Green cable light, batteries won't charge.

I have a 15" AL PowerBook G4 (1.67Ghz) with two Apple batteries. Both batteries are 3-4 years old old but worked up til a couple months ago.

What happens now:

  • Power cable light stays green whichever battery is installed
  • Menu bar battery icon shows power plugged in, 0% charge for both batteries
  • If I shutdown, unplug power, plug it back in, and startup I get a "You're computer's clock is set to a date before March 24 2001, etc." warning dialog
  • Sometimes when I restart or swap batteries the power cable will go orange for a few seconds but the Menu Bar icon never moves off 0% and the cable always goes green after a few seconds

Battery #1

  • Charge remaining (mAh): 0
  • Charging: No
  • Full charge capacity (mAh): 1973
  • Health Information:
  • Cycle count: 334
  • Condition: Good
  • Battery Installed: Yes
  • Amperage (mA): 0
  • Voltage (mV): 4133

Battery #2

  • Charge Information:
  • Charge remaining (mAh): 0
  • Charging: No
  • Full charge capacity (mAh): 943
  • Health Information:
  • Cycle count: 0
  • Condition: Good
  • Battery Installed: Yes
  • Amperage (mA): 0
  • Voltage (mV): 7529

What I've tried:

  1. Resetting PMU
  2. Lots of battery swapping and cable jiggling

Suggestions? I have to open the computer to replace a noisy fan anyway so replacing stuff inside is not a problem.

Does the clock issue represent a PRAM battery failure? Could that cause the main battery to not charge? Maybe the PMU reset doesn't work without a functional PRAM battery?

Answered! View the answer I have this problem too

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+1. Great question, thanks for all the detail and telling us what you've already tried.

by Kyle Wiens

Minor update: I pulled the PRAM battery from the computer and unwrapped it to find a small circuit board with a smaller mini-battery attached. That battery was listed as 3.7V and I tested it and found 3.95V. So at least the mini-battery is not dead. I also tested the 3-prong plug coming off the circuit board/battery package and got 0V, but I have no idea if that's expected or not... I'm gonna try to find a known-good donor battery to plug in over the next few days and see what happens.

by axel

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8 Answers

Chosen Solution

Went to the Apple store and with a Genius' help confirmed that the only problem seems to be the main battery. We plugged in another known-good PowerBook battery and it charged fine.

Now to choose which of the variety of off-brand batteries to buy...

Thanks everyone!

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Most Helpful Answer

Pram battery for your PowerBook: not cheap

http://www.PowerBookmedic.com/xcart1/pro...

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Well lemerise is a better tech than I am. up vote I don't know how many times i've been into this machine and never spotted the battery. I've never see one bad. But there's got to be a better price.

by mayer

Ebay would be a good place but how can be sure that the battery still has life in it ? Better buy it new.

by lemerise

I'll check with my wholesaler, Battery Biz. I got a call from www.hienergybatteries.com last week and their prices were 40% less but that kinda scared me. Anyone have experience with them?

by mayer

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Any way to borrow a battery from a friend to test if it charges? Sounds like both of yours are dead. The older machines used to reset the clock to Steve Jobs birthday in 1956, August I think, when the PRAM battery went out. I'm not aware of a replaceable cmos battery in the PowerBooks. Download Coconut battery to test 'um here: http://www.coconut-flavour.com/coconutba...

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They also used to reset 1911. Anybody know what that was.

by mayer

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The board that has the USB port on the right side has the battery. Look at the following site and see if they have the PowerBook G4 Backup Battery you need. Toward bottom of page:

http://www.galaxyhp.com/Power/PB_acbats....

Good luck.

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FYI: Coconut Battery appears to just show the same info that's in System Profiler for the main battery. No new info there.

I don't have access to a test battery, though I guess I could take it to the Apple store and see if they can plug one in for me. Judging by the specs for Battery #1 it seems like that one could/should still be ok...

Does anyone know what the PRAM battery voltage should be? I can at least open the computer and test it before shelling out $50-$75 for a new one (ouch!)

Here's what the battery is supposed to look like:

http://s2.guide-images.ifixit.com/igi/lY...

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Hi.

I am not sure, but in the meantime, after two occurrences of dead main batteries it seams to me that this is a construction failure of Apple itself. Both batteries powered the G4 up for 2-4 hrs. Both batteries died after I didn't use the PowerBook for a couple of weeks due holidays or christmas and newyears time. Before I left home the battery wasnt charged, the PowerBook was in standby due to lack of battery power, waiting for new charge. After I returned home, the batteries were dead and couldn't be charged anymore. The first battery was around two years old but in good condition, the other was kind of brand new, 4 months old, original apple store article.

Summary: It seams to me, that one should not leave the MacBook without charged batteries for a longer time.

Greets, Michael, Germany

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The 4 month old battery may be under warranty.

by mayer

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The PRAM backup battery in the PowerBook G4 is a Panasonic CGL-3032 3.6v lithium-ion cell. Unlike most desktop Mac backup batteries, it is a RECHARGEABLE cell. That's one reason it's more expensive than your typical little LiI battery. Since it's rechargeable, you can't simply measure the cell voltage to determine if the battery is worn out.

The little PCB assembly contains the charge control circuitry.

The "3032" nomenclature refers to the size: 30 mm in diameter by 3.2 mm thick.

A similar cell is available from other manufacturers, typically in China. Look for LIR-3032.

Specs for the Panasonic CGL-3032

Specs for LIR-3032

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I'm surprised no one has mentioned the simplest diagnostic test: looking at the battery screen icon to verify that the charger is indeed charging.

The icon does 2 things. It displays the amount of power remaining and indicates that the laptop is in charge mode both for the main power source & the PRAM battery.

The green-to-amber light on the charging plug can be deceptive. It will go to steady amber, indicating the battery needs charging. But if you have a loose or broken connection, the battery charger may be doing nothing at all.

I found this out when trying to recharge my Powerbook after a long period of disuse. I relied solely on the amber light, and 24 hrs. later, concluded the battery was dead/no longer accepting a charge.

Bought an aftermarket battery on eBay, and made the same error. Then I noticed the battery icon was not showing the charger was plugged in.

A couple twists later to get a better connection, both the original & PRAM battery came back to life and my Powerbook is now working fine.

It's also not wise to plug the charger into an desktop APC. W/O a blocking diode, the APC's lead acid battery is in continuous trickle charge mode, and can literally suck the Powerbook's battery dry.

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axel will be eternally grateful.

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