1TB HDD Upgrade - strange noise

HDCriticalFan

Active Member
I used the excellent Copy+ program to upgrade my Thomson HD box to 1TB.

I used the "Green Power" Western Digital WD1000FYPS because it is rated as being "green" (i.e. relatively low power consumption) and seems to have low noise levels too.

The installation went without a hitch. Instead of 25% free (about 5 hours of HD) I now have 85% free (about 85 hours of HD !).


Later that day ...

I became aware of a high pitched tone "in the room". It was an eerie pure sine wave kind of sound and difficult to locate. It was louder or softer depending on where you stood. Clearly there was some standing wave phenomenon going on. I put it down to noisy building work going on in the far distance - or perhaps a high speed drill or hoover next door (i.e. a loud sound at a distance).

After a while I became suspicious and poked around my AV kit. I thought that perhaps my plasma was making this noise (it was very similar to the whine that old CRTs used to make). I quickly realised that it was coming from the HD box.

My first thought was that this disk must "whine" all the time. I was deeply crestfallen. I didn't want to give up 1TB of storage ... but it was going to be very hard to live with an ear-piercing whine of a pure tone at about 1000Hz. It gets right inside your head and is intensely irritating when the sound is muted (e.g. during EPG visits or FFwd'ing) ... not to mention the time and money wasted. I dread to think of the damage it would do in a "quality" music show with quiet sections (Jools ?).


However, when I put the box into standby (and could hear the disk stop after 30 secs) the whine continued. In fact it seemed that it was never going to stop. It must clearly be a fan. Even 15 minutes later (when the box was cold to the touch) it continued. For the record, I have Anytime and Instant Rewind disabled.

A power cycle "fixed" it. Now the box is virtually silent and, although you *can* hear the disk clicking if try hard in a silent room, it is not disturbing ... and certainly noticeably quieter than the original drive. But after playing a recording for only a few minutes it starts up again ... and won't stop until you re-boot.


What gives ? Shouldn't the fan stop soon after the disk anyway ?

The noise seems to be slightly louder on the card slot side - although it is not easy to tell. A pure tone at 1000Hz is hard to locate accurately. In case you ask, I downloaded a tone generator to compare sounds and am pretty sure that it is very close to 1000Hz (although I think it contains some undertones too). Trust me, it is a *really* annoying sound !


Have I re-assembled the box badly ? The only mistake I can imagine making was not reconnecting the fan power - but that wouldn't cause this problem.

I noticed as I reattached the large plastic cradle (which contains the disk) to the motherboard that one of the four fixing screws just turns endlessly - clearly the thread on the PCB is worn out. But this isn't a rattling/buzzing/vibration sound ... and anyway the other three screws are nice and tight.


I can only put it down to the fan under the HDD. Can I service the fan ? Is there a place to lubricate the axle (perhaps with a drop of 3-in-1 ... or squirt of WD40 ?). Can I even replace/upgrade the fan ? Would it be safe to disconnect the fan power to that fan and just rely upon the cooling of the main case fan - or would the disk fry ? And what is the green pad ? Is it just sound-deadening (which I don't think is needed) - because it seems to be insulating the HDD and contributing to heat build up if you ask me.

I'll be opening the box up again anyway because I saw at least two bulging capacitors and so I've ordered a SatCure PSU.


If this is the noise that some people complain about then they have my sympathy. Whilst not "loud" it is incredibly piercing. The constant nature of the tone means that your ears can always "find" it because they know whereabouts in the audio spectrum it is located. It is worse than a DOG ! One simply can't "live with it" in a lounge. I can hardly imagine how unbearable it would be if it was in your bedroom !!!



Regards

HDCriticalFan

I am a fan, but I remain critical.



Post Script : Just for the record, with the new disk the behaviour of recordings is remarkably the same as before. i.e. speeds above 6x simply don't work, when switching from 2x to 6x there is a pause when the image freezes before it becomes 6x and HD recordings become staccato when speeded up. There is also still the tendency for recordings to "jump around" when you are trying to hit a particular point (like the end of an advert break).
 

BrianMc

Active Member
A power cycle "fixed" it. Now the box is virtually silent and, although you *can* hear the disk clicking if try hard in a silent room, it is not disturbing ... and certainly noticeably quieter than the original drive. But after playing a recording for only a few minutes it starts up again ... and won't stop until you re-boot.


What gives ? Shouldn't the fan stop soon after the disk anyway ?
I upgraded my SkyHD STB to 1Tb back in May using exactly the same HDD. I have had the same problem with the fans and disk being stuck full on just twice since the upgrade. It always goes away after a reboot and I think it is some months since it last happened.
Post Script : Just for the record, with the new disk the behaviour of recordings is remarkably the same as before. i.e. speeds above 6x simply don't work, when switching from 2x to 6x there is a pause when the image freezes before it becomes 6x and HD recordings become staccato when speeded up. There is also still the tendency for recordings to "jump around" when you are trying to hit a particular point (like the end of an advert break).
I am sure mine works much better than this!
 

HDCriticalFan

Active Member
Hi Brian,

Sorry to hear that you had a similar problem.

Mine appears to be more severe though. Most recently, having re-booted I turned the (silent) box on from standby and left it on Sky News. A few minutes later the high pitched whine returned (despite there being no disk activity !).

It's worth pointing out that in the two years before the disk upgrade I've never even been aware of any noise from the fans in the STB ... and I've certainly never heard anything like this 1000Hz whine before. I'm sure that the fans must have been on in past, sometimes at max, but they've never whined like this before.


It's interesting that your box behaves better than mine. You always hear conflicting reports about how "bad" they are. My experience suggests that it it is disk independent. We all have the same software, so it can't be that. I'll be upgrading my PSU with a SatCare fix shortly - so time will tell on that one. There is an outside chance that I may replace my LNB with an octo unit too. If it still persists in behaving badly then I guess we'll have to say that all boxes are simply not the same ... that can't be good quality control !




Regards

HDCriticalFan

I am a fan, but I remain critical.


<engage grumble mode>

I can accept some boxes outperforming others, but at a *minimum* each new HD box should perform at the level of the older Sky+ boxes. FF should work seamlessly up to 30x and pausing and bookmarking should work precisely to the frame ... at least on SD channels. I could forgive the HD box for not being able to manage the higher bandwidth HD channels with their fancy new H.264 encoding thingy ... but SD is just as it was before (in fact it is actually the *same* data stream that old Sky+ boxes can handle effortlessly).
 

BrianMc

Active Member
It's worth pointing out that in the two years before the disk upgrade I've never even been aware of any noise from the fans in the STB ... and I've certainly never heard anything like this 1000Hz whine before. I'm sure that the fans must have been on in past, sometimes at max, but they've never whined like this before.
Hi! I am also sorry that you are having problems. As I said it is months now since my last episode but the fans and HDD whining were certainly not normal when I observed the problem. It looked like a software loop leaving everything tuned full on!
I'll be upgrading my PSU with a SatCare fix shortly - so time will tell on that one. There is an outside chance that I may replace my LNB with an octo unit too. If it still persists in behaving badly then I guess we'll have to say that all boxes are simply not the same ... that can't be good quality control !
Yes! - surely the differences in STB performance can only be down to differences in PSU. I actually inspected my PSU about a month ago but everything still looked pretty good!

I hope that your PSU upgrade helps!
 

HDCriticalFan

Active Member
Upon further investigation (whilst moving the box about trying to find an orientation that would minimise the standing wave that was piercing my skull as I tried to watch TV) I discovered that the noise was coming from the bottom of the box.

Let me get this right. Someone thought that it would be a good idea to vent the heat from the HDD (the hottest thing in the box) out through the bottom of the box. Like a dice, the box has six faces. When sat on an open shelf (like mine) FIVE of these faces have clearance for venting. The sixth is the bottom. Not only does it sit quite low to the shelf (~5mm) but, instead of having four feet (like every other bit of my A/V kit), it sits on three long "rails" which blank off any possibility of air flow towards the front or sides.

Isn't this crazy ? Or am I missing something ? It's almost the answer to the question "How can you install a fan near the HDD and vent holes without cooling the HDD properly ?" I can see that my TiVo, VC and PC all vent out to the back. If it's good enough for them ...

I took a bunch of camcorder tapes and put two under each corner - thus raising the box about one inch higher. After slightly more than one day (during which the box has had a fair degree of activity) it has not entered "whining fan" mode at all. The fans are all running at "tick over" speed and the box feels barely warm to the touch.

So, properly vented, the box can stay cool with modest fan activity.


However :-

This doesn't explain why the old drive never exhibited this problem. As far as I understand (although I could be wrong) the new "Green Power" drives use less power and should generate less heat than the standard HDD - right ?

And to be honest my *slight* adjustment doesn't really seem enough to have had such a profound effect. Previously it would fly into "whining fan" mode within minutes of being turned on. Now it doesn't - even after hours of dual recording and HD playback (with much disk-thrashing FFwd action).



I'm starting to come up with bizarre explanations like "this HDD needs a day or so to settle down". BrianMc seemed to have a similar problem which he no longer experiences.


I'll give it a couple of days to see if all continues well. If it remains well behaved then I'll put it back down on the shelf. If it stays OK on the shelf, then fine (cue X-Files music) but if it starts to whine again then I will source four bits of inconspicuous rubber to create my own feet for the box (from this forum I see that I won't be the first).




Regards

HDCriticalFan

I am a fan, but I remain critical.
 

HDCriticalFan

Active Member
I'll give it a couple of days to see if all continues well. If it remains well behaved then I'll put it back down on the shelf.


As good as my word, I left it on "stilts" for three days. Quiet as a mouse, not hot.

Yesterday I swallowed hard and put it back down on the shelf. I have used it normally for about 24 hours; making recordings, playing recordings and doing both simultaneously. It doesn't seem to have entered "turbo fan" mode at any time. It feels moderately warm to the touch (on the top, towards the left - is that near the transformer ?) but I wouldn't describe it as anywhere near "hot".

I am at a loss to explain why it's behaviour should be so erratic. You may note that I received version "X" software in the middle of all this, so that can't be ruled out as the fix.


For anyone still reading, this disk seems fine and can't be heard whilst spinning (well, not in my room where is competes with two fans on the plasma and the central heating boiler in the next room !). It can be heard "chattering" from time to time when it gets busy, but it is both quieter and softer than the chattering made by the original disc.


It's very liberating now that virtually every recording only takes 1% (in fact, less than 1%). There is no longer the "pressure" to watching each HD recording as soon as it is made. We found that we were neglecting SD recordings of shows (which we would rather watch) just to clear down disk space.

I'm also now very comfortable with the thought that we can go away for a fortnight and still be able to record all of our shows.




Regards

HDCriticalFan

I am a fan, but I remain critical.
 

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