please help G4 imac issue... - ehMac.ca
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Old Jul 14th, 2020, 09:22 PM   #1
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please help G4 imac issue...

so i recently dug out my old G4 imac (lampshade model) to mess around on it and do some updates to the ram and hdd. noticed upon booting up that i have some pixels out across the screen, but nothing majorly cutting off the screen...

but then i also noticed i have the flashing folder and it wasn't booting up to the OS. thought that was strange as i had tiger installed and was running fine when i last used it.... but i'm upgrading the hdd to a 500gb from the 80gb that was originally in it. so wasn't worried about the folder issue as i have to reinstall the OS anyway.

but i decided to do a further test of things and found the disc drive is not ejecting the tray no matter what i tried. i shut down (holding the power button till it turned off) and restarted it a few times thinking something was glitched or stuck and would eventually work itself out and no luck.

so from what i can access, i have power as it boots to the folder screen... my USB ports work as i can use the keyboard and get into terminal, my usb mouse works as i can see the cursor moving around on the screen. so it doesn't look like anything else has a problem.

i'm not sure if i can hear the hdd spin up so i think it might be an issue with the power to the hdd and disc drive. i changed the ribbon that goes from the disc drive to the disc drive to the motherboard and that didn't seem to work.... so would it be a bad power connection ? if so i guess it would be impossible to install an OS doing the USB stick trick ?

i haven't tried installing from an external drive yet as i only just thought about that method... i'm not concerned about the disc drive as once i get the OS back up and running i won't be using it as i have a massive external drive i will be backing up to and reading from. my main concern is just getting the OS on the new drive and back up and running.

are there any people on here that have had this same issue and was able to find the solution or install the OS at least ?

thanks in advance for any help you can give !
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Old Jul 15th, 2020, 12:01 AM   #2
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ok, so i was able to get the install disc (10.4) to boot and start the install... i got as far as the "choose the destination to install to" portion and it won't show the hdd at all. i did the boot diagnostic section and it shows one of the so-dimm ram having an error and failing during boot.

would that cause the system to not boot enough that it wouldn't see the hdd or the disc drive ? i think i will try and replace that ram and see what happens.. other than that i can actually get the screen to show the installation stuff... so my guess is the ram is not letting it complete the boot up to see the other stuff.
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Old Jul 15th, 2020, 04:55 PM   #3
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Sigh. I love the iMac G4. Everything about it just frakkin' cool. That arm! My only regret is in not finding the 20" model... we just have the low-end 15" screen.

Last time I had mine out, it worked... I had tried to install Linux, but it's a pain in the butt since that model doesn't like to boot from a USB installer, IIRC.

You mentioned the disc tray wasn't ejecting - remember that you can reboot the system by force (Five second hold on power button; release; press once to startup, and then hold down the mouse until tray opens).

There are lots of resources online regarding the G4, including hacks and project builds. Some folks have turned them into lamps, installed PC guts (alternate), etc. One of the larger challenges is driving the display, since it doesn't use a standard connector to the motherboard. I had hoped to tackle a project to stuff the guts of a MacMini or something in there, but it's one of those things I never got around to.

You should be able to find some PC-133 SDRAM (700mhz and 800mhz models) or PC2100U (1Ghz or 1.25Ghz models) to see if the system will respond with good memory. It tops out at 1 gig of memory (512mb in the user-accessible slot, another in the "technician-install" slot, which requires disassembly - and that's a whole kettle of fish, involving very exact reapplication of thermal paste!). CanadaRam has RAM modules for this model.

Here's the place to go for all the specs: EveryMac.com / iMacG4
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Old Jul 15th, 2020, 05:09 PM   #4
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Whoa - this is interesting. A few years old... buddy installed an Intel i5 and got it running Sierra (could possibly go higher?).

A fair amount of work, but the instructable does include info on rewiring the video cable to use HDMI. Cool!
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Old Jul 15th, 2020, 08:53 PM   #5
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Bad memory can definitely cause problems if there is very little left to boot the system. When you access the utilities can you see how much ram is actually working? Tiger requires at least 256 MB to function.

Did you get the CD drive to open to insert the OS Installation disc? The reason I ask is that Power Macs don't normally boot from USB. They were designed to boot from Firewire. There is an open firmware hack to allow you to boot from an external USB device, but that's not an ideal solution if you need to do this often. Keep this in mind if you plan on booting externally, since firewire is the easiest for these old puppies. Firewire isn't so common anymore though.

If the internal HD seems to be toast, then make sure to disconnect the cables to it since the system can hang trying to get it to run if it's dead or dying.
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Old Jul 15th, 2020, 09:07 PM   #6
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well... found out the board was bad. we traced the connections and even though the unit was getting power the ribbon connection wasn't getting any readings.... since it's part of the logic board it's basically only a parts machine now. when we took it apart i didn't notice anything that needed thermal paste... maybe that's on the newer models ? it's fairly easy to get into the other ram just unscrew the bottom and then pull down and it's right there. but i ended up just stripping it for the parts i can reuse when i get another one.

but thanks for the comments and suggestions.
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Old Jul 15th, 2020, 10:19 PM   #7
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Another idea for the future is to use Target mode to a known good machine
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