Question How to repair old Samsung SP1604N HDD? It does not spin.

Apr 1, 2020
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Hi there guys, i'm new here.

So I found an old 3.5 HDD of mine and i know it has a lot of childhood memories on it.
For reference, it looks like this:


So the thing is, when i plug it into a power supply it does not start spinning. It does not even make a sound, so i guess its not stuck or anything, because then i would expect it to make stuttering sounds.

I know there can be lots of stuff causing it not to move, but i would think it should be one of two causes here:

  1. The motor died.
  2. The PCB died.
So I guess if its option 1, then i would have to do a platter swap to an exact same HDD, which i would fail due to dust and platter misalignment and all.
Thats why im focussing on option 2.

I read that for newer HDDs you can not just get an exact same PCB and mount it to the existing HDD.
But this HDD is from around 2003.

So the question is, can I just buy the exact same HDD again and mount the new PCB to my old HDD?
 
Your chances are low to slim to nilch. Your childhood memories should have been backed up 15 years ago.

Put that drive in double ziplock bags, and put it in the freezer for day or two, and try again. You can also gently drop it sideways onto your desk from like five inches.
 
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Apr 1, 2020
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Thanks for your replies.

@Alabalcho Sure, the important stuff was backed up. You know, I just wanted to run this HDD for nostalgia and see what else might be left on there. I heard about the freezer thing. But what does that gentle drop do?

@fzabkar I am pretty new to this, can you let me know how to check the firmware version on my HDD?

Thank you very much guys.
 

rforce

Distinguished
Nov 26, 2007
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Thanks for your replies.

@Alabalcho Sure, the important stuff was backed up. You know, I just wanted to run this HDD for nostalgia and see what else might be left on there. I heard about the freezer thing. But what does that gentle drop do?

@fzabkar I am pretty new to this, can you let me know how to check the firmware version on my HDD?

Thank you very much guys.
All you need to know is on the top cover label.

Model: SP1604N
F/W: 100-24
 
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Apr 1, 2020
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By the way. I found the exact same HDD, but it was produced like 6 months before mine. The part where it would state the firmware version ist ripped of the label though.

What is the worst thing that can happen if i place the correct PCB but with the wrong firmware on my original HDD?
 
Mismatched firmware will prevent the drive from coming ready. I've never heard of anyone damaging their Samsung drive in this way.

Late model Samsung firmware has an "overlay" component which resides in a reserved area on the platters (Maintenance Cylinders). This overlay must match the code in the "ROM" on the PCB. I'm not sure, but I think that earlier models did not have this overlay.

Does your PCB have "Palo" or "Veloce" marked on it? This is the drive family identifier.
 
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popatim

Titan
Moderator
I had 4 of those years ago as my backup raid drives and all 4 had the same issue after sitting only a year when I went to replace the four 80Gb drives. I didn't even bother opening them since I already had a bunch of larger WD's and just used those instead. I think mine are all sitting in the dead drives pile in the garage. LoL
 
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I had 4 of those years ago as my backup raid drives and all 4 had the same issue after sitting only a year when I went to replace the four 80Gb drives.
Do you mean that all 4 have a no-spin symptom with no stiction-like noises?

I'd be interested to find out what goes wrong with them. For a start, there is a fuse and a polyswitch in series with the +12V and +5V inputs, respectively.

If the OP has a multimeter, we could measure various test points on the PCB. That will confirm whether the PCB is at fault.

Samsung PCBs have a terminal port which outputs diagnostic messages during POST and spin-up. This can help to narrow down the fault. There is also a tool called SHTR which can troubleshoot and repair firmware faults In Samsung HDDs. A free demo version is available at hddoracle.com.

Let me know if you are interested in experimenting.

FYI, here is an earlier model:

Tutorial - how to locate the basic test points of an unfamiliar HDD PCB:
www.users.on.net/~fzabkar/HDD/Tutorial_SP0411N.html
 
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Apr 1, 2020
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Hey there.

Sorry I have been out for the weekend.

So there are news now:

I have gotten a donor HDD which was produced 6 to 7 months before mine. The firmware part on the lable was ripped of though, so I dont know if there are differences to mine.

The new HDD spins up fine and is detected by windows. So I then took the donor PCB and placed it on my original HDD. I also put the old PCB onto the new HDD.

Outcome:
  • The new HDD with the old PCB mounted does not spin up. So I think this means that the old PCB is dead.
  • The old HDD with the new PCB mounted does try to spin up! YAY!
But it does not succeed to spin up. Let me explain. When I plug the power supply in, i heard the HDD spinning up, then after like 3 seconds i hear one or two clicking sounds (maybe thats the drive head trying to read stuff?) and then the drive spins down again and does not make any sound. This happens anytime and in any position I could hold the HDD.

Is this a wrong firmware @fzabkar ? By the way, you asked for Palo or Veloce. Both my HDDs have Palo written on them.
Any ideas?

Thank you guys
 
Apr 1, 2020
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Oh, I just re-read your post @fzabkar
Sorry, I do not own a multimeter to test your scenario.

I was curious to see whats inside such a HDD, so i opened up the new one.

View: https://imgur.com/NXQVROO


Can you guys let me know if this head parking position is correct? I thought the arm would somehow be on the outside of the platter when parking? Or am I wrong?

Btw, i know this probably killed the new HDD, but nothing is on there so it was worth it.


So for the old HDD I care about with the new PCB on it. Do we think its a wrong firmware or should I put it in the freezer?
 
Apr 1, 2020
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Alright i will mount the new PCB to the new HDD again and check the firmware with CrystalDiskInfo and reply back.

So bad heads means that the arm is stuck or that the heads on the top of the arms are broken? This would mean that the arm / heads would need to be replaced, which in therory only a professional data recovery company can do, right?
 
Apr 1, 2020
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Ok, I am back with new insights.

The new HDD has firmware T100-30 as reported by CrystalDiskInfo.

The old HDD apparently has firmware T100-24, at least thats what its label says.

So can this also be a reason why the new PCB does not work with the old HDD?
 
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Heads could be bad for several reasons.

A "head crash" is when the head hits the platter, causing physical damage to itself and the platter. This is often deemed an unrecoverable scenario by most data recovery shops.

Alternatively, a head may become "weak" if it suffers too many "head slaps" during its lifetime. It still works, and the platter is OK, but the signal from the head's read element has a low amplitude. This necessitates a head swap which is performed in a filtered clean cabinet. The drive's serial terminal port outputs diagnostic messages identifying the failing head.

I'm not a data recovery professional, only an interested observer, so I can't say what the actual problem is. However, I would examine the terminal log for clues. That requires a USB-serial adapter (approx. US$5).

As for whether the mismatch in the firmware versions is significant, I don't know. Sorry.

BTW, a cheap digital multimeter costs US$5.

One other possibility is that the drive may have suffered an overvoltage. For example, if the +5V input was overvolted, then both the PCB and the preamp on the headstack would have been damaged.
 
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Apr 1, 2020
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Thanks for explaining in detail here, this really helps me.

I just googled for a USB-serial adapter, but it seems that based on the pictures there my HDD does not have any matching port for such a serial connector. The serial connectors I see in the images look like VGA connectors for old displays.

I might be able to borrow a multimeter from a friend these days. Would it still help then to identify the "type" of head failure my drive probably has?

By the way, I dont know if it make any difference, but I am using an external power supply to power my HDD and an external IDE to USB Adapter to connect it to the PC. So, the HDD is not build into any PC for now. But it shouldn't matter als both these adapters are fine and can run other HDDs fine as well.
 
Apr 1, 2020
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Thank you. Seems like this is all way beyond my skill and knowledge limit.

I was hoping to find an easy solution to making my HDD work again, but I guess I am out of luck.

I will destroy my HDD if i attempt to do a head swap or even a platter swap outside of a certified clean cabinet, right?
 
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thakursn

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Thank you. Seems like this is all way beyond my skill and knowledge limit.

I was hoping to find an easy solution to making my HDD work again, but I guess I am out of luck.

I will destroy my HDD if i attempt to do a head swap or even a platter swap outside of a certified clean cabinet, right?
Some youtube videos provide good solution to your problem in question, you may like to search this. I remember to have seen very cost effective techniques ( something like cello tape and thermocol) for head swap and platter swap. And there is good possibility of success even without a certified clean cabinet, you have to make an alternative arrangement for this.
 
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Apr 1, 2020
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Alright guys, thanks for your replies.

I got some news now: As @thakursn linked me to the direction I was able to "build" a pretty clean environment. As i had nothing to lose at this point, I just tried to do a head swap then.

I succeeded to do a head swap and I swear I did not damage the new heads at all. I was super careful and prevented the heads from touching each other or any platter during the whole process.

Here's the problem though: My old HDD with the new heads and the new PCB behaves exactly the same as before. It tries to spin up, clicks one or two times (heads are moving i guess, thats why) and then spins down again.

So, I might be wrong, but I guess my problem here is not bad heads then?
Any ideas what else could be wrong?

As i stated before the firmware of the new PCB is not exactly the same als the one on the old PCB. But how would the HDD even notice that? Is the firmware version stored (written) onto the platter somewhere or what and it checks that during spin up?
 
Apr 23, 2020
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Hi Tmoi,

I'm working on a recovery with a SP1604N myself. Maybe the following information could be helpfull.

The SP1604N start clicking when the heads are failing. The firmware of the board should match the firmware of the heads. The good news with the SP1604N is that theres no special ROM data stored on the PCB unlike a lot of other brands.

If the following from your donor is matching:

-SP1604N and not the S
- PALO

You can swap the PCB from the donor drive directly to the patient. The Head and PCB firmware will match.

Not confirmed is if MS should match MS or FS should match FS. Properbly you could also combine them by swapping the PCB.


The problem you experience after a head swap could have two causes:

A - Your lucky and you only should swap the PCB
B- The chance that one out of the four magnets on the head where slightly damaged be swapping them without a tool is about 95%, because the head doesn't have a special part to rest on while its off.

I already tried swapping them three times without a tool, but using a custom made spacer instead. When reading the terminal from the drive after its still clicking it gave me the output that one out the four magnets where damaged.

Issue remains, drive spins up and starts clicking.

I've ordered the special head tool this time, and hope it works ;)
let you know if it worked.


PS did you read your terminal output yet?
 
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