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SD cards corruption, how big a problem is this?

I have followed the topic of the corrupted SD cards for some time. I don't remember hearing about this back in the earlier days running ver 2 on a Flex 6500. Was this problem introduced in later versions of 2? According to Flex, the problem was supposed to have been fixed in ver 3.  But some people are having the SD cards corruption problem on radios running ver 3. The general response was to indicate the SD card must have been partly corrupted before upgrading to ver3. However then, what about people having the problem with newer radios that came with ver 3 installed?

Before diving any deeper into this, it could be beneficial to know how prevalent this problem is?  

I'm not exactly sure where to start this.  Here are some things we can look at. Maybe Flex will join in and provide some input?

One of my first questions for Flex, is how many people or what percentage of owners are having the SD cards corruption problem?

Is the problem more common on one model over another? ie 6400 vs 6400M

Do users who experiences the problem with SD cards corruption have anything in common? k  ie. Anything about your station setups, do you use an amplifier, any problems with RF in the shack??

Maybe others can come up with more things that are more pertinent to consideration.

My current Flex 6400 (approx. 9 months old) was purchased new with ver 3 installed. I have never had the corruption problem.  My fingers are crossed! hi..

I have the Flex 6400 without the ATU. I do not have an amplifier and use wire antennae. I use my radio a few hours a day on SSB and only turn it on when I’m using it.  I only use the basic radio functions, haven’t got around to try other function and modes that would connect it to other programs etc.

The bottom line, if we do not have the problem should we be concerned. How likely are to have this SD cards corruption with our radios?

73.. Ken - VE5KC

Best Answer

  • Tim - W4TME
    Tim - W4TME Administrator, FlexRadio Employee admin
    Accepted Answer

    I'd like to address your concerns definitely.

    The SD card is the read / writable data storage media that is used on the radio, much like the hard drive on a PC.

    @Ken - VE5KC You asked...

    The bottom line, if we do not have the problem should we be concerned.

    The TL;DR is no. We have identified the root cause of the issue as a software defect and have addressed it in the latest versions of SmartSDR. If you experience an issue, FlexRadio will resolve it.

    How likely are to have this SD cards corruption with our radios?

    We have identified and resolved the software defect that was responsible for causing the SD card corruption with the recently released SmartSDR v3.1.12, SmartSDR v2.6.2, and SmartSDR v2.4.10. Using these and newer versions of SmartSDR will prevent SD card corruption from happening in the future. But they will not be able to correct any corruption that has happened previously using older versions of SmartSDR v2 and SmartSDR v3, so this is why a new SD card image is required.

    The SD card corruption is a random issue and may not result in a problem with booting the radio for weeks, months or ever for that matter. The corruption mostly occurs at the file system level preventing the firmware from reading or writing to the SD card as part of the normal operation of the radio. The incidence of an actual SD card itself being corrupted to the point of being unusable is low.

    The incidences of repeat SD card failure once the media has been replaced with a know good version of SmartSDR (see above) and the customer has not used a version of SmartSDR that has the possibility of corrupting the SD card media are very, very low (almost nil).

    The SD card issue is not FLEX-6000 model specific.

Answers

  • No problem in 3 years of daily use with my 6600M. None of my 5 or 6 friends with Flex 6000 series radios have reported a problem.

  • g6eih
    g6eih Member
    6700 5 years old running V3 normal boot up and down via front panel switch and never any issues. 6500 club station about 4 years old running V3, 3 SD cards later it's all good now, the most recent issue was last month. We did have an issue with the way the rig was being started and stopped that was causing the corruption, the PSU was running on a timer with a shorted RCA plug in the remote on socket on the rig so the rig was being hard booted on and off via the 12 volt line. This has been changed now and the rig is powered on 24/7 we have also removed the shorted RCA plug and use an external relay for remote booting. Despite this small issue with the cards the 6xxx are just amazing rigs as is Flex support.
  • Three month old 6400M delivered with v3 software, service desk diagnosed probable SD card corruption last week. I run simple antennas (dipoles/OCFD etc), no RF in the shack, remote ATU so low SWR on the feedline, I am in the habit of keeping the radio on 24/7. have a small number of profiles and don't change them often, the 6400M replaced my 6300 which never had any issues but was running v2.

    Like you I thought the latest release of v3 had fixed the SD card issue which was one reason I thought it was safe to go with the 6400M.

    Do we know what is stored on the SD card? Is it a boot program? profile data?

    Flex support was excellent but still waiting for the replacement SD to be delivered, hoping it is here before Xmas!

    I know other manufacturers rigs are not problem free eg Icom 7610 screens, but at a minimum I need the rig to power up and work else it is really not fit for purpose.

    By the way SD card corruption seems to be a hot topic on Raspberry Pi forums too.

    73

  • WX7Y
    WX7Y Member ✭✭✭

    There has to be some differences in operating practices or SmartSDR firmware version if this is not a software or Hardware problem I would think and I was Just wondering if the guys and gals having more issues with the SDcard's would tell us.

    How they are turning the radios off and back on?

    Radio SmartSDR version and Radio Model?

    Radio on all the time as a radio server?

    Radio power using front switch ONLY?

    Radio power "REMOTE Power" Plug with a relay contact?

    Turning off the Power supply ?

    Is radio on when you turn off the power supply?

    Power supply only or with Battery backup?

    Whatever else I missed?

    It would be good info for us to see what may be causing this if this may be caused by our operating practices.

  • N5NHJ
    N5NHJ Member ✭✭

    I believe Tim has answered all the relevant questions. I had this problem few days ago (6400, remote, on almost 24/7).

    Replaced the SD with the one sent by Flex and everything is working fine again. The radio came with an older V3 firmware, so it makes sense the corruption was already there. I'm confident it will not happen again. If it happens, I'm sure Flex will take care of the issue as they perfectly did already.

    73, Max N5NHJ

  • Thanks for the comments Tim, I await to see if the new SD card fixes my problem, as stated the radio is three months old and came with 3.1.12 loaded, of course I have no knowledge if the radio had other earlier versions loaded during production etc.

    73 Mike GM0DYU.

  • FWIW, I have a 6 year old 6700 and operate 100% remotely. I do not leave the radio running continuously because of Solar Power limitations. Power to the radio is switched on first and then followed by a short being applied to to the rear RCA connector to boot up the radio. The radio is always turned off in the reverse order with a minimum 15 second delay between opening the short of the remote boot connector and disconnecting power to the radio. I have never had any problem with the radio since day one, other than self inflicted finger trouble.

    I have no idea if there is any correlation between my operating procedures and the trouble free run I have experienced with my 6700. Perhaps it’s just a great radio. I know it will out live me

    Winston VK7WH

  • Ted  VE3TRQ
    Ted VE3TRQ Member ✭✭✭

    I have had a 6600M since about the beginning. Every now and again, the radio would disconnect or reboot. The disconnections were solved by using a different network switch, the reboots I put down to software defects causing occasional O/S issues.

    After the most recent reboot (have not had more than three of four in three years), the radio would no longer come up. New SD card on the way.

    Answers to Bret's questions below:

    • How they are turning the radios off and back on? Radio is on 24x7
    • Radio SmartSDR version and Radio Model? Mostly 2.4.9, have run 2.4.10 since it came out.
    • Radio on all the time as a radio server? Yup
    • Radio power using front switch ONLY? Yup - when it is turned off, I use the front panel, and DC pwr only later if necessary
    • Radio power "REMOTE Power" Plug with a relay contact? Remote not used.
    • Turning off the Power supply ? Never
    • Is radio on when you turn off the power supply? Never
    • Power supply only or with Battery backup? PSU is on a UPS, but we rarely have power failures, t'storms also rare
  • KD0RC
    KD0RC Broomfield, COMember ✭✭✭

    Hi Bret and all,

    How they are turning the radios off and back on?

    Remote switch. I turn off the radio every evening and back on most days in the morning. Once the radio is off, I wait a minute or more, then turn off the RS-70M supply. Power supply on before turning on radio.

    Radio SmartSDR version and Radio Model?

    Flex 6400, 3.1.12.51. Purchased Feb, 2020.

    Radio on all the time as a radio server?

    No.

    Radio power using front switch ONLY?

    Normally remote jack on back. Only power on after power supply is on.

    Radio power "REMOTE Power" Plug with a relay contact?

    Yes.

    Turning off the Power supply ?

    Yes, after radio front panel light goes out, then wait a min or more before turning off power supply.

    Is radio on when you turn off the power supply?

    No.

    Power supply only or with Battery backup?

    Power supply only.

    Whatever else I missed?

    Radio came with 3.1.8. Upgraded to 3.1.11 the day it came out. Upgraded to 3.1.12 the day it came out. Radio has never exhibited any flakey behavior except for software failure when connecting stand-alone equipment (known API issue, to be fixed in next release).

    Radio routinely gets pulled from shack and put into 5th wheel camper for portable operation. No flakey operation noted.


    Brett, this is an interesting set of questions, but probably not related to SD Card corruption. If the card was physically corrupt or damaged, this might lead to a solution. In the Flex case, I believe it to be software induced data corruption (e.g. SPI clock frequency, write speed, etc ect), not SD Card damage so that is why new versions of the software fix the issue. The new card just makes sure that a pristine version goes back into the radio. Maybe someone from Flex could either validate this or correct me if I have mis-stated the issue.

    73,

    Len, KD0RC

  • mikeatthebeach .
    mikeatthebeach . Member ✭✭
    edited December 2020

    Well folks, if your a Design Engineer EE like me, you will know this stuff !!

    There are many issues to data retention, cost, reliability in MicroSD cards versus number of writes, bits written in each Sector,

    temperature operation, failure at hot temp in the oxide range versus being SLC, MLC or TLC MicroSD cards

    SLC the best in reliability but very expensive while MLC is moderate cost but prone to more issues while TLC is pure Consumer Junk SD Cards

    Be thankful that FRS does not use TLC Junk

    YMMV

    73

    Mike

  • W5WTH
    W5WTH Keep Radio Fun!!! Member ✭✭

    Does Flex offer an IMG download of the SD card or do they have to ship you a new one after a failure?

  • KD0RC
    KD0RC Broomfield, COMember ✭✭✭

    They must send a new card tied to the s/n of the radio. There are security and other reasons for not sending an image.

    73,

    Len, KD0RC

  • W5WTH
    W5WTH Keep Radio Fun!!! Member ✭✭

    Len:

    Thanks and that makes sense.

    Thinking.... Could a good risk mitigation be just to remove the SD Card from the Flex and we create our own "just in case" IMG backup?

  • KD0RC
    KD0RC Broomfield, COMember ✭✭✭

    I think Tim has touched on this before. If I recall correctly, he said that the commercial SD cards that Flex uses have a high write cycle tolerance and that consumer grade SD cards are likely to fail catastrophically and could void your warranty. I am not sure if there are some anti-piracy aspects that would prevent you from successfully copying a Flex card to a backup, but I suspect it. In any event, I don't plan on messing with it. If I ever have the problem, I will just submit a ticket. Forum consensus is that Flex is very quick to get new SD cards out.

    73,

    Len

  • W5WTH
    W5WTH Keep Radio Fun!!! Member ✭✭

    Sounds reasonable. Thx!

  • Sergey KN7K
    Sergey KN7K Member ✭✭

    To KD0RC, re:

    "They must send a new card tied to the s/n of the radio. There are security and other reasons for not sending an image."

    Len, I do not think this is true. I think card comes with pre set for certain SW version and not radio SN.

    2 weeks ago my card corrupted while running with latest SW and FW, Tim saved me by temporary installing ver 2.6.2 while my replacement card was in the mail. Instruction were provided to install new card and run ver 3.1.12

    Sergey

  • Mike-VA3MW
    Mike-VA3MW FlexRadio Employee, Community Manager admin

    Your SD card is your SD card and is associated with Your Radio.

    Said another way, you can't share/copy your card and give it to your buddy.

    Mike

  • Mike_WB8CXO
    Mike_WB8CXO Member ✭✭

    Flex 6700 and 6600M owned since they were available. Powered on 24/7! Hammered with alpha software loads and inappropriate power cycling! No SD card or fan problems..... Touch wood!

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