New m500 series USB Sync Problem Solution

Just last week, Palm Support introduced a new alternative for warranty repair of an m500 series model suffering from an inability to HotSync due to an electrostatic discharge (ESD). While a user can still choose to send the handheld back to Palm for repair, the user can also choose to have Palm send them a new Palm HotSync SD Reset Card which repairs the handhelds and restores USB hotsyncing.

According to Palm Support, an electrostatic discharge (ESD) can disrupt the m500's USB chip, making it impossible to Hot Sync the handheld via USB. Palm has been providing free replacements for the original cradles that shipped with the m500 series to provide better ESD immunity. (The replacement policy applies to orginal USB cradles that do not have a sticker on the bottom with an E or H on it.) While this provided better protection against ESD, it did not fix affected handhelds.

There are a couple of "unofficial" fixes to get the handheld HotSyncing again, both of which involve forcing the handheld to reset by cutting off its power. The first method involves leaving the handheld on until the battery is drained to the point where it shuts itself down. The second method involves taking the back of the handheld and disconnecting the battery for a few minutes. Palm chose the former approach for their new Palm HotSync Reset Card.

The card is a standard SD memory card with 15.2 Meg of flash memory. The card contains the standard Palm Backup utility, as well as a second program called HS Reset. The instructions accompanying the card are simple. Upon initial insert of the card the Backup program is automatically run, and the user is asked to backup all of their handheld data. On an m500 this only takes a couple of minutes.

Next the user must run the HS Reset program off the card. This program first asks the user to verify that everything has been backed up. It then provides several warning screens pointing out that a) the program erases all data from the handheld, b) the handlheld cannot be in its cradle while the program runs, and c) the program cannot be interrupted once it has started. If the user chooses to continue, the program enters into an infinite loop process that is designed to run until the batteries on the handheld are exhausted. The program must run undisturbed for at least 8 hours, even if the screen goes blank after the first few hours.

After at least 8 hours have passed, the user recharges the handheld for at least 2 hours, removes and reinserts the Palm HotSync Reset Card, and restores the handheld's data using the Backup program. The positive benefits include having a remedy on hand should my USB chip again get scrambled, plus I now have second backup card for my handheld.

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Wow - an 8 hour and temporary fix?

Gekko @ 1/28/2003 12:32:08 PM #
I would not be happy with this.

RE: Wow - an 8 hour and temporary fix?
Admin @ 1/28/2003 12:43:45 PM #
well it's better than taking the palm apart yourself and it automates the process for the less technically adept.
RE: Wow - an 8 hour and temporary fix?
Ronin @ 1/28/2003 12:48:00 PM #
I suffered through this problem just last weekend with an m515 and it was quite a pain.

I think this is definitely an improvement over the process I had to go through, especially when you consider that the average user does not frequent sites like this and a straightforward, simply solution is workable for the average user. Hey, my wife could have followed the instructions for this process and I could have used my time on more productive pursuits, like football. :)

In the Spirit of Umoja,

RE: Wow - an 8 hour and temporary fix?
Doo @ 1/28/2003 2:24:49 PM #
Would you be happy with a Palm that didn't sync? Get the new cradle, get the card. The new cradle should stop it from happening again. And on the slight chance it does you have the fix. Palm is trying to do the right thing here. Cut them some slack.

RE: Wow - an 8 hour and temporary fix?
MJGunn @ 1/28/2003 2:53:21 PM #
But the problem is, the new cradle does NOT fix the problem. I got an m515 with the supposedly fixed cradle, and it stopped synching within a week.

RE: Wow - an 8 hour and temporary fix?
larued @ 1/28/2003 3:20:25 PM #
There is no way to completely remove this problem. Static electricity cannot be eliminated. The best way to prevent this problem from happening is to ground yourself (just touch something grounded while holding your handheld) before placing the handheld in the cradle. I have never had the USB problem and never will unless I forget to ground myself first.

RE: Wow - an 8 hour and temporary fix?
Gekko @ 1/28/2003 7:38:48 PM #
I correct myself! 10 (TEN) hours with the recharge time!!! SLEEP-IN THAT MORNING!!! and you could probably cook your breakfast eggs/flapjacks on the back of your Palm after the constant battery discharge/recharge heat accelerations!

RE: Wow - an 8 hour and temporary fix?
stentor @ 1/31/2003 10:33:45 PM #
So what should I do. I've now gotten two "refurbished" m515s both of which had the USB synch failure after two or three HSs. I sync on three different puters and no previous Palm had given me this trouble on any of the cradles. two of the three cradles have either H or E happily emblazoned on the bottom. The Palm stopped HSing after use on the one with the E last time and on the one without any mark the first time. Doesn't seem related to the particular cradle. The backup chip thing seems a bit kludgy. Do the Tungstens have the same problem???? But way too thick and heavy c/w the 515.
RE: Wow - an 8 hour and temporary fix?
JackandJohn @ 2/18/2004 12:57:19 PM #
Even though I know this issue is over with the bitter taste in our mouths, I just have to archive my experiences.

I started with a $600CAN m515.

I had suds 3 times, got 3 refurbs (which, as you all know is a horrible thing.. First I was without it and dead in the water for 2 weeks, then there were all kinds of problems with the refurbs, even down to the fact that brightness control was gone [they even removed the sun icon from the grafitti area])

I started doing the software fix (shortcut, drain, etc), but called palm asap when I found out they were shipping the card.

I got a shiny new 32MB sd card (16mb wouldn't have held a backup of my palm), and proceeded to strip it out, using it as a regular card but with backup/hsreset as an option.

The issue was now somewhat dealable.. I no longer lost work, and it even seemed to subside. "I guess it'll do" I thought, since I was tired of palm.

Now, what I didn't realise at the time, is that the issue went away because it was no longer winter.

I'm up in Edmonton, Alberta and it gets very dry in the winter.. I was getting suds from dropping the thing into my pocket or touching it!

So, when winter came again (november, if I remember correctly), it happened again.

Nothing! No reset, no battery drain fix, nothing.
I could get it to boot, but it would fatal exception within 10 seconds of a battery drain and hard reset.

I called palm back, totally pissed off at the whole ordeal and was told 2 things:

1) It's dead (this I knew, but always goot to have it official ;)

2) Since I was out of the 90 day warranty all I could do was get a refurb for $160CAN!

I got higher up, and they gave me a revised deal and the refusal to upgrade me. New deal: Refurb for $80+ shipping.

So, I started with a $600 palm pilot, and ended up paying about $650 total for a worse one, then a doorstop.

That's the end of the story, I think I beat most ppl here for ESD problems.. At least all of those who posted ;)

Oh, and I ended up getting a tungsten E, which is a great upgrade to the 515, but doesn't have a universal connector (wtf is the point in calling it universal?). No ESD even though it's winter, so I think it's safe to say it's ok :)

And don't worry; I maxed out the futureshop warranty ;)

Direct link to Palm Support?

erikssonal @ 1/28/2003 12:54:58 PM #
Hi Ryan - Is there a direct link to Palm Support that describes this? I had to "fix" my M505 two weeks ago and would like to get the card to make the process easier. Thanks! -Al-
RE: Direct link to Palm Support?
Admin @ 1/28/2003 12:59:23 PM #
I don't think this has been posted to the palm support site yet. You will need to contact palm customer support directly for this.

if I was a 500-series owner...

mdoudoroff @ 1/28/2003 1:22:49 PM #
...I'd be looking into class action lawsuits.

A friend of mine is on his third replacement unit from Palm. They have treated him like dirt throughout the process. They have refused to give him any option to upgrade (or downgrade) to a non-500-series unit. A fairly strong civil case could probably be built for fraud that would could lead to a sizeable settlement provided enough victims joined. I'm no fan of tort, but this is a crock, and Palm has just been horrid to its customers.

I certainly won't be buying any more of their products.

RE: if I was a 500-series owner...
Altema @ 1/28/2003 1:44:18 PM #
Your treatment depends on which customer rep you get on the phone. I went through five M505's and most reps were pretty good, a couple were very very good, and one was terible (did know his product and rude to boot). Wish I could say the same for the refurbished units they sent me. Bad pixels, defective batteries, bad ROM's, you name it. They have no quality control for refurbs whatsoever, either that or a few units slipped past the inspector's seeing eye dog.

I would have dropped Palm branded handhelds altogether if it had not been for my great experience with the M515.

RE: if I was a 500-series owner...
madhatter @ 1/28/2003 4:25:24 PM #
"A fairly strong civil case could probably be built for fraud that would could lead to a sizeable settlement provided enough victims joined. "

And the only one who wins is the lawyers. Why is suit the first thing out of our mouths whenever we see a problem. Can you imagine how much could be spent on R&D if we did not have to pay the attorney fees defending BS lawsuits.

"Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often the real loser... in fees, expenses and waste of time"

Abraham Lincoln

A Palm in hand is worth two in your pocket.

Lawsuits often necessary...
IndyDave @ 1/28/2003 5:27:12 PM #
because corporations often refuse to accept any responsibility for problem products. Nothing is perfect, and none of us can anticipate every possible scenario. However, when a problem exists, it's prudent to acknowledge the problem and provide a fix. At the very least, a work-around.

Hence we end up with Firestone-like scenarios. Short-sighted management worries about the cost in the immediate picture, hoping it will just go away. Utlitmately it costs more to clean up the mess later.

Lawsuits are often the only remedy for consumers, in particular class action, where large numbers of incidents cannot be rationalized as anomalies or blamed on misuse, abuse, etc.

No fan of lawyers, but where would we be without remedies other than violent retribution. After all an eye for an eye eventually leads to the blind leading the blind since none of us are perfect.

RE: if I was a 500-series owner...
bigfoot @ 1/29/2003 11:04:44 AM #
Starve a lawyer don't litigate.


RE: if I was a 500-series owner...
mike500 @ 1/30/2003 7:50:30 AM #
I am a happy m500 owner and I seldom have a problem with HotSyncing. I only have a problem if is a very, very big sync, like syncing the entire inbox from Outlook. However, that said, I wouldn't mind a free SD backup card!!!

RE: if I was a 500-series owner...
Boodles @ 1/30/2003 12:20:30 PM #
Did Palm fail to provide you with a replacement unit as per the terms and conditions of the warranty on the product? No.

Did Palm's product cause actual, physical damage to your person (such as a burn) that cost you a sum in excess of the cost of litigation to repair or treat the injury? No.

Have fun paying a lawyer $200/hr to do research and come to the conclusion that there is no basis for a lawsuit, or, better yet, tell you that there IS a basis for a lawsuit -- one which you will invariably lose.

Unexpected repair method

Altema @ 1/28/2003 2:05:23 PM #
Here I was thinking that they had come up with an alternative to the crude methods of killing the battery or doing a disconnect. It would have been great if they had come up with a way to force a usb hotsync software reset via code. Guess this means that the latter is not possible. Any comments from the programmers out there?

RE: Unexpected repair method
rdl @ 1/31/2003 7:07:59 PM #
I always thought infinite do-nothing loops were bad.

Kudos To Palm

mashby @ 1/28/2003 3:34:07 PM #
Although I'm sure we all wish that the problem never existed, I have to give kudos to Palm for coming up with this solution. This a much improved solution over having to send back your device and gives a quick resolution to the problem.

Way to go Palm!

Michael T. Ashby

RE: Kudos To Palm
dmetzcher @ 1/31/2003 3:34:06 PM #
Who came up with this solution? Not Palm. This solution was discovered by someone in a country a few thousand miles away and reported in one of the PalmInfoCenter forums. The only thing Palm did was decide that it was cheaper to ship out a card than replace, over and over, the same defective units. Now, they put the user in charge of fixing their own device. They should have done this in the beginning. You give Palm a little too much credit. Their customer support is horrible, and I think their stock price (and I am a stockholder) is a result of this and their inability to innovate faster than their OS licensees. The operating system is great, but the hardware has been slipping for years now.

Hot Synch Problem with M515

alfine @ 1/28/2003 4:38:52 PM #
Gone through 1st Palm and had same problem with replacement after few weeks. Finally got through to supertech at Palm who walked me through process for getting rid of the electrostatic charge. He explained that the build-up involves the electronic chip that allows for USB connection and mentioned that another solution for the problem was to use Serial Port cradle, which does not involve the affected chip.

I would prefer continuing to use the USB connection and then be eligable for the final remedy, which, I asume, would involve some kind of shielding to prevent build up of charge, or another more convenient way of causing the charge to dissipate/

A little clarification please

HiWire @ 1/28/2003 4:29:06 PM #
My m505 just stopped HotSyncing last week; basically I took the Palm out of my pocket and found that it was on - there was an "error" with the Date Book database and the LED was on. Basically my Palm had crashed inexplicably.

Of course I tried all the usual solutions - uninstalling and reinstalling the Palm Desktop software, hard reset, changing USB ports, installing Palm Desktop on my brother's computer and attempting HotSync, switching to my old cradle (I received the improved "H" model last year from Palm), none of which worked.

Today I finally searched online for more help and discovered the old articles and discussions on the battery drain and disconnect fixes. My Palm is draining even as I type this, but I have a few lingering and disturbing (to me) questions:

1. Does a complete drain shorten the life of the battery? I have done some reading about the Li-Ion batteries and I think the answer is YES.

2. Has Palm fixed this problem on new m505's and m515's (or even the Tungsten & Zire)? Somebody "from Palm" remarked that it had been fixed after "October" (2001, I'm guessing).

3. This new backup card solution only applies to warranteed users, correct? I bought my m505 in July 2001, so am I hanging out to dry?

4. An "Electrical Engineer" mentioned that you have to completely drain the battery and everything else (e.g. CPU and circuit board), otherwise you will short circuit the Palm - with a little power it is still in discharge mode and you try to charge it = Palm meltdown? Is this true?

5. Is the USB chip being zapped or not? If it is then the damage would be permanent, right? How does draining the unit fix this?

6. If powering the unit down works, isn't there a software/hack way to "clear" whatever setings are messed up on the Palm? Then we wouldn't have to wait, open our Palms, receive backup cards from Palm, or damage our batteries.

Thanks everybody for all your effort - despite all this trouble I still love my Palm and recommend the Palm OS and hardware to friends and relatives.

I only wish that Palm had been less circumspect in their communications with end users and the press. If you play nice, nobody will say "lawsuit"

Palm m505 User

RE: A little clarification please
Altema @ 1/28/2003 8:12:04 PM #
1. If a Li-Ion battery is brought to zero voltage, yes, it will be damaged and have a shorter life if it does work at all. The question is: does this process bring the voltage to absolute zero? It would have to be close in order for the Palm to no longer retain the usb sync communications parameters, but given that the drain process halts when the cpu can no longer function, and that Li-Ions have some resiliency, then it would be close to zero but not absolute zero.

2. The cradle changes virtually eliminated the problem, but there are cases of extreme static which can still zap the handheld. I put about a week of usage on my M515 every day, and even run with it in my pants pocket. It's still running fine, but there will probably be exceptions.

3. No, unless you get the occasional Palm rep with a rude attitude, they will most likely take care of you.

4. Never heard of this, and there is no backup capacitor in the M series to hold the data while you switch batteries.

5. It the usb hotsync communications software that is being scrambled. Ever do a hard reset and the Palm remembered the date? This comm software is the same way... it does not get reset when you perform either a soft OR hard reset. As long as there is enough power, these setting are kept regardless of what you do to your Palm. Removing power causes this info to be lost, and the configuration is restored from scratch when power is restored.

6. I wish, but apparently Palm did not find a way to get this reset by software alone. There may be a way, but I'm not a programmer (fooling around with basic and pascal does not count!).

I've done several battery disconnects for out-of-warranty users, as the charging control software also can get scrambled either by SUDS or software (Navman Companion is one...). All have been successful with no ill effect, but don't do this unless the warranty is past. Of course, it would not be necessary no that we have this fix available.

RE: A little clarification please
HiWire @ 1/28/2003 8:55:04 PM #
Thanks for the info...

I'm still draining my Palm - since nobody has really complained about the fix, I'm optimistic that it will work as promised.

I will try to contact Palm support here in Canada and see if I can snag a backup card.

Palm m505 User

Tungsten T

ptc @ 1/28/2003 4:48:21 PM #
I wonder if Tungsten T owners will ever experience this problem. I REALLY hope not.

The TT, or m550, is technically part of the m500 line. Since Palm has known about SUDS since the m505, you'd think if they were able to completely fix this problem then the m515 would be SUDS free... This is not the case.

Anyone care to speculate??

RE: Tungsten T
mashby @ 1/28/2003 8:22:13 PM #
I've not heard of any issues with the TT and the SUDS issue.

Michael T. Ashby
RE: Tungsten T
Mizar @ 1/30/2003 4:05:00 PM #
Haven't had any problems syncing with my T|T, and there have been several occasions where there was a nice static shock when I took it out of the cradle.

A little too late

abosco @ 1/28/2003 5:00:01 PM #
This could have been REALLY useful a year ago. M500 and m505 users have mostly upgraded, if not already fixed the problem themself.

Still though, it's a pretty good idea for a solution to the problem. It even took them too long to rebrand someone else's idea.

Proud Member of the Top Non-Mods
Members: abosco and ImpReza M3

For those of you with refurbished ones...

Pepper @ 1/28/2003 5:22:38 PM #
For those of you with refurbished hanndhelds, will you be able to get one of these cards? And, if you've gotten a 10 pack of refubished PDAs, how many of these cards can you get?

Additionally, if Palm won't give the cards to these users (and you're one of those users), there is another way without adding software or anything. Do a hard reset, goto memo pad. Make sure the backlight is on. in a new memo do shortcut period 3, then shortcut period 1. This method normally only takes 5 hours rather than a full 8


I love my Palm . . . do you?

RE: For those of you with refurbished ones...
JayLevine @ 2/2/2003 12:50:32 AM #
Thanks for the tip. I had already called Palm to send me my 4th refurb! That would make 11 swaps including all the bad screens and the 1 bad battery.

Used the shortcuts... recharged... synced up and voila!


RE: For those of you with refurbished ones...
DKPHA @ 2/4/2003 2:39:23 PM #

This worked perfect.

Palm will be sending HotSync Reset Cards for free!

erikssonal @ 1/28/2003 5:57:10 PM #
I just spoke with a helpful tech support rep at Palm. I was told that Palm will send a HotSync Reset Card for free when you request it from Tech Support. The cards will be available in mid-February.

Sounds good to me!

Now why on earth would you want to sue a company who is trying to work with you long after your product warranty has expired?

RE: Palm will be sending HotSync Reset Cards for free!
ndma @ 1/28/2003 6:35:36 PM #
I, too, have spoken to a friendly neighborhood tech support person. She told me that the SD card solution was no longer available, and that Palm had run out.
I am able to do the refurbished model switcheroo for free (1.5 years after warranty) so I really can't complain.

Unless it happens again.

RE: Palm will be sending HotSync Reset Cards for free!
hkklife @ 1/29/2003 10:55:27 AM #
Yesterday, when this article was posted, I was about to post my first positive feedback on Palm in what seems like ages. Now we hear they've run out of the cards--without EVER making a single official mention of it on their website or via e-mail to registered users. Yet another slap in the face of their dwindling high-end repeat customer base (as opposed to the hordes of first-time PDA owners who got a Zire for Christmas)!

Palm's continued arrogance and lack of foresight boggles the imagination. Do they really think that users will accept "sorry, we're all out" as a answer after some have been waiting a year and a half for such a solution? I with PIC attracted enough newbie/neophyte Palm users so that some sort of petition could be sent to Palm HQ--the only reasonable solution Palm has proposed lately was for the m130 owners. It didn't boost the color depth of their screen but at least they got a nice game out of it or a refund!

I probably would still be using my m505 if it were not for the various USB sync and SD format bugs in it...and as much as I hate to say it, the main reason I bought a T|T over a m515 that I found at a rock-bottom price was because I was fairly certain it'd be bug-free (free of the m50x bugs, that is) --not because I need Bluetooth, ARM CPU speeds, voice recording, etc.

RE: Palm will be sending HotSync Reset Cards for free!
rdl @ 1/30/2003 10:48:46 AM #
If there are no cards available, I wonder if they'd at least make the program available. I have BackupBuddyVFS, so I don't have the backup issue (although, I whould love to get a free SD card!).

Oh well, I guess I'll try disconnecting the battery. I have a good grounding strap and I'm not afraid to use it.

RE: Palm will be sending HotSync Reset Cards for free!
hkklife @ 1/30/2003 10:55:08 AM #
Hmmmmm, come to think of it, I've got a spare 16mb SD card that came with my digicam that would be perfectly suitable to store Palm's little app on. If they even had it for download, it'd be better than this insult of a "fix".

RE: Palm will be sending HotSync Reset Cards for free!
dmetzcher @ 2/4/2003 12:00:39 AM #
I am seeing in this forum that the HS_Reset cards are not available from Palm. I am not sure what everyone is talking about, as I ordered mine on 1/29/03 and received it on 2/2/03. I think you are all getting Palm's wonderful customer support, once again. They are telling you that the cards are out of stock, because they are uneducated. Call support, as for the corporate office. Call them in California. Then ask for Executive Escalation. When you get them there, (and get them to give you the number, not just transfer you), you should ask for Mike. I spoke to him, and he is the one that sent the card. Tell him that the others are telling you that there are no cards. Reference your trouble ticket number (that you should have already opened with Pal, support). If you do not know it, call them back at support and ask them for it. They track it by your telephone number that you provide to them at the start of the call.

Good luck. They have the cards. Don't accept that they do not. If they tell you that, ask them to email you a zip file of the the contents of one of the cards. I zipped the card and it was 56.6 Kb total. Very small and it fits nicely in an email.

How low is too low?

HiWire @ 1/29/2003 12:24:22 PM #
Hey guys, I'm still draining my m505. The unit is unresponsive to button inputs but there is still a very dim light coming from the LED. Do I have to wait for the light to die, or is this close enough? Sorry I'm being a bit of a pain, but I don't want to screw this up; I want to get it right the first time without screwing my battery up too much.

Thanks & Keep Palming :-D

Palm m505 User

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