For Joseph’s birth, we bought what was then a nice and not inexpensive video camera, the JVC Everio GZ-HD620BU. Three years later, the camcorder was bust, probably due to a broken connector to the flip-open display, which caused both the display and the laser touch controls to malfunction. Because of that, the videos on the internal hard disk could no longer be transferred to the computer, and it was looking like the videos of Joseph’s third birthday were lost – on a functioning, but inaccessible, hard drive.
I wrote JVC’s service partner in Switzerland about my problem. Yes, they replied, if the display’s broken, and the laser touch is broken, you can’t get the videos off the hard disk, because the device only connects with the PC if you pick the right menu option, and there’s no picking menu options if the laser touch is bust. Ok, I replied, but can I open up the videocam, unmount the hard drive, and read it out via an adapter? We don’t know of any readily available adapter, they said. We only use the original JVC adapter to read out the hard disk, and besides, it’s a pain to get to the hard disk in this model, anyway.
I finally dared to unscrew the casing. 19 screws and some prying later, the shell came off, revealing a small hard drive. Toshiba MK1234GAL – I googled for adapters, for information, but found it hard to come up with something useful. Most search results were of people selling MKxx34GAL drives for iPods; most adapters I found didn’t specifically mention the MK1234GAL model. I took my half-disassembled video camera to STEG, where the sales guy looked at the device, did some image googling, confirmed that it was a ZIF connector, but also confirmed that they had no such adapter. However, I’d seen a website address during his search that looked promising, and that was easy enough to remember: http://www.adapter-king.ch/. That’s where I went looking back home.
There isn’t much out there in the way of ZIF adapters, and finding the right one took a little sleuthing. In the end I found a comination that looked reasonable: a case that fit 1.8″ hard disks into a 2.5″ shape factor and a more standard IDE connector, coupled with an IDE-to-USB converter, should do the trick. Unfortunately, the adapter case showed a red traffic light, which I figured might mean out of stock, but no harm in trying: I ordered the pair, but mentioned in the comments that if the case wasn’t available, the order was to be cancelled.
I placed the order after 11pm, and got a reply before midnight saying that in that case, the order was cancelled. With a reply that quick, I figured asking for help in finding an alternative might prove fruitful. Indeed, over the course of a few e-mails, Mr. Poell came up with an adapter that should serve my purposes: the KingSpec ZIF case for SSD and HDD. I ordered one, figuring that it was worth a 38-Franc gamble – I was 95% certain the adapter would fit, but unsure whether JVC might have used an unusual file system. Two hours later, I had an e-mail from Mr. Poell informing me that I’d get it the following day.
We were outside with the kids this morning when the mailman (actually, woman) came, so I couldn’t immediately drop everything and see if Santa had brought the goods. Once I got to the mailbox, though, it was clear he had. During naps, I disconnected my drive from the Everio, connected it to the case with the flat cable that came with it, and plugged the USB into the computer. Lo and behold: there was the usual USB device message, and a few seconds later, there was a new drive in Windows Explorer. My hopes soared, and after a bit of clicking around, I found the .MTS files and copied them to the computer. To be sure to be sure, we watched them all.
Now, why JVC designed the device so that access to the hard disk is impossible without the menu I don’t know. I’d think that there must be enough klutzes out there that would break the flip-open connector for this to be a known issue, but maybe they all send them in to JVC to have the data restored. I didn’t ask JVC if that was possible – perhaps they offer that service. But I’m happy to have my data and my hard drive, too, and pronounce this another triumph of an agile small business over a big player that’s not quite as flexible as the customer might like.
Don’t bug me just yet about uploading those videos, though. I’ll have to figure it out with new software, so that will take some time…