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Old March 22nd, 2005, 04:45 PM   #1
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Dead Firewire Port on DVX100A's

Question at the bottom after explanation >>>

Out of over a dozen DVX's that I've owned or worked with, I've never had a single problem. So I guess my luck was stretched as thin as it could be...

Last December the Firewire port on my personal DVX100A went dead. I tried resetting the camera. That didn't work. I tried connecting the Firewire to multiple devices including computers, decks and other cameras. Nothing. I tried different Firewire cables to rule out a short in the cable. Same results. When I connected the camera to my Mac, it froze my computer until I unplugged it. And if I trun it on after start up, FCP won't recognize the camera.

It's still under warranty for a few weeks and I wanted to get it done before the warranty expired. So after I finally wrapped up a shoot I had with the camera, I took it in to be serviced at E.C. Electronics Inc. in Manhattan.

I told the service center that the Firewire port was dead and I wasn't getting any audio, video, or control from it. They told me it would take about a week, to a week and a half to fix it. I called after a week and was told that the parts had just been order the day before. What? You've had the camera for a week and you just ordered the parts yesterday? Yes. I asked how long it would take to get the parts in and repair the problem and was told that they didn't know, because that part is on back order from Panasonic. But they said that as soon as they got it in they would call me and let me know. A week later, I called back and was told that they were still waiting for the part. But they expected it in soon. I went in to check on the status in person two days later and was told that they did have the part in, but that it was for someone else's camera. Then they said that they would go ahead and put it in my camera anyway to since I told them I shoot coming up and I needed the camera. I returned yesterday to pick up the camera, they insisted I sign a receipt that stated the service had been "satisfactorily completed" even though there was no way for me to test the Firewire port and verify that it was working.

I took the camera home plugged it into my computer to verify that the problem was solved. Nothing. I connected it to another camera. Nothing. I connected it to a DV deck. Nothing. I was Furious!

I immediately called E.C. Electronics and told them the problem had not been fixed and that there had been absolutely no change what-so-ever. They instructed me to bring it back in and they would, "get to it when they could"!!! I returned to E.C. Electronics this morning to drop the camera back off and asked to speak with the technician there about the diagnosis of the problem. I was told that he had the day off, but that he would "take a look at it" tomorrow. And then they would order the parts and let me know when it was finished.

This is beyond unacceptable. I have a shoot tomorrow and I'm going to have to rent another DVX from an associate to meet the client's requirements. This cuts my profit. I asked EC if they would cover the rental or provide a loaner camera. They said no.

I am extremely dissappointed with E.C. Electronics Inc. and I am suspicious that they did anything at all.

SO HERE'S MY QUESTION:

Has anybody else experienced a problem with the Firewire on either a DVX100 or DVX100A?

If so, do you have a receipt stating what part was repaired or replaced?

And if so what was it?

My receipt stated that the "VTR C.B.A." was replaced. Part Number VEP03G55A. I haven't been able to locate what this part specifically does. But like I said, I'm suspicious that E.C. Electronics did any work at all on my camera.

If anybody out there has any information that might be useful or in any way related I'd love to hear about it.

If Jan Crittenden or anybody from Panasonic can verify that the VTR C.B.A. IS in fact the correct board to replace for a faulty Firewire port AND/OR verify that this part is in fact something that is in such demand as to be back ordered, then that would be great as well.

I can eat the cost of a one day shoot tomorrow. But I leave town Friday and need to have my DVX fixed by then.

Any help is appreciated.

Thank you.
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Old March 22nd, 2005, 09:31 PM   #2
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Dumb question that I have to ask: is E.C. Electronics Inc. an authorized Panasonic factory repair center?
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Old March 22nd, 2005, 11:06 PM   #3
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Indeed they are Chris. I found them through Panasonic's own website. I entered my zip code and was provided their information directly from Panasonic as the closest authorized repair center. Abel Cine Tech (who I purchased the camera from) mentioned a place in downtown Brooklyn. But I made the mistake of taking it into Manhattan because it was an easier train ride.

I am all too familiar with this type of hassle. But usually when I receive this kind of hassle from Sony's authorized repair centers, they are at least more understanding of the nescesity of a working camera to a professional. A couple years ago when I brought my DSR-500WSPL to Sony's service center in Atlanta, they offered a loaner camera if the repair took longer than 3 days. So, I wonder if I would be having this problem if it weren't a $3,500 camcorder. If I brought an SDX900 in for repair, would their service be as relaxed?
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Old March 23rd, 2005, 11:06 AM   #4
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Electronics repair can be as frustrating or moreso than having your car repaired.

I personally have not had a problem with the firewire port but it is a known (potential) problem with Mac users.

Repairing the port requires replacing the entire main board. For some reason, components like that can be scarce or slow to come by (probably on a slow boat from China).

I'd be looking for another repair facility - even if it's farther away. Sounds like they're jerking you around - or at the very least have an "attitude".

In the mean time you can fire an email to Jan at:

CrittendenJ@us.panasonic.com
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Old March 23rd, 2005, 12:47 PM   #5
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Preston,

Indeed repairs and service can be a ridiculous frustration.

The Firewire problem is definitely on the camera end. My Mac has no problems at all with any and every other Firewire device I've ever used. Are you saying that my Mac may have effected the camera's Firewire port? Is that possible? How would my computer's Firewire effect the functioning of the camera's Firewire, rendering the camera's Firewire dead?
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Old March 23rd, 2005, 02:59 PM   #6
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A repair guy was telling me about it once - been a long time though. Something to the effect that the Mac (or a certain model) was to blame for blowing the port on DVX's due to a "ground differential" or some such technical mumbo jumbo. Firewire is supposed to be hot-swapable but in this case, if the PC and camera aren't connected and powered up together - you run the risk of frying the port.

Jan C. can give you the most accurate explanation. I know she's aware of it.
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Old March 25th, 2005, 10:04 AM   #7
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Preston,

Wow, I had no idea. Come to think of it, the Firewire died the first time I ever connected my 100A to a G5. I was shooting a project for Heath McKnight on the FX1 and had been doing a live Firewire downconvert from the FX1 to my DVX. Everything was working perfectly. The HDV signal was coming in donwconverted through the Firewire with no problems at all. After we wrapped, I went to connect the DVX to Heath's G5 to capture the 7A9 chart comparisons I shot with the DVX100A and the FX1. As soon as I connected my DVX to the computer, I got nothing. I was confused because I had been using the Firewire all day. And suddenly I wasn't getting anything. I've used my DVX with a number of G4's and other Firewire enabled devices. But that was the first time I plugged it into a G5...

Thank you for sharing. That's certainly good to know.

Jan,

If you have more info on the subject I'd love to hear.

UPDATE:

E.C. finally fixed the problem and I picked up the camera yesterday. I still don't get their attitude though. When I picked up the camera I was repeatedly told how "lucky" I was. I don't know how having to repeatedly drop off and pick up the camera over the the course of three weeks due to their inability to fix the problem the first time is lucky. But I guess everyone has different definition's of luck...
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Old March 25th, 2005, 10:34 AM   #8
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I personally only use 4 pin to 4 pin fire wire cables, I am lucky to have them both on my Desktop and laptop. This way, there is no power to the port, and thus, in my way of understanding, no way to blow the port. at least not yet. Hey, it seems to have worked for me for over a year.
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Old March 25th, 2005, 08:41 PM   #9
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So for future reference (I'm getting a DVX100a next month), I should make sure my PC is OFF when I connect the camera via firewire? Then power up the camera, then the computer?
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Old March 26th, 2005, 05:10 PM   #10
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<<<-- Originally posted by Bryan Harley : So for future reference (I'm getting a DVX100a next month), I should make sure my PC is OFF when I connect the camera via firewire? Then power up the camera, then the computer? -->>>

Theoretically, with a Windows PC you should be able to plug in while the PC is on. With a Mac, I wouldn't try it. If you don't want to risk it at all, then yes, plug everything in with the power off then (I believe) turn on camera followed by PC.

Panasonic should probably put a warning sticker right on the camera.
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Old May 11th, 2005, 01:15 AM   #11
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Are you guys kidding? This is a joke, right?

A firewire port on a Mac is dangerous...because it is powered. Uhm, aren't ALL firewire ports, be they on a PC or a MAC, powered?

Is the Mac to blame? Doubtful. It might have been a faulty firewire connection or one of a dozen other explainations. But the Mac. Give me a break. Hundreds of other Mac users with DVX cameras hook their cameras to the computer and capture footage all the time without this happening.

Sheesh...
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Old May 11th, 2005, 09:19 AM   #12
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It's not just because they're powered. There's a deeper, more technical explanation for this. It's known. It's been talked about on boards. But don't take mine or anyone else's word for it. Ask Panasonic.
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Old May 11th, 2005, 11:07 AM   #13
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Ok, I will add my .02 as a technician. Yes, it is possible that the design of the mac's fw port could cause a ground loop. It could also happen to any manufacturer of fw ports for the pc as well. It all comes down to design and proper ground returns.

A ground loop is created when 2 devices have their 'ground' leads hooked together that aren't at the same voltage potential due to a few different possible factors. If this voltage differential is large enough, it can create the appearance of a larger supply voltage than a chip is rated for and could blow the chip or device. Remember, ground is just a reference level that is supposedly returned to 'earth ground' at some point unless both devices are battery powered. There are also other types of 'return' paths such as signal ground that sometimes are isolated from earth ground to prevent power supply noise from interfering with the desired signal.

The thing to understand is that it's all algebra where electricity is concerned. If my device needs +5vdc to operate, and ground is at 0vdc, then all is well. If I plug something in that gets my ground to a -5vdc, that would make my device see a sudden increase of supply voltage to +10vdc, possibly frying the device. If however, my ground got lifted to +5vdc, then the device would see a net 0vdc and would simply quit operating but wouldn't get fried.

Anytime a voltage is applied to a resistance and current is flowing through it, a voltage drop, or differential will develop. This is usually the load that provides the resistance. If however, a bad design allows resistance in the form of a bad connection or excessive lead length to develop in a ground path, the above referenced ground loop can occur and can cause a myriad of problems.

I can't give a complete description in the limited space of this forum, but it is possible that the mac has a design marginality that might cause some owners to have issues when plugging in a device. That marginality could exist in any vendor's design so this really isn't a mac bashing (i own one), as much as it is a design bashing. Sorry to have rambled on so long.

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Old May 14th, 2005, 07:15 AM   #14
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Hi,

It has been a busy week, so sorry I hae not been around.

Anyhow it is a good rule to have power turned off on any firewire device. I tend to make it a rule. I have indeed seen where the board is totally blown because of the problem and I have seen where it is only the connector.

I wouldn't have been able to address the availabilty on parts but I will say this, when connecting cameras which have a 4 pin, to a device with a 6 pin, it is best to start with the power off on both things.

Best,

Jan
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Old July 26th, 2005, 01:38 AM   #15
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Is this only on the dvx100? or has anyone had this problem on the dvc30 or any other cameras?
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