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Old February 11th, 2008, 12:41 AM   #1
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Nightmare scenario for any videography business.

I have learned a terribly painful lesson. We run a small videography business doing corporate videos, local commercials and the occasional wedding. This is the story of how we lost 5 cameras for a total of nearly Ten thousand in losses. All due to a simple mistake. Thats Two XHA1's, a DVX100, a Canon HV10 and another small Panasonic 3CCD camera all broken.

Apparently if you have a home built computer and you plug the fire wire front panel header into the motherboard in the wrong direction you can fry a camera that connects to it. I guess the firewire cable is sending data and power threw it and if those lines are crossed the camera will break and no longer come on.

How it happened; I was out of town for a week. An uneducated person was left in charge of the workstation where this front panel firewire header was plugged in backwards. Someone who is dreadfully unaware of technology but supposedly capable of simple capturing tapes. She was not aware of what was happening and thought the computer had a software problem with not recognizing the cameras over firewire. So she went ahead and tried camera after the next not realizing what was happening until the 5th camera. We now have 5 cameras that are now broken because someone did not realize this was happening. Three of them are no longer under warenty. For a total loss of $9500 dollars in damages worst case scenario. Hopefully we can get the XHA1s fixed , as they were brand new, for no cost.

Let this be a lesson to the rest of you that build your own computers. I would imagine that plugging in a header in the wrong direction would make it just not work, but apparently this can happen...
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Old February 11th, 2008, 01:17 AM   #2
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I am just currious. Do you mean that person took the fire wire cable end that goes to the computer, the one that is tappered at one in, and forced it in the wrong way?

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Old February 11th, 2008, 01:30 AM   #3
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I too am lost, but curious.

I don't understand the words "firewire front panel header." The only thing firewire-related I can think of that plugs into a motherboard is a firewire PCI card. . .which won't even plug in at all if facing the wrong way. . .the slots won't line up. Plus, it'd be facing INTO the computer instead of out of it. But you must mean something else.

While we're on it, here's another one---never plug or unplug a firewire cable into/from your camera when the cam is on. Turn off before either. Apparently it can damage the fuse. Thankfully, I do not know this from personal experience.
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Old February 11th, 2008, 02:39 AM   #4
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I think what he's saying is that his motherboard physically has a special firewire connection on it for attaching a firewire port built into the case. Similar to the way you have connections on the motherboard for audio ports, hard drive LEDs, SATA ports, IDE ports etc. Unfortunately whoever attached the wire to the motherboard, attached it incorrectly. This probably would not have happened if it was a firewire PCI card, as it's designed to only connect in one way and usually has the 6 pin firewire ports hardwired on the outside.

Thanks for the heads up, I'm upgrading an old computer right now into a quad-core, and your story reminded why it's a good idea to use barebones motherboards and add functionality via the PCI slots. To bad about your camcorders, that must be a pretty frustrating set back.
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Old February 11th, 2008, 08:49 AM   #5
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Sorry to hear about your loss, Tyson.

Some video/TV cards come with an additional front panel that has, say, audio and video composite in, a microphone jack, and a firewire connector.

I have one of these on an older computer. The actual card is PCI, so there is only one way of connecting that one, but the front panel needs to be attached to the card via a couple of wires/connectors. Now, if this is a decent card, the connectors have guides to prevent incorrect connections, but I can easily imagine a cheaper one that only comes with "green dot to green dot" type instructions which, if not followed, can lead to sending voltage on the wrong line. This is probably the scenario Tyson has.
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Old February 11th, 2008, 09:35 AM   #6
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From your description, it sounds as if the front firewired port was wired INCORRECTLY to the mother board. The fault lies with the manufacturer of the computer, not the employee.

There is no way to plug a firewire into a port 'the wrong way' they are keyed to only fit one way. Either six pin (which is beveled on one end) or four pin (Which has a kind of "V" dip on one side)

(Perhaps you can get some sort of restitution from the computer manufacturer?)
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Old February 11th, 2008, 09:48 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tyson Persall View Post
For a total loss of $9500 dollars in damages...
All of these camcorders -- even those out of warranty -- are repairable; this is definitely not a "total loss" situation, and the cost to repair all of them won't come anywhere near $9500.
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Old February 11th, 2008, 10:51 AM   #8
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My firewire port on the front of my computer did get bent or misshappen, and I did have the same experience, and toasted my camera. It is possible to mess things up.
It also did something to the cables as well... a couple years after my very bad experience, I used those cables on a different piece of equipment, and whhooosh... (well not really, just a puff of smoke...) and the equipment was toast.
Burnt Toast!!!

You may want to replace all cables, and re do your 1394 port in your computer.
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Old February 11th, 2008, 11:20 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Richard Alvarez View Post
it sounds as if the front firewired port was wired INCORRECTLY to the mother board. The fault lies with the manufacturer of the computer, not the employee.
Totally agree with Richard. The employee isn't at fault. They had no reason to suspect a backwards cable from front panel to the motherboard. I've got a 25 year background as a technician and stuff like that will trip you up. I've seen many techs get fooled by a factory mis-wiring.

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Old February 11th, 2008, 11:43 AM   #10
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"Home built" computer is the key here, not manufacturer. If it is home built, whoever built it is the one to point the finger at if finger pointing is needed. The connector on the board is usually rectangular and easy to get backwards if you don't know the symbol for PIN 1.
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Old February 11th, 2008, 02:20 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Josh Bass View Post

While we're on it, here's another one---never plug or unplug a firewire cable into/from your camera when the cam is on. Turn off before either. Apparently it can damage the fuse. Thankfully, I do not know this from personal experience.
Several folks over on other forums know this from personal experience. One guy fried 3 HV20s this way. Others have also reported damaged firewire cards in their computers.

Only safe procedure is to power down both computer and camera before either connecting or disconnecting firewire cables to either.

Firewire stuff is supposed to be "hot swappable" but apparently some camcorders are not.
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Old February 11th, 2008, 08:09 PM   #12
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In response to Alfred

No, the Firewire cable was inserted properly, its just that the the header pins (on the inside of the case) that connects to the motherboard was conected backwards.

At least this is what i am pretty sure was the problem. I am not able to physically go there to inspect the computer as I am in LA and this computer is in Atlanta office.
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Old February 11th, 2008, 08:19 PM   #13
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Here is a picture. Go to link bellow.

http://www.definitiveproductions.com...r_IMG_3534.JPG


This is a picture of the firewire front pannel header pin (to the Right).
The one to the left is the front pannel sound pin for headphones.

http://www.definitiveproductions.com...r_IMG_3522.JPG

And this is a picture of the case front panel. ( i didn't take these pictures). Where you can see the Front Top Firewire plug that fried the 5 cameras.

http://www.definitiveproductions.com...E_IMG_3526.JPG
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Old February 11th, 2008, 10:19 PM   #14
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What a painful way to find out someone couldn't identify "pin 1"... ouch.

Figured this was what happened, most of the internal connectors like this are "keyed" on the MB, but I think FW is rare, they didn't design it that way? Just 4 little plastic connectors at the wire ends... not "foolproof"!

The bigger cams are probably salvagable, shouldn't be much more than a small board and labor to replace... the small cams with higher integration may be a different story.
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Old February 12th, 2008, 07:02 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tyson Persall View Post
No, the Firewire cable was inserted properly, its just that the the header pins (on the inside of the case) that connects to the motherboard was conected backwards. At least this is what i am pretty sure was the problem. I am not able to physically go there to inspect the computer as I am in LA and this computer is in Atlanta office.
I think you're right, from the pictures it seems like the firewire connector has no guide to prevent it from being inserted the wrong way.
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