BCD536HP: SD Card Corrupt Due To Power Disruption

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JamesO

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A BIG ISSUE AS FAR AS I AM CONCERNED.

Could maybe happen on the 436HP if running only on external power?

Not sure if this is the first report of this type?

Had my 536HP for about 3 months, runs 24 hours a day. It has the most recent firmware installed, version 1.03.03.

So the other morning during bad weather and heavy rains we had some short duration power drops due to the weather and tree limbs likely contacting the power lines.

Had a few very short 1-3 second outages and had a number of other power blips. I also have a back up generator that did come on and run for a very short period, so this means the power did go out for 20 seconds or more at one point during this power instability.

Apparently this type of power disruption corrupted my SD card and when the scanner powered back up, but was basically DOA as the SD card was corrupt.

This has never happened to any of my other radios under similar conditions, but then the other radios do not heavily rely on a memory card to save to and to read off of during power up.

SO, this means a few things.

1. Anyone that has a 536HP that relies on it during questionable weather events that may be subject to power disruptions better have a battery power with a float charger otherwise the scanner may corrupt the SD card during unstable power events.

2. Another option other than a battery on a float charge would be a UPS unit.

2. You should always have a spare/mirrored SD card taped to the side or bottom of the scanner for quick recovery. This way in the event of adverse weather events you can quickly recover the scanner without the need for a computer to be connected to the scanner and spending time bring up the computer and recovering the SD card.

3. If you rely on recordings, you should gather and save your recordings on a regular basis otherwise you risk loosing them during unstable power events if you have not addressed the some form of un-interruptible power source.

4. HOPEFULLY Uniden will look into this and be able to put some additional protection in the firmware like a restart/reboot delay to reduce or eliminate SD card corruption.

This issue may have already been uncovered/discussed, but with the Spring/Summer storm season already starting up in most of the country, everyone needs to plan and be prepared at a minimum with a SPARE SD Card Mirror ready to go and attached to the side or bottom of the scanner. Also consider some form of an un-interruptible power source

You have been warned. Live, learn and be prepared!

I hope UPMan is reading, listening and looking into this.
 

JamesO

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Please read BCD536HP Mobile Install Issues (Post #18), and its quotes from the owner's manual.

Even though your install is not mobile, the behavior when power is interrupted seems to be the same.

Hope this helps,
Appreciate you reply, I was well aware of that entire post. It dealt with the tow trucks with up to 10 scanners that would lose audio when the tow truck was restarted.

Uniden actually did something in the 536HP firmware in an attempt to address this.

But the tow truck/car starting situation is something that can be "managed" by the scanner operator.

AC main power disruptions cannot be "managed" by the operator short of having a dedicated UPS system for the scanner at a cost of $50+.

Heck, I have UPS systems for some of my other equipment in the house as well as a whole house back up generator, I just never figured I would need to add a UPS just for my HP536 scanner so it would not brick itself during inclement weather conditions.

I kind of call BAD DESIGN/FIRMWARE on Uniden for this.

Case in point, I deal with A LOT of neworking gear, deployed hundreds of SOHO routers and equipment. I deployed MANY, MANY Linksys WRT54G routers. Had COUNTLESS problems of these routers loosing their wireless configurations and/or at times going back to factory defaults. Fought with these stupid routers for years, then decided to star trying free, open source, 3rd party firmware.

We low and behold, the exact same hardware with the manufacturers firmware that was so awful was ROCK SOLID with the free, open source, 3rd party firmware. Not a single loss of wireless configuration or factory default for years after I started flashing EVERY new router that I deployed with the free, open source, 4rd party firmware that has not even been updates for over 5 years.

So lesson learned, FIRMWARE is just as important, if not more so, than the hardware itself. It takes some keen minds and smart people to even think about testing this equipment in real world situations.

Uniden needs the hard power switch to initiate a software shut down and some form of built in delay that may even be user selectable to eliminate or improve the chance that the SD card can get corrupt by a significant margin. I would bet that if someone really sat down and thought through the process, a 90+% improvement could be achieved just with firmware changes.

It is likely the 536HP has a soft shutdown anyway just like the 436HP. Uniden just probably put a hard switch on the Volume control as a matter of convenience.

So as much as we all want the WiFi and Analyze to work, there are still a lot of basic Firmware 101 issues that need to be resolved like the power down/power up sequence, the push button delay, basic backwards display issues and inconsistencies like the Yes/No selection, Frequency display for trunked systems, Phase 2 Indicator, REC indicator that is on the display full time when the Recording is enabled.

I even see an issue now where if I want to "clone" additional SD cards or program an stand alone SD car I cannot do this with the Sentinel program with having it connected to a scanner. Maybe this feature is there and I am missing it, but I should be able to write my scanner log files directly to a bare SD card without a scanner present. What am I missing here??

Hopefully Uniden is listening?
 

troymail

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This should NOT be a surprise at all. The SD cards in the GRE radios have experienced for several years now and most of us have religiously preached always have a spare card ready to go in the event of corruption. I never expected Uniden's solution to eliminate this problem either. It's really a question of how the card is used - the more writes you do to the card the more likely the card will be corrupted - particularly if the radio is in a write cycle and the power fails. And failure of the card will result in a brick unless you are prepared with a backup card.

Given there is a workaround for this and there doesn't seem to be alot that can be done about it short of having some type of internal storage on the radio coupled with a feature/function that allows for reformatting and reloading of the card when it is corrupted, I'd much prefer to have Uniden work on and fix/release other features/solutions - particularly those which have already been promised.

Either way - all of these are merely suggestions and we won't really know what they are working on until they are released (if ever).
 

QDP2012

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(At the risk of stating the very obvious...)
If I understand the power-off/card-write problem correctly, the card's closing-session-write-action happens when the unit is powered, but only at the moment it is turned-off. Where the problem seems to be is when the unit is turned-on, and then has its power-plug unplugged/disconnected, etc., thereby not giving the unit power long-enough to do the closing-session-write-action.

(Design idea, which might have been suggested already by someone else...)
I don't know how feasible this would be, but the problem seems to be a power-duration problem. If Uniden cannot change the logic-model of the scanner to totally do away with the power-needed-to-close-the-writing-session logic, then it seems that the unit needs an internal power-source, like a specific-size capacitor or small rechargeable battery that will maintain power long enough for the "typical" closing-session-write-action. This would need to exist in not just the mobile/536 but also the portable/436 in addition to its larger main battery-pack/cell. Even though the manual indicates that battery/external power is required for a proper shutdown, this might help protect the card during those moments when power is interrupted unexpectedly.

Just a thought.

Hope this helps,
 

JamesO

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I think my 536HP may have been shut down a total of a dozen times or less at this point.

Appears that my short term solution will be a spare clone SD card taped somewhere on the scanner exterior so I can recover quickly if needed.

Then the next item will be an outboard UPS system, I might look at putting some form of NiMH battery internally to the radio.

I recall someone did this with a GRE scanner base/mobile unit.

I at this point could care less about the WiFi/Siren App, Analyze and other basis Fimware 101 issues need priority.
 
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sator1

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I had asked the same question on one of my posts concerning my new BCD 536 and power outages and received similar replies. I have done the SD card backup and bought another CyberPower 1000 AVR UPS. It cost about 125 buck through Amazon. Cheap price considering the price of the radio. Already tested everything during a planned power outage by PG&E last week. Well worth the money spent. All of my computers are on a UPS too. Now to learn how to program my Favorites List(s)...
 

JamesO

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Trying to sort the scanner at this moment. A number of power cycles and having a problem getting Sentinel to recognize the scanner. Seems Sentinel needs some form of time out timer if the scanner does not respond within a REASONABLE amount of time and maybe return a USEFUL error description. As of this moment, it just appears that Sentinel is hanging probably because the ESN or other things cannot be read from the scanner?? Again, how about some timers and messages in the software??

Probably will need to remove the card and format it??

Exact message I am receiving at this moment is
"City data table read error
Please check
CityTable_V1_00_00.dat
in SD Card"

After a number of other power cycles, new message is
"SD Card File Error
Use Sentinel "Clear User Data"
operation to initialize SD Card"

Problem is Sentinel is not recognizing the scanner and does not time out or give further instructions!

Just in case Uniden is interested in what happened in my case.

Assume this is a problem with the Master Database file? I was only operating on a custom made Favorites List at the time this happened.

Anyway, more fun trying to unbrick the SD card!
 
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doctordave

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I noted a very similar error message recently when an SD card corrupted - for no obvious reason (no overt power fluctuations and my other nearby 536s were unaffected). I could not get the SD card functional again. Replacing and programming a fresh SD card worked. I'm similarly going to play with the bricked SD card to see if it can be successfully wiped/re-programmed.
 

JamesO

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I noted a very similar error message recently when an SD card corrupted - for no obvious reason (no overt power fluctuations and my other nearby 536s were unaffected). I could not get the SD card functional again. Replacing and programming a fresh SD card worked. I'm similarly going to play with the bricked SD card to see if it can be successfully wiped/re-programmed.
Dave, this may be a good suggestion. I just tired, but failed with the "Clear User Data" I think because Sentinel cannot see the ESN or the scanner with the bad card??

I also noted that during power up the first message I get is "Over Limit".

So is the problem really with the scanner firmware, hardware, SD card or a combination of any and all of them???

So I think I have a spare SD card around here that I will try to load from scratch and see what happens.

Then I may try to compare the cards, the only problem is I have updated my Master Database file a few times for my 436HP and had not updated the 536HP as it is usually at home. So I may not get an Apples to Apples comparison.

But to Uniden and others just to vent my frustrations, I am medium to advanced computer/software savvy, I can figure out how to help myself in most situations.

What I find totally frustrating and so short sighted on Uniden's part is there is not even a utility inbedded in the scanner to format the SD card. I have cheap digital cameras and video cameras that can format a memory car directly in the device.

What we are dealing with is a half baked attempt to use a software program and connect to the scanner via a cable and when the scanner cannot be detected, the card cannot be formatted or cleared of user data or even reloaded.

I do not want to hear about all the "work arounds" I have plenty and know how to work around this garbage that Uniden has put together. We as end users need to quit giving venders (Uniden or others) the "Get Out Of Jail Card" because many of us are pretty advanced and can figure out work arounds. Not everyone that owns one of these scanners has multiple SD cards laying around, external SD card readers, knows how to find and download card formatting software much less have multiple computers to take out to the car for a direct connection without removing the scanner and bringing to the computer.

This is just not how this should all work.

Sentinel should be able to program a SD card without a scanner even in the same state much less the same country. Sentinel should be able to format or "Clear User Data" on a SD card both in the scanner and with a SD card adapter directly connected to a computer.

This is just sloppy thought on the software, firmware and hardware developers. I can go by a $35 digital camera that will give me far less headaches than these $500-$600 scanners and I can format the memory cards directly in the camera using on screen menus and prompts.

Lets get with the 21st century and not require owners to run DOS commands and FORTRAN just to get the scanner to work after a power failure!
 

Essexscan

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Did you click the "show all drives" when you connected it to sentinel? I believe the battery pack in the 436 as long as its charged enough to operate the radio defends the Sd card from the power problem. It does seem that the 536 suffers from corrupted cards much more than the 436hp.

Just an idea but how would an external battery pack that plugs into the scanner then the wall wart/12v cord plugs into it. or a setup like the Yaesu internal battery on their portable HF manpack radios.

JamesO you have the best idea so far with a backup card. Cheap and dirty but it works good
 

fxdscon

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Sentinel should be able to program a SD card without a scanner even in the same state much less the same country. Sentinel should be able to format or "Clear User Data" on a SD card both in the scanner and with a SD card adapter directly connected to a computer.
I've always been able to do that on my cards in a card reader.... the card does not need a ESN number on it at this point.

After formatting a card (or when using a new card), when you select "clear user data" in Sentinel, check the "show all drives" box and the formatted (or new) SD card will show up.

After that's done, you can "write to scanner" (even in a card reader) with database and favorites.

When you put the card in the scanner, the boot-up process will write the ESN and any other necessary files to the card at that time.

.
 

JamesO

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Slowly digging through this mess that a simple power failure caused.

So the original Micro SD card that was corrupted cannot easily be read via my Windows machines, that is machines plural. It is slow to be detected, cannot see any file structure, cannot tell the size of the SD card.

Prompt that card needs to be formatted, however, Windows cannot format the card, even when not trying a quick format. I downloaded a SD card formatter and it cannot recognize the card.

Seems either the card has been damaged by an electrical glitch, which is possible, however, the power disruption was an outage and NOTHING else in the house was damaged.

So I may need either a brute force formatting software tool or the card is trash and I may try to get it warranted, but it is not worth the time and effort in my opinion.

So since this is all pretty new to me, meaning I had never bothered to look at the SD card file structure, I took the new, working SD card out of my scanner.

Connected to my windows machine and can now see that the card is fully readable on a windows machine and has a basic Windows file structure, so this is good. I can copy and past the card contents without issue.

I do need to see if Sentinel can directly program the SD card without the scanner connected, it may in fact work, but with the bad SD card there were no messages in the Sentinel software to indicate there were problems. Seems whomever wrote the Sentinel software never expected on dealing with a corrupt or unreadable SD card and no time out timers were written into the software. This causes the Sentinel software to just hang and you need to force close it.

Quite frustrating even for me with many years of software and hardware work. I guess I just "assumed" that the software was written in a way that it would have time out timers and messages when things go wrong! But not the case here, the software is written assuming EVERYTHING is in working order and it is not, then spinning egg timer!!

I will update if I make any more progress with the bad SD card and if I have any luck writing directly to a card not in the scanner. I did put the operation card in my computer card reader and it does detect the "good" card. However, the bad card, not any luck.

I think what I will do once I get more Micro SD cards it to clone one and wrap it in a small piece of paper then take Blue tape and tape it on the side or bottom of the scanner. I do want to have the Blue take directly in contact with the SD card, might get messy after some time, so a small paper wrap will protect the SD card and the Blue tape will make it very obvious that the carp is still stuck to the scanner.

What a real PITA over something so simple.
 

JamesO

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Found a low level format tool that I am currently running on the corrupted SD card. It may help recover the "dead" card so I can try and reuse it. Seems that this tool will take some TIME. The tool was able to determine the card size, but Windows and the SD Card formatting tools could not properly read/format the corrupted card.

I attempted to "format" the card in one of my video cameras that has an internal formatting option, however, this was a no go.

So it appears if the SD card is not damaged, then it is corrupted to the point it is unreadable by the "mainstream" tools and the low level formatting/bit flipping may be the only option.

Will keep this updated as the same issue is bound to happen over and over again.
 
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JamesO

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I think the SD card is damaged?

So I did a few different low level formats on the card, some worked, some were unable to write the the Volume name and registered and I/O error.

Windows machine does not recognize card quickly, when it does you cannot open the card or access Properties without the application freezing on the many Windows machines. Tried XP, 7 & 8.1 all have issues with this SD card that worked fine until power disruptions.
 

sfd119

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I just read the the entire thread that was linked. I have the 536 installed in my truck controlled by a ChargeGuard as well. I have never shut the scanner off properly. It always gets killed after 15 minutes of the truck being off. I have also started the truck with the scanner scanning and it also reboots itself but comes back just fine.

It's been two weeks without issue.
 

JamesO

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I just read the the entire thread that was linked. I have the 536 installed in my truck controlled by a ChargeGuard as well. I have never shut the scanner off properly. It always gets killed after 15 minutes of the truck being off. I have also started the truck with the scanner scanning and it also reboots itself but comes back just fine.

It's been two weeks without issue.
I think in your case the environment is actually better than the home environment.

The scanners power is removed at one time and it is not likely to come back on for minutes or hours.

I think the problem with the home environment is this:

On, Off, On, Off, On, Off, On in a fast sequence of less than 2-10 seconds.

Also know as what I refer to is: Blip, Blip, Blip, ..... Blip,.......Blip and so forth.

Really hard to describe, but the lights will strobe as the power lines are hit with branches and the power protection at the sub station attempts to cleat the line faults and the Voltage drops in and out rapidly.

I have invested about $60 in time in a $6 SD card, so I am going to just determine that the card is either damaged due to the power disruptions or I lack the tools and ability to brute force format the card into a Windows or other SD card format.

I tired to format the car in video camera and using the computer. The video cameras indicate the card if full and cannot format. Multiple Windows machines have a hard time recognizing the card and all attempts to format the card using standard Windows methods lock up and fail.

Again, I think the vehicle environment may actually be more ideal than the home power during windy conditions and storms.

BTW, I also have many networking devices, wireless printers, scanners and other items in the house that are not on UPS units and not a single one of these devices suffered any negative consequences with this power disruption.

Again, extra SD clone card taped to the scanner I think is the short term answer. The long term answer is hopefully Uniden will look into this issue.
 

sfd119

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For a $500 scanner, I would recommend a cheap APC UPS. You can get them for around $40. It's a small investment to ensure the power is clean & continuous to the scanner.

I have them for my radio charger, cell chargers, etc.
 

derevs

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JamesO
It is my opinion that power interruptions is not something for Uniden to look into. Power interruptions of the type you describe can also cause irreparable harm to any number of electronics. The answer is to turn off electronics during a severe storm. The second answer might be to have your electronics on a good surge protector. The third, previously mentioned, is a UPS. A good UPS will also allow you to use your line powered scanner for a period of time after you lose power.
 
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