Card Crazy

My goal was simple.

I wanted my 2GB Sansa Express to have a micro 4GB card added.  I knew that more memory than that was not useful; the Sansa Express chokes on more than 1000 songs.

I also have a Rockboxed 2GB C250 V1 that could use the 2GB card I had in the Express.  I know that Rockbox could use a micro SDHC card as well, but that my little routine to get the C250 connected on my computer – on with left held down to boot to Sansa, wait through database refresh, left held down while connecting to get to MSC connection – wouldn’t be useful.  Rockbox supports SHDC, but it does not support USB connection to the computer, and the Sansa firmware supports connection, but doesn’t support SDHC, so I would have to use a card reader to access the card and the Sansa software to access the internal memory.

Does that sound complicated to you?   It should, because it is.  Rockbox is a nerdpuppet system, very configurable but insanely complicated to use, having to support long and short pushes and other artifacts of a system that combines nerds and hardware that is simplified to death.  But Rockbox has true bookmarking – no Sansa does – and the menus are readable, as opposed to the selected indication on the default software that is almost invisible and unchangable.

I figured I could keep audio books on the Rockbox and use the Sansa Express for music, using the bookmarks and avoiding the need to edit playlists on Rockbox.

I did have the firmware update to support SHDC on the Sansa Express, and when my 8GB PQI card came, it was good. 

Well, good when I got it to work.  It turns out you have to leave empty space on the card to be usable, but in the first few days with the dammned Express I had to learn how to do the master reset (plus volume button and select button) enough times to get good at it.  I had an RMA rquest in, but a few hours of jamming made it work.

I was smart enough to copy the contents to a directory on my drives, which would come in handy if I needed to refresh it.

When the PQI lost its memory, I thought it was a fluke.  But by the next day, nobody would read it.   It took lots of copies on all three machines (the third my HP internal cardreader, which supports SDHC but is physically flawed and needs the card to be shimmed in for connection.)

It got sent back, dead, and I got credit.

I bought an A-Data, and waited for it to come. 

It was about four hours of work when I realized that even though the first copy took, the A-Data was losing memory.   I wrote for an RMA, and got a lecture about SDHC not working.  My response apparently loosened the fingers and I got a number; it’s going back now.

The SanDisk I ordered came today.   I put it in the card reader and copied the files.  Easy.

But when it went into the Express, the Express couldn’t see it.

I figured I’d use a trick I had used previously, formatting the card in the Sansa Express.

The format finished in 10 seconds, and the card was still unwritable.  I put it in the card reader and ScanDisk, which showed the directories & chains were busted.

I reformatted and tried the same thing.  Same problem.

On my third copy, after a clean ScanDisk, I just put it in the C250.  Rockbox read it fine.  On the other hand, I booted to the Sansa firmware, went to mass storage mode and tried to ScanDisk internal memory, which lead to a few reboots, even with no external card in place.

The Express, though, well, the SanDisk 4Gb is still invisible.

I think I’m getting a replacement rather than refund for the A-Data, once they decide it is dead the first day out of the box.  I didn’t tell them this story; they would blame the Express, even though it still reads the 1Gb SanDisk and 2Gb PQI fine and was great with the 4Gb PQI until it died.

I have given up trying to get the Express to see the SanDisk 4Gb.  Maybe the new A-Data will work in the Express for more than a week. Maybe.

In the end, the hours I have spent and the frustration that came with them, well, it makes me think that these machines really aren’t for average users.

I have a couple of the original SanDisk Digital Audio Players, and an M230 & M240, and I liked the simplicity.

But these cards slots and internal batteries just have been making me crazy. 

Crazy.

The Express should work with Sandisk brand 4 gB micro SDHC cards. If your 4gB card is not working, use a card reader to format your card to FAT32 and update the firmware following the instructions in the attached thread.

http://forums.sandisk.com/sansa/board/message?board.id=express&thread.id=1143

For the non-Sandisk brand cards, I think you will be ok with cards up to 2 gB if you have the latest firmware. Larger capacity, non-Sandisk brand SDHC cards may not work.

Thank you for your assurance.

I will note that, as I said, I did format the card in a card reader to FAT32, and then ran ChkDsk before trying it in the Express and having it not be read.

And, again as I said,  I am at current firmware; other SDHC cards worked, at least until they failed.

Sorry, Mister Moose.

@loiscatherine wrote:

Thank you for your assurance.

 

I will note that, as I said, I did format the card in a card reader to FAT32, and then ran ChkDsk before trying it in the Express and having it not be read.

 

And, again as I said,  I am at current firmware; other SDHC cards worked, at least until they failed.

 

Sorry, Mister Moose.

 

I missed the part where you wrote that you updated the firmware, my ADD doesn’t let me read long posts.

 

If you used the Sansa Firmware Updater program, try updating your firmware manually following the instructions in the sticky threads above. The updater program isn’t very reliable with the Express.

 

You should be using firmware version 01.01.05. If you have that firmware, then it is time to call Sandisk for help or a RMA. 

 

good luck

Message Edited by Mr_Moose on 07-22-2008 10:00 PM

Got the replacement A-Data 4 Gb card. 

Reads & writes on my computer SD card reader. 

Reads on my Rockboxed V1 C250. 

Even reads on my $10 FM transmitter MP3 Player from DealExtreme.

But on my Sansa Express with 01.01.05A2 firmware, its seen just like the 4 Gb Sandisk card is; it knows there is a card there, but the files aren’t seen, and formatting in the player takes 10 seconds and just screws up the file system, as ChkDsk tells me when I put it back in the card reader.

The PQI 4Gb did work on my Express with this firmware, at least until that card died and I sent it back for refund. 

And the PQI 2 Gb card still works fine, so it’s not like the hardware is screwed up.

Nope.  

But screwed up it is.

So, I saw that some people had luck formatting a 4GB SDHC card using the menu in the Express.

I tried it.

My Express crashed and left the card in such a state that Vista kept rejecting it, not even allowing format from the context menu.

I thought my card was a goner, but finally I found that I could do a format from Administrative Tools/Disk Management, a place who aren’t admins go.

At least the Express didn’t kill my card, but it did offer another crazy screw up.

LC-

     At least I know that I’m not the only one experiencing this situation. Worst case scenario? I’ll just use the Fuze I recently got…

@loiscatherine wrote:

So, I saw that some people had luck formatting a 4GB SDHC card using the menu in the Express.

 

I tried it.

 

My Express crashed and left the card in such a state that Vista kept rejecting it, not even allowing format from the context menu.

 

I thought my card was a goner, but finally I found that I could do a format from Administrative Tools/Disk Management, a place who aren’t admins go.

 

At least the Express didn’t kill my card, but it did offer another crazy screw up.

 

Sorry to read that you are still having problems with a 4gB card.

 

SD cards need a special format. Windows format is ok, but doesn’t format to the SD specification.

 

Many devices with built in format commands will format a SD card to the SD specifications. The Express presumably should format a SD card properly, but it doesn’t appear to be working for you.

 

If you have a camera or cell phone that reads and formats SDHC cards, then format using one of those devices then try it in the Express.

 

If you don’t have such a device, try the SD card formating software found here.

http://panasonic.jp/support/global/cs/sd/download/sd_formatter.html

 

Quite a long time ago I read a post by a Sandisk representative that gave a recommendation for a HP formating program. If I find it, I will add it to this post as another alternative formating program.

I found the idea that Windows Vista doesn’t format to SD Spec somewhat questionable, but I figured I’d try.

After all, I have formatted this card in two different card readers, which are Windows, but also in the Express with it plugged in and in the Express when it was standalone.

So I installed the Panasonic software and formatted again.  I then copied some files on the card and plugged it into the Express.

The files were not found when I turned it on.  

I put the Express in the computer.  The Expansion card showed empty at first, then had Music and Playlist folders.

I took the Express out of the computer, turned it off, took the card out and placed it in a card reader.

I had windows check the disk.  Garbled Garbage.

In other words, the Panasonic formatter gave exactly the same results as Windows format, which is the Express unable to read the card properly.

Useless waste of time and effort. 

@loiscatherine wrote:

I found the idea that Windows Vista doesn’t format to SD Spec somewhat questionable, but I figured I’d try.

 

After all, I have formatted this card in two different card readers, which are Windows, but also in the Express with it plugged in and in the Express when it was standalone.

 

So I installed the Panasonic software and formatted again.  I then copied some files on the card and plugged it into the Express.

 

The files were not found when I turned it on.  

 

I put the Express in the computer.  The Expansion card showed empty at first, then had Music and Playlist folders.

 

I took the Express out of the computer, turned it off, took the card out and placed it in a card reader.

 

I had windows check the disk.  Garbled Garbage.

 

In other words, the Panasonic formatter gave exactly the same results as Windows format, which is the Express unable to read the card properly.

 

Useless waste of time and effort. 

 

What a rude reply to someone that is trying to help you.

 

You are correct, I have wasted my time and effort trying to help you resolve your problem.

 

You will get the attention that an ingrate deserves.

Oooh, Moose has his feelings hurt, so he decided to slap out at me for being rude and an ingrate.

I tried a suggested procedure, it ended with the same results as many times previously, so I found it a useless waste of my time and effort.

OK, Moose, this is for you:  “Thank you for your offering, but I would like you to know that it did not work for me.”

That enough, Mr. Moose?

I installed the 1.01.12 firmware update, with all the formatting the device and all.

I put the SanDisk 4Gb card in the Express.  The Music was not found.

I put the Express in the computer.  The card was not found.

I tried to format the card in the Express as standalone.  The Express shut down.

I put the SanDisk 4 GB card in a card reader and ChkDsk it.  No damage.

I put the card back in the Express and plugged it in.  The card was found.  I asked to format it.  The format took just a second.

I put the SanDisk 4 GB card in a card reader and ChkDsk it.  No damage.

So, for me, anyway, no change.

So I got a new USB charger from Meritline in the mail today; I was one of the first, so $1 including shipping.   And my C250 is busted; one of side of the headphone jack is flaky, probably a broken solder joint; I’ve been trying to get an RMA since last Sunday, but rma_support@sandisk just doesn’t answer.

So I pulled the 4 GB card from the C250 and put it back in the Express.  (The one I had for my Express was stolen out of my car in a $10 FM MP3 from DealExtreme.  Sigh.)

My computer saw the card in the SE, but none of the music that was on it.  I formatted the card in the Express, but after format – the really short format – I couldn’t do anything with the drive.

I unplugged the Express from the computer and plugged it back in and tried to make a directory.  It worked.  So I copied a directory of songs onto the card and after the unplug-plug thing it was still there, even if it didn’t show on the SE, which just showed 324 songs, the number on the internal 2GB.

Well, the card was wiped anyway, so I copied the folder of files from External onto it through the Express.  (The SE is so flaky I keep a separate backup of what I had on there for easy refresh.)

I pulled the SE, and it took a long, long time to read the SD card.

And magic; where there was 324 songs, now there were 948!  (No use adding more than 4GB, eh?)

So the Sandisk 4GB is in the Express and the Express is reading it. 

No hardware issues, just flaky software.

Now, I just have to get an RMA processed for the C250 and replace my car player and I will be back.  Lots of work.

But maybe this procedure will help someone.