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Just Updated 5/27/2003

More on PRAM battery related bootup problems: Michael write with more info on what happens with a dead PRAM battery. Thanks Michael.

[Hi, Thomas!
I'm an IT/Music tech at a primary school in north east England. I've just found your site, and it's fascinating and extremely helpful.

We run a network of legacy Performa 5260s and 5500s, we HAD lots of iMacs (that were stolen), and now we're adding a network of PCs running Basilisk on top of XP for compatibility with our older Mac resources.

I've read with interest the section on PRAM and battery startup problems. As you can imagine, batteries are a constant pain for us with so many macs in school.

Your visitors are correct - low battery voltage manifests itself in many different ways;

Complete lack of startup ability (black screen only) Inability to find startup disk (even when forced to CD) Grey screen only at startup Loss of Chime (though that may be the Sound prefs popping orrf) Loss of Color prefs Loss of Time prefs (obviously) Loss of Views prefs

We find that the MOST COMMON SYMPTOM of low battery voltage (after the Date/Time loss) is black screen only at startup, sometimes accompanied by a feeble popping and farting from the back of the tub.

I hope that helped you - or some of your readers.]

Here is another letter from Ronald on the same issue. Thanks Ronald.

[I experienced the same problem Anthony had on my Performa 6360 with Sonnet G3 400mhz upgrade. The system turned on but would not boot and the monitors stayed off. My battery tested at 2 out of 4.5 volts. After I replaced it with a new battery the system booted without a problem.]

Bad mouse or keyboard another cause of bootup problems: I found this topic on my forums and it brought back memories of my own troubles booting my 6400 one time. Frank found that his 6400 would not boot due to a stuck mouse button! Thanks for the info Frank.

[Came home today to find my Mac 6400 not booting. Not sure which kid used it last or did what. When I power up, the screen is gray with the blinking question mark disk icon. I am running OS 8.6 on a partitioned Western Digital IDE 10 GB drive, Sonnet G3/400mHz, 128 MB, ethernet to router/cable modem. I disconnected the external SCSI zip drive. When I restart holding the 'C' key down, I still get the blinking question mark, and then the CD tray ejects. I tried the 7.5, 8.0 and 9.1 system disks, and they will be ejected. I took off the covers and all drives are connected. There was some dust under the box, but not excessive. The IDE drive was not hot. I have an older Seagate Hawk SCSI 2GB drive in the upper bay which was very hot. I disconnected the SCSI drive, but the Mac still will not boot. Holding shift key down does not work. Zapped PRAM (Cmd+Opt+P+R) for five chimes. Still will not boot. Tried again booting to CD drive, but it ejected the system CD disk.
What should I try next?]

[Doh! It is all so obvious now. I took the CPU to a friend's house to either copy files from the IDE drive or to diagnose the problem. When we plugged in a keyboard and a mouse at his house, the 6400 booted up without a problem. We figured stuck keys on the keyboard caused the problem, so I went home with a spare ADB keyboard. I plugged in the mouse to the new keyboard, pressed power -- and no boot, just the blinking question mark. Luckily I had a spare ADB2 mouse around, so I plugged it in and voila, it booted. Upon examination of the old mouse, it was apparently stuck in the down position. That would explain why the CD tray was ejecting no matter what was in it. Since I never had an opportunity to select anything, I never had to touch the mouse, so I never would have encountered the source of the problem. Thanks to everyone for their suggestions.
I prefer the ADB2 mouse, but the vermin got dirty.

My problem was a bad keyboard so these two items should be checked if you have trouble booting your Mac. If you don't have another keyboard/mouse to test then just try removing the mouse and bootup or just plug the mouse in and not use the keyboard. To boot without the key board you can use the little button next to the monitor port in the back. If you visit this link and scroll down to the rear image of the 6400 you will see an arrow pointing to this Stand By Power Button.

Mac Troubleshooting, Maintenance & Tips: I found this web site the other day while following a link posted by one of my forum visitors. He has his own help web site that has many links to other resources. Go check it out :)

Use a 7200/7500 power supply in a 6400?: Alec writes that he thinks it may be possible to use a 7200/7500's PSU in a 6400 if an original 6400 PSU cannot be found. Thanks Alec. I'm not sure how feasible this is but if anyone looks into it further, please email me your findings. Thanks.

[Hi Tom,
You may think this total trivia but I thought it worth mentioning least it be of use.

I've been messing with 7200/7500's of late and it occurred to me that the PSU looked very similar to the one used in the 6400. O.K. I know the leads are different but the case is the same except for a fan grill on the 6400 unit.

Comparing the labels, both have the same voltage outputs and power ratings and the manufacturers model numbers are DPS-150GB A (7200) and DPS-150GB B(6400) with both units coming from Delta Electronics.

I've not looked inside but it occurred to me that if a replacement 6400 unit was not available it might be possible to swap the leads over to a 7200 unit which may be more common.

Service manuals link found again!: I found another web site hosting service manuals for Macs again. Here is a link for Apple Service manuals and here is a link for Power Computing Service manuals.

USB PCI card support on a 6400/6500 running OSX?: Craig would like to know if anyone has gotten a USB PCI card to work under OSX on our Macs? These are supposed to be supported with Apples native drivers under OSX I thought? If anyone has info on this, please email me. Thanks.

[Saw the recent posing on USB support issues with OS9. Has anyone gotten the PCI USB adaptor card working under OS X on the 6400? I have OS X 10.1.5 om my power tower pro 225 and it does not see the USB PCI adaptor card unless I boot into classic. Any solutions would be greatly appreciated.

New Sonnet Tango 2.0 with Firewire/USB2: I saw this press release the other day and wanted to warn 6400/6500 users that it may not work at all on our Macs? In the past these combo cards worked ok on the 6400 but had issues with the 6500 because the 6500 has problems with multifunction cards such as these. Well now they added USB 2 and although they are supposed to revert to USB 1.1 speeds in OS9, there has not been any reported success stories of using USB 2 cards on a 6400 or 6500 to my knowledge? I emailed Sonnet for more info.

Playing AAC files in OS9!: David found away to play AAC files created from iTunes4 in OS9. Thanks David!

[By changing the file type and creator of the AAC files encoded by iTunes 4 or downloaded from the iTunes Music Store from M4A/hook and M4P/hook respectively to MooV/TVOD or MPG4/TVOD, the songs can be played in OS 9. MPEG/TVOD files are recognized by QuickTime 6.0.3 and can be played in QuickTime or with a QuickTime based music player such as MPLAY. MooV/TVOD files can be played as above but are also recognized by iTunes 2.0.4.

Now this probably won't let you play songs downloaded from the Apple Music Store as OS 9 versions of iTunes have no way to authenticate your Mac for playing them. But if anyone tries, please let me know :)

OSX Install experience on a 6500: Jim sent me his experience of installing OSX on his 6500. Thanks Jim. Its pretty long so I posted it on its own page. He mentions he was able to actually install OSX from the OSX installer CD? I do not even have SCSI support on my 6500 for some reason? He said he has the Matshita CR-8024 (maybe?) and I checked mine and its the Matshita CR-8012. Mine is the 12x CDROM and according to his model number, his should be a 24x CDROM making it newer then mine. So maybe OSX can be installed right from the CD if you have a newer more compatible CDROM drive installed?

My instructions for installing OSX on a 6500: Click here to read them. These are needed if you are not lucky enough to have a CDROM compatible with the OSX install CD as noted above. If there are any mistakes or omissions, please let me know. Thanks.

USB 1.5.6 drivers may be unstable on our Macs with Combo cards?: Richard sends word that although the 1.5.6 version of Apples USB drivers do support USB cards, they may not be completely stable? He had to revert to the 1.4.1 USB card support drivers for full compatibility. Thanks for the info Richard.

[yup, it worked but not stable. My definition of stable is it freezes when
playing simple games like Skittles 2. To be truly stable for such games, USB
device extension has to be off. This is the main extension that seems to
make the machine unstable. I have tried all available versions of USB device
extension and the 1.4.1 is still the best.]

He later wrote that they worked fine until he played certain games such as the one mentioned above. So you may not notice any problems until you run certain apps? If you are experiencing random freezes and have a USB card installed. You may want to make sure you have version 1.4.1 of Apples USB drivers installed.

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The 6400 Zone is created to help you gain access to useful software updates and great shareware programs that add functionality to your system. It is also a one stop road map to other informative sites for answering your questions. Most of the info here is geared towards the 6400, but it is useful for all PCI Performa models and even the 6500 and all-in-one Macs based on the same. It's even useful to other Mac systems. I will be referring to my 6400/200 clocked to 220Mhz as just 6400/220, OK.

I will keep it updated as often as I can but I don't have much free time to work on it, so I suggest you check back at least once every other week. That should be sufficient. If you don't see something you would like to see here or have your own software / web site that would benefit the Mac community, please write to me at and I will check it out.

I use a Performa 6400/Vimage G3/320 OS 9.2.2, PM 6500/300 OS 9.2.2/OSX10.1.5, two B&W G4/500's OS 10.2.2 Server, iBook Dual USB OS 9.2.2 / OSX 10.2.6, PM 6100 G3/240 OS 9.1, Dual G4 800 OS 9.2.2/OSX 10.2.6 Server, and a PowerBook DUO 270c OS 7.5.5. If I encounter any problems, I will post them for all to read and respond to. Likewise, if you are having any problems and would like help just email me and if I can answer it I will, or I will post it here for others to read and respond to.

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This page last updated 5/27/2003

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