Previous 1 2 3 Next 32 Replies Latest reply: Jun 26, 2009 1:50 PM by EZ Jim
tFer Level 1 (0 points)
Hello to all. I have just bought an external iSight camera (second-hand) from another Mac user who no longer needs it, as I am in no financial status to buy a new computer yet. It came in its box and I have the purchase receipt (original) and all the accessories. The previous owner used it only twice, as he bought a new machine with an integrated iSight.

I have been having trouble as my iBook just won't recognize it. If it is plugged to the Firewire port (I followed the instructions in the manual), my System Profiler won't even detect the FW port (no info message). I have iChat with AIM, and also use Skype. I have tried different FW cables (known good), the camera light turns to green and makes the whirling noise, etc. but none of the apps recognize the device (black screen, green screen in iMovie). I have researched for help on the Apple tech supp pages, googled the problem, seen EZ Jim's pages, etc, and so far nothing seems to work. I haven't yet tried resetting the PRAM as I don't know that is an option for this problem and my specific system profile. Please, EZ Jim or anyone, help. I live far from family and friends and would love to be able to video chat with them. Thanks in advance...

iBook G4, Mac OS X (10.4.11), slot load optical drive
  • EZ Jim Level 7 (22,159 points)
    Welcome to Discussions, tFer

    Be certain that the many things you have done include all below:

    In that link, use all the troubleshooting tests, including the suggestions relevant to external iSight from Apple's

    To avoid the Possible hardware or software conflicts mentioned in my "How to test..." page, disconnect ALL peripherals other than external iSight and restart your iBook before testing. Open ONLY the ONE application that you are using to test your iSight. If your iSight does not work with that app, quit the app and restart your iBook before opening testing with a different app. Test with at least one other app if your iSight does not work with the first one.

    You can try a known-good Firewire device and cable on your iBook to verify that your iBook's Firewire works with something.Once you find a working Firewire device, you can test that same, working device with your iSight's cable to determine whether the iSight cable is faulty.

    If you can find another external iSight, test whether the different one (and its cable) will work on your iBook. If the other iSight works, the problem is most likely in the external iSight that you bought. An Apple Service Technician may be able to repair your iSight.

    If you do not get your iSight working before this test, try your iSight (with the known-good Firewire cable you are using) on another Mac to see if your iSight works there.

    If your iSight works on any Mac, the page mentioned above includes the link to Apple's kBase article:

      What to do if your computer won't recognize a FireWire or USB device

    Use the suggestions there to reset your iBook's Firewire. After trying the Firewire reset suggestions, if your iBook will still not recognize an external iSight that works on another Mac as a Firewire device (see the following image:)

    sysprof ,

    contact Apple for service. There are no user serviceable parts inside iSight.

    EZ Jim

    G5 DP 1.8GHz w/Mac OS X (10.5.6) PowerBook 1.67GHz (10.4.11)   iBookSE 366MHz (10.3.9)  External iSight
  • tFer Level 1 (0 points)
    Dear EZ Jim,

    Thank you soooo much for such lengthy and detailed set of instructions, and for your time in doing this. It's funny though because I have done ALMOST everything you have suggested and visited ALL those links (and others) during the last week... As I mentioned in my first posting, I did check the System Profiler and once I have the camera connected, the FW field displays no info. When I disconnect it, then it shows the speed of the bus... The other thing I am wondering about is if the fact that my internet connection is satellite-based, as in a dish connected to my laptop, (128 kbps inflow) could be the problem. Furthermore, I have no access to another iSight camera at the moment, but will certainly see if that's an option (and will ask around for another external FW device and cable) and report back. I did go ahead and ordered today a new FW thin 6-6 pin cable from Apple which will be here by late next week. Everything else you (or the sites you mention) suggest, believe me, I have done...

    What about, lastly, resetting the PRAM? I haven't tried that either because, again, I am unsure if that would be an option.

    In any case, and in the meantime, please know I am very grateful regarding your prompt and detailed response. I will certainly let you know what the results are!

  • EZ Jim Level 7 (22,159 points)
    You're most welcome, tFer

    We will watch for your status update.

    In response to your specific comments & queries:

    ... I have done ALMOST everything you have suggested ...

    Once your have done ABSOLUTELY everything suggested above, if your System Profiler still does not recognize your external iSight as a Firewire device, see your Apple Service Technician for a professional help. There are no user serviceable parts inside iSight.

    ... my internet connection is ... could be the problem.

    Internet connection is not your iSight problem.

    Satellite-based internet may limit your iChat capability depending on the kind of conferencing you want to do and how well your system meets the Mac OS X 10.4: iChat system requirements.

    Your internet connection has NO impact of the functionality of your iSight itself. However, if you want to test the actual (as compared to the advertised) speed of your internet connection, SpeedTest.Net gives me reliable info for comparison with iChat system requirements. Understand that iChat's speed requirements are for both uplink AND downlink actual speeds. Speed should be tested with no internet connected apps (other than your browser) running while you test.

    iMovie and many other apps that work with iSight do not need an internet connection at all to operate a properly functioning iSight camera, so testing with at least one of those apps will eliminate your internet connection concerns.

    Moreover, iChat > Preferences... >Video will show the iSight's video (if your iSight works) even when you are not connected to the internet. Once you have iSight working, you can get help with any iChat questions you may have in the iChat AV 3 Forum of  Discussions.

    What about, lastly, resetting the PRAM?

    It cannot harm your iBook.

    EZ Jim

    G5 DP 1.8GHz w/Mac OS X (10.5.6) PowerBook 1.67GHz (10.4.11)   iBookSE 366MHz (10.3.9)  External iSight
  • tFer Level 1 (0 points)
    Once again I thank you, EZ Jim, for clarifying my pending doubts regarding iSight + internet connection and resetting of PRAM. I will certainly go over all the suggestions once again (including the new ones) and see if that does it. Otherwise, I will wait for the FW cable to arrive and report back as soon as I know.

    Thanks again!

  • EZ Jim Level 7 (22,159 points)
    Will be watching, tFer

    One thing that I neglected to include in my second post is that resetting PRAM resets some of your systems preferences. Therefore, you will need to reset any preference settings that you want to be different from default values. Resetting theses preferences is not difficult, but do not be surprised when those settings you have reverted to their defaults after you reset PRAM.

    Also, you did mention that:

    ... I have no access to another iSight camera at the moment, but ...

    However, I cannot see whether you have found another Mac on which to test the iSight you bought. Perhaps you can watch your external iSight work on the Mac of the user from whom you bought it? If the iSight (with a known good Firewire cable) will not work on more than one Mac that is otherwise working properly, it is likely that the iSight needs professional service.

    When you post back, if you are still having problems, please be certain to check whether the external iSight works on a different Mac if you can find one for the test. If you cannot do that, contact an Apple Service Provider for professional help.


    EZ Jim

    G5 DP 1.8GHz w/Mac OS X (10.5.6) PowerBook 1.67GHz (10.4.11)   iBookSE 366MHz (10.3.9)  External iSight
  • Ralph Johns (UK) Level 9 (71,146 points)
    I will chip in on the satellite issue.

    When you send data up to the Satellite to request a web b[-age for instance you computer has to wait to get info back that the first data packet was accepted.

    This starts the data flow and it will tend to speed up as things go along.

    This of course uses the HTTP internet protocol.

    Certain other apps use other protocols and the feedback from receiving device can become more crucial.
    iChat uses both TCP and UDP.

    In most cases with satellite and long distance Point to Point Wifi is that this delay in getting a receipt notification can be too long for iChat.

    There are ways around it depending on the services that your Satellite provider can offer you.

    Commercial links have secondary server that forwards your TCP packets as if they have been acknowledged and "speeds" up the process for you so that you modem seems to be working at full sped all the time no matter what you are actually doing.

    Some ISPs offer this service sometime referred to as Buffering as a matter of course other charge.

    I have had only three successful contact to Satellite based iChat users over Video chats.
    One had a Modem that did this sort of Buffering (I got the impression it was a bit unusual)
    One had no idea on why it worked.
    The Last knew they had paid for this sort of service.

    I hope this helps when you get that far.

    8:50 PM Sunday; February 22, 2009
  • tFer Level 1 (0 points)
    Thanks for the feedback, Ralph! Will inquire on that one once I get further in this process and will report back. Still waiting for the Apple FW cable to arrive...

    By the way, EZ Jim, I tried EVERYTHING (except using the camera on another Mac --everyone I know here uses PC's-- or another FW device on mine --no one seems to have one!-- , including the resetting of the PRAM. Nothing has worked so far... Will report on any progress if I achieve it with the new cable!
  • tFer Level 1 (0 points)
    Sorry, I don't know why a whole sentence in my last post appears crossed over when it was supposed to be a parentheses... Who knows.

  • tFer Level 1 (0 points)
    Hello again. Sorry it took me so long, but there was a problem with the order of my cable: I have finally received it, a brand-new Apple Firewire cable for my external iSight. It is the correct 6-to-6 pin thin FW from Apple (0.5 m). Tried it on the camera, and the machine still won't recognize it (blue screen in iMovie, white in iChat, black in Skype, all saying no camera is connected/detected). Apart from following your advice already (EZ JIM AND RALPH's), this is what I have done since I got the new cable:

    1. Repaired disk permissions with Disk Utility, then opened the System Profiler and under FW this is what it reads: "Maximum bus speed: 400 MB" but with no other info. The camera seems ok as it makes the whiring noise and the green light turns on right away, and obvioulsy it is getting power from the port.

    2. Reset the PRAM (not the PMU though, as I understand it is a last resort solution?)

    3. I have disconnected all peripherals and let the laptop rest for 15 minutes with no AC power cord nor battery, then repowered it. Still, no luck.

    4. Have looked for info on Firewire problems on the net and done what is suggested (like running Permissions repair on DU as described above, again, to no avail.

    5. Checked if my Quicktime app is properly installed and it says it is on the Apple help page for QT.

    Bottom line, I have no clue what to do next!!!

    In Ralph John's iSight page I noticed EZ Jim (in page 4, Testing iSight info) mentions "updating iSight Firmware". Being that my camera is an external iSight, would I still need to do this? How, if so? Note also that the only 2 software update items of which I have been notified recently when I check for updates are Safari and iTunes. Would updating either or both be a solution?

    I have no other FW device to test the port, and live in a place where Macs are extremely rare, so no technical support is available, nor can I try the camera on a different machine. I am getting to the point of desperation...

    Please help!! Any further advise will be most welcome.

    Kind regards,

    PS No idea why the dates on this topic entries are wrong. I wrote the first one in early March, 2009 if I remember right....
  • Ralph Johns (UK) Level 9 (71,146 points)
    The Story Of Updating the External Firewire iSight.

    Once upon a time, in fact so long ago that I was a young man, there was an update for the External iSight.

    It was so long ago that you could actually but the external iSight from Apple and people were less concerned about what would happen when it came to disposing of it.

    Then the European Union... (opps different story)

    The Apple Updater for the iSight was brought out at the time Panther was the code name for the OS (10.3.x).
    This corresponded with late iChat 2

    The update was designed to run only in Panther and updated the Audio part of the Firmware in the iSight itself.

    It was noted in a post about the iSight where the user Updated to 10.5.6 that the Updater (Or at least a good facsimile of it) appeared to have either been in the OS Update or was triggered by it.

    Later posts have revealed that it seems to be triggered, possibly at every update, when the iSight is attached and presumably On.

    A Search for this Treasure has found it to be in your Hard Drive/System/Library/Core Services/iSight Updater.

    Now this is a stand-alone app that when run, updates the External iSight.
    It does seem however that the updater does not get run on Intel Macs
    This could be that as most Intel Mac have an Internal iSight the trigger mechanism was removed or not applied to the Intel parts of the Update.

    Double clicking the app makes it run.

    It should be noted that Seekers of this Treasure have to go the the said folder manually without relying on Spotlight or Find as neither of these can search as well as you can manually (they don't look in there).

    9:57 PM Sunday; April 26, 2009
  • EZ Jim Level 7 (22,159 points)
    Hello tFer,

    ... "updating iSight Firmware" ...

    Updating is impossible when your Mac does not recognize your iSight. Even if it were possible to update your firmware, your issue is not a firmware problem.

    ... what to do next!!

    Your (second-hand) iSight is likely faulty. Only a test on a known-good Mac that sees working external iSights would tell you for certain. Perhaps the user from whom you bought the iSight will refund your money?

    Having tried every test available to you (no other Mac's being available) and having determined that your Mac's System Profiler does not recognize your external iSight, you will need to decide whether to use a different webcam or to try to get this iSight repaired.

    If you want to pursue using this iSight, Apple service is the only option I can suggest.  Contact Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider for service on this iSight.

    If you have no local access to Apple Service, Apple Support's contact info is here:

    If you want to pursue service via Apple's website, see:

    EZ Jim

    G5 DP 1.8GHz w/Mac OS X (10.5.6) PowerBook 1.67GHz (10.4.11)   iBookSE 366MHz (10.3.9)  External iSight
  • Ralph Johns (UK) Level 9 (71,146 points)

    I was presuming that the new cable did get it recognised in System Profiler but not in the Apps, but re-reading I see that is not confirmed.

    11:28 PM Sunday; April 26, 2009
  • EZ Jim Level 7 (22,159 points)
    That's how I read it, too, Ralph.


    G5 DP 1.8GHz w/Mac OS X (10.5.6) PowerBook 1.67GHz (10.4.11)   iBookSE 366MHz (10.3.9)  External iSight
  • tFer Level 1 (0 points)
    Well, EZ Jim and Ralph, it looks like my iSight itself is the problem, based on all of this trial and error, all the generous feedback from you both, and all I myself have read on the net. I appreciate your help, though, and will certainly keep you posted in the event I actually get it fixed one day... I will most likely be asking the previous owner to refund me and buy a new webcam, or just wait for this machine to become obsolete eventually and upgrade to a new model with a built-in cam. I think it is safe to say I have officially given up on trying anything else. So.. Rest in Peace, external iSight?

    Thanks again for your feedback and help. Greatly appreciated in spite of it all...

    Kind regards,

    PS The dates of the posts are indeed right; I was mistakenly looking at the registration dates for each participant on the discussion page. Oops.
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