Mid 2006 / model number A1181 / black or white case / 1.83 or 2.0 GHz Intel Core Duo processor.

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Must I erase the hard drive after installing a new logic board?

Tonight I made a second attempt to install a different logic board into a MacBook Core Duo that I've been working on. For background on this undertaking, see the details outlined in my question regarding MacBook Core Duo not working properly after internals were replaced.

I'm having the same issues as before, even with this second logic board, but I've noticed this time that the fan is working and the screen does indeed display that reassuring instantaneous white flash upon depressing the power button. So, I'm convinced the display is working properly.

However, even with all the internals operating correctly, when powered on, the sleep light immediately lights up and remains lit and when resetting the PMU, no tone is heard after the sleep light flickers, which is unusual.

What I'm wondering now, is if what I need to do is to completely erase the hard drive I'm booting with in order for the MacBook to boot up? Will this possibly solve the issue? I've tried booting from an install disc, but the optical drive won't read the disc and it ends up holding the disc hostage until I extract it by taking the drive apart. I'm thinking about attempting to boot from my MacBook Pro via target disk mode to avoid this issue, but I'm not sure how well that would work. Other than that, I've wondered if disconnecting and reconnecting the PRAM battery could help get me anywhere. I feel like I've tried everything and haven't gotten very far.

Thanks again for your help, reliable and wise iFixIt community.

Update 11/25/10

After switching out the RAM cards I'd been using throughout the whole process with an older set from the original computer, I was able to get the MacBook to fully boot the OS from the hard drive with all the data intact and problem free. For some reason however, when powered on, the "system can't locate a startup volume" question mark folder flashes once before going to the Apple logo and booting up. I've heard from people and Apple Geniuses that this means that something is wrong, but I'm unsure of what. It doesn't seem to be causing any software issues. The only problem I am having now though is that the keyboard and trackpad on the top case are completely unresponsive, even thought the power button works. Any suggestions on how to fix this issue would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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+ for a well stated and thorough question.

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Thanks, Majesty!

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It's not sounding like a hard drive problem. In fact, you shouldn't need a hard drive in the computer at all to do this level of testing -- I'd remove it and all the rest of the extraneous peripherals (battery, extra RAM) until the computer starts behaving. With the hard drive missing, your goal is to get to a white screen with a folder and a blinking question mark. Try booting in option mode (hold down the option key while booting up) and target mode...do either of those modes work? If so, that's a good sign. If not, I'd connect to an external display and see if you get anything...if you see something on the external display, you know the problem is in the screen hardware and/or related connections. But with the symptoms you describe, I doubt option or target mode or an external display will be working.

But if target mode does work, then yes, definitely try booting up to your other computer's drive, and boot that computer up from this computer's drive, again, if it's possible to do.

The PRAM battery thing has never been a solution that's worked for me. Especially since the board you have is new, you should definitely not have to be doing something like that.

You may want to try a different topcase. An Apple store may have one in the back that you can plug in briefly to see if that's the problem. I've seen bad topcases cause strange issues that can keep a machine in a hung state.

Sounds like the PMU is resetting (flickering light)...but with no tone, are you sure you've plugged the speakers back in? Can you hear a tone via headphones? If so, the problem is in the audio hardware (speakers, cabling, etc.), and not on the board.

Could be a RAM issue. I'd test known good RAM, one slot at a time leaving the other slot empty (in case you have a bad slot). I've definitely seen a few RAM issues causing a MacBook to behave like you're describing.

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I agree it does not sound like the hard drive. Excellent troubleshooting ideas.

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Hi John! I tried your first few suggestions and something worked. What I did was I took out the hard drive, swapped the RAM I was using with a different set, took out the battery, and plugged in the MagSafe adapter. Upon power up, I heard a startup tone and up came the white screen with a blinking "missing startup volume" folder. So I shut it down and reinserted the hard drive and the system boot up completely to the login screen with all the users listed. I'm thinking that the RAM cards I was using were bad even though they were newer. However, every time it starts up the question mark folder shows for a second before going to the Apple logo, which from what I've heard means something is not working right. Any ideas? I also don't have keyboard or trackpad response yet (but the power button works?) and the display has a godawful yellow hue to it that I'm trying to work out. I'll keep you posted as I delve further. Thanks a ton for all your troubleshooting suggestions!

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I think I resolved the yellow hue of the display by playing around with its color profile, but the trackpad and keyboard issue still remains...as does the quick flash of the question mark folder at startup.

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Good to hear you're making progress! RAM issues definitely often account for the problems you've described. The flashing question mark is not a big deal -- it happens when a hard drive that had the OS loaded on one computer is removed and put into another, so your logic board change would account for that. I don't have a super-technical explanation, but I believe it has to do with what node on the ATA bus the computer expects to find the drive on, i.e. it's not at the address it expects, so it has to think for a second as it tries the various addresses, and then it eventually finds it and moves on. Again, it's not a big deal, and most any computer that has been imaged with an imaging tool will do that (since the image was created on a different computer than the one the image is being dumped to), but if you want to correct it, you can always format the drive and re-load the OS.

I'm not sure what to say about the topcase...does the caps lock light glow when you hit it? Maybe try a different topcase?

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I'm not sure why that RAM wouldn't work, but it just wouldn't. At least I now know why the MacBook wasn't booting up all the way.

Thank you for making sense of that flashing question mark folder. It's all clear to me now and I'll eventually get to reformatting the hard drive and reinstalling the OS to clear it up.

No caps lock light. During my first attempt at replacing the logic board, I'm fairly certain that the caps lock key would light up when hit. That topcase is known to be functional. Doesn't explain why only the power button works though.

I might try the other topcase I have up at my college apartment, but it was the one that had all that coffee spilled on it, so the chances of it working might be slim. If not, I'll take it to the Apple Store and see if they can resolve the issue. I've had a friend who brought her malfunctioning, Craiglisted 2008 MacBook Pro there and the Geniuses replaced her entire topcase for free, regardless of the fact that the warranty had long expired. Thanks for everything!

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I had the same problem before after a logic board replacement. I'd tried resetting the PMU and PRAM but still no dice. I don't know why or how it worked, but I removed the battery, pressed the power button for 8 seconds, attached the charger cord and booted. The darned thing then booted normally. Shut it down, reattached the battery, and everything came up dandy.

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I wish this would work as easily as that, but I'm not holding my breath. One thing that a friend suggested I try is, since the hard drive/sleep light cable has been the same during all my trials, I should swap it out with another to see if that gets me anywhere. I plan to do that when I return to my college apartment after vacation this week. I'm also going to try booting from an install disc using via target disk mode and trying out a different hard drive to eliminate all possibilities. Thanks for your help though!

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erasing the hard drive shouldnt do anything. You could try to stick the start up disk in and reboot it from there.

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i would try booting it from your other computer and if that doesnt work then there is something else wrong with the mac.

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dude i just read what you posted in the first attempt and i would get a new hard drive cause i would guarantee you that that one is ruined because of the coffee.

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During my first attempt I tried that, but the optical drive wouldn't boot from the install disc and it ended up holding it hostage until I was able to extract it by taking the drive apart. I was thinking about attempting to boot from my MacBook Pro via target disk mode to avoid this issue, but I'm not sure how well that would work either. Other than that, I thought about disconnecting and reconnecting the PRAM battery to see if that could get me anywhere. Thanks though!

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You'd think so, but the hard drive was actually not touched by the coffee. Also, I've thrown it into an external enclosure to make sure all was well and I could access it and its contents no problem. I'm just thinking it might be a hard drive not getting along with a new, unrecognized logic board sort of issue.

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