Power Calibration Error (Optiarc AD-7173A)

[qanda]This thread is about the Optiarc AD-7173A. Click here to see full specs[/qanda]Hi all!

I am a computer “advanced user” and I did try several things prior to getting my self to ask a question here. OK, here it goes…

I have this NEC Optiarc AD-7173A DVD Burner for more than a year and a half, and recently I started to get this message. It happens in any burning siftware I have, Nero, VSO, and some other. It is unlikely that they ceased to function all together at the same time, so I am suspecting that there might be something wrong with the drive.

OK, here is some general info about my current configuration (generaly, I didn’t make any hardware changes recently or prior to time I started getting this message).

I have 3 optical drives in my computer, and that is the setup I haven’t change since I got it. My NEC is connected to Secondary IDE as Slave (also, it is set to Slave on its own jumper, like all the others).

Drive C: Hard Disk (Primary Master)
Drive D: TEAC CD-540E 3.0A (Secondary Master)
Drive E: SONY CD-RW CRX220E1 6YS1 (Secondary Master)
Drive F: Optiarc DVD RW AD-7173A v1.04 (Secondary Slave)

Drives are using Ultra DMA access modes.

This is the same setup as it was during the time when everything worked OK. The Optiarc drive came with the Firmware v1.01. After this problem first appeared, I flashed the Firmware to v 1.04 with the included flashing program, and it went well, but the error persisted.

I am using Verbatim media only, and I use Optiarc only to burn DVD discs (at 4-6X speed). For other regular CD media I use the other burner… So, Optiarc wasn’t very much in a use. The error mesage “Power calibration error” mentioned something about the “drive being dirty”. I opened the drive, and it was rather clean inside, no dust. I guess it couldn’t collect it too much since it wasn’t in use very much. Nevertheless, I cleaned the laser lense anyway. The problem didn’t go away.

I also disabled the IMAPI Service in Windows (I have Windows XP Pro with SP3). That didn’t help either.

I tried different media. The same thing happens. Except that DVD+R media are more likely to start burning. The DVD-R media will mostly produce this error, but they all worked fine before (as well as Verbatim DVD-R).

CD discs burn OK.
CD and DVD discs are also being read OK.
Only DVD discs produce this error while trying to burn.

The weird thing is that the drive sometimes succeeds to start the burn. I also noticed that while the burning is initiated, the drive spins the DVD disc, with the LED lit for about 2 seconds, and then it stops like it is being shut down. Then, it waits for a few seconds, spins the disc again, and while that time, the Buffer indicator is still empty. Then, the pure choice of luck kicks in. If it decides to start the burn, the bufer indicator fills, and the drive burns the entire disc with no problem, also successfuly completing the burn verification process.
If it chooses not to burn, the buffer indicator stays empty and the program soon displays that the drive failed, and then the “Power calibration error” mesage appears. The DVD disc, however, then stays completely empty and it can be reused for another try, until eventualy the drive sometimes starts burning it.

While reading this forum, I noticed that there were other users with similar problem, so I tried some of the recommended steps, but to no avail. Is there anything specific to this model of the Optiarc drive I might go for and try to correct this?
Or it reached its expiration date and is getting ready to die?

Here is a funny fact:
TEAC CD-540E is 6 years old and still reads everything.
SONY CD-RW CRX220E1 is 5 years old and still works fine.
Optiarc DVD RW AD-7173A is only arround 20 months old. Me and my brother bought the exact same model the very same day. His is still working fine.

I guess some things are not made like they were used to be. Built to last, that is.

Please, any help/advice/idea would be appreciated, because I’m all out.
I thank you in advance, and I hope I did give the detailed information about this “issue”.

Maybe the IDE cable is going wonky, got another to swap it out?

Hm, thanks… I don’t think I have a spare one, but I will get one today and try that out.
I’ll post back the result.

OK, on first inspection of the IDE cable, I did not find any damage on it, burnouts, broken wires or anything like that. It seemed fine.

But, I did try with the IDE cable replacement. I tried with both 40-wire and 80-wire 40-pin IDE cable. I firstly connected everything like it was before. Nothing.
Then, I’ve set up the Optiarc drive as Master and connected only itself to the IDE cable (so it was the only device attached to the cable). Still nothing.
I also tried connecting it to the middle or top end of the IDE connection plug, but it made no difference.

I have also tried connecting my old IDE cable to my other two optical devices, just to make sure if it was faulty or not, but both of them worked fine with it.

So, I guess it wasn’t the faulty IDE cable…

After all this and the things I have tried out before posting this problem, it all seems to be directing to an Optiarc device malfunction itself… But, do you guys have any other suggestion to try?

And now the conclusion…

I guess all this trouble was caused because of a hardware error after all (the drive itself). When I took my Optiarc AD-7173A to my brother’s and placed it into his computer, hooked it up and tried to burn something, it acted the same way. Therefore, there are very little chances that two different computers are having the same “wrong settings” for Mr. Optiarc to continue working properly… So, it is definitely the drive itself going out, and it will be replaced…

Anyway, this was my first and probably the last NEC product I will buy…

I’ve had several dead Optiarc AD-7170/7173 drives - dead on arrival or dead after short time of very light use, and I consider this the worst series I have experienced in terms of build quality.

Sorry that your drive is dead, but you might want to give Optiarc another chance with newer drives such as e.g. the AD-5200/7200/7203 series.

Well, thank you for your reply. But, I am not sure if I can give some vendor a second try since the first product I got from them… malfunctioned. I was also told by the seller that NEC is a fine product and that I will not make a mistake if I buy it. I guess that wasn’t so true. :rolleyes:
As you might have read in my first post, I didn’t have this drive for a long period of time, it was not so heavily used, yet it failed. Oh, what the heck, I won’t be bothering myself with it anymore, I have been trying to solve this problem for to much time now, so, I hope a replacement drive will surely make these problems go away (at least for some time), since I really need a DVD burner at this moment because I piled a lot of files in my computer which I would like to burn, thus freeing some of my disk space.

However, thank you for your suggestions about Optiarc’s “better built” models, I really appreciate it. And thanks to all the people who have posted the steps about resolving the “Power Calibration Error” in their other posts throughout the forum which I have read. I’m sorry it didn’t help in my case, but, thanks anyway.

Exactly the same problem (Power calibration error when burning DVD) with SATA version of this drive, AD-7173S. The drive is about 2 years old.
I bought an AD-7201A to replace it (so replacing SATA with IDE).

Hm… There it is, another fact for good. Obviously, there isn’t much difference between ATA and SATA structure in this Optiarc’s 7173 model, they are obviously both prone to failing the similar way.

I too got a replacement for it (bye, bye, Power Calibration Error).
I bought a “LiteOn” model and so far I am a very happy user of it. It is really working fine, as it should, burning and reading everything without a problem.