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How To: Possible Fix for m500 Series USB Problem

Many, though far from all, Palm m500 series users have had problems HotSyncing with USB. After working fine, the handheld will abruptly and permanently no longer be able connect to any computer with USB. Serial connections aren't affected. People who complain to Palm generally either get their handheld replaced or hear the suggestion that they switch to a serial cradle.

Recently, a possible fix to the problem was posted on the PIC forums by Ales Omahen, a Slovenian m505 user who used it to get his handheld HotSyncing via USB again.

Update: Palm has begun a program for replacing old m500 series cradles with new ones that offer better protection from static electricity. According to Palm, this electrostatic discharge (ESD) disrupts the handheld enough that it is no longer able to HotSync.

While it is far from clear whether this will help everyone, enough people have said that it worked for them that it is worth more attention.

The Dragonball processor defines its outside communication speed with the values of its internal registers. Mr. Omahen suspected that something somehow changed some of those values in such a way that the device was unable to talk to the USB cradle. He then looked for a way to to completely reset the device. He tried many resets with memory erase but that didn't do the trick so he decided to try totally draining the battery.

Naturally, this will erase all data on the handheld so before trying this, do a complete backup. As the Palm Desktop doesn't necessarily back everything up, consider using a third-party backup tool like BackupBuddyVFS.

To begin Mr. Omahen's fix, press and hold the Power button and, while holding it, press the Reset button on the back of the device. Hold it for another few seconds as the Palm logo appears and then release it. When you are prompted with "Erase all data?" dialog, press the Up button.

Open the Memo Pad, switch on the backlight (for extra battery drain), write the shortcut sign, and then write .1 The shortcut sign is made by drawing what looks like a cursive L.

At this point the handheld should be unresponsive, the backlight should stay on, and a line appears on the bottom. If you change your mind, do a Soft Reset to restore normal operation.

Leave it out of the cradle for as much as 24 hours until all power is totally drained. Don't be impatient. The idea is to be sure that battery is totally empty. On the other hand, one person has said they left it on for only an hour after the screen automatically shut off and the fix still worked.

After you are certain the battery is flat, put the Palm back in the cradle to recharge. After a reasonable recharge period it should be fully operational, including HotSyncing via USB.

According to several experts, completely draining the Palm's battery should not hurt it. The Palm has built-in protections to prevent damage from happening. Update: A very small percentage of the people who have tried this fix have reported battery problems afterwards.

This is a fairly new procedure and it might not be a permanent solution. However, if the USB problem crops up again, the same thing should fix it.

Obviously, this is more of a work-around that a complete cure and it might now work for everyone. No one as yet knows what actually causes this to happen in the first place and there might even be several different causes.

If you have tried this, please let us know whether it worked for you or not. Please give details like how long you let you handheld discharge before recharging it. I'd like to thank all the people who contributed to this and especially Mr. Omahen. -Ed

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I tried it and it worked

MokeyJ @ 1/6/2002 2:52:13 PM #
I started the power drain around noon on Friday. I started charging about 7 AM on Saturday. After 2 hours of charging I tried the USB hotsync ... and it worked again. Although I'll be getting a refurbished unit tomorrow (per Airborne's webpage), at least I shouldn't have to get a 3rd replacement if this happens again.

I haven't noticed a problem with the battery since the drain, (only one day, however).

Give me a break!
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/6/2002 5:11:22 PM #
Boy doesn't this kind of fix seem awfuly familiar?! It's about the same as the fix to correct the under par screen on the M505.

Face it Palm has to step up to the mat and fix their own problems,so people can't perpetuate these *&#@! hoaxes.

I am really dissapointed in Palm, and am still astounded how in such a short amount of time how Palm's licensees is leaving them in their dust.

RE: I tried it and it worked
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/6/2002 6:10:40 PM #
So are you saying you tried it and it doesn't work? Or are you like the cat who sat on a hot stove and will never do it again, but also won't sit on a cold stove either? Some level of caution is good but too much caution is just as bad as being too trusting.

RE: I tried it and it worked
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/7/2002 12:19:26 PM #
You are dissapointed? Go buy a PPC, uBid and ebay are full of refurbished units...

RE: I tried it and it worked
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/15/2002 3:07:53 AM #
I tried and it DIDN'T worked!!!
I started the procedure sunday at 5.00 pm and i left the palm discharching till monday 22.00 pm. Then i started to charge, i tried after half an hour to turn it on, but nothing. I waited for an hour... Still nothing. After two hours... The same. I left it on the cradle all night and in the morning... Guess?
Well, now i don't know what to do! Please help me! I don't want to be the only one who didn't succeed in it!
Stefano

RE: I tried it and it worked
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/17/2002 1:18:01 PM #
My palm apparently has this problem as well. Palm support didnt say anything about a USB issue but however initiated an advanced exchange, sending me a new device with 15 days to send back the old one. I finally transferred everything over from my old m505 to the new one and now, 2 days later, the new m505 has the same problem.

I haven't sent back the old palm so i used it to test this one out and it worked great. I'm thinking about sending the replacement back now instead. Thanks for the tip

RE: I tried it and it worked
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/18/2002 11:30:51 AM #
I'm very glad I found this thread. I got the same USB hot-sync problem with my M505 a month ago. Palm support told me to wait and watch the Palm site for a software update to solve the problem. And as you all know, that hasn't happened. I used the method stated here for the battery drain and my unit is up and running today.

WONDERFUL!

RE: I tried it and it worked
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/27/2002 3:34:59 PM #
i used the shortcut.1 technique and I got it working. Strangely the people at Palm don't know anything about the technique. What a strange company--one would think that they would do almost anything to get this straightened out.

RE: I tried it and it worked
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/1/2002 6:37:27 PM #
Work fine for me on an M505 which suddenly stopped syncing just before a long trip where I needed Avantgo and other stuff.

Well done to all concerned.

Richard

RE: I tried it and it worked
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/9/2002 2:20:11 PM #
I tried the fix to, but could not get it to work.
My palm 505 (IBM workpad 505 actually) didŽnt freeze up when I wrote that symbol followed by .1
Is the a special way of doing this, because I just write the symbol followed by .1, and press "done" i the program.

Anybody ?

RE: I tried it and it worked
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/25/2002 11:27:53 AM #
This worked for me. I did the hard reset, wrote the shortcut character with the .1 and waited 24 hours before charging it up again and re-synching.

Thanks for the info!

RE: I tried it and it worked
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/23/2002 10:33:01 PM #
I owned the m515 for less than three weeks before I caught SUDS. Seems my offense was carrying my Palm in the pocket of a polar fleece jacket, and giving it a static shock when I removed the jacket. I tried the uncharging fix tonight--worked fine. One trick: some users that haven't been able to get the shortcut + . + 1 combo working may need to perform a hard reset of the Palm first (some instructions on the net leave this out). This shouldn't matter, since you're losing all your data anyway.

I let the Palm discharge for 5 hours from an almost full battery on full light. (Funny....battery never seemed to last that long.) Sort of an annoying problem, especially if this is to keep happening (happened once with a 505 I used to own). However, now that Palm has changed their return policies ("Yes, we realize you have paid $400 for our faulty product, but we'll still charge you $25 to send a factory refurbished unit that has caused someone else problems..."), this solution is at least worth trying out.

RE: I tried it and it worked
Bax @ 6/11/2002 12:37:50 PM #
My M505 stopped syncing on June 10, 2001.
I followed the recommended fix and drained the battery for 12 hours.

The fix worked perfectly.

the_one_and_only_bax

RE: I tried it and it worked
dsm363 @ 8/29/2002 12:59:47 PM #
Well, I have to say I wasn't so sure about this at first but I tried it and it worked perfectly. It was already half drained so I only let it discharge overnight and charged it up in the morning.
I think this is kind of odd this only happened after I got my replacement cradle to fix the SUDS problem. It had been syncing fine for over 3 years so I'm not sure what happened. Glad it worked.

RE: I tried it and it worked
pthakur @ 10/30/2002 10:32:35 AM #
I have a Palm m515 with a USB cradle marked "E". All of a sudden after using the device for about 3-4 months the USB hoysync simply died.

After using the first method of draining the battery out completly and performing a hard-reset - it once again started functioning normally. The serial hotsync capability remained functional throughout.

Thanks for the advice and I hope this does not happen all the time!

RE: I tried it and it worked
bratdoc @ 12/21/2002 1:20:38 AM #
My wife's Palm m515 suddenly stopped hotsyncing about 2 weeks after she received it. My m515 hotsynced, in the same cradle, without difficulty. I called Palm Support and they tried a hard reset, which did not work. Palm told me that they would replace the unit, but would not be able to do so for several weeks since it was Chrismastime and their supply of m515's was low.

I found the article in this forum about the battery draining procedure. I tried it and it worked! It took about 6 hours to completely drain the battery. I just completed the hotsync, so don't know if this fix will last or if there will be any long-term consequences to the battery draining procedure.

Thanks for the suggestion!

RE: I tried it and it worked
jerseyborn2002 @ 1/18/2003 8:37:17 PM #
I tried this method but after I drained the battery I put the M505 into the cradel to recharge. After 2 days it would still not power up. I tried the hard reset button but my unit will not power up. Anyone seen this and have any suggestions?? Thanks in advance.

If You Keep Doing What You Did
You Will Get What You Got..
RE: I tried it and it worked
brentferree @ 2/9/2003 11:27:45 AM #
I followed the directions and my palm m505 now hotsync's without an issues.

Brent

Thanks for the advise, but first I have to replace my mboard

I.M. Anonymous @ 1/6/2002 3:07:48 PM #
I am hoping that this will help. Unfortunately, I have found out that the USB hot sync cradle has fried my USB integrated with the motherboard. A glimmer of hope here is that I have a Dell PC, still under warranty and Dell is generously replacing the MB. I am having serious doubts about using this device again, since I fear risking the health of my PC. This entire experience has resulted in my confidence level dropping to zero regarding using a PDA again. More worrysome is the complete lack of help available from Palm. Best of luck to everyone, but I am blowing the dust off my Sharp Wizzard and thanking God I bought a Dell PC.

RE: Thanks for the advise, but first I have to replace my mboard
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/6/2002 6:08:05 PM #
Hi,

This sounds similar to the claim of some people that this happens with the serial port
and it's power for the older Palms. A simple workaround would be to disconnect the
power when doing hotsync and disconnect the USB when doing re-charge.
Another would be to get a USB hub which you have the Palm plugged
into, then the hub would be the only thing endangered.

RE: Thanks for the advise, but first I have to replace my mboard
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/7/2002 12:11:46 AM #
Unfortunately, by the time one has found out that they need to go to all this trouble, it will be too late.

RE: Thanks for the advise, but first I have to replace my mboard
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/7/2002 11:43:38 AM #
My 505 cradle just fried my USB ports last week. I was using my computer just like I normally do and thought that I should hot sync. I put my palm on its cradle and my USB mouse light went out, no hotsync would work and my usb scanner won't work. Checked the bios to make sure everything was on but nothing had changed. I think I can pretty safely say it was putting the palm on the cradle that did it. I have an Abit KT7A-raid that is now without any of its USB ports. Sucks because I don't know if I should just get a new MB or do I need to replace the cradle or what?

RE: Thanks for the advise, but first I have to replace my mboard
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/7/2002 11:50:33 AM #
DUDE, I hope you got a DELL.

-Steven

Static
Ed @ 1/7/2002 11:56:14 AM #
The static discharge hurting Dell computers story is covered here:
www.palminfocenter.com/view_Story.asp?ID=2210

You might also be interested in this:
www.palminfocenter.com/view_Story.asp?ID=2569

Thanks!

---
News Editor

RE: Thanks for the advise, but first I have to replace my mboard
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/7/2002 3:53:58 PM #
When I got my m505, it too fried the integrated USB ports on my (non-Dell) machine. I thought I was alone... until now.

RE: Abit KT7A fried USB ports.
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/8/2002 10:11:46 AM #
Happened to me too, but as the VIA-based USB support has ALWAYS been a little flakey, I opted to purchase a $30 USB 2.0 PCI card instead. Much cheaper than replacing the MB, and I'll be ready for ultra-fast USB2 if MS ever release Win2K drivers for it.

- cowpen


RE: Thanks for the advise, but first I have to replace my mboard
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/19/2002 10:11:08 PM #
Just wondering... Would a USB hub placed between the
palm and the computer protect the mother board's circuitry?

RE: Thanks for the advise, but first I have to replace my mboard
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/24/2002 8:38:05 PM #
really appreciate the advise, but didn't work for me...

i just asked palm.japan for mborad replace.

RE: Thanks for the advise, but first I have to replace my mboard
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/7/2002 10:53:29 PM #
An m500 took out the USB ports on my Dell at work a few weeks ago. Our IT folks replaced the motherboard and all went well until yesterday, when the same failure occured. I plugged in the Palm (a different m500 this time), the Dell spontaneously rebooted, and the USB ports never responded again. I guess our IT guys will have to replace the motherboard again. Of the 10 m500s we bought for my team, 4 have have been replaced for the old "USB synch quits working" problem and 2 more have failed. We have given up on getting Palm to replace them and are going to purchase serial cradles. Hopefully this will fix both the USB synch failure and USB port death problems.
I have a real love/hate relationship with the Palms. I am completely dependent on mine and love the features. Even though we have invested in several keyboards and modems, we'll probably buy Sonys in the future. Based on our miserable experiences, I have been directing potential customers away from Palm products. Its too bad, they are a great concept but the Palm engineering and customer service problems are driving their customers away. I just hope the PalmOS survives the likely demise of Palm as a hardware producer.

Sounds about right but....

SilliconMan @ 1/6/2002 3:13:21 PM #
If the CPU registers determine the speed of the USB syncing, wouldn't just changing the registers with a specially written ASM hack do the trick without having to drain the battery and hard reset (Which BTW, when the battery is dead a hard reset often occurs anyway as the RAM loses power)?

Palming away.....
RE: Sounds about right but....
Ed @ 1/6/2002 3:27:49 PM #
If you would like to write such a hack and save a lot of people a whole bunch of trouble, that would be great.

I agree that the hard reset in these instructions is probably redundant but it certainly doesn't do any harm and it might be necessary. This is voodoo repair. We're not 100% what is wrong so it is tough to say what is and isn't necessary to fix it. If someone would like to try this without the hard reset and let us know if it works, that'd be good, too.

---
News Editor

RE: Sounds about right but....
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/6/2002 7:33:46 PM #
Anyone with half a technical brain knows that the "fix"-meister is a shonk... forget it guys - he's full of BS.

RE: Sounds about right but....
omahena @ 1/7/2002 7:46:49 AM #
Yes, you are right. I took a snapshot of the working registers and the next time my Palm dies I wanted to do exactly that - write a piece of code to restore the original state of the registers. The "problem" is that my Palm is still working and I have no way to determine the faulty state of registers. Then again one could write a program to set the communication and speed registers to the default values...

But if maybe somebody with IR sync and a dead USB sync could provide snapshots of all pages of DragonReg tool, one could try to develop a patch.

You can find the tools here:
DragonRegs: http://www.palmgear.com/software/showsoftware.cfm?prodID=13237
ScreenShot hack with X-Master and pdb2gif converter: http://www.palmgear.com/software/showsoftware.cfm?prodID=1946

If you would be so kind to provide me with those snapshots, I would be glad to write a piece of code that tries to restore USB functionality without a full reset... Provided that the problem is in the registers... I fear this might not be the case (just like the kind mr. Anonymous pointed out). But what we do know is that a hard reset with memory erase won’t fix it and that the UART port on the bottom of the device is not dead since my Palm keyboard always worked like a charm.

RE: Sounds about right but....
SilliconMan @ 1/7/2002 3:01:14 PM #
>>>Anyone with half a technical brain knows that the "fix"-meister is a shonk... forget it guys - he's full of BS.<<<

Was that directed at me? Anyone would know with a half techincal brain knows that a CPU uses registers (in older CPUs such as the Eniac these registers were actually relay switches which actual bugs (live ones!..) got stuck in causing a crash or problems). If you want to know more go do some research, but until you do, don't come here and say I'm full of BS.


Palming away.....

RE: Sounds about right but....
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/15/2002 1:01:03 AM #
I have a dead 505 that I am about to send back. Tell me where to send the screen shots of the registers, and I'll get them to you.

Taking a quick look and comparing the registers of the replacement I got today with the one that's going back (not knowing what I'm looking at, but assuming we're looking for things that don't match), the following registers are out of whack:

register -- dead -- refurb
PDDATA -- F0 -- D0
PEDATA -- 5C(steady) -- 5C/5E (cycling)
PWMC -- 20A0 -- 50A2
PWMS -- 0027 -- 0006
PWMP -- F9 -- FE
PWMCNT2 -- DE7A -- CB48
SPICONT1 -- A007 -- 0007
UTX2 -- 0A00 -- 0800

All the other registers match up, except for those in the Real-time clock category. If you need those, let me know.

I just got the replacement, so I can hold this one back safely until Thursday morning, without risking a credit card charge. If someone - anyone - can develop a piece of software that will test and restore a broken unit, you'll be my hero - I'm on my FOURTH!

-Kevin
kevin@glengroup.com

Battery Drain fix

I.M. Anonymous @ 1/6/2002 4:53:24 PM #
Well, without intending to, I got to try this fix, and the good news is, it does work. The bad news is what led me there, and I'm wondering if any of you have had the same problem...

Sometime yesterday, I noticed my 505 heating up, physically. Like, hot to the touch. I turned off afterburner (just in case) and turned the system off for a while. It cooled down. Then it started giving me low battery warnings. Every time I put it in the cradle to charge, it would get warm to the touch again, and the battery level would DROP. Last evening I left it, powered down, out of the cradle (for fear of how hot it would get - I keep my desk quite a mess.) When I woke up, it had drained its own battery. I came on here looking for a similar story - instead I found this, and learned that I was privy to the one small respite of a working hotsync again.

If anyone could tell me what's going on, I'd appreciate it.

RE: Battery SUDDEN Drain and HOT battery
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/6/2002 5:44:56 PM #
I have had this same SUDDEN DRAIN/HOT battery problem TWICE with two different m505's. I am on my third m505. I had the first one for 6 months and my second one for only 1 month when this suddenly happened. I have heard this story at least 3 times before. I think that their is something seriously wrong with the m505 battery technology OR there is some design/manufacturing flaw/slopiness that is causing it. The question is, are there many more m505's out there that are ticking time bombs with this same problem? BTW, I did the soft/hard/warm resets all to no avail. I have no hacks or afterburners on it. I charge everyday. My first m505 was bought in May 2001 so it was an early one. My second one was bought in Nov 2001. I got my 3rd one in Dec. All were bought from a retail store. You may find this article very interesting:

http://www.pstec.de/ppp/pppqual/m500qual.html

RE: Battery Drain fix
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/6/2002 6:01:28 PM #
RE: Battery Drain fix
rcockx @ 1/8/2002 9:58:14 AM #
No getting hot here, but I've had quite my share of problems with battery life too. Basically, my 505 fails to load properly. It can be almost empty yet claims to be full in 10 minutes or so (4.20v). Goes without saying that once I start using it, it falls to it's 'pre-charge level' almost as fast. It doesn't really load but thinks it does. The result: I can leave it in the cradle for 24 hours and yet it isn't fully charged, always thinking it is already there when in reality it still has some time to go. Palm 'repaired' my unit but it appears they send me a new one instead (judging by the feel of it). It doesn't change one little bit, getting me to wonder whether it's not my cradle that causes all this. Anyone with a similar experience?

RE: Battery Drain fix
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/8/2002 10:03:07 AM #
I don't think it's the cradle because I had this problem with 2 different m505's and exchanged them for m505 #3 and #3 works so far WITH THE SAME OLD CRADLES. BTW - I am using the SERIAL cradles. I think there is a battery/tech flaw with a high % of m505's out there that has yet to rear its ugly head. How long did you own your m505 before it starting having hold-charge problems?

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