Question: I connected our HDCam to the computer’s firewire port… a little electric spark came out, and then nothing…the firewire port is not working. I had to send the camera to Sony and they claimed, this is a well known problem. What happened?
Answer: Never plug the firewire cable into your camcorder while your computer is turned on. A number of reasons could have caused your port to shut down. Since you mention a little spark it is highly likely that an electrostatic discharge (static electricity) or a switch-mode power supply issu overloaded one of the bus’ three self-resetting fuses.
The safety precaution to use if you have to hot plug and don’t have any protection circuitry is to place one hand on the metal shroud on the connector and the other on metalwork of your computer. This will solve the static electricity issues, and will help minimize switch mode power supply floating earth problems.
The Kramer PT-1FW Spark-Guard ProDV Line Protector is another solution. It is used in Plug and Play applications where constant plugging and unplugging of FireWire equipment can result in permanent damage to sensitive equipment due to electrostatic discharge.
The Kramer PT-1FW is installed between two devices, without requiring a power supply, to suppress all transient high voltages down to an acceptable level. This will help protect the Firewire interface (which can destroy the whole device, and can be a very costly repair) on cameras, recorders (VTR, or DVR), PCs and other firewire devices.
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