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Old 09-12-2019, 05:16 PM   #1
DomesticExtremis
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Screen frozen on refresh, unrespnsive

Hi there, my Kobo aura H2O froze up when 'returning to articles' from a Pocket article. The screen was in mid refresh and is now mostly in inverse video. The touch screen is no longer responsive. Sleep or power down does turn off the backlight, but does not update the screen. Wake-up/power on brings the backlight back on, but nothing else. The LED in the switch comes on constantly initially, but then starts flashing.
It seems it is a least trying to boot but then giving up part way through.
The pinhole reset does the same thing.
The Kobo does take a charge too nor has it been dropped or dunked, so I'm thinking this is not a hardware fault.
Looking at similar threads it appears it may be a failing SD card.
I have no back up, so I hope not.
I thought I might try disconnecting the battery and reconnecting it might jump start the whole machine, but after that I'm out of ideas.
Either way, it looks like I'll have to crack the thing open. It will lose it's waterproofing but I don't read in the shower anyways.

If anybody has any other suggestions or things I might try, they would be welcome.
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Old 09-12-2019, 06:21 PM   #2
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So, disconnected battery, removed SD card, reconnected battery. Power light comes on, no boot (no surprise)
Replace SD Card, back to original problem, blinking ligth, then nothing.
Put SD card into my pc:
[root@lugosi ~]# fdisk -l /dev/sdb
Disk /dev/sdb: 3.7 GiB, 3965190144 bytes, 7744512 sectors
Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disklabel type: dos
Disk identifier: 0x00000000

Device Boot Start End Sectors Size Id Type
/dev/sdb1 49152 573440 524289 256M 83 Linux
/dev/sdb2 573441 1097729 524289 256M 83 Linux
/dev/sdb3 1097730 7744511 6646782 3.2G b W95 FAT32

The two linix partitions claim to be ext4 and are labelled rootfs and recoveryfs.
Have backed up two ways:
i) dd the entire card to a disk file
ii) copied the file contents of each partition on to my pc harddrive.
I'm now going to to try fsck...
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Old 09-12-2019, 06:41 PM   #3
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OK, all three partitions checked, only the data partition had a minor error:
check file system on /dev/sdb3 for errors and (if possible) fix them 00:00:08 ( SUCCESS )

fsck.fat -a -w -v '/dev/sdb3' 00:00:08 ( SUCCESS )

fsck.fat 4.1 (2017-01-24)
Checking we can access the last sector of the filesystem
0x41: Dirty bit is set. Fs was not properly unmounted and some data may be corrupt.
Automatically removing dirty bit.
Boot sector contents:
System ID "mkdosfs"
Media byte 0xf8 (hard disk)
512 bytes per logical sector
4096 bytes per cluster
6 reserved sectors
First FAT starts at byte 3072 (sector 6)
2 FATs, 32 bit entries
3317248 bytes per FAT (= 6479 sectors)
Root directory start at cluster 2 (arbitrary size)
Data area starts at byte 6637568 (sector 12964)
829227 data clusters (3396513792 bytes)
16 sectors/track, 4 heads
0 hidden sectors
6646782 sectors total
Reclaiming unconnected clusters.
Checking free cluster summary.
Performing changes.
/dev/sdb3: 7022 files, 169348/829227 clusters

Returned card to Kobo, still no change.
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Old 09-12-2019, 10:43 PM   #4
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Tried doing a manual reset, still no dice.
Also reseated screen connector and tried multiple soft resets.
All to no avail.
I'm out of ideas at the moment, so if anybody can suggest things to try, I'd be grateful.
As one last throw of the dice, I'll ask for a firmware image, but I have low expectations that it will work.
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Old 09-12-2019, 11:11 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DomesticExtremis View Post
. The screen was in mid refresh and is now mostly in inverse video.
The Kobo does take a charge too nor has it been dropped or dunked, so I'm thinking this is not a hardware fault.
Are you sure you don't have a broken substrate? Post a pic and it usually obvious to those who've seen broken substrates before. Other thing that can sometimes be diagnosed with a pic would be a controller failure. Those are the 2 most common issues for non-changing screens.
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Old 09-12-2019, 11:13 PM   #6
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PM sent. The flashing LED does sound like a boot issue.
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Old 09-13-2019, 12:51 AM   #7
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OK I have the img file, now awaiting delivery of a spangly new SD card onto which it can be cloned.
Will post updates when I've tried it.
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Old 09-15-2019, 07:06 PM   #8
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Incidentally lighter fluid* is a very helpful substance to loosen and remove the remnants of sticky goop left behind after separating the front bezel and the ir light guide bezel thingy.
Less smelly than WD40 and evaporates away cleanly.

* available at your local pound/euro/dolllar store.
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Old 09-16-2019, 05:21 PM   #9
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OK, my new micro SD card came today, so I dd'd the image from davidfor onto it (thanks David) and resized the last partition to fill the unused space.
Plug it into the device to try it and still have the same problem.
Just to recap, the screen is frozen in mid-refresh. When powered on, the switch light comes on solid for a few seconds, begins flashing (as though booting), illuminates the frontlight then stops.
Touchscreen is unresponsive, so factory reset is not possible. soft reset makes no difference, nor does disconnecting the battery.
I am stumped, I wonder if hooking up the serial header might provide some more useful info...
I have never tried this before and don't know if the Kobo provides any useful hardware info that early on in the boot process.
Any ideas, anybody?
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Old 09-16-2019, 05:23 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robko View Post
Are you sure you don't have a broken substrate? Post a pic and it usually obvious to those who've seen broken substrates before. Other thing that can sometimes be diagnosed with a pic would be a controller failure. Those are the 2 most common issues for non-changing screens.
The substrate is to all appearances intact, no cracks, no messed up/striped areas etc. It was in mid-refresh, so there is a part of the previous screen still showing and it is in inverse video, but that is just when it happened to fail, not because of physical damage.
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Old 09-17-2019, 06:34 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by DomesticExtremis View Post
The substrate is to all appearances intact, no cracks, no messed up/striped areas etc. It was in mid-refresh, so there is a part of the previous screen still showing and it is in inverse video, but that is just when it happened to fail, not because of physical damage.
Can you please post a photo? Thanks
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Old 09-17-2019, 10:50 AM   #12
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Can you please post a photo? Thanks
Sadly, no - I don't have a camera at the moment.
I have seen other photos of broken substrate here and my screen doesn't look like them, plus it froze up whilst I was using it - it was working just fine until then.
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Old 09-18-2019, 03:36 PM   #13
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OK so I looked again with very bright light and high magnification and can see no obvious cracks in the screen. I took the motherboard out from the back and can see the edge of the screen rear. Along the long edges there are two lines on a shallow diagonal - they looked like cracks, but I think the may be embedded conductor paths because there are tow of them and they are too straight to be glass cracks - I would expect those to be curved.
Anyhoo, a new screen looks to be around £45 from China and I have seen that hey are often delivered damaged. I'm not sure I want to spend that much, wait for weeks and risk getting a dud only to find that the screen I have is no worse or it is not the screen at fault.
I did some probing around with a mulitmeter and see the battery at 4.1V, a power rail at 3.3 (beyond some kind of regulator circuitry and at the power switch) a 1.1 volt rail on a test point near some other chips and around 13V at the frontlight connector. Which kind of implies that at least some of the hardware is alive and kicking.
I'm beginning to think I need to get very technical (before giving up), so I'll start a new thread in the developer section.
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Old 09-29-2019, 08:51 AM   #14
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Investigations are continuing here in the Developers Corner, for anybody who is interested.
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Old 10-05-2019, 03:29 PM   #15
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Can you please post a photo? Thanks
I finally borrowed a camera, just an iPad , to get an image of the screen attached.
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