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What Happens When the Battery Dies?

by analyzerbunny / February 25, 2008 4:50 PM PST


Does anyone know what happens to your computer when the internal battery dies?

I have an old Motorola Power PC which was running fine but then sat around unused for a few years.

When I went to start it up, it was dead. My hope was it might be something simple like the battery.

Anyone have any ideas?

Thank you to all in advance for your help.

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Replace the battery... they are cheap
by glenn30 / February 25, 2008 10:45 PM PST

Not sure exactly what will happen but my assumption is that it will work as before. You may need to reset the time.

Just try a new battery... cost should be no more than two or three bucks or whatever currency you have.

Hope this helps.


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Many boards are held in reset.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / February 25, 2008 10:46 PM PST

The battery is at maximum 5 bucks. If a system is not worth 5 bucks, time for it to go.

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The battery keeps CMOS settings from getting lost
by Steven Haninger / February 25, 2008 10:47 PM PST

Your CMOS stores hardware information as well as a few user settings. It also keeps a clock running so the operating system can sync to it when you turn on the PC. If the settings are lost due to a bad backup battery, your PC can get fairly lost...sort of an amnesia attack. It needs to rediscover hardware such as drives, memory, etc, and then it should try to boot. Tell us exactly what happens when you turn it on. If nothing happens at all, it's not the battery. If you encounter an error such as CMOS error or Setup error, it could be the result of a dead battery. Replacing it doesn't restore full functionality necessarily. It still needs to be configured. Most will have default or "fail safe" settings to get you started. You'd have to do any customizing afterwards.

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Not on a PPC system
by Jimmy Greystone / February 25, 2008 11:44 PM PST

If this is one of the Mac clones that were allowed for a brief time before Steve Jobs came back to Apple and killed it off, then you can't assume there's a CMOS or anything like what's on a PC. Since Motorola was the one cranking out most of the PowerPC chips in those days, it makes sense they'd take a stab at building their own Mac clone, or even just a PPC based system.

Something that's traditionally been one of the best things about the Mac platform, be it PowerPC or even the new x86 systems, is that they're fairly legacy free. They aren't saddled with a 16-bit real-mode BIOS program or any of the other legacy garbage that has been holding back PC development for probably about the last 15 years or more.

I can't say as I know enough about the hardware of the really old Mac systems. There is likely a battery, but it would probably only be used for keeping the time. VERY rarely have I ever seen a situation where you need to get into the Mac equivalent of the BIOS/CMOS. I'm not even sure there was any sort of setup program on Macs before they started using OpenFirmware.

This actually sounds like the sort of question best taken to a newsgroup, where the odds of finding someone with knowledge of relatively obscure systems like this will be much higher. Of course I could just be completely wrong and it's not a PowerPC (processor) based system. And if that's the case, just ignore me and everything I just said. Haven't had my morning coffee yet.

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Actually I know the Power Mac clone jobs.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / February 26, 2008 12:04 AM PST
In reply to: Not on a PPC system

But since we didn't have them long enough for the battery to expire I can't tell you what would happen. I paid one dollar for the battery last time so in my mind the answers are:

1. Buy the battery.
2. Get out your voltmeter and measure the battery.


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No Pulse....
by analyzerbunny / February 26, 2008 2:37 AM PST

Nothing happens when I turn it on.

There isn't so much as a sound. It's dead.

My hope was it was just the battery, something that would be inexpensive and easy to remedy, but from the posts I have received so far, it's not the battery.

So, what can one surmise is the most likely cause when a computer that was running fine one day and then 3 years later after sitting around unused is dead?

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Which model is it?
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / February 26, 2008 2:41 AM PST
In reply to: No Pulse....

There was an old model with the "AT STYLE" power supply which will power up (defined as power on, fans spinning, nothing more) and the newer ATX STYLE which can in some designs do absolutely nothing in dead battery situations.

I take it that you don't have access to a volt meter?


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And, the Model is...
by analyzerbunny / February 26, 2008 3:52 AM PST
In reply to: Which model is it?

The model is a StarMax 4000/160.

Voltage meter? Hmmm...Well, I do have one of those thingamajiggies that check to see if an electrical line has current running through it or not.

Is that what you are referring to?

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Lesson. Always post the model number.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / February 26, 2008 4:32 AM PST
In reply to: And, the Model is... writes "Tanzania-based computers will not boot with a dead PRAM battery. Try replacing the battery before attempting to replace the power supply on a "dead" StarMax."

So there you go. Is it worth a battery?
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Sorry About That...
by analyzerbunny / February 26, 2008 4:57 AM PST

Sorry, about not posting the model number, in this particular case, I didn't think it was necessary.

I assumed the answer to the question would be the same no matter which computer it was.

Thank you so much for you help.

I'll try replacing the battery to see if it can be "re-animated" back to life.

Now, I just need to find Igor. Happy

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I sometimes forget to press the forum note.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / February 26, 2008 5:04 AM PST
In reply to: Sorry About That...

It writes "If you're asking for technical help, please be sure to include all your system info, including operating system, model number," and more.

Could have saved a few posts.

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