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BLANKDISC Error - I'm devastated.

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Hi folks,

Long time Minidisc user here, but never had a major problem with them. I am a musician and record song ideas to minidisc as I get the inspiration. I use my minidisc recorder as an "ideas" scrap book to archive potential future songs I wish to develop. I record in LP4 mode, as these are just "notepad" ideas and I want to get a lot of recording time on a disc.

Unfortunately, today recording an idea and pressing STOP, the recorder (an MZ-N1) took a LONG time to write to TOC once finished recording.The resulting track was there, but it was silent. Previous tracks would still play, however, and I could jump around on the disc. So I thought everything was okay.

I then ejected the disc and tried it in another minidisc machine (known good machine I use regularly).

Immediately got the message BLANKDISK. Please NO!

This was a disc with about 4 hours of song ideas on it. The disc was almost full of several years of ideas. Now I can get nothing from it. As you can imagine, I am very emotionally upset by the irreplaceable loss this represents.

I did immediately write protect the disc after seeing this message and have NOT since tried to record to it. I'm HOPING that somehow the TOC can be cloned and the music data made listenable again - even if it's one long four hour track - I don't care!

I have several questions:

1. Can an LP4 disc even be restored with TOC cloning, or does it only apply to regular old SP discs?

2. How can I do this (I have several other models - MZ-R700, MZ-N505 and an old Kenwood DMC-G7R SP only portable which was a clone of a SHARP and can do TOC cloning (but only for SP discs maybe) - all portables).

3. Is there anyone out there who could possible help me salvage this disc, it means so much to me.

Thanks for your help.

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The problem comes if you used and reused the disk. If it were a single recording or a series of recordings with no deletions, then you should be fine with the TOC cloning provided you can find the right deck (I have done it for someone with an LP4 recording indeed). But as soon as you delete stuff and then re-record, your audio data will get scattered, and so toc cloning the whole thing as a single track will produce the expected mess. If that doesn't matter, then you should be fine.

IIRC you may need a DECK (not a portable) to do TOC cloning. Someone can put me straight on that point immediately.

You would be a good candidate for the more modern forms of storage :) Personally, I have the luxury of an RH1 and nothing ever stays on an MD without me making a copy to computer as well, so that I can edit it with Sound Forge. Disks wear out.

What is more disturbing, and you need to check right now, is whether your N1 has died. Sounds to me like the overwrite head is blown. Common fault, but you will blank any disk that you try to record or edit in any way whatever, on it. Eg. the first time you press Track Mark will be enough to blank the TOC.

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Hi. That's indicative of the write head cabling cracking, which is a fairly common age-related problem on the MZ-N1. The track you recorded is blank, almost certainly. And when you came to update the Table Of Contents, it erased that too. The reason is that the laser heats up the recording medium as expected, but the write head does no then 'set' the signal in the medium when it cools again. A very efficient method for erasing!

Your original data is probably not lost, and if it is all recorded in LP4 it is a fairly trivial task to recover. You need a minidisc deck that can be fooled into writing a good TOC over your erased one, resulting in one single 360 minute track which you then need to edit back to it's original state with your MZ-N1, once that is repaired. A good example, and the one I personally use, is the MDS-JE520. Surprisingly, the deck you use to perform this trickery need not even support LP4, it just copies the TOC over verbatim, including the flags and settings that indicate the track is LP4.

Where in the world are you? I am based in the UK, and repair these units for a living (and at reasonable price I might add). I can also recover the disc for you. Send me a personal message if you are interested.

The resulting track comprises the original material recorded and any erased blocks, so may include older material that you thought already gone. In addition, due to recorded blocks filling any gaps caused be erasing, the material may not play back sequentially as far as you are concerned, although it is sequential on the disc. However, if it was a blank disc and you only ever added tunes to it, never erasing tracks or editing track markers, the disc will probably be totally sequential chronologically.

This has also reminded me that I meant to look into TOC cloning using a portable recorder. I reckon it would just need a disc-in shorting switch to perform the task, that should be enough to allow a disc to be swapped without warning the unit's watchdog. I am pretty sure I came across a recorder a few years ago which had exactly this fault, and caused all sorts of amusing problems. If I ever find time.... I will add it to my to-do list.

Jim

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Thanks for your comments sfbp and Jim,

I am happy (thrilled & relieved and just plain thankful) that I was able to do a TOC cloning on the disc (my first ever TOC cloning), and as a result was able to recover my audio in one large contiguous file. I am dubbing it to my computer as we speak, so that I never am without a backup AGAIN!

I used the Kenwood DMC-G7R (clone of the Sharp MS200) and taped over the disc sensor pin (which was very small and way back in the disc slot (I didn't even notice it at first). This allowed me to trick the machine so I could do a disc swap. As you mentioned, Jim, even though the Kenwood is an SP Minidisc player/recorder only, it copied the TOC from the LP4 master TOC disc to the damaged disc just fine. Thank goodness!

And, as both of you mentioned, there are spots where the audio is fragmented - although mostly it is fine, as I tended not to erase much. Even if fragmented, I'm happy to have it - I'll even stitch it back together manually in an audio program with a smile on my face.

Thank you so much for the encouragement. I'll never record valuable song ideas to a medium that cannot be backed up easily again.

In a strange move of serendipity, the day before my MZ-N1 blanked the disk, I was perusing the clearance bin of my local big-box office supply store. They had a couple really nice Sony ICD712SX digital recorders on blowout for $69CAD. I thought them rather above average with their swiveling stereo microphones and PCM recording ability - and the price was very nice! But I didn't buy one at the time because I had my minidisc portables. Well, as you can imagine, this morning I went out and snatched one up right away. It's a very impressive and feature rich recorder. It also sounds very nice. I'm happy.

Here is information on the ICD712SX: http://tinyurl.com/mwybeyn

I'll continue to use minidisc for fun, portable music listening, and for longer contiguous recordings (i.e. live concert taping that is immediately going to dumped to CD). But the music ideas are going to the new IC recorder where I can easily dump them via USB to backup media.

Thanks also for the information about the common failure on the MZ-N1. This sounds like another tinkering exploration to try and repair the ribbon cable break for the write head. I've had almost every portable I own opened up at one time or another, but not this one, so it should be a learning experience and a fun adventure. I got it at a Thrift store with charging base for $6.99CAD so I'm not overly disappointed it failed. It does also have a bit of a noisy motor when playing the outer portions of a disc, so it would be nice if I could see what is causing that.

Thanks again everyone - how nice to have a pleasant resolution to this problem. Thankyou!

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I am based in the UK, and repair these units for a living (and at reasonable price I might add).

I´d like to know - if it´s not too impertinent - if you´re able to make a living from this work. I imagine MiniDisc recorders are becoming more rare every day... so I assume it must be difficult. I´d love to be corrected though. Would give me hope that the format isn´t dead at all.

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In a strange move of serendipity, the day before my MZ-N1 blanked the disk, I was perusing the clearance bin of my local big-box office supply store. They had a couple really nice Sony ICD712SX digital recorders on blowout for $69CAD. I thought them rather above average with their swiveling stereo microphones and PCM recording ability - and the price was very nice! But I didn't buy one at the time because I had my minidisc portables. Well, as you can imagine, this morning I went out and snatched one up right away. It's a very impressive and feature rich recorder. It also sounds very nice. I'm happy.

I have the 712's predecessors, the ICD-SX750 and 950. They both perform very well, with an abundance of choices for long compressed recordings.

The big thing that the SX712 and SX813 have over either is the ability to insert a microSD card, which are now cheap (they were not when I bought the 8GB SX950 a couple of years ago). They do lack some of the nice codecs which Sony appears to have abandoned, but so what? If I can put 16GB in a 712, it becomes a no-brainer.

The only thing better is a 24-bit machine such as the PCM-M10, and for most purposes it's not even important. And it doesn't go in the pocket in quite the same way as the ICD models are clearly designed to do.

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I´d like to know - if it´s not too impertinent - if you´re able to make a living from this work. I imagine MiniDisc recorders are becoming more rare every day... so I assume it must be difficult. I´d love to be corrected though. Would give me hope that the format isn´t dead at all.

Not really - I will never be rich. But it mans I can make a small amount of money to boost my other income, which is just a part-time job. It also means I can work at any time of the day, which helps with my various health problems as they restrict my abilities and exclude a normal '9-to-5'.

Jim

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Not really - I will never be rich. But it mans I can make a small amount of money to boost my other income, which is just a part-time job. It also means I can work at any time of the day, which helps with my various health problems as they restrict my abilities and exclude a normal '9-to-5'.

Jim

Ah, ok. Thank you for the answer, Jim.

And all the best to you.

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Not really - I will never be rich. But it mans I can make a small amount of money to boost my other income, which is just a part-time job. It also means I can work at any time of the day, which helps with my various health problems as they restrict my abilities and exclude a normal '9-to-5'.

Jim

Jim, thanks for your input on this thread. You seem like one of the most knowledgeable people on the topics of MD repair. The MZ-N1 in question that blanked the disk is now a candidate for dissection, to see if the write head ribbon cable has broken. But it's also had another problem, which I've noticed on a few of my second-hand MD portables - motor shrieking. When the MZ-N1 gets to the outer tracks of the disk, the motor whir is very noisy at times. I've a really badly abused MZ-R700 whose motor noise can get so bad it sounds like an electric grass trimmer.

Have you ever diagnosed what causes the motors to do this?

Thanks.

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Jim, thanks for your input on this thread. You seem like one of the most knowledgeable people on the topics of MD repair. The MZ-N1 in question that blanked the disk is now a candidate for dissection, to see if the write head ribbon cable has broken. But it's also had another problem, which I've noticed on a few of my second-hand MD portables - motor shrieking. When the MZ-N1 gets to the outer tracks of the disk, the motor whir is very noisy at times. I've a really badly abused MZ-R700 whose motor noise can get so bad it sounds like an electric grass trimmer.

Have you ever diagnosed what causes the motors to do this?

Thanks.

Looks like I'm giving away all my hard-earned knowledge here - the R700 noise is due to the sled transmission gear rubbing against components on the circuit board. The gear warps with time, and lifts upwards at the outer circumference. The fix is a replacement plastic gear, or temporarily try to bend it down so it forms a very slight 'umbrella' shape. Or find some way of forcing the main circuit board slightly more proud than normal. The same problem can affect the N1, but this is not as common. Or it is simply a case that the motors are noisy and require replacement.

Jim

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Ah, thanks Jim. Don't worry, I'm not about to go into competition with you, but I appreciate your openness.

Well I opened my MZ-N1 and the ribbon cable did not seem to be broken or even cracked. I then scanned every bit of the ribbon cable with a 10x eye loupe and also didn't see any problem.

However, I only took the top (door) shell off and examined what was visible there. I didn't take the bottom shell of the unit off - perhaps I should do that to see if there is a break there.

Strangely, the MZ-N1 has not had any further problems writing to or editing test discs. No disk blanking even after much testing. I do recall that when it blanked my disc (for the very first time) last week, it seemed to be struggling to write the TOC (I could hear the head resetting itself over and over again and it took a loooong time before it wrote to the TOC and I ended up with a BLANKDISC).

While the MZ-N1 was open, I put some lithium grease (a very light film) on the sled rail and worm screw for the laser/magnetic head. The unit seems to be much quieter now and I haven't heard the heads doing as much searching / resetting / struggling. I wonder if lithium grease was an okay choice.

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Sounds like you may have disturbed something which has made it work ok. The head failure on the N1 was a guess based on your fault description, as that's the usual culprit. But it could be the optical pickup or main board, you never know until it can be diagnosed by swapping in known good parts. The MZ-N1 is also very prone to faults caused by a twisted or otherwise damaged main chassis or casings. I have known N1's which work perfectly with the lower casing removed, then absolutely refuse to record properly with the same screwed back on.

Jim

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Hi Jim. Are you still here on this forum? I might have a project for you to investigate. It is a MDS 780 that does not spin, shows C13 error and ejects. If you are intersted please let me know here.

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If Jim is "still there", it is safer to send him a PM because I doubt  that Jim still read the forum as often as before.

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1 hour ago, PhilippeC said:

If Jim is "still there"

I wish he was still around. Few months ago I sent him a PM, an e-mail, and an ebay message. No reply, unfortunately. Might be as well, that he is not interested anymore. But I doubt it.

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