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Subject: Re: playback issues, Less vibration sensitive HD
From: Nick Brodich (nick_at_moirbrodich.com)
Date: 2004-06-16


Hello Peter:

    I, like you, enjoy using my jukebox while on my motor bike. In fact,
that was the primary reason for the purchase. I, like you, almost
immediately began having problems precisely like the ones you described. I
tried ways of isolating the unit (fanny pack with thick foam glued in), but
it still had problems and the large package turned the original advantage of
portability on its head. I pretty much stopped using the unit. This was
before I had the good fortune of stumbling upon Rockbox.

    Out of sheer stubborness, I pulled my archos out of retirement and
started looking for a software solution. Then came the fateful day I
stumbled upon Rockbox and all of the wonderful people that make it work.
Besides enjoying the online community immensely, Rockbox is an awesome
operating system. And it appeared to address my skipping concerns with
anti-skip protection that I believe to be a significant improvement over the
original firmware. After I loaded up Rockbox, I tried using my archos
without the foam fanny pack, just putting it in my jacket pocket.

    It still skipped and stalled, but not nearly as badly as pre-Rockbox. I
actually thought I could live with it. Then one day, it just died. With
help from this listserve, I was able to scandisk and reformat and,
eventually, reload Rockbox and get my archos up and running again. But I
decided that my application was just too rough for a HD player. Even if I
got it working, it would be temporary as I was fighting nature. The
environment on a motor bike is just too harsh, in my opinion. Eventually
whatever HD you use will suffer from the vibrations.

    I decided a flash player was the answer, but after having 10GB at your
fingertips, 256 MB is a joke. And flash players with decent memory were
astronomically expensive compared to their HD counterparts. I then stumpled
upon this site: http://www.viperlair.com/articles/howto/mods/muvo2/. With
a bit of work and time, I could MAKE a flash player for a fraction of the
cost.

    This is precisely what I did, using a 1 GB Sandisk non-ultra CF card.
My muvo2 works like a charm. 1 GB allows me to load about 13 hours of
music, and the playback is FLAWLESS. I have gotten the muvo2 up to 100 MPH
on an unfaired Harley with it just placed in my jacket pocket. Solid as a
rock. Bumps? We now laugh at bumps that used to make us cringe, then shut
down. I feel it is the perfect solution.

    I still wouldn't part with my archos and Rockbox. First of all, this
listserve is way too cool to give up. But secondly, the archos makes for a
great music warehouse. All of my music is on the archos. I use the muvo2
as a kind of glorified 14 disc CD changer, swaping album files and playlists
in and out. Not insignificantly, when I need tunes on the go without the
shaking and battering of the motor bike, I grab the archos. Why not bring
ALL of the music with you?

    In short, I would suggest you not torture yourself trying to make a HD
player work on a motor bike. Use the strengths of of both technologies in
their respective applications. Feel free to email me for more in-depth
discussions. I wish you the best of luck.

Nick

----- Original Message -----
From: "Carmen Lams & Peter Verbeke" <peterverbeke_at_bigfoot.com>
To: <rockbox_at_cool.haxx.se>
Sent: Tuesday, June 15, 2004 5:08 PM
Subject: playback issues, Less vibration sensitive HD

> hi,
>
> Some sharing of experiences and a quick question:
>
> From the web site it appears that quite a lot of users have been having
> trouble with playback (freeze, appears to play but no sound, HD
> continuously on). I am using my archos on the motor bike and previously on
> the train and have experienced all of the above recently. Below I just
> wanted to share my experiences.
> First I suspected something was wrong with the Hard disk and tried a
> scandisk: it turned out there were some errors on the disk it could not
> repair. after a reformat and another check with scandisk including a
> partial surface scan I was fairly certain that all was ok (although I
still
> don't know why I got some of the unrecoverable errors). Some further
> use showed a marked decrease in playback problems but the issue was not
> resolved completely. After reading Chris Hasall's page I opened up my unit
> discovered several areas of concern including loose soldering points and a
> possible short. I re-soldered the points and made use of shrink film to
> insulate. Again the regularity of playback stops reduced and way in which
> the jukebox stopped playing reduced to one mechanism only: when subjected
> to vibration (read making good progress on a motorbike on the motorway)
> playback usually started to be erratic i.e. start stop and in some
> occasions stopped completely. On inspection of the unit the HD red led is
> on and the harddisk is spinning with the heads obviously moving around.
The
> rockbox is waiting patiently for input.
>
> Some further experimentation at home with the unit gave me some insight in
> the failure mechanism. On "shaking" the unit just before or during a read
> operation gently the HD seems to be unable to read or figures out there is
> vibration (understand the Hitachi has a smart system to detect this) and
> waits until the shaking is over to get the required data. In the mean time
> the Rockbox waits. When one shakes more vigorously on some occasions one
> hears the heads moving, I suspect some protection by the disk against
> damage. Under those circumstances the unit, usually on the next read
> operation (even without further shaking) seems to fail in most cases to
get
> the required data and keeps on looking and playback stops. Even more
> vigorous shaking can lead to the rockbox seemingly continuing to play
> without sound. On the next read however the unit recovers and continues
> playing.
>
> Although all not very scientific it turns out that the playback errors
seem
> to be related to disk errors, loose contacts and shorts and finally on the
> HD sensitivity to vibration, which brings me to my question: Does anybody
> have any experience with other drives that are a bit more robust with
> regards to vibration? are some of the more modern drives with higher
> rotational speed and lager buffers better or not? I would hate to spend 70
> pounds (UK) on a new drive to end up with the same problem.
>
> As far as the rockbox goes Fantastic stuff and possibly the software could
> also help with the sensitive Hitachi: If one could track the time the HD
is
> taking to deliver a new block of data one could decide to reset the HD and
> try again instead of patiently waiting around. Have not looked at the
> sources, nor am I an expert, it's just an idea....
>
>
> Peter Verbeke
>

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