PowerBook 5300 FAQ

AlkSoft / Contents / Hardware / Power & Battery

2.10) Power & Battery

2.10.1) What kind of main battery does my 5300 use?

The 5300 uses a Nickel Metal-Hydride (NiMH) main battery. It is different than previous PowerBook batteries that used a Nickel Cadmium (NiCad) mixture to store charge. Supposedly, the NiMH battery doesn't suffer from the dreaded "memory" effect that plagues NiCad batteries. Technically, this should be true, but most users will dispute this with emperical evidence and dead 5300 batteries.

2.10.2) Can I use more than one battery at a time?

Yes and no. The 5300 only has one dedicated battery bay and can only accept one 5300-style battery at a time. However, the 5300's expansion bay has a provision for accepting a battery, provided you can find one that will work in the bay. Although the capability exists, I'm unaware of any batteries that were ever actually built for the 5300's expansion bay. It may also be possible to adapt a high-capacity battery to work with the DC power socket on the 5300, but calling this using a second battery is only techincally true. ;-)

2.10.3) Can I use the battery from a 190, 3400, G3 or other PowerBook?

Yes, no, maybe, and probably not. The 190 and 5300 share the same battery design and technology, so batteries for the 190 are compatible with the 5300. The Li-Ion batteries from a 3400 or original G3 (often called the Kanga or 3500) will fit in a 5300 and even power it, but they cannot be recharged by the 5300 and probably won't be recognized correctly if at all. Batteries for the 1400 or any other PowerBook have a different form factor and will not fit in a 5300.

2.10.4) Can I use a Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) battery?

Maybe. The 5300 does not technically support the use of Li-Ion batteries. Although Apple originally planned to ship Li-Ion batteries with the 5300, support for the batteries on the 5300 was removed from the Mac OS after System 7.5.2. Consequently, Li-Ion batteries which match the physical requirements of the PowerBook will power the 5300, but the 5300 will not recognize the battery correctly and will not charge them.

2.10.5) Didn't the 5300 ship with a Li-Ion battery?

Apple originally planned to ship the 5300 with a Li-Ion battery in some configurations, offer a Ni-MH battery for other configurations, and ship the less expensive 190 with only a Ni-MH battery. Apple did manage to ship a very small number of 5300s with Li-Ion batteries before a flaw was discovered during assembly, and several batteries malfunctioned. Apple immediately recalled all 5300s and Li-Ion batteries and ceased production of that configuration. As a result, Apple revamped the product line and resumed shipment of 5300s with NiMH batteries only. If you have a 5300 with an original Li-Ion battery, consider yourself very lucky: it is an exceedingly rare device (and doesn't work with anything other than System 7.5.2 with the PowerBook 5300 Enabler).

2.10.6) Can I rebuild my battery?

Probably. There's nothing too special about the 5300's battery design. It does have some limitted digital logic to it (there's an EEPROM inside), but nothing that should prevent you from rebuilding a battery. The battery is built from 12 AA size NiMH cells connected in serial with a fuse and some other digital components used by the PowerBook to determine what kind of battery is installed. At least one original cell part number is ######. The cells were rated at ######mAh (milli-amp hours). Cells with a higher mAh rating will run longer.

2.10.7) Where can I find a new battery?

There are still a few sources of new PowerBook 5300 batteries. However, these batteries have likely been sitting on the shelves for years, and batteries don't have indefinite shelf lives. Some users do report good experiences with new batteries having run times of over 1.5 to 2 hours. Besides eBay and the Low End Mac Swap List, as of April 2004 you could still buy new batteries from places like The PowerBook Guy, NEXCOMP, and Dr. Bott.

2.10.8) How long should my battery run?

That is a difficult question to answer. Even new, the 5300 batteries didn't run for much longer than 2 hours at a time. Given the age of your battery, anything is possible from a completely dead battery to a battery that runs for 30 minutes to a battery that runs for the better part of two hours. My 3 batteries run for 30 mins, 1 hour, and 1.5 hours, approximately.

2.10.9) Can I rejuvenate my battery?

Maybe. NiMH batteries aren't supposed to suffer from the memory effect that plagues NiCad batteries. However, many users have found that a regimen of Battery Amnesia and Battery Reset can restore some life to aging or dying batteries. Some batteries simply cannot be resurrected no matter what you do.

2.10.10) Are there any 3rd party batteries?

Yes. BTI (Battery Technologies, Inc) made a 3000 mAh 14.4 V battery for the 190/5300. VST also made some batteries.

2.10.11) How do I recharge my battery?

Recharging a battery is simple. Just insert it into the PowerBook and plug the PowerBook into an electric outlet. The PowerBook will then recharge the battery. The PowerBook doesn't have to be turned on to charge the battery. It can be running, sleeping, or shut down while charging the battery.

2.10.12) Are there any external battery chargers?

Yes. VST made an external battery recharger that could also recondition batteries. The charger takes the 5300's power adapter as a power source and can charge two batteries, though only one charges at a time.

2.10.13) Does the 5300 have an internal (PRAM or clock) battery?

Yes. The 5300 takes a pair or VL2330 coin-type 3V lithium rechargeable batteries wired in series. The batteries are connected to the PowerBook via a three wire cable that plugs into the Power Management Unit. The batteries are rechargeable and generally have a lifespan of several years. As long as you plug in your PowerBook from time to time, it is unlikely that the battery will go dead due to being completely discharged.

2.10.14) How do I know if my clock battery is dead?

There are a couple of symptoms that give away a dead clock battery, but the most consistent and obvious manifestation of a dead or dying clock battery is a PowerBook that can't remember it's date and time. If, after you've removed the main battery and disconnected the power adapter, the PowerBook doesn't have the correct date and time on the next restart, your clock battery is probably dying or dead already. The PowerBook can also forget certain other settings such as Energy Saver settings and AppleTalk settings. If the battery is too depleted, you may have difficulty starting up the PowerBook. You may also experience the "Green Light of Death" (GLOD). GLOD is the state of your PowerBook when the only result of pressing the power button is a constantly glowing green sleep indicator light. GLOD is usually cured by replacing the clock battery.

2.10.15) Can I replace the clock battery?

Yes. The PowerBook Guy is a good place to start looking for a complete replacement for your PRAM battery assembly.

2.10.16) Can I rebuild the clock battery?

Yes. As mentioned above, the PowerBook takes a pair of VL2330 lithium cells wired in series. If you take your old battery to your local battery supply store (such as Batteries Plus), the technicians ought to be able to replace them for you (and even spot weld them back together). Be absolutely sure that the batteries you buy as replacements are VL2300 types and NOT CR2330. CR2330 batteries are non-rechargeable batteries, and bad things will happen if you try to use these batteries.

2.10.17) What are the specifications of my power adapter?

The Apple PowerBook 5300 power adapter puts out 24V DC with 1.88A and a max power of 45W. The plug is center positive.

2.10.18) Can I the power adapter from another PowerBook with my 5300?

Only the 190 Series has a compatible power adapter. All other PowerBook power adapters won't fit the 5300, even if they share the same electrical specifications.

2.10.19) Can I use a PC laptop's power adapter with my PowerBook?

It is possible that there is a compatible PC laptop power adapter, but I am unware of any such adapter. Before trying the adapter on your PowerBook, be sure to compare the power adapter's specifications and it's plug's polarity against the needs of the 5300.

2.10.20) Are there any 3rd party power adapters?

Yes, there are several. Both VST and BTI made power adapters for the 5300. VST also made one that fit in the expansion bay and didn't include a large power brick. Sources of 3rd party power adapters are rare.

2.10.21) Can I plug my 5300 into an airliner's or automobile's power socket?

Yes. VST did make an auto adapter for the 5300. Finding an adapter for an airliner may be more difficult.