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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