Pro 197 dumps memory in cold weather

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SCPD

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Hello all-
I have had my pro 197 installed in my car for some years now. Living in the dakotas it tends to get cold out... When we have cold snaps my 197 will dump all its memory and revert back to its originials. This happens maybe once a month so its not to inconviencing. My question is what is it doing this, and it there anything I can do? I know most electronics of this caliber have a small button batter on the board to keep the memeory saved when the unit looses power, maybe the battery needs to replaced? I have the sacnner wired to the power window fuse in the front fuse box, so when I turn the key off and scanners power is cut.

Thanks, bwca44
 

Ensnared

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Temperature Extremes

Hello all-
I have had my pro 197 installed in my car for some years now. Living in the dakotas it tends to get cold out... When we have cold snaps my 197 will dump all its memory and revert back to its originials. This happens maybe once a month so its not to inconviencing. My question is what is it doing this, and it there anything I can do? I know most electronics of this caliber have a small button batter on the board to keep the memeory saved when the unit looses power, maybe the battery needs to replaced? I have the sacnner wired to the power window fuse in the front fuse box, so when I turn the key off and scanners power is cut.

Thanks, bwca44
I am unfamiliar with the power cord on your radio; however, I have a question. Do you leave the radio inside the vehicle overnight?

When I left my hand held version of your radio, with a different name, the LCD turned black. It took a while for the radio to recover so I could see the display.

If I were in your shoes, I would disconnect the power & take it into the house.

I've never looked up to see if there are temperature limitations on these radios.
 

wtp

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i never heard of a city named what

plan your move on what you want to hear
this is the old coast , so most calls are for lift assist for old folks
miami is for more action
orlando is for the mouse
but down here the car can cook your radio
you would want to bring it inside during the day
a belt buckle once branded me (too hot to handle)
maybe try somewhere in-between
how about getting power to the radio when the car is off?
 

SCPD

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If you move to Florida arent there weird laws that say you cant have the scanner anyway?
And most stuff is encrypted so you cant win.
 

detroit780

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Cold operation

Most electronics don't work well in the extreme cold. Even car radios and they are designed for use in cold and hot weather.

Another issue is connecting the radio to your power window fuse. Power window motors draw a lot of current and in the cold weather they draw even more current. Power window motors are also very noisy electrically and that can affect your radio to by coupling electrical noise on your scanner power line.

Does it happen to wipe out your radio after using your window?

The easiest thing you can do I suppose is turn it off when you shut the vehicle off in cold weather and don't turn it on until your interior warms up.

Les


Hello all-
I have had my pro 197 installed in my car for some years now. Living in the dakotas it tends to get cold out... When we have cold snaps my 197 will dump all its memory and revert back to its originials. This happens maybe once a month so its not to inconviencing. My question is what is it doing this, and it there anything I can do? I know most electronics of this caliber have a small button batter on the board to keep the memeory saved when the unit looses power, maybe the battery needs to replaced? I have the sacnner wired to the power window fuse in the front fuse box, so when I turn the key off and scanners power is cut.

Thanks, bwca44
 

MarkWestin

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Most or all modern electronics should no longer depend on a battery (cell) to maintain memory. The exception would be devices with a clock in them. We are actually about two generations past the memory backup battery. The first generation after the memory backup battery used a large ("Super") capacitor in the .1 to .5 farad range to hold the memory. These were usually good for anywhere from long enough to change the unit's battery or battery pack to even several days depending on the state of charge of the capacitor. After that and the current system uses Non Volatile RAM similar to a SD Card or a thumb drive. As an experiment, you could make sure that the scanner is turned off before starting the vehicle. Starting when very cold could be dropping the car voltage so low that the Scanner resets. A professional Car Stereo Installer could probably recommend something to add to your installation to prevent this from happening when starting the vehicle.

Mark
 

dkf435

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I would be curious what the wave form of the DC supply voltage is doing while the car is being started or during window usage and if it is triggering the microprocessor reset sequence.

David Kb7uns
 

Ensnared

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Ice Crystals?

You know, I continued to roll this thread in my mind last night. I thought, I wonder if ice crystals could form on the circuitry of the radio and then affect the memory. Since there is moisture in the air, this does not seem to be a far-fetched idea. However, I don't know if something like this could occur. It was just a thought.

I'm still looking to see if I can find a range for operating temperatures specific to the aforementioned radio.
 

jfhtm350

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Try running your power and ground wires directly to the battery with a fuse and let your radio warm up with the vehicle before using it. Thats what I do. It doesnt get as cold here but its been down to 0 and 5 degrees F a few times. I have never had mine reset like that in my vehicle on its own.

However I have had my pro106 reset like that when uploading the programming to it from a laptop several times using Win500. It happens in the house at room temp and still not sure what causes it. I always save the programming to a V-folder just in case something happens. If it does, I can just reload it from there. When I program the 106, I clone my 197 with it and the 197 has crashed the same way before just by cloning them.
 

Tlauden

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Ive had this problem twice now, both times last winter it was very cold out. Scanner stays in the truck 24/7/365. I just chalked it up to the freezing temps. So far this winter I've had no issues. I run through a cigar lighter so power cuts when the truck is off.

On a side note my display has never gone black, but it does seem slug-ish when its scrolling through the different talkgroups. one it warms up a bit it is fine.
 

kruser

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Users of these GRE made scanners are reporting memory failures and other issues these days.

Although I suspect the OP's cold climate has something to do with the problem in this case.

What I'm referring to is simply memory that has or is failing, myself included on a 197 and a PSR 600 now.

The radios use a form of no volatile ram that does not have infinite writes. At some point, the memory cells do start to fail and will no longer hold info or other strange errors start appearing. The memory used in todays scanners works very much like an solid state drive or thumb drive does. The memory cells fail after so many writes. In my case, I can still write the memory but if I leave the power off to the scanner for any length of time greater than a few days, that memory is now empty or back to defaults or somewhere in between which shows up as one of the heap errors but the kind that indicate memory corruption.

For SSD drives, they do everything possible in OS's like Win 7 and higher to try and minimize writes to the SSD so it prolongs the life of the drive. The memory in todays scanners is no different and there is a finite amount of writes before it starts failing.
I suspect that is what is going on with the older GRE line of scanners, the memory cells are failing and it no longer holds the contents.
If I leave my PSR600 powered on, I do not have any memory issues yet and it still passes all the EEPROM tests one can run at power on but the memory is definitely failing in both my like models.

When it does go, I really doubt there is anything that can be done unless you know someone with a shop that has the tools and rework station needed to replace the actually replace the memory chips. That is if they can even still be sourced. With GRE gone, who knows if the original chips are still available or not. Then if you don't know someone with the needed rework tools, expect to pay more than the radio is worth to have the chips replaced.
This is a documented problem mentioned in several different threads in both the RadioShack forum as well as whatever the GRE forum is now called.
It is a bad problem with no good solution and I suspect we will start seeing more and more reports of similar problems as these scanners age even more. New is not always better and the Uniden models will also suffer from the same problem as they grow old. I even recall UPMan stating in a post that they did not want to automate one of the P25 auto tune settings as it would cause too many writes to the memory used in the older T model 996 radios. Perhaps Uniden is using a higher quality memory chip in their newer XT models and beyond. I don't know the answer to that though.
There is also speculation amongst many users of GRE made radios that there was a bad batch of memory chips used in the products. That is certainly possible and not out of the question.

The truth is though that all modern day memory has a limited amount of writes before a memory cell will no longer store the info it is programmed with. When power gets cut, those failing cells go to an unknown or unstable state or in the GRE case, the radio may reset everything back to default so the radio is still useable. Reads don't seem to affect the life of todays memory but writes do. That is why you turn off everything that writes to today's SSD computer drives. The OS usually does this for you now when it detects and SSD drive. Things like Defrag are removed from auto defrag schedules and in many cases, an SSD drive cannot even be selected to be place back on an auto defrag schedule although you can still run them manually if desired. Older OS's like Win XP are not SSD aware so those that install SSDs in them will see faster failures of their SSDs over those running Win 7 and newer. I'm not sure if Vista is SSD aware but I think it is.
Some SSD manufacturers supply an application that turns off the things that may shorten the life of an SSD under XP also but not all do.
I think each time the GRE's like the 600 and 197 are power cycled, they do a memory write which does not help things. Plus by default, the hit counter is turned on in these models which also causes a memory cell write each time the radio stops on an active channel.
Then there are those of us that write programming changes to the radios often which touches all the writeable cells in the GRE line due to the way the memory architecture is setup. That really does no good for the scanner as it writes cells that do not need to be written. I think Uniden wins hands down here as they can write only those cells that have changed. A good example with the GRE's that are failing is the fact that the V-Scanner memory is often not written too unless you are making changes to one of those folders. The fact that that area of memory stays intact is a very strong indicator that the memory is failing in the portion of memory responsible for storing your every day used memory. That is the memory cells that will fail first as they are written too more by far.

I do hope for the OP that it is just a cold weather related problem as cold temps can cause odd problems with electronics.
At the same time, I really do suspect we will all start seeing and reading about more and more memory problems starting with the GRE made radios first and then the Uniden's at a later date. The GRE's first because when you change the programming in the radio, it rewrites every normal memory cell regardless if it has changed or not. Adding something by hand may not do this so that may not be a bad idea but I know when you use software, it rewrites all the operating cells each time you make a change and send it to the radio. I think that is what is causing the early memory failure reports in these models that I see more and more of each time I search for the problem on the internet and not just here at RR.
The Uniden's are capable of writing just the cells that have changed so that should help them last longer.
In the case of SSD drives. they all have an area of unused memory cells that will become allocated as other cells fail. Once those spare cells are used up, I do not know if the entire drive fails or if it is smart enough to keep going by simply deallocating the failed cells and simply reducing the drive size by a cell or two at a time. I do know that memory technology is getting better as technology improves and I expect over time that this problem will be overcome but unfortunately, our expensive scanners do use the memory that does and will fail after so many writes.
I think most modern memory like used in the scanners can be written too millions of maybe even billions of times before the cell is expected to fail but you would be surprised at how fast those limits are hit if you had a method of counting them. I think some of the SSD makers may also include a utility that actually shows you how many cells have been reallocated due to others failing. That is a good idea as it at least gives you an idea that it may be time to start thinking about replacing the SSD.

Anyway, I mainly wanted to point this out as it is a known problem especially for the older generation GRE made models.
GRE did include a memory test into the startup keystrokes if you want to test it.
Be warned though that I think most of these tests are destructive and you will lose your programming so be prepared to write it back again once done.
Both my models showing memory issues pass all the memory tests offered by the firmware in the scanner so the tests obviously cannot detect all forms of failing memory in these models.
Try googling for something like PSR-600 memory failure or different variations using similar keywords and you will see that this is a growing problem.
And the bad thing is there is not much you can do about it as it is not cheap to find someone willing to swap out a 100+ pin surface mounted memory chip if they can even be purchased any longer.
I do not really know if the memory chips that hold your user data really have 100+ pins as I've never bothered looking in the service manual to see what GRE even used for that chip but it is very possible.

So with that fact, here's hoping that the problem really is being caused by a faulty batch of memory chips and some users GRE radios will give them many many more years of useful life before they do fail!

I also don't remember the powerup keys needed to initiate the memory tests but these are also easily found via a google search and probably right here in the wiki for some of these models.
 

AA6IO

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So I guess just like us humans when we get old, scanner memories get dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Very informative post on computer/scanner memory issues.

Steve AA6IO
 

kruser

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So I guess just like us humans when we get old, scanner memories get dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Very informative post on computer/scanner memory issues.

Steve AA6IO

I guess I've never looked at it that way before but I think that pretty much sums it up! Great and funny reply you came up with!

It's funny but I don't see much in the way of ram or memory failures in the models like say the Uniden 780 XLT. Those seem to still be going strong for most owners but there is a possible display issue with that model where the displays go bad and can no longer be seen. Someone came up with a manual contrast adjust pot mod that allowed those with failing displays to adjust the contrast and get some more life out of them.
Mine was washing out so I tried the mod, it helped but I could never bring back the original contrast that model had when I bought it new.
Mine also has not become any worse. It's like it lost some contrast and then stopped at that point. In the least, that radio could still be used remotely via software as long as you remember the keystrokes needed to enable remote mode.
So I guess you could add cataracts or failing eyesight to your "like us humans" analogy!! That would seem to fit will for the 780!

I was also into collecting very old models where some needed crystals and some even made before they had the crystal models. And of course, the first programmable models like the BC101 and several other makes.
The crystal scanners all still work fine as do the ones made before that used tuners but the early programmable models I acquired, mostly had bad ram or memory chips in them. I don't think I ever found an exact match for the old BC-101's but I did find chips that worked in RadioShacks PRO-2001's. The two Pro-2001's are still running to this day using the new chips I installed.
The old BC-101's used a form of binary for programming where you converted a frequency into 1's and 0's and entered the frequency into each memory position by pressing the 1 and 0 key on the front in the correct order. There were no 2-9 keys.
The Pro2001's actual took direct frequency entry as listed in a book like police call. The old Bearcat 220, 250's and the others from that era also had direct frequency entry. I think the 210's had issues with a chip that was custom as did some of the 220 and 250 models. I still have original 220 thru 350 models (including all in between) all bought by me when they were released that all still work just fine to this day.
I do not know if they don't fail because I run most of them on 12 VDC so they run cooler or not but they keep on going. I think some of those models also use 9 volt batteries for memory backup so that could be a reason their memory has never failed being of a different type. Don't really know but I do know all the Electra made scanners from the 220 era do all use custom chips that can no longer be found. One or two of the models had a particular custom chip that failed often. It was found that it ran hot so guys back in the day would add heat sinks to those chips. I did it on mine. I know the chips now run near room temp but I never found out if heat was the killer of those chips or not.
But figuring that heat is the number one killer of many electronics components, adding the heat sinks could not hurt.
Electra could have just received a bad batch of the custom chips. If yours failed, Electra was the only source for new ones and yes, they would sell you anything back in those days including the chip that would be considered the processor or main logic chip. Once their stock dried up though, those old models were used for spare parts to repair others that were still working or ended up in landfills. I don't think it was ever revealed who made the custom chips for them but they were pretty well documented in the service manuals they sold back then as to the working logic behind each chip in the radio. Someone today could take that info and revive some of those old Electra's if they really wanted to put the effort into it. Many of the chips were simply custom divider chips that could be emulated today by what is currently available.
Then Uniden bought Electra and all kinds of things changed!

I also owned several Regency models but only maybe three programmable models. I sold all of them long before they ever failed if they ever did. I do still own several old Regency crystal models though and they also still work fine to this day.
Not sure how much longer I'll keep the old crystal or programmable analog models running though. My area is still full of tons of analog stuff. I mean tons of it so old analog scanners are still very fun around here for the most part. I even have some 1,000+ crystals for both 10.7 and 10.8 MHz IF models. But... our county is now licensed for a new multi site simulcast P25 system. Systems actually. It could still be a year though before that comes online at all. Once it does, I think most of the small muni's still running their old single channel analog repeaters will join into this new county system as long as the county gives them some incentive to make the switch. Then I also imagine some will stay put where they are now and stay on analog.
So it's been a fun nearly 50 years of monitoring especially when I can say I'm still using some of the same radios I'd purchased new way back in the mid to late 60's and early 70's!

Don't take me wrong, I do love many of today's modern digital models and could not live without them. I own pretty much every digital model ever sold and some, I have several of. The only ones I don't own are the two new Uniden's only because I'm still waiting on local and distant user reports. They appear to be internet database driven like the Home Patrol more than anything and I'm not a big fan of radios that need the internet for their main database. So until I learn more about these new models and if applications like Freescan and ProScan can fully program and operate them like a 996 can be, I'll be on hold before making a purchase.
If the new county system ever goes online, (It's still being built) and it turns out being P25 phase II, then I may buy one regardless just for that reason as I only own one PSR-800 which does Phase II systems.

Anyway, I really do hope the OP's problem is just temperature related and not failing memory.
In this case, it may not be a bad idea to just leave the radio powered on providing your car or truck will still start the next day with the current being used by the scanner! I know cold weather can place a toll on everything from the scanner not working to the vehicle not starting the next morning. But leaving the scanner on will generate some heat from the scanners internal chips and voltage regulators and that small amount of heat may be all that is needed to correct this problem if taking the scanner indoors each night is not an option.
I have computers outdoors at work that we leave out even in -10 F temps. We leave them and the monitors powered on as they are custom installs and very hard to remove. They are in a locked cabinet and the heat from the computers alone keeps the temp inside the cabinet near 45 F which is well within the computers operating environment specs.
Only once after many years doing this did I have a problem. We had a ice storm caused power outage. So those computers shut down and the temps inside the box dropped to near zero for two nights. When power was restored, one came back up but the other did not. The drive would not spin up. We would have pulled them in had we remembered them but we forgot as we were more concerned with the building and water pipes.
When I looked at the network log, I slapped myself when I saw that the only machine not running was one of the two outdoor point of sale machines. I had a guy go out and disconnect it and bring it in. We let it warm up and any condensation dry out and then tried powering it up. It powered up just fine! Needless to say, that one stayed indoors the remainder of the winter as it was simply too hard to remove or reinstall.
Oh, it also had a bios error on the screen when we found it that one of the cooling fans was not running. Those fans were simply too tight from the oil or grease on their bearings to let the small motor winding overcome it and spin them up to speed. I was actually surprised to see the other machines fans all running just fine but I do wonder how long it took them to come up to speed. Then I was surprised condensation had not formed inside the working machines hard drive as it heated up and ruined it but it also still runs fine to this day. Perhaps the airflow from the drives platters spinning at speed kept them dried out.
This was several years ago now that that happened but we did forget an LCD TV that is mounted out in the open under a covered but open large outdoor patio this year. This winter has brought us low temps that I've not seen here in many many years so I do wonder if the LCD TV will fire up! I dare not try and turn it on now though as something could heat rapidly and condense into moisture which could fry something.

That is possible what the OP said about picturing ice crystals inside his radio! If something like say a voltage regulator heats up quickly, it could form condensation and short something as it warms up.
The power on from the freezing temp stage is when condensation is going to form as components heat above freezing if anything inside did frost over.
It does make you wonder how many commercial radio failures occur during power up in work vehicles that may have been left outdoors in sub-zero temps for days. A commercial quality radio may have better specs than a scanner but condensation will still form unless the radios used up north have heaters in them!
I'd think you would see a heck of a lot of dead batteries if that were the case. It's nothing to see -40F temps in many of the northern states and that must be below the spec for almost any radio made today.
I guess public safety and EMA type agencies all have heated garages for their vehicles in those cold climate states. Or they just keep them running all the time.
 
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