Firewire ports destroyed by Z1, also case with HC1/A1? - Page 2 at

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Sony HVR-A1 and HDR-HC Series
Sony's latest single-CMOS additions to their HDV camcorder line.

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Old April 19th, 2006, 09:39 AM   #16
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In the days of yore when Noah was a pup and yours truly a mere tott, I seem to recall that nobody hot plugged or unplugged anything, but took the time and trouble to use things called power switches first. They have a sound reason for being there.

It would seem that a culture of haste, unthoroughness and expediency may have now fully developed over a few generations of familiarity with powered devices and what was once exceptional has become commonplace practice.

It is possible that with speed and force, miniature outer shields and conductive pins could with wear and tear, eventually make contact when they shouldn't. So when that first tier of best practice, isolation of the power source is removed, so is one layer of safeguard.

We know of developing sequences of events which make aircraft fall out of the sky. Any one item in an event sequence might not of itself be significant but several collectively can spell disaster.

Okay, so its not lethal mains power we are talking about and it is just a camera with no living souls riding on it, but there is a value attached to the cost of repairs. Common sense.

This talk about sueing Sony. Take care Sony does not develop likewise thoughts. Their good name, whether it be justifiably so or not is coming under challenge.

It might be helpful for Sony to placard cautions against static electricity discharge damage. It isn't exactly unknown science and suppliers of delicate electronic components take great care in this regard.

But maybe a few non-threatening words to the company direct, not the local resellers, might help as it simply may be something that the real world imposes which did not raise its ugly head in tests. Maybe they will never learn about it except by trolling through forums such as this one.

After all, the donkey doctrine decrees, if it is humanly possible for humans to break something, humans will.
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Old April 30th, 2006, 01:19 PM   #17
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I have the HRD-HC1 HD camera from Sony. I've had it for about 6 months, and have only used it intermittently until this weekend. After filming about 30 minutes of interviews on the HC1 and another Sony (HC40), I dumped the video to my PC with the integrated 1394 on my ABS PC. I kept switching from one camera to the other, but only disconnecting at the camera. I did NOT power down anything before switching (didn't know I had to, as the manual didn't say anything about this).

After about 4 or 5 toggles between cameras, i noticed that the "HDV IN" icon on the LCD of the HC1 was flickering randomly - like there was a loose cable. The software (Pinnacle 10+) was also losing connection. I jiggled the cable a bit, and figured it was bad. Ran to BestBuy and bought a $39 replacement cable. It too didn't work. When I switched back to the HC40, it would not register with the PC (no XP dong-ding). I switched cables, then went to another PC. Nothing helped. My dad has a Sony TRV103 DV camera, so we tried it. It worked with both cables, on both PCs. I tried both cams again today on yet a third PC, and still no go.

Long and short of it is, that now neither my HC40 or HDR-HC1 will connect to any PC using any cable. The cameras seem to record and play fine internally, but I think I'm cooked. My HC40 is out of warranty. I called Sony on the HC1 (today - Sunday). They said their repair group could contact me tomorrow since they're closed today.

Once I get them fixed, I'm scared silly to reconnect to my PC. Thing is, I must have transfered hours (little bits at a time) over the last 6 months on this same PC without any problems. The fact that this PC killed TWO cameras in under 1 hour makes me sick. once they're fixed, I don't want to risk hooking them up again. This is so frustrating!!
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Old May 1st, 2006, 03:19 AM   #18
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Here's another one. I had my HC1 plugged into the front Firewire port (i-Link)on my XBR960 HDTV. I was in a stupid rush to go somewhere, and unplugged the cable from the TV first(not the camera) with out first disabeling The i-Link through the remote. Anyway I came back, and plugged in the cable again to the front input and a message said device not connected. It worked fine through the rear I-link connector. I tried my Z1 through the front, and got the same error message. Again the rear one worked fine. So now I suppose I must have fried the front i-Link connector. Lesson learned....don't rush....always ensure power is off to any connector first. Now for rushing, I get to assemble 2 friends plus myself to move my 194Lb. TV to a shop to get it fixed!! My wife's only comment was 'Oh good, now I can vaccuum under neath'.
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Old May 2nd, 2006, 12:24 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Ron Little
I think it is a static electricity issue. When the cam is plugged up first and the other end comes in range of a static field the spark jumps thru the wire and zap it is all over but the crying.

It was years before I zapped my GL2 and about a month later that I zapped my Sony. That is when I discovered by accident that if you pass one end of a fire wire in front of the TV set it would shock you at the other end.
If you look at the pin-out of the computer side of the 'firewire' you will see that pin one is connected to power. According to some pin-outs that I have seen it is 30 volts. I've seen others with 12 volts.

Whatever the actual voltage is, pulling the connector out from the computer while other end is still connected to the camera can cause this higher voltage to be shorted to a pin (probably pin three) that must not have such a voltage and will damage the camera.

I do 'hot swap' my camera all the time but only on the camera end and only with the computer end already connected. Never the other way around.

Do a 'Google' search for 'firewire pinout'.

Danny Fye
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Old May 2nd, 2006, 07:15 AM   #20
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Ditto what David Bourne said. I received the same message from Sony Service in CA in the form a leaflet they dropped in with the returned paperwork. My Z1U was returned for a repair to the viewfinder, and I've not yet experienced the firewire port problem but quite obviously, it is a weak spot on the cam that I'm mindful of. My $0.02 is that it is fragile and that if it's going to blow it's going to blow but nevertheless Sony is on record with the warning.
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Old May 2nd, 2006, 07:17 AM   #21
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Is it possible to post the text from the warning? I'm curious about the wording, and why it isn't in the manual on 6 month old equipment.
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Old May 6th, 2006, 08:56 AM   #22
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I'll look for it. Out of town at the moment.
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Old May 15th, 2006, 10:24 PM   #23
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One easy way to avoid this is to use a Firewire card that doesn't provide power to any of the pins --- some notebook Firewire adapters do this, for example. I imagine there must be some desktop Firewire cards that don't provide power, which would be decently safe.
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Old May 16th, 2006, 08:53 AM   #24
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On page 77 of the FX1e manual Sony gives the following warning:

''Connect the i-LINK cable to the computer first, then to your camcorder. Connecting in the opposite order may cause static electricity to build up, resulting in a malfunction of your camcorder.''
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Old May 16th, 2006, 09:20 AM   #25
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Yes, but that same "may cause malfunction" term is used to warn users not to use the night-shot mode in "bright light" - or it too may cause "malfunction". Malfunction to me means it doesn't work the way you intended. Turn it off, correct the problem, and it will work. I think the correct verbage should be "WILL CAUSE DAMAGE REQUIRING SERVICE". And, instead of burying it on page 77, it should be listed right up front with the rest of the warnings. There are at least 10 other places (ahead of page 77) where the manual tells you to disconnect/reconnect the DV and USB cables - with NO mention of proper order. The only place it does that is on page 77.

FWIW, I got my camera back without any special notice from the repair center. I talked to the service tech from the Laredo repair location, and he said they've never experienced a fried firewire port on any of their test cameras. But, he said, they also dont' ever disconnect the firewire cable from the PC. His theory was that it was static electricity - either from fingers, or from the cable being plugged into the camera first.

THe camera was received on a Monday (afternoon) and was ready to be returned by the end of the same day. That tells me either a) this is a really simple $250 (labor) fix, or b) they have a lot of practice replacing these boards.
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Old May 21st, 2006, 12:10 AM   #26
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Below is the text of the leaflet insert that was included with my returned Sony Z1U.

"Improper i.Link connection procedures may cause permanent i.Link circuit failures. In a careless attempt to connect the i.Link cable, the cable is often in the incorrect position (wrong polarity). Even thought the cable cannot be fully connected in this situation, there is a chance that the DC voltage line comes into contact with the signal pin of the i.Link IC, thereby "burning" the i.Link circuit. Therefore, certain precautions must be made to ensure proper i.Link operations.

In order to prevent i.Link problems, please follow the procedure below to connect your DVCAM equipment to the PC or MAC.
1-First make sure both DVCAM unit and computer are turned off.
2- Connect the i.Link cable to the computer's i.Link terminal (!!!Check for the proper polarity of the cable and the i.Link terminal!!!) The connection should not have to be forced in.
3-Then connect the cable to the DVCAM unit (!!!Again pay attention to the cable's polarity!!!)
4-Lastly power up the computer and allow it to completely boot up before turning on the DVCAM unit.

As the i.Link failure described above falls under the "abuse/misuse" clause of the product warranty, it is not covered by the Sony Warranty."
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Old May 21st, 2006, 07:21 AM   #27
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Wow, they don't pull punches. Since my HDR-HC1 was already outside the 90-day warranty, and I'd already paid the $250 flat repair fee, I guess they didn't feel it was warranted to put that note in with my repair. Thanks for posting though... Too bad they don't put that warning on page 1 of the manual.
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Old May 21st, 2006, 01:40 PM   #28
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I've used several cams over the years, mainly canons, rentals, and have folks bring in their sony's, JVC's, etc. to use as decks to capture their stuff for DVD, etc. I never unplug the cable on the PC side. I always ensure the camera is off before making it's connection, (in fact, I do this for all externally connected devices, i.e. hard-drives, etc. as well).

I agree, it's not a Sony issue, it's one of physics. If you have to constantly swap out firewire connected devices, then switchers are available. Of course, if your system or bad habits are prone to this more so than others, you may want to consider getting a deck, which is always connected, as a permament solution.
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Old May 24th, 2006, 08:22 AM   #29
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I personally killed two fx1 firewire ports. I wish I had know before to have everything off when pluggin in. I always plug computer first, camera second and the turn on the camera.

I will make sure to power off both the computer and camera, plug in the computer and then the camera.

I will post if they fail again.

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Old June 22nd, 2006, 05:37 PM   #30
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Hey all,

Just wanted to add there's a warning that comes with the M10 HDV deck from Sony...Don't unplug and re-plug a firewire cable. It may blow out the port.

My Final Cut Pro X blog
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