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Laser
Posted: Sat Apr 21, 2018 5:47 pm Reply with quote
Frequent contributor Joined: 10 Jan 2008 Posts: 431
I'm posting this in case it interests or helps anybody in a similar situation.

After providing relatively trouble-free service for about nine years, several weeks back my Toppy began intermittently misbehaving. The primary symptom was MyStuff sometimes freezing during the "L" phase - preventing timed recordings taking place - but it would also sometimes fail to see the HDD on boot, reboot during playback, wake up too early, chop the end off recordings, and freeze randomly. It got to the point where something would go wrong at least once a day. (Naturally, I tried all the usual things like deleting EPG files, checking for weak channels and recovering settings files from a backup.)

Now, I've been a member of this forum long enough to know that the first thing anybody advises is to check the PSU voltages, which I did (and not for the first time over the years). They were all in spec. and none of the capacitors showed signs of stress, nothing was running hot, no loose connections... MyInfo showed no errors, FsCheck reported all was ok, the SMART tags for the HDD were all fine, etc.

As it happens, I had the means to independently power the HDD (+12/+5V) and doing so seemed to reduce the frequency of the problems to once every couple of days. This was suggestive of some sort of PSU problem, and nine years is well past what is usually regarded as sensible around here, so I asked andyfras for his excellent PSU capacitor repair kit. I must say a big thank-you to Andy because he had the kit on its way to me within hours of my first contacting him, and I was quickly able to get to work with the soldering iron.

At first I thought it was fixed, but after a few days it had a problem again. So I carefully went through every TAP on the machine and installed a pristine copy of the latest version and re-created all the settings. I cleared out any old or unused settings, TAPs, data, etc. But no, it still glitched every few days.

One of the symptoms was that occasionally I could hear the HDD spin down for just a fraction of a second, usually resulting in a freeze. So the next suspect on the list was the HDD. A colleague generously donated me his IDE to SATA converter that he used to use when he had a Toppy himself. I dug up a 2.5" drive from an old laptop and selectively copied the data across using TopfHDRW and an external USB-IDE/SATA adapter. I was encouraged because, during this process, just once, the old HDD did momentarily spin down just as I'd seen in the Toppy (causing mayhem to the copy process Rolling Eyes).

So, new HDD, new capacitors, fresh settings, spring-cleaned data and programmes, lower power demands on the PSU... It worked well for about a week, then rebooted randomly during playback. It recovered immedately, not even requiring a "verifying files" process, and was then happy to play the recording all the way through. Definitely better, but not 100%.

Clutching at ever shorter straws, I decided I was skeptical of the 3.3V power rail. It measured about 3.17V, which is inside spec, but getting a little low for comfort. I replaced the regulator, bringing it up to about 3.25V. Not wanting to tempt fate here, but it has now been working flawlessly for two weeks so I'm hoping it really is finally "fixed".

Whether there was more than one problem, or whether all the problems were the result of a single failure, or whether the different intervals between failures was more related to chance than my actions, I cannot say. It definitely felt like it got progressively better with each attempt. I'm pretty sure there was something wrong with the HDD or its formatting, and the other symptoms point towards PSU issues, but whether I could have just fixed it all by changing the 3.3V regulator, I'll never know.

On the plus side, I now have a HDD which is twice the capacity and considerably quieter and cooler than I had before! Very Happy

I am also grateful to the many contributors to this forum, without whose accumulated wisdom I wouldn't have stood a chance and the thing would be in the bin. Cool

Thanks for reading.

_________________
TF5800 250GB Black Panther FW 5.13.65 (Patched)
TAPs: MS6.6, EPG2MEI 0.96, Extend 1.7, SecCacheUK, EIT_Sub, UKSubtitle, SDS
TV: Pioneer PDP-4280XD. AVR: Onkyo TX-NR807. Transmitter: Tacolneston
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Geoff Bacon
Posted: Sun Apr 22, 2018 12:21 pm Reply with quote
Frequent contributor Joined: 12 Jan 2007 Posts: 4158
@laser

It may have well been the disk that caused the problem.- andyfras has previously told me that he has seen disks cause problems even though their SMART characteristics indicate no issues (and I have seen it on one of my own disks).

The "mayhem to the copy process" may have been because windows turned off the power to the USB when it decided that the computer was inactive (active means that you have used some interactive device e.g. keyboard, mouse or similar); it takes no notice of other devices that may be beavering away). This has caused me troubles in the past when recovering toppy disks using my TDM program. Even when you think
you have turned it off it seems to still occur (I have a code fix now).

Still, you should be ok now for a couple of yesrs

Geoff

_________________
TopManager program
TF5800, TS On, F/W: MS6 Recommended F/W 12/9/2009 -Sy
TAPs: PcControl B1.4; StopExit v1.01; EPG2MEI v0.96; QuickJump 1.72; MyStuff 6.6; Font Manager 1.0d; Extend v1.7; SecCache (UK) v0.4; EIT Sub (Game) v0.6; MHEG On/Off A3; MyInfo B5.6; WSSkiller V2.12d; CrashTrace v0.4; fsSave 1.1; PruneEPG 1.0;
Sig generated by MyInfo on 17/1/16
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Laser
Posted: Mon Apr 23, 2018 1:30 pm Reply with quote
Frequent contributor Joined: 10 Jan 2008 Posts: 431
The "mayhem" was, I think, because TopfHDRW is a bit low-level for what the newer Windows versions like to see. Although it works, it is a bit fragile, and Windows isn't very graceful at handling misbehaving software.

When the disk "went away", Windows un-mounted it which then confused TopfHDRW so it wouldn't respond. Trying to kill it using Task Manager didn't work, and re-mounting the disk didn't work because it was "still in use" - despite not existing. Since the drive I was copying to was on the same adapter, I couldn't safely unmount that either.

Windows wouldn't restart because it couldn't kill TopfHDRW, so I had to use the Big Switch of Power. Naturally, the target drive was not in a happy state after that, so TopfHDRW didn't like it and I had to start over again.

It worked fine after that, copying about 100GB of stuff across over the course of a few hours.

A pity someone doesn't write an equivalent for Linux.

_________________
TF5800 250GB Black Panther FW 5.13.65 (Patched)
TAPs: MS6.6, EPG2MEI 0.96, Extend 1.7, SecCacheUK, EIT_Sub, UKSubtitle, SDS
TV: Pioneer PDP-4280XD. AVR: Onkyo TX-NR807. Transmitter: Tacolneston
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andyfras
Posted: Fri Apr 27, 2018 11:42 am Reply with quote
Frequent contributor Joined: 25 Jul 2005 Posts: 3424
Check the voltage on the wide tab of U20 relative to the chassis; it's under the left edge of the card reader. It is fed from 3.3V and should be very close to 1.5V; if it's less than 1.45V, it's probably the cause of the problems you are seeing, as it powers the main processor.

_________________
Toppy PSU repair service or capacitor kits for DIY available - PM me for details.
MyStuff 6.6 : Little Clock : MHEGOnOff : Extend : EPG2MEI : SecCache : EIT_Sub : TSSaver : Prune EPG
Channel Organiser : Tap Commander : HDD Info : PCControl : Signal Monitor : MyInfo
URC-7555 remote: TF5800 320GB 2.5", Recommended_5800.tfd + CfPePsScUUuWfZ
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Laser
Posted: Sat Apr 28, 2018 12:50 pm Reply with quote
Frequent contributor Joined: 10 Jan 2008 Posts: 431
Thanks Andy. I did find some reference to that measurement on the web at the time. If I recall correctly it was pretty close, about 1.48V.

And thank you for the capacitor kit.

So far... it's still working...

_________________
TF5800 250GB Black Panther FW 5.13.65 (Patched)
TAPs: MS6.6, EPG2MEI 0.96, Extend 1.7, SecCacheUK, EIT_Sub, UKSubtitle, SDS
TV: Pioneer PDP-4280XD. AVR: Onkyo TX-NR807. Transmitter: Tacolneston
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