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Use a USB charger with a newer PowerBook and 10.3 System
For years, I've traveled with a USB charger for my cell phone and PDA -- it saves on lugging extra adapters when I travel. Once I switched to a 15" Al Powerbook (with OS X), my USB adapters stopped working. I was stunned, amazed, and frustrated, as Apple's tech support considers USB chargers devil spawn, and refused to consider inadequate power to a usb port a real problem.

Of course, all my other USB peripherals worked (scanners, USB drives). It was just that the USB chargers demand a lot of power, and they just weren't getting enough. I have been assuming this was a problem between USB 1.1 and the newer USB 2.0 ports on my new PowerBook. I was just getting prepared to put up with this.

However, I just discovered that if I simply launch System Preferences, the charger now works. This isn't a true hint, as I don't know why this is working. However, after trying every possible combination of variables over the last year, this is the only thing does the trick. Any comments that would explain this 'fix' would be appreciated, but if there are other road warriors out there that use USB chargers, give this a try.

[robg adds: I can't test this one, but if you can, please post your experiences...]
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Use a USB charger with a newer PowerBook and 10.3 | 20 comments | Create New Account
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Use a USB charger with a newer PowerBook and 10.3
Authored by: Fofer on Nov 04, '04 10:04:51AM

Strangest. Tip. Ever.

:D


I have a 15" Aluminum PowerBook (1.25 Ghz G4) and a Treo 600 smartphone. I use a USB sync-and-charge cable that charges off either USB port just fine, without having to open the System Preferences.

Here's the one I have:
http://www.seidioonline.com/SearchResults.asp?Cat=257
(The 12" version with the big HotSync button... although that retractable one is nice too...)

Has the original poster tried another USB charge cable? Or another PowerBook?



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Use a USB charger with a newer PowerBook and 10.3
Authored by: bbulmer on Nov 05, '04 08:11:57AM

I got myself a firewire to USB charger adapter from www.lik-sang.com (japan) quite a while ago when I had this problem. Basically so I could charge my gameboy from my powerbook on the road. It actually converted the power only portion of the firewire port to a USB power only port.
However, I can no longer find this product on the web site. The only thing I see close is here, http://www.expansys.com/product.asp?code=POCKETDOCK_USBFIRE on an UK site only, however, with this device you'd need cables as well. But I'm sure there's one out there.
Anybody wanna take the challenge to find one?

---
Just my 2ยข worth....



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Use a USB charger with a newer PowerBook and 10.3
Authored by: daybrother on Nov 05, '04 11:07:41AM
I have a USB 2.5 enclosure (Cypress chipset) that will almost power up when connected to my Wallstreet via pcmcia card (spins up, spins down, spins up...). I'm going to try this.

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Use a USB charger with a newer PowerBook and 10.3
Authored by: daybrother on Nov 05, '04 11:25:15AM

Shoot....didn't work.



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Use a USB charger with a newer PowerBook and 10.3
Authored by: daybrother on Nov 05, '04 11:30:15AM

Sorry. I meant to say a USB 2.0 (2.5 HD) enclosure.



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Use a USB charger with a newer PowerBook and 10.3
Authored by: erikzred on Nov 04, '04 10:34:01AM

I have the Powerbook 17" (original model) and have been using a USB charger for my phone now for a little less than a year without any problems. I keep that Powerbook up-to-date with systems. Could it be that your Powerbook has a glitch that causes the problem?



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Use a USB charger with a newer PowerBook and 10.3
Authored by: magir on Nov 04, '04 10:55:56AM

It's definatly true that the PowerBook AL has less power on its USB ports. For instance my USB/FW 2,5" HD worked flawlessly on my TiBook but fails with USB2 on the AlBook. On both machines, the firewire-port provided enough power.

I'm also having problems with some USB2-Hubs on my AlBook. USB1.1-Devices connected to it don't work properly. For instance my MS Office Keyboard produces additional characters from time to time an my Logitech Mouse adds some click every few seconds - very annoying.



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PowerBook G4/1.33 12", 10.3.5
Authored by: acalado on Nov 04, '04 11:55:28AM

I have no problems charging my iPod off Firewire and my Palm Tungsten T3 via a USB sync/charge cable at the same time on my PowerBook G4/1.33 12". It came in very handy during my recent trip to Austria (I live in Canada). The PowerBook's power adapter is dual voltage so all I needed was a plug adapter and then my iPod and Palm just charged off the PowerBook. I noticed one strange thing in Austria though, a noticable power related vibration when I slid my fingers across the aluminum cover of the PowerBook or the Palm while it was connected to the USB port. Not sure my PowerBook is properly shielding the higher 220V European voltage, although everything continued to work fine.

It's great not having to bring an extra couple of AC adapters when you are trying to pack light!



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PowerBook G4/1.33 12", 10.3.5
Authored by: magir on Nov 05, '04 02:09:55AM

The problem with "vibrating" enclosure is quite common to powerbooks. I haven't noticed it yet on my AlBook but it was present on my older TiBook. The problem is that the power supply doesn't connect to the "ground wire" which leads to a voltage difference between the enclosure and the person touching it which is indirectly connected to the "ground wire" via its feet :-). Connected an ethernet cable usually resolves the issue - this may apply so other devices as well as long as they are somewhere connected to the ground wire.



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PowerBook G4/1.33 12", 10.3.5
Authored by: JimMueller on Nov 07, '04 02:58:44PM

We have exactly the same "buzzing" with our waterbed. Some grounding issue we wave not been able to track down in about 20 years...



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Use a USB charger with a newer PowerBook and 10.3
Authored by: Fillman on Nov 04, '04 02:45:52PM

I have no problems with USB chargers for my P800 smartphone and a Motorola bluetooth headset on my Rev A 12" Powerbook. I like to travel light and the USB chargers solve that problem admirably. No need to adjust anything on the PB12' to make them work.



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Use a USB charger with a newer PowerBook and 10.3
Authored by: GEllenburg on Nov 04, '04 05:22:46PM

I don't know about the power books, but even my Blackberry 7100t (T-Mobile) frequently complains about low USB power (it's only charged via USB with or without a USB power brick) or not enough current to charge...

... And this is on a DP/MDD PowerMac plugged into the USB hub on the system board.

I also never had problems with my old Treo 600 either charging via USB either on my iBook or PowerMac.

---
He who does not challenge one\'s elected decisions today, may find himself challenged by them tomorrow.



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Wow!
Authored by: karenwallace on Nov 04, '04 06:56:53PM

Yay! This hint revived my poor palm T2 which I left in a backpack for a few months so it complete discharged. When I found it, I promptly plugged it into the USB port on my 12" powerbook for a day, but it refused to turn on afterward. After 3 minutes of being plugged in with System Preferences open, it turns on!



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Use a USB charger with a newer PowerBook and 10.3
Authored by: _merlin on Nov 04, '04 09:55:38PM

The problem is that these USB chargers draw current from the USB port without requesting it first. The USB standard requires devices to start up in low-power mode, and not draw more than a small current before a configuration with higher current requirements is selected by a driver or application on the computer. The USB chargers don't do this. The PowerBook can supply 500mA, but it will limit the current to far lower than this if the device hasn't requested it.



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Use a USB charger with a newer PowerBook and 10.3
Authored by: unforeseen:X11 on Nov 05, '04 04:32:52AM

very interesting, thanks.



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Use a USB charger with a newer PowerBook and 10.3
Authored by: gvitale on Nov 05, '04 04:40:36AM

Is there a (software) way to "prompt" the USB port to deliver the required current?



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Use a USB charger with a newer PowerBook and 10.3
Authored by: steeviant on Nov 07, '04 08:32:38AM

Yes, open System Preferences :)



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Use a USB charger with a newer PowerBook and 10.3
Authored by: scottjenson on Nov 08, '04 09:36:06AM

If I were to plug in a 'powered USB hub' into the powerbook and then plug the charger into this hub, would this solve the problem?

My guess is that the hub may do this type of USB protocol power request so it the power could be coaxed to flow...

Btw, I was the guy that posted the original question. Thanks for your insight as to what was going on.

Scott



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Use a USB charger with a newer PowerBook and 10.3
Authored by: cynikal on Nov 05, '04 06:55:56PM

that's very weird.. considering i have a albook 1.5ghz and charge all my peripherals/accessories off my laptop w/o any problems:

- ipaq 2200
- ericson t68i
- holux bluetooth gps receiver

no problems charging anything.. weird huh? at least if i get a new powerbook and i have this problem i'll know to start system preferences.. lol



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Use a USB charger with a newer PowerBook and 10.3
Authored by: sfederman on Nov 05, '04 07:22:06PM

Interesting... I haven't been able to charge my Treo 600 using my USB sync/cable (from Boxwave) for a long time. I can't be sure if a system update disabled it, but I do know that it used to work. Currently, it still does work for syncing, and I suppose it is possible that it may sync correctly but be unable to charge. I'll have to look into this a bit further...



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