HDD locked up

For all discussions regarding the JVC HM-HDS1 (40GB hard disk and S-VHS recorder)

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EagleFlyFree
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HDD locked up

Post by EagleFlyFree » Thu Mar 03, 2005 12:42 pm

My HM-HDS1 has been working fine for 2 years, but yesterday HDD playback became jerky. Then suddenly the unit turned itself off, just the blue HDD light kept flashing. It didn't respond to any button presses and I unplugged the unit.

Now when I connect it to the mains, the display lights up and the hard disk sounds like it's spinning as normal, but the unit still doesn't respond. The blue light flashes and the startup logo sequence is repeating over and over again on the TV screen. What has happened?

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Andy Cippico
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Post by Andy Cippico » Thu Mar 03, 2005 5:51 pm

Hi EagleFlyFree,
Thanks for dropping by. Your description sounds very close to what I had with my unit. Unfortunately, I still haven't found the direct cause of it.
Here's what worked for me on several occasions:
  • Unplug the unit from the mains and open it up.
    Disconnect the HDD ribbon cable (leave the power connector in)
    Power up the unit and wait for about 2-3 minutes, then unplug it from the mains again.
    Reconnect the HDD ribbon cable and power the unit back up.
    If it's anything like mine, you'll see it flash the logo quite a few times, then switch itself off. Once it's done that, try turning it on (using the normal power button at the front). It may recover.
If this fails, you might need to either replace the HDD or re-image it.
Let us know how you get on,
Regards,
Andy

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Post by EagleFlyFree » Fri Mar 04, 2005 1:27 am

I have now tested my unit more thoroughly, and discovered that if I just leave it in the "blue flashing state", the unit will eventually turn itself off to normal standby mode. When I turn it back on, Live Memory (pause/rewind/fast forward) and recording seem to work, but not HDD playback. Maybe jerky isn't the right word, it rather pauses at irregular intervals during playback. Even scrolling through the "thumbnails" can cause the unit to freeze and/or shut down. Then it can take as long as 30 - 40 minutes until the HDD illumination stops flashing. All the time you hear the hard disk working. Maybe some kind of self maintenance? The hard disk behaved similarly after I had deleted a short recording. The "searching HDD" message (I don't know the exact english translation) popped up and was on screen for about 20 minutes, then I could operate the unit again.

I'd rather avoid opening the unit up myself as it's still under warranty - but there are just a couple of days left, and I must decide very soon what to do next. I was just hoping there was a chance I didn't have to send it in for a repair and then wait for who knows how long. Also, there are several recordings on my HDD that I'd prefer not to lose. By the way, are there any drawbacks with the 80 GB replacement HDD?

As I said, my unit has been working with no hassle for just about 2 years, up until now. Maybe I should also mention the circumstances when the problems started, though I don't know how relevant they are (if at all): I had left Live Memory in pause state for so long that the 1 hour buffer was exceeded, then (whith pause still untouched) a timer recording started, and during that recording I tried to play from the beginning and things messed up. The HDD wasn't full but there was not very much space left either (30 minutes SP time or so).

I bought my HM-HDS1 as I needed a replacement for my old (and broken) VHS recorder,
so VHS + HDD was the perfect choice for me. The only real disappoinment was the MPEG audio quality, but otherwise I find it extremely convenient.

I must say you have a great site with lots of interesting info I never expected to find when I searched the net for help with my problem!

Thanks,
Ted

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Andy Cippico
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Post by Andy Cippico » Fri Mar 04, 2005 8:38 am

Ted,

Unfortunately, your problem sounds like a corruption in the HDD software. Similar things have happened to my system(s) over the years and I'm now positive that certain combinations of events that were unforseen by the JVC programmers cause the machine to fail. Perhaps the scenario you describe is such one event.
I've had two replacements in 4 years and although I now am way out of warranty, I still can't help trying to keep it alive, despite its many flaws!

Now, as to your next move: I would have no hesitation in sending it back under warranty, however, your recordings will almost certainly be erased. I know that mine did on both occasions. If you really, really want to preserve your recordings, your only option therefore is to try and get an image of the HDD onto another disk or file image. This will of course involve opening the unit up, disconnecting the HDD and popping it into a PC for imaging. Once you've done that, you'll need to put everything back together and send it back for repair.
You could of course ask the repair shop NOT to delete anytyhing off the HDD but I'm 99% sure that they'll use the JVC re-imaging tool that wipes everything off.

Assuming you end up with a clean working drive, the next thing to do is to wait until Geert Jan Laanstra (a top boffin who is in the process of decoding the software) to find a way to extract the recordings. He's already extracted the JVC title sequence to MPEG (see link to his FTP site on my technical page) so it's only a matter of time before the rest follows.
Of course, this means possible rejection of the unit by the repair shop because you've been inside it. I don't see an easy way out, but if I was in your shoes, I'd take the warranty option and try and forget you ever had important recordings on there. In the UK, it would cost you ?200 (I don't know what that is in Swedish Krona) to have the HDD replaced out of warranty.

As regards the 80GB replacement - it's not an upgrade. You can only use 40GB of it. It's simply because JVC (or anyone) can't buy 40GB drives any more in large quantities. Geert Jan is looking at the possibility of using different drive types but that may be some way off yet. It would also require the re-programming of your onboard EEPROM - which will void your warranty as well.

Like you, the JVC was the perfect choice for me and likewise, the audio quality was the only disappointment.
Thank you for your kind words regarding the site. It was born out of frustration that I couldn't find any information on this unit anywhere. I felt it needed a community!

I don't know if this has been of any practical help, but let us know how you get on.
Regards,
Andy

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Post by EagleFlyFree » Fri Mar 04, 2005 8:24 pm

I tested my unit for a few more hours today, and have now found even the Live Memory unreliable.

If I was sure about the warranty, I'd probably not hesitate to send my unit back. However, the normal warranty is only valid for 12 months. After that (month 13 through 24), I as the customer have to prove that the fault was present when I bought the unit (a manufacturing defect). Now, I suppose buggy software falls into that category, but if the repair shop consider the HDD worn out or something, It seems I might end up having to pay all the costs.

As I bought my unit from a mail order company, the very least it would cost me to send it back is 180 SEK (about ?14) for postage. Then, to make things further complicated, this company didn't buy their JVC products in Sweden, but imported them from Germany (I didn't know that at the time) so to claim the warranty, they have to send my unit there. In the worst case, if it's not covered by the warranty I'll have to pay another ?80 for postage + troubleshooting. Then add the costs for spare parts and/or repair work. By then, I'd better had turned to my local (in a town nearby) JVC repair centre in the first place...

So, I have to be pretty sure about this warranty thing before I send my unit back. I'm not getting any more help from the mail order company, so I'll call JVC Sweden on Monday and see what they imply regarding faulty HM-HDS1:s. Maybe I should call that repair centre I mentioned too.

But if it's just a software corruption, re-imaging my drive would be enough, right? If I could manage to do it myself, that would be the cheapest and fastest (as I wouldn't have to send the unit away) option of all. I could even (hopefully) preserve my recordings. It seems worth considering.

Thank you very much for trying to help me out, and I welcome your (further) suggestions.

/ Ted

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andywilks
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Post by andywilks » Tue Mar 08, 2005 9:08 am

Re imaging the drive should cure the problems assuming its just HDD corruption. This would be undetectable to any JVC service centre, even if you end up sending it back for warranty. There wouldn't be any warranty implications either (being a JVC dealer in the UK, we have the freedom to decide for ourselves..) Only if the customer has 'damaged' the unit would a dealer decline 'warranty' on JVC's behalf.

These machines were made 3-4 years ago for the UK- so JVC consider them all out of warranty here- perhaps Sweden sold them more recently. If pushed and if genuinely within say 24 months of original purchase JVC can often agree to do them under warranty, or perhaps at 50% parts discount. They (in UK) don't offer a restore/reformat option for the original drive- they supply a new 80gig drive(prepped for 40gig) and a new 48pin Rom chip (not an esay change).

It is for this reason, we at this site are trying to offer the option of 'images' to allow users to repair their machines now that they are out of warranty.

(Message to ANDY Cippico)- Would the image we have work ok on his drive do you think?- or does he need to check which drive manufacturer it is? My only other worry would be if the settings were different for the Swedish model....

Andrew W

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Andy Cippico
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Post by Andy Cippico » Tue Mar 08, 2005 10:11 am

Hi Ted and Andrew,
My guess would be that assuming Sweden use PAL rather than SECAM or NTSC, Geert Jan's image should do the trick, however, I would back up the current drive just in case. This obviously requires another similar sized drive (not necessarily identical, becuase you are backing up to a file, not performing a drive image/clone). Of course, you could go out and buy an identical drive and clone it before you start - it's up to you.
As Andrew W points out, you would also need to check which drive you have in the JVC. If it's a Maxtor then I think you'll be OK. If it's a Quantum.. well, we don't know yet. This is because imaging a Maxtor image back on to a Quantum has yet to be tried.
Regarding your existing recordings: you would have to wait until Geert Jan discovers how to extract the MPEG2 information before you could view those again.
Anyway, I hope that helps. Did you discover what your warranty situation was?
Andy

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Post by EagleFlyFree » Thu Mar 10, 2005 3:11 pm

Hi again,

I have the PAL model HM-HDS1EU labeled "made in Germany" (it came with a German manual). Before I downloaded the disk image from your FTP, I removed the case just to check that it has a Maxtor drive (model D540X-4K, p/n MX4K040H2).

The Swedish JVC main service centre had no experience of the HM-HDS1, nor the HM-HDS4, and as my dealer doesn't seem very keen on taking care of my unit and won't guarantee anything, I plan to make a backup and then re-image the drive myself first and see if it helps. Also, I rather prefer to keep the original drive model and chip, to be able to fix it the same way if the fault should occur again in the future.

To not have to buy another drive, I have now spent a lot of time preparing my two computers and freeing up the hard disk space needed for the backup. I'm ready to give it a try tonight or tomorrow. How long shall I expect the Ghost re-imaging process to take? Is there anything else I should think of? I have read your cloning and backing up document.

Thanks,
Ted

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andywilks
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Post by andywilks » Thu Mar 10, 2005 3:20 pm

The ghost imaging normally takes about 4-5 hours . Making your own backup will take longer than copying the FTP backup since you can't remove all the random data.... The FTP image has already had that removed (I assume!) and if I remember takes about 1.5 hrs

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Andy Cippico
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Post by Andy Cippico » Thu Mar 10, 2005 3:34 pm

Ted,

Yes, I echo what AndyWilks says. It takes several hours to backup your existing drive, although it depends hugely upon how full it ever got.

Restoring Geert Jan's 'virgin' image takes around a couple of hours, depending upon PC speed.

Good luck and keep us posted.
Andy

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Post by EagleFlyFree » Sat Mar 12, 2005 6:01 pm

Backing up the hard drive was extremely slow (around 20 MB/min) and after reporting "bad blocks encountered on read" twice, I aborted the backup. Writing the image file was quick (900 - 1000 MB/min) and successful, and with the re-imaged drive the JVC started up as normal with Live Memory running - but the record/playback problem remains exactly the same (the demo clips won't play either).

With the JVC drive back in my PC, I ran a test which detected "problems" - not more specific, as the software is intended for IBM/Hitachi drives (I tried the Maxtor PowerMax utility first but it didn't work since it wasn't compatible with my motherboard chipset).

So, I guess I should go for a replacement drive. Or can it be something not hard drive related as well?

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Geert Jan
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Post by Geert Jan » Sat Mar 12, 2005 6:57 pm

It look's like you're disk is gone bad....
Try an other test program or try to create a file system with windows or linux on the disk with a full format.
If the os reports bad sectors, you'd better replace it with another one.
If you don't want to change the firmware, you'll need to keep with the same make/model of the harddisk.
Otherwise you'll have to replace the firmware as well.
If you have the proper tools and a steady hand the HDS1 will stay alive.

At this moment i'm trying to adapt the firmware to other models or even other makes of harddisks.
good luck.......

G.J.

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Andy Cippico
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Post by Andy Cippico » Sun Mar 13, 2005 9:04 am

Geert Jan,

I agree. The most likely explanation is that the drive is faulty. The fact that you got the 'bad blocks' message whilst backing it up certainly points to that. Of course, it could be the digital codec board but a new drive will easily prove that.
Ted, as Geert Jan says, go for a low-level format, perhaps coupled with a FAT32/NTFS/Linux format as well.

Good luck,
Andy

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Post by EagleFlyFree » Sun Mar 13, 2005 3:43 pm

I formatted the drive in Windows (FAT32) as well, and ran ScanDisk afterwards. It detected bad clusters on the disk, so my next move now is to pick up an error free drive.

Thanks again for all your help and suggestions!

/ Ted

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Geert Jan
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Post by Geert Jan » Sun Mar 13, 2005 5:30 pm

Hi Ted,

You could try the maxtor tools available on their website.
Try PowerMax diagnostic tools. (drive model -> diagnostics).

Maybe this tool can recover your drive.....
Sometimes the bad sectors can be reallocated to spare sectors.
(if there still are some)....

good luck....

G.J.

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