11 Replies Latest reply: Jan 15, 2013 11:17 AM by mr. alice
mr. alice Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

Can anyone please help?


I have had an Emac computer for years now.  I hardly ever use it, but it has a lot of my old video files and documents on it.  I mainly work with my macbook pro.  Until recently, my Emac has been working fine, but I tried to use it today and it seems to suddenly be fubar.


Here's what happened.  I wanted to take an old (.mov) video file and transfer it to my macbook pro.  I used an 8GB pen drive.  The transfer to the pen drive seemed to take literally no time, but the video file also still seemed to play from the pen drive on the Emac, so I thought it was fine.  Took it to the macbook pro.  The video file wouldn't play, it was just a black screen for the duration of the video.


I decided to try and export another version on the Emac, in case that would help.  I had a version I'd colour-corrected in Final Cut Express, so I opened that.  The Emac then did what I have this evening learned is a "kernel panic".  I didn't know what that was though, so I tried again and the same thing.


The original edit of the video had been done in iMovie, so I tried to open that next.  It opened, but as soon as I tried to play the video, "kernel panic".


I tried again and no "kernel panic", but everything crashed and the entire system became unresponsive, so I had to restart.


I decided I would try to burn the .mov onto a CD and transfer it that way.  During the burning process, the system crashed.  When I restarted, the computer was unable to read anything on the disc.


I then went to do some online research.  When I opened firefox, the system crashed.


Can anyone tell me what's going on and how I can start to go about getting things working again?


Any help would be appreciated.

  • Allan Jones Level 7 Level 7 (32,840 points)

    There were eMacs with serious logic board issues that could show up years after the computer was shipped. One symptom was apps crashing as soon as you opened them.


    The issue---which is today not economically feasible to fix unless you live within driving distance of Eugene, Oregon USA,---affected a significant number of eMacs with 1.25Ghz processors, and some of the little-known "edu-only" 1Ghz model that shared the USB 2.0 logic board of the 1.25ghz models.


    You can tell by serial number. The affected ranges are:


    • G8412xxxxxx- G8520xxxxxx
    • YM412xxxxxx - YM520xxxxxx
    • VM440xxxxxx - VM516xxxxxx


    You can find your serial number using this Apple article:


    How to locate the serial number and identify your model


    Note: If your serial number starts with "R" or "RM", it is a factory refurb and the number list won't help.


    If yours falls in one of those ranges, upend the computer and open the RAM door. Look for capacitors with brown stains like these:



    [click for larger view]


    If you see these, you're probably done. However you can remove the hard drive and connect it to another computer to recover files, as the hard drive was seldom affected by the capacitor issue.


    Apple had a Repair Extension Program to correct this at no charge, but it expired several years ago.  So see if you are in the effect range first, as this is a common fault. If you are not, we can work through other trouble-shooting steps.

  • mr. alice Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Hey Allan,


    Thank you so much for your time in replying!

    I checked out the serial number and it starts with a VM429, so I think it's out of those ranges.  Would almost be relieved if that was the issue, since I'd like to get the files off my hard drive at least!


    Are you able to help me through the other trouble-shooting steps?


    Thanks again!



  • Allan Jones Level 7 Level 7 (32,840 points)

    That's a good start. Still, if your serial number sticker says you have a 1.25G model, I'd peek in the RAM door anyway for the leaky capacitors as some failures have been reported outside the list of ranges Apple published. You are going to be in the door access anyway for the next step.


    If the computer ahs been off wall power for more than an hour, the internal backup battery is likely dead. It's easily user-serviceable. Apple instructions are here:


    How to Replace the Backup Battery


    I don't see that you've posted a geographic location (very useful info for people helping you) but the battery is this one:


    3.6v Newer Technology Lithium 1/2 AA PRAM Computer Clock Battery


    from a USA vender. They tend to be very cheap online and very expensive in retail stores. If you are outside N. America, I'm not sure where to point you for the battery; however, the full specs for it are in the link so that should,help you search for it locally.


    If you had some HD directory corruption, that can be cleaned up to some extent with a Safe Boot. Press and hold the SHIFT key while booting and keep holding until you either see a message the the computer is in safe boot mode OR you see a normal desktop. When you see a desktop, STOP! Don't try using or testing the computer at this point---some needed components are not loaded during safe boot. The next step is to do a normal restart. Then you can see if the computer works any better.


    That's enough for now. Please add an approximate geographic location to your profile. That makes it easier on the Community if we find you need parts.

  • mr. alice Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Hey Allan,


    Have added my location to my profile, thanks for that.  Am based in Scotland in the UK.


    I will have a look at the RAM as you've suggested, but am unsure of where to even look for the RAM door.  My technical knowledge on how this machine is put together is at absolute novice level.  Can you point me in the right direction at all?  Would be much appreciated.


    With regards to the battery, do you mean if I'd been using the computer without wall power (like you might do with a portable laptop)?  Or if I just hadn't had it turned on for a while.  I have never used it without wall power, but it was turned off for a while before I went to use it yesterday.


    Tried a safe boot yesterday too, but it didn't seem to help.


    Thanks again!



  • Allan Jones Level 7 Level 7 (32,840 points)

    Am based in Scotland in the UK.


    Thank you. We are quite a world apart! We visited Ireland last spring; Scotland is next on the list now that we have our "international wings." There are some very helpful people in the higher levels here who are Scots. Me, I'm a transplanted Texan with Herveys, Pughs, and the Welsh Joneses in my veins who's now enjoying small-town life in Idaho. The Welsh side tends to come out more, as I like to sing for people.


    Enough of where we are! The battery is a backup battery to provide just enough current to maintain settings needed for startup. It's not intended to run the computer, only keep your settings if you have the computer unplugged from the mains for a modest period of time for moving or maintenance.


    As long as the computer is on the mains, the little battery does no work and should last 3-5 years. If the battery is nearing the end of its life and you take the computer off mains from more than about an hour or two, that will probably shuffle the battery off this mortal coil. I've managed to do that little bit of "batterycide" myself.


    I beleve the company I linked ships to the UK but the tarage costs would be high. Use the specs "3.6V 1/2AA lithium" to shop local battery suppliers. If you have Tandy Stores, they should have it as part number 23-026 but, on our side of the pond, they charge 4-5X what the online vendors charge.


    I will have a look at the RAM as you've suggested, but am unsure of where to even look for the RAM door.

    The Apple link above is illustrated to show the RAM door and how to access it. It's on the case bottom, If you have the "tilt and swivel" stand like my wife's eMac, you have to remove it first. What you will be looking for is brown/black staining on capacitors as shown in the iamge I posted.


    Good luck! I'll check back in the morning,.

  • mr. alice Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Hey again, Allan!


    Managed to get some time to have a wee look inside and it seems that the capacitors are okay (from the look anyways).  Here's a pic...




    Is there a way that I could tell if the battery was dead?  Other than replacing it, I mean?  Or do you have any other ideas at all?


    Thanks again!



  • roam Level 6 Level 6 (13,560 points)

    Is there a way that I could tell if the battery was dead?  Other than replacing it, I mean?

    Remove it and test with a voltmeter and see if it reads 3.6 volts.

    By the way those capacitors look perfect.

  • mr. alice Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)



    It's been some time, but I was finally able to get my hands on a voltmeter and after some amount of annoying fiddling was able to take the battery out, check it and put it back in.  The battery was still reading close to 3.6volts, so I'm fairly certain that's not the issue.


    Does anybody have any other advice on this as I am still no further forward.  Thank you so much for your help so far.



  • mr. alice Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Still needing a response on this.  Does anybody have any idea how to progress?


    Thank you,



  • Allan Jones Level 7 Level 7 (32,840 points)

    Sorry. Been under the weather with a flu bug that triggered some "loverly" asthma things! Good to see you back, although I had hoped it would be to say you had the old eMac all sorted and learning new tricks.


    I'm rather at a standstill here. The fact that the capacitors you can see are not affected doesn't necessarily mean those that are elsewhere under the cover are also OK. There are reports that people have removed the logic board to find the hidden capacitors leaking even though the ones visible in the RAM door were fine


    Because a PRAM battery tests at 3.6V in hand doesn't always mean it's producing that under load when installed. However, the eMacs are not so picky about PRAM battery power as older models, and there are a couple of easy things that get you around a dead/weak battery anyway:


    1) Boot from a system CD/DVD, then immediately restart booting from  the hard drive.

    2) Boot while holding command + option + p + r and keep holding that combo until you hear a total of three startup chimes, then let go the keys and allow booting to continue.


    The first method uses startup values from the optical disk and the second one resets the computer's PRAM back to factory defaults.


    I keep coming back to your symptoms being the same as the eMac I worked with that WAS in the affected SN range. The computer would boot fine, but any app opened crashed within seconds.

    .  I feel like you need some cheap or free hands-on help with this--at least someone you can talk to on the phone in real time. Have you looked for a Mac User Group (MUG) near you? I know you live where the population density can put neighbors miles away and some cities light-years away, but a MUG is a good place to find a guru on older models. The other option would be to ask of the IT staff (the worker-bees, not the bosses) at a school of university that has used Macs. Some great resources there.  Here's the find-a-MUG link:  http://appleusergroupresources.com/find-a-group/  We just retired our last eMac. My wife has been using a 1.42G model almost exactly 7 years and, as she's more into social networking now to stay in touch with our adult children, and our tax software will no longer run on PowerPC. I talked her into a refurbed iMac 21.5-inch mid-2011 we got directly from Apple for under US$1000. Nice computer.

  • mr. alice Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Hey Allan,


    Thanks so much for getting back in touch again.  Sorry to hear about the bug. :-/


    I will give both of those methods you suggested a try, although would booting from the CD/DVD (I assume you just mean the OS discs, or am I wrong there?) mean that I would lose anything saved on the hard-drive?  I'm guessing the second method wouldn't but if so, please let me know!


    If neither of those accomplish anything, I'll try and track down this guy I know who always seemed to be a bit of a mac guru, and if that fails I will research the MUG group.


    Really am appreciating all the help on this.  Very kind of you to give of your time.


    Will let you know how I get on!