap proposition either. Probably around $800US, for the board, cost. It's worth the money to get this done by a professional. If they bend your bottom case up, make them replace it on their dime, same with the logic board if they damage it. I also seem to recall the flex cable for the optical drive on these units as being particularly annoying. The plastic has a nasty habit of separating from the electronic bits when you try and pull it up from the logic board. Let that all be someone else's problem to worry about.

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