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Pismo help

2589 Views 18 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  HowEver
Hey all,

Let me first give you the backstory on this Pismo, which will all lead up to the problem at hand.

This Pismo, as listed on the bottom of the machine, is a Pismo Powerbook 400mhz/1MB Cache/64 MB/ 6GB HD/8 MB Video/DVD machine. Back in 2002, the user of the machine at the time cracked the LCD screen on the machine (I believe he dropped it on a tile floor), so he passed it over to me. Using an external monitor, I had the ability to get back into the computer, and I used it for an extended period with its Mac OS 9. It was fun and all, but eventually I got my hands on a copy of OS X and decided I wanted to perform the upgrade. This was around the year 2003, by the way. Anyways, from my memory, I remember that I had installed the OS X on the machine, and then it went to the please reboot screen and then.... no video on the external monitor. The same went for the S-Video. With not being able to see what is on the internal screen, I knew I was in trouble. Now for whatever reason at the time, I just put the machine aside and never touched it. Now, I just came across the machine 4 years later and I would love to get this old wonder operational again, at least to run OS X via an external monitor, if not to get the LCD repaired as well (something we should have probably done years ago).

So where do I begin? The machine sitll powers up (have the old clam shell charger) and I was able ot fully charge the battery today, but I still have the issue of not being able to see whats on the screen. What about repair shops, is there anywhere that still likes to work on these suckers (perferibly up in Toronto or Buffalo) and not want to charge an arm and a leg (I had one store in Markham want $300 to put a new LCD screen in, and on top of which, who knows if my OS X install even was successful)? I am not shy to take the machine apart and do it myself, but would need some pretty solid instructions and being a student, I really want to try to limit my costs on this machine (if I can get Word operational for the upcoming semester, I would be in heaven as I wouldnt need to spend at least $400 on a machine).

Thanks a lot!!! Any help getting this old sucker working, via external monitor or getitng the entire LCD unit replaced would be appreciated...

P.S. I also have an old hand-me-down IBM Thinpad T-20 machine, and it has a CRC error (basically a unrepairable motherboard error). The LCD on the machine works fine. Would it be possible to take the LCD off of the Thinkpad and just connect the cable straight int o the Pismo, or is it a different type of connector?

P.P.S. If this is in the wrong forum (perhaps I should have posted in Mac & iPod Help & Troubleshooting, please just let me know and move it over there)
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Here's a site I've purchased parts from before. They used to be called ( but with Apple adding a lot of "i" to their products they changed their name. I like this store because they send along instructions with the products. I will warn you... it is a very difficult installation to change the screen n if you dont have a steady hand n gentle hands I wouldn't try it by yourself!

oh also... it's an american company from Cali... you may get duties at the border... I hate those things!
Is it worth going straight to the G3 Pismo Display 14.1" LCD, or should I try to cheap out and go with the G3 Pismo LCD Only? I am looking for the easiest way to do this...

Or maybe someone just has a spare screen that they would sell in Toronto? Let me know...
To be completely honest I've heard a lot of horror stories about installing the LCD in the display casing. I'd recommend going with the LCD Display unit. It may already be a bit of a stress just to install that unit properly. But dont be discouraged... has step by step instructions on how to do it. I'm glad to see someone still uses the Pismo ... I've upgraded mine to G4 so that opened up world's more applications that I can use. Good for another 10yrs :p

Oh also if your curious go to and read the instructions for installing LCD alone... better yet here! I must mention they do NOT give instructions on how to install the LCD into the Casing unit if you buy the LCD display alone.
(display removal)
(final step to remove display)
Also check out I found one that's cheeper than if you'd buy it from that store but no warranties. Do a more thorough search n don't buy from low-feedback sellers!
If you can't "see" what's on the external monitor, there is also the possibility that the daughterboard/processorcard is toast. You also may have to consider a new(er) battery since this one may charge up but you have no way to know how long it will run the computer once it's running. That said, I'm all about fixing up old computers. Best of luck.
Some good news/bad news on this. Using hte apple/command - v on boot, I was able to get the computer to boot into some 'special mode', not sure what it is called off hand. Anyways, I was able to see about 1/8th of the top left corner of the machine, and could see it spinning off worths (Darwin was one of the words). Not sure if that means anything for the daughterboard/processorcard.
Yea... certain days, I will wish that I had kept my Pismo. Was sooo classic. My 1st lap. LOL. But try not to get caught in a repair loop. It can get quite pricey. Considering the rarety of some of the parts, and the worth of the unit as well. With that said, good look dude.

In all honesty, the best would be to put no money in it and at least get it working via the external port, but I have NO IDEA how I would get it going. I would love to find someone who has an old Pismo (especially in the GTA) or just a spare LCD that they would part with either for free or a little bit of $... being a student, it would be a nice machine to have going, especially if I can do it for cheap...
I just read the first post again. 64MB RAM won't run much of anything. That could be it. Sent a pm.
On a Pismo you need at least 512 K of RAM. I had 1 Gig and it was OK. The machine is only worth $300 if it was in good shape, so putting $400 in to fix the LCD is too much. The battery probably needs replacing as well and you need a bigger HD.
It doesn't seem worth it, not to mention the machine only has a 8MB video card. Not much for driving an external monitor under OS X.
If you can do everything yourself and find parts from other busted machines, it might be a decent hobby project, but you would do better putting the $400 in a jar and saving up for a decent G4 or even a new one. Good money spent on an antique isn't a wise investment.
Some people fix up old cars, some listen to classical music and buy vinyl records, and some people like music from the 90s, it isn't really that old. That vinyl record might not appreciate, but who knows? It's fun, it sounds different and if it's the Beatles half the time you look at it the Apple is upside down--like the computer I'm typing on half the time I visit ehMac. This Pismo is no investment, it's just fun. I like that I can fix any part of it, but I haven't had to since I worked out what was wrong with it after I got it. And for basic surfing, Adobe CS2 apps, Dreamweaver, iTunes broadcasting, etc., it's great. Certainly if the CPU on an iBook or later PowerBook pooched you'd have a harder time replacing it but sure it might be faster for some things you do. If you don't like old machines, and can afford a MacBook, that's the way to go.
Some good news/bad news on this. Using hte apple/command - v on boot, I was able to get the computer to boot into some 'special mode', not sure what it is called off hand. Anyways, I was able to see about 1/8th of the top left corner of the machine, and could see it spinning off worths (Darwin was one of the words). Not sure if that means anything for the daughterboard/processorcard.
I believe it's called verbose mode and that it tells you step by step what the computer is doing at startup. Mac OS X: How to Start up in Single-User or Verbose Mode
that verbose mode applies to os x 10.0 or later. Did you not say the Pismo had os 9 installed and an unsuccessful instal of tiger?

Good point HowEver brings up... I poured money into my Pismo for fun more than anything. I cant say I listen to records but have friends who collect them n I understand them because of what I do with computers.:D I'm probably still going to put money into this system over time but one sad day will come when it'll be put to secondary use after getting a MacBook Pro
You need more RAM

Here are my first two steps::

1) Does it work in FireWire mode ? Have you a PPC Mac that can boot up from an external firewire drive. This should tell you whether the hard disk is fine.

2) Buy more RAM. OS X needs lots. There are two DIMM slots. I would buy another DIMM with a minimum size of 256MB. You cannot expect X to boot with 64MB.

Cheers - Terry
Oh man... Thanks Terry... you just reminded me that I need to backup my HD onto my Firewire HD... I'm gonna leave it to do that now. Btw to the forum starter... I have a 128mb memory stick for Pismo that is just sitting around if u want... I'm gonna stick another 512 in there when I get around to it :p
As mentioned you need lots of RAM. OSX needs at least 384MB for Panther and 512MB for Tiger. Yeah I know it will run with less but you have to upgrade so do it right, Get at least 512 megs of RAM assuming all you want to do is eMail, browse and maybe some version of Office. Hopefully some members with dead machines kept their RAM and can help out here.

HD, maybe you can find a good used 40+GB HD. Whatever be sure you have more than 10GB.

Now for the install. Best bet is a disk image of a working system (create with SuperDuper) on an external HD. Boot from any Panther CD and use DiskUtility to install from the disk image. Tiger should be installed using a 10.4 CD, not sure there is such a beast hence the Panther recommendation. If you do big file transfers, Tigers indexing can slow old computers to a crawl, so keep that in mind when selecting an OS. Sorry the firmware on these old guys will not allow Target or external boots.

Other choice is simply transferring the HD to an external case and install the system using a different computer.

Have fun:D
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Apple indicates Pismo can go into Firewire Target Disk Mode

Don't take my word for this.
Read it yourself ...

Cheers - Terry
Correctamundo. Both target and external booting is possible. And indexing a 5400 rpm 40GB drive doesn't take much time at all.

Don't take my word for this.
Read it yourself ...

Cheers - Terry
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