5.09.2008

That was weird.

Keeping ancient computers around and actually using them means you get to see some pretty weird stuff from time to time. Sometimes you even get to see pretty weird stuff when you're not using them.

I keep a few old PowerBooks stacked atop the bookshelves in the living room where I can grab one on my way out the front door to do some writing on the porch. As I was walking through the room yesterday morning, I heard this weird clicking buzz coming from atop the bookshelf.

Oh, crap! I had just finished next week's column for Low End Mac on the 2400 the night before, and had left the computer sleeping, intending to AppleTalk it over to the WallStreet and polish it up before emailing it in. Could the snoozing Comet have suddenly decided to lunch its hard disk or something?

I snatched the 2400c from the top of the stack, but its sleep light just blinked at me silently. The noise wasn't coming from it. Setting the Comet on the futon, I grabbed the next 'Book off the stack, the Duo 280c. It, too was inert. The noise was coming from the bottom laptop in the stack, the 1400cs. Scooping it up, it became apparent that the strange buzzing sound was emanating from its speaker. This was odd, because the battery was deader than Elvis.

Opening the lid and poking the on/off key got me nothing. I plugged in an AC power supply and hooked up the computer and the noise stopped. I still got no response from the power key, and when I unplugged the AC adaptor, the noise resumed. Ejecting the battery caused the buzz to cease again, and when I went upstairs and fetched another (also dead) battery and inserted it, the noise didn't return.

I hooked up the AC and used the power reset switch on the back of the notebook, and it powered up normally. I shut it down and it stayed silent. The only abnormality I could detect with the battery that had been in it when it was making the noise is that the righthand-most of the four battery terminals was bent slightly outward from the other three.

Who knows what caused the speaker to suddenly go berserk, especially when the battery was run down so flat?

1 comment:

Butch_S said...

Sounds like a weak cell in the battery pack is undergoing cell reversal.

Charge it back up, there's a limit as to how far batteries should be discharged. Going past that will caused the weakest cell to reverse polarity, and if allowed to continue it'll short internally. At that point, your battery pack becomes a paperweight.