Scanner memory life

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moze229

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Hey all,

I'm using a GRE-500 and I've been thinking about something lately. My method of scanning is a likely little bizarre to most, so I tend to write to my memory more often than most do. I don't always scan - I'm not always into it. This time of year I spend most of my time outdoors and with the kids so I don't have it on all that much. The winter is when I do most my scanning, so it's not unusual for me to turn it off in March and not start it back up until November or December. Because of this, especially in my area lately, radio system upgrades and changes force me to update nearly every frequency I monitor when I "get back into it". Instead of downloading the entire RR database into my scanner, I like to set the scanner up to find talk groups that I can pick up and I look them up and enter them into Win500. Everyday for a while, I'll get a few new ones, enter them in, then write them to the scanner. (I've been too lazy to manually enter.)

So - how long can I expect to do this before I get bad memory blocks? I'm familiar with flash memory and am aware that it does have a limited life. I've been using flash drives for years and I've never had one go bad from use. I've dropped a few and had one fly out of my pack on my motorcycle before (don't ask) and that's usually bad news. I still have a 512 meg flash drive sitting right here from 2004 that still works great. I've stumbled across a couple of threads discussing this about scanner flash memory, but haven't really seen any input on what the expected life may be. I'm not sure if flash memory is just flash memory or if there's something different about the scanner memory. What's been others' experiences?

I think from now on I'll be entering manually when feasible. Just have to pull the manual out and refresh on how to do it.
 

kruser

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There are threads on the topic here. I think in the GRE forum but some could be in the radioshack forum as well.
I forget but I think the memory chip used in production was only good for about a million writes.
The hit counter is a write and maybe two. Don S explained it pretty well in one of the threads I discussed it in as my flash chip did fail.

Each time you use software to program the PSR series as well as the Radioshack cousins and the new Whistlers, the software writes the entire flash chip and not just the areas that changed. Making simple edits by hand can help as can turning off the hit counter in the radios menu as well as in the software.

I think Don S figured a 5 year average life for the average user. I am not average so I ate through my chip pretty fast in a PSR600 and the Pro-197.
The chip is only an 8 pin surface mount chip so it can be swapped out for a new one half way easy if it does fail.

The PSR series also has a built in EEPROM test. When I ran that test, it always passed. So I do not consider the test accurate unless the chip has totally failed as mine would not store memory with the power off.
My failure was most evident when I'd power the radio off for a couple weeks and then when I'd go to use it again, I found that the lower cells had become corrupt. Sometimes I could get into the V-Scan folder that I'd made from my most recent working memory set and it would restore the bad cells. Sometimes I'd get heap errors and was forced to rewrite the EEPROM from software.
Mine became bad enough that not even 12 hours of being turned off was causing EEPROM contents loss.
So I replaced my EEPROM in the two radios that had the problem and they have worked fine ever since.

I also replaced the chip with one that offered way more writes than the stock chip but there was a difference. It seemed the stock chip was automotive rated so it had a decent high temperature rating like could be seen in a closed car sitting out in the sun all day.
I opted to go with a chip with more writes (4 million I think) but a lower temp rating. My radios are only used indoors in an air conditioned environment so I figure they will never see the temp rating the chip I selected can handle. I also could not find the automotive rated chip at the common places like Mouser or DigiKey but at least Mouser carried the regular spec chip. And they were cheap. I think I only paid about 2 or 3 bucks a chip.
There is another memory chip in the PSR series that holds the V-Scan folder data and maybe the firmware. That chip is not the one that fails luckily as it is a 64 pin or greater chip and would not be an easy swap without the correct tools.

The chip that fails is IC301 I believe and it is only an 8 pin chip.

You do need to unsolder a metal shield before you can get to the chip in the portable and mobile versions of the radio. That is probably the hardest part of the job.

If yours is not showing signs of memory loss with the long periods you have yours turned off, I think I'd not mess with it!
Mine actually started failing with the lower banks (scanlist) first and progressed its way up to maybe bank 5 before I noticed it was no longer holding memory for even 12 hours in scanlist 1.

At first I thought it was only the P25 systems that I was loosing but then after testing and moving things around scanlist wise, I realized it was whatever was stored in scanlist 1. It did not matter if it was a trunked system or a bunch of analog channels.

The object id's also seemed to be the lower numbers that failed first. I know those numbers can be changed in software but I don't know if they actually represent a memory cell location or not.

I think those that program by hand have the best chance at a long life as that only touches the cell you changed. If you use the V-Scan folders to load a different set of working memory, it also writes every cell in the working set EEPROM so those that use that feature often may also be decreasing the life of their EEPROM's faster than normal.

Here's a link to the main thread I discussed this issue.
Read through it from where the link below starts you and then you will see posts from DonS that go into pretty good detail about the problem.
http://forums.radioreference.com/gre-scanners/285211-whistler-update-3.html#post2150845

There are other threads on the topic as well.
 

moze229

Member
Joined
Feb 2, 2013
Messages
17
Location
Central NC
There are threads on the topic here. I think in the GRE forum but some could be in the radioshack forum as well.
I forget but I think the memory chip used in production was only good for about a million writes.
The hit counter is a write and maybe two. Don S explained it pretty well in one of the threads I discussed it in as my flash chip did fail.

Each time you use software to program the PSR series as well as the Radioshack cousins and the new Whistlers, the software writes the entire flash chip and not just the areas that changed. Making simple edits by hand can help as can turning off the hit counter in the radios menu as well as in the software.

I think Don S figured a 5 year average life for the average user. I am not average so I ate through my chip pretty fast in a PSR600 and the Pro-197.
The chip is only an 8 pin surface mount chip so it can be swapped out for a new one half way easy if it does fail.

The PSR series also has a built in EEPROM test. When I ran that test, it always passed. So I do not consider the test accurate unless the chip has totally failed as mine would not store memory with the power off.
My failure was most evident when I'd power the radio off for a couple weeks and then when I'd go to use it again, I found that the lower cells had become corrupt. Sometimes I could get into the V-Scan folder that I'd made from my most recent working memory set and it would restore the bad cells. Sometimes I'd get heap errors and was forced to rewrite the EEPROM from software.
Mine became bad enough that not even 12 hours of being turned off was causing EEPROM contents loss.
So I replaced my EEPROM in the two radios that had the problem and they have worked fine ever since.

I also replaced the chip with one that offered way more writes than the stock chip but there was a difference. It seemed the stock chip was automotive rated so it had a decent high temperature rating like could be seen in a closed car sitting out in the sun all day.
I opted to go with a chip with more writes (4 million I think) but a lower temp rating. My radios are only used indoors in an air conditioned environment so I figure they will never see the temp rating the chip I selected can handle. I also could not find the automotive rated chip at the common places like Mouser or DigiKey but at least Mouser carried the regular spec chip. And they were cheap. I think I only paid about 2 or 3 bucks a chip.
There is another memory chip in the PSR series that holds the V-Scan folder data and maybe the firmware. That chip is not the one that fails luckily as it is a 64 pin or greater chip and would not be an easy swap without the correct tools.

The chip that fails is IC301 I believe and it is only an 8 pin chip.

You do need to unsolder a metal shield before you can get to the chip in the portable and mobile versions of the radio. That is probably the hardest part of the job.

If yours is not showing signs of memory loss with the long periods you have yours turned off, I think I'd not mess with it!
Mine actually started failing with the lower banks (scanlist) first and progressed its way up to maybe bank 5 before I noticed it was no longer holding memory for even 12 hours in scanlist 1.

At first I thought it was only the P25 systems that I was loosing but then after testing and moving things around scanlist wise, I realized it was whatever was stored in scanlist 1. It did not matter if it was a trunked system or a bunch of analog channels.

The object id's also seemed to be the lower numbers that failed first. I know those numbers can be changed in software but I don't know if they actually represent a memory cell location or not.

I think those that program by hand have the best chance at a long life as that only touches the cell you changed. If you use the V-Scan folders to load a different set of working memory, it also writes every cell in the working set EEPROM so those that use that feature often may also be decreasing the life of their EEPROM's faster than normal.

Here's a link to the main thread I discussed this issue.
Read through it from where the link below starts you and then you will see posts from DonS that go into pretty good detail about the problem.
http://forums.radioreference.com/gre-scanners/285211-whistler-update-3.html#post2150845

There are other threads on the topic as well.
Thank you deeply for the detailed response. That gives me just about all of the info that I need. I plan on attempting to enter manually, especially if there are only a few at a time. Once I get settled in this time, there shouldn't be many additions/changes for a while. (Hopefully.) I've soldered quite a bit, but not on scanner equipment at all. Circuit boards are circuits boards though I would guess. I'd probably take a shot at it if I ever get to that point. I like this radio a lot. Even though it's discontinued, there's still many out there and many who are familiar. Good news on the easy chip replacement.

I have no intentions with messing with it for the time being. Everything is working great in the last year that I've had it. I was perusing threads about something earlier and ran across the subject but couldn't find much info on the lifespan - just that it was limited.

It's refreshing to talk to someone from the ol' St. Louie. I spent the first 30 years of my life there. I do miss some things about it, but I can't say that I'm in a worse place now. :)
 
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