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Weird behaviour of new (to me) Sony MDS-JA555ES

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Hi,

something weird happened to me lately with a MDS-JA555ES:

By some strange coincidence, not one, but two minty 555s showed up on German eBay two weeks ago, on two different ends of Germany, and one of it in my very hometown! I took this as an unbelievably happy coincidence, so I just had to get this thing. And so I did. :dance2:

When I went to that place to pick it up I noticed that that guy had no more than 5 (five!) self-recorded MDs (he had set his MDs, most of them still unwrapped, in another auction, which I hadn't noticed). So the tale of this machine only having 10 hours on it may well have been true.

I insisted in having it plugged in and trying it, and so it was set up to record from a small portable CDP I had brought with me, connected to the analog input. Of course I had also brought the correct cables, but the stupid part in me had packed headphones with the wrong plug, so I couldn't listen.

When I put in the blank CD (an obscure used one I had got from somewhere, sometime), a strange thing happened. The display showed that the deck recorded, but the display was stuck at 0:00. The drive buttons wouldn't respond to stop, eject or anything. The deck wouldn't even go into standby anymore. :huh:

It wasn't until we pulled the wall plug and plugged it back in, that the deck would act normally again. It wasn't very helpful that the vendor couldn't remember (or pretended to) how to operate the deck at all.

After that incident, I ejected the failed disk, inserted another one, erased it, and started all over again. This time, everything went fine.

I had been ready to cancel the deal, but decided to go for the chance that this would have been a singular incident. After all, I had already had a disc that (while playing) got stuck on 0:00 before (although it hadn't taken the whole deck's operations down), on a deck that ever since has been working 100% reliably. And when would such a lucky chance (no parcel service to throw around the deck on transit) come along ever again? So I decided to carry through.

Since I had lugged that thing home (it is heavy!), I haven't had any time to play with it yet. But today, I had this weird MD in my hands, when I wanted to make some test recordings in another place, and I decided to use it, and see whether it would fail again. Then I noticed that the "0:00" recording was completely intact. It seems that the deck's firmware had somehow crashed, but the deck had still recorded fine. (And when had the deck updated the TOC? I hadn't noticed that at all.)

So WHAT ON EARTH WAS THAT?

BTW: The seller told me that one bidder had sent him instructions on how to go into service mode an read out the hours played/recorded (he even showed me a printout of the instructions). And he'd gone there and done that. Maybe this has something to do with the phenomenon.

Any way to reset the deck to factory state?

Regards,

Alex

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Normaly going into service mode cannot corrupt the firmware, event if you didn't know what you do.

But if you didn't know what you do, it's not normal that you enter into service mode :crazy:

Firmware (computer program of the deck) is an ASIC, an EEPROM is inside but only for store adjustments values and errors history.

Try to enter into service mode and exiting properly by following the how-to in page 4 of the SM. Do steps 1,2 and 9.

When you try to play a MD (recorded an another unit) the sound is ok, and the time is running ?

For my part I believe that you have an internal problem with the SYSCON part (main IC800 CPU froze), check that all internal ribbon cables are well connected, check for bad solders joint, also check CPU crystal oscillators X800/X801 and good VCC/VDD (well filtered) power to CPU.

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My 333 has exhibited that very same behavior. Sometimes even if I just try to erase a disc, the deck will then not respond to any button-pressing and will have to be unplugged. It's not a big deal, really, for me, because I use the deck exclusively for playback and it is in a rack with a completely operational MXD-D400. Still, IWBN if I could record on the 333 without having to worry whether it will act up. My JA20ES also did that same thing when I first tried to use it to record. I don't know if it's currently doing that or not b/c I'm not using it at the moment. Perhaps, as SFBP mentions, both of the units (bought on Ebay) had been put into SM before I got them. I don't know. I do know that what you describe is not limited to the 555.

Update: Inspired by your post, I just decided to put the 333 through some paces and see if it was in "behave" or "misbehave" mode. I put in an MD I'd recorded, erased it, put Black 47's "Live in New York City" in the D400's CD player, hit Music Sync on the 333, pressed play on the CD, and what do you know...the 333 recorded without incident. I stopped the CD abruptly after 2 tracks, played a few seconds from each track, ejected the MD, put it back in, and erased - all without incident again. And this is going from the D400 through an SCMS stripper to the 333.

Now, I seem to recall that when I first got the 333 and it behaved pretty much as does your 555, I put it in SM, ran some kind of check, and eventually the unit worked as it should. That doesn't mean it always works correctly, but at leats there is hope, I would think, for your 555. I am not necessarily recommending that you enter SM in the 555, but I do wish you good luck with the unit.

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Bruce - wondering if you should simply follow the procedure for "resume clear" which is common to most decks......? Sorry that may be the name they use for portables, I'm possibly confused. But there is a moment when you have finished with decks where you are supposed to press "REPEAT" (check with the exact service manual). The heading is "RELEASING THE TEST MODE". The key is that the unit should display "Initializing.." after you do that.

Perhaps what is needed is to put it BACK into Service Mode then do this "Initialize", to get out, rather than unplugging.

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Yes what you saw is exactly corresponding to what I would expect with a deck that has been in service mode. Probably unplugging it from the wall and reconnecting it got it out of s.m.

Well, the deck did record correctly. It was just that the display and the buttons (partly, it did show the recording level right) stopped working correctly after the recording started. That doesn't resemble a deck that's stuck in service mode.

Normaly going into service mode cannot corrupt the firmware, event if you didn't know what you do.

But if you didn't know what you do, it's not normal that you enter into service mode

Firmware (computer program of the deck) is an ASIC, an EEPROM is inside but only for store adjustments values and errors history.

Try to enter into service mode and exiting properly by following the how-to in page 4 of the SM. Do steps 1,2 and 9.

I'll try your suggestions. Personally, I have no problem to enter service mode. It wasn't me who went into service mode without knowing what he does, mind you. ;)

But the deck isn't really stuck in service mode. It just acted weird on the initial recording. Unfortunately, I don't have the time to perform any more checks ATM, but I'll do so ASAP.

When you try to play a MD (recorded an another unit) the sound is ok, and the time is running ?

Yes.

For my part I believe that you have an internal problem with the SYSCON part (main IC800 CPU froze), check that all internal ribbon cables are well connected, check for bad solders joint, also check CPU crystal oscillators X800/X801 and good VCC/VDD (well filtered) power to CPU.

I can only try to understand what you're saying here. Checking solder joints, checking CPU crystal oscillators and so forth is well beyond my skills. Doesn't sound good to me at first glance, I'm afraid. :(

My 333 has exhibited that very same behavior. Sometimes even if I just try to erase a disc, the deck will then not respond to any button-pressing and will have to be unplugged.

(...)

My JA20ES also did that same thing when I first tried to use it to record.

(...)

Perhaps, as SFBP mentions, both of the units (bought on Ebay) had been put into SM before I got them. I don't know. I do know that what you describe is not limited to the 555.

(...)

Now, I seem to recall that when I first got the 333 and it behaved pretty much as does your 555, I put it in SM, ran some kind of check, and eventually the unit worked as it should.

Maybe we're on to something here.

Which kind of check did you perform?

Bruce - wondering if you should simply follow the procedure for "resume clear" which is common to most decks......? Sorry that may be the name they use for portables, I'm possibly confused. But there is a moment when you have finished with decks where you are supposed to press "REPEAT" (check with the exact service manual). The heading is "RELEASING THE TEST MODE". The key is that the unit should display "Initializing.." after you do that.

Perhaps what is needed is to put it BACK into Service Mode then do this "Initialize", to get out, rather than unplugging.

Sorry, but who's Bruce? Bluecrab? Not me, for sure.

Maybe that's something I should check, too.

But the deck did perform later recording normally, after all?

Regards,

Alex

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I am both bluecrab (avatar) and Bruce (name). Sfbp and I had an exchange last March about the situation with my 333 and JA20ES. Some of it was online here and some was via email. You can use the search tool here and look for the "High-end MD deck weirdness" thread.

Among other things, sfbp opined that: "...if you are lucky you can check the IOP number against the one entered. It may have been written (and often is) on the top of the head by a service person. Probably some number around 60 with one decimal eg 57.6. This corresponds to (example) 0576 printed on the sticky on the bottom of the part but you probably cannot and don't want to get that head out. Read page 32 for the IOP stuff, it may be all you need.

Also just walking through the CREC and CPLAY checks may help."

This was a while back, so I don't exactly recall what I did, but this seems reasonable to me. I definitely had the issue of recording but not incrementing the time - athough I can't recall 100% if, like yours, the deck actually recorded something. FWIW, I also have gotten a JB940 deck to stop giving be TOC Read errors, simply by running a couple of checks in SM. Eventually the 940 returns to its evil ways, I run the check in SM (I am sorry, can't be sure it's CREC or CPLAY [but likely is]), and then the unit's fine for a while.

Possible the CREC or CPLAY checks will help, or maybe you can glean something from the prior discussion. If nothing else works, I can compile the email exchanges I referred to and send them to you. Keep at it and keep us informed.

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One thing that was not mentioned is the manufacturer of the blank MD disc. I have had issues with aging Maxell MD's plus I have heard of other manufacturers' MD's have had problems except for Sony and TDK blank MD's. Also if the blank MD was recorded with a portable Net MD unit at any time, the disc may have to be "initialized" to properly erase all remnants from the Net MD unit so the MDS-JA555ES deck will recognize the MD disc properly. I would not turn the unit off with a disc in it because the disc could jam and cause a circuit board problem (I had this happen once and had to send the unit to Sony Service to repair). If you look in the operations manual it warns you about making sure the MD is removed before turning the unit off.

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I'll try your suggestions. Personally, I have no problem to enter service mode. It wasn't me who went into service mode without knowing what he does, mind you. ;)

But the deck isn't really stuck in service mode. It just acted weird on the initial recording. Unfortunately, I don't have the time to perform any more checks ATM, but I'll do so ASAP.

Yeah I know, it's a general sentence for maybe concerned visitor readers.

Yes.

So very bizarre.

I can only try to understand what you're saying here. Checking solder joints, checking CPU crystal oscillators and so forth is well beyond my skills. Doesn't sound good to me at first glance, I'm afraid. :(

Sorry for the technical terms. Technicians and qualified personal visitors can understand.

I am both bluecrab (avatar) and Bruce (name). Sfbp and I had an exchange last March about the situation with my 333 and JA20ES. Some of it was online here and some was via email. You can use the search tool here and look for the "High-end MD deck weirdness" thread.

Among other things, sfbp opined that: "...if you are lucky you can check the IOP number against the one entered. It may have been written (and often is) on the top of the head by a service person. Probably some number around 60 with one decimal eg 57.6. This corresponds to (example) 0576 printed on the sticky on the bottom of the part but you probably cannot and don't want to get that head out. Read page 32 for the IOP stuff, it may be all you need.

Also just walking through the CREC and CPLAY checks may help."

This was a while back, so I don't exactly recall what I did, but this seems reasonable to me. I definitely had the issue of recording but not incrementing the time - athough I can't recall 100% if, like yours, the deck actually recorded something. FWIW, I also have gotten a JB940 deck to stop giving be TOC Read errors, simply by running a couple of checks in SM. Eventually the 940 returns to its evil ways, I run the check in SM (I am sorry, can't be sure it's CREC or CPLAY [but likely is]), and then the unit's fine for a while.

Possible the CREC or CPLAY checks will help, or maybe you can glean something from the prior discussion. If nothing else works, I can compile the email exchanges I referred to and send them to you. Keep at it and keep us informed.

I don't understand why IOP adjustment is necessary. Even if the value stored (IOP Write) is incorrect with what is printed on the OP the deck had to respond to user commands PLAY, STOP, STANDBY, etc;... Furthermore Alex says that the fantom recorded minidisc is finally well recorded. For my part the optical pickup (or is calibration) is not in fault.

You can make a test with CREC mode and see if address number is changing (increasing) on the VFD front display. Check also your "C" error rate at the same time.

Begin by making a CREC "IN" mode because when you record on a black minidisc it will begin by the center of the disc.... notice that this mode partially ERASE your minidisc content

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What I can tell you about the IOP business is this: what it comes down to is that, on decks at least, the read adjustment is much more critical than the write adjustment (on portables, at least HiMD portables, it seems to be the other way around, the write adjustment is more fussy).

Since write works easily (unless the head is blown, probably by adjustment passing too much current, but also perhaps from mechanical wear on the ribbon cable) what we are discussing may still be consistent with a unit that is having trouble reading once in a while. The good news is, using a maladjusted unit to READ will never blow it up, unless you deliberately set the read power huge multiples of what it is supposed to be. Write will typically work most of the time, but overpowering it can blow the mechanism. So I found when learning the hard way to do adjustments, that it's quite easy to have a deck that cannot read what it (just now) wrote perfectly.

Hope this helps.

Stephen

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Thanks for all your suggestions. I'll have to think it through and sort it out for my little mind. Until I can perform additional checks, it'll probably be well after the next weekend, I'm afraid.

I'll keep you informed of any progress I make.

Again, thanks to all so far.

Alex

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