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the narcoleptic (randomly sleeping) Powerbook G4

I've had my Apple Powerbook G4 for a few years now and it has served me well. I love the thing and couldn't do without it. But about 2 years in, it started to ramdomly fall asleep as if it was suffering from narcolepsy. Sometimes it would be running fine for days without it happening, but othertimes it would sleep moments after I'd booted it or woken it. The problem was that mostly it wasn't possible to wake it again just by pressing the power button. In this case, I had to unplug it from the power source and drop the batery out, then put the battery back in and plug it into the power source before the power button would power it up again... and often, when it had rebooted, the clock would be back to factory standard. I'd lose any work that I was half way through.

Needless to say this is a BIG problem and renders the Apple Powerbook G4 useless. I did a little research on the web and found out that it's a common problem but no one knows how to fix it, so people are spending a lot of time and money on useless repairs or worse, getting rid of their beloved Apple Powerbook G4. I found one person who suggested something that works to fix the problem... even though I don't understand why it works! It involves opening your Apple Powerbook G4... which sounds ominous, but lets face it, it's broken anyway... so what's to risk!?

Here' s the step by step guide:

Undo and remove:
  • the 3 little screws on the left and right side of the body
  • the 2 little upper screws on the back (leave the 2 little bottom screws which hold the display in place)
  • the 4 little screws along the back edge underneath,
  • the 2 screws inside the RAM bay (you need to open the RAM bay by undoing the 4 screws there first)
  • the 2 screws underneath the battery (remove the battery to get to these)
  • the 2 allen screws toward the back corners of the keyboard (I used a pen knife tip to undo these as I didn't have a small enough allen key, it worked fine, but be careful)
Ease off the top 'keyboard' face of your G4:
  • use your fingernails to first release the edges all round before you attempt to lift the whole thing up
  • the front edge, by the cd/dvd drive, is the toughest as there's clips on some models. I was able to pull very firmly, but slowly and carefully, and it just pulled out of these clips without too much hassle. If you're having problems, I understand some models may have 3 clips which you get to through the mouth of the cd/dvd player. Look for the 3 gaps in the cd/dvd dust cover and reach in with a little screw driver and you should be able to pull each latch forward just enough to get it to release
  • once you have released all the edges you can open the top up and lean it back against the display VERY gently. Make sure you open it upwards from the front edge (similar to opening the display
Complete the fix:
  • now look for a little foam square in the body of your G4 that is located under the power switch when the keyboard is down in it's working position. On my G4 it was a little piece of black foam about 15mm square
  • this is the problem! It's not doing it's job of padding enough. You need to find something that's heat resistent, unlikely to catch fire, and has a slight amount of 'give' in it so it's not hard enough to damage your G4. I used a piece of cereal box card, double over to twice thickness and cut to 15mm square. Then I used a litle bit of glue and stuck it on top of the existing foam square.
  • That's it! Make sure your 'fixer' stays put as you slowly lower the keyboard back down into place. Put all the srews back in and tighten them gently. 
Your G4 should hopefully not fall asleep anymore! I don't understand why this works, but it does... and I'm also not sure why Apple would make something that could possibly be so temperamental... but I still love Apple, so I'm not going to kick up a fuss.

If I didn't explain it very well or you need guidance, just send me an email.