Tag Archives: rockbox

Sansa: Blue Ring of Death

My Sansa e280 player seemingly died a few weeks ago. It suffered from the dreaded “blue ring of death” – when the screen is black and the blue control ring is lit. I was mad. I still am mad. I was given no warning.

It took hours of head banging and research to troubleshoot, find the cause, and fix it. So if you find yourself with the blue ring of death then do the following:

  1. Get yourself on a computer running linux. It is free and its windows versions operate like a cross between Mac OSX (a linux distribution) and Microsoft Windows. I find it is just as stable as Windows but with a better price tag (free) and just as much software (also free). I currently use the Ubuntu flavor of linux -  http://www.ubuntu.com/ It is not hard to install yourself.
  2. Open a terminal and run these two commands:
    1. sudo lsusb
    2. sleep 10 && dmesg |tail
  3. If your computer recognizes your Sansa then you likely have a software problem. In which case, those commands will return lines that mention Sansa. A good place to start is http://fixmysansa.blogspot.com/ and the Rockbox forums (search for “blue ring death”). You will likely need to set the sansa to manufacturing mode.
  4. If your computer does not recognize your Sansa, those commands will not return a line that says ‘Sansa.’ In which case, unscrew the cover over the battery compartment and press down on the little black rubber nub just above the battery. Behind the rubber nub is the flash memory chip. For some reason or another, the flash memory module may disconnect itself from the Sansa. See: http://forums.rockbox.org/index.php?topic=21908.msg151537#msg151537
  5. If you don’t have either of those problems post your issue to the Rockbox forums. It seems people are always willing to help. Paste as much detail as you can including the output from the two linux commands above.

For me, pushing the little rubber nub fixed my sansa e280. Its memory chip apparently became dislodged.

BTW: It can get worse. I busted the lcd screen yesterday; now it is an expensive flash drive. 🙁

UPDATE: I spoke too soon. My player still works, even with a broken LCD screen. I installed the Rockbox voice file and presto, whamo, voila! It works again, albeit without any visual menus. The voice option is provided as an accessiblity feature so blind and other sight impaired users can use an MP3 player running Rockbox. Surprisingly, Sansa’s OEM firmware does not provide screen reader or voice capabilities thus shutting out a large, potential market. Next, I’ll need to take some time to disconnect the lcd so it stops draining power. Maybe I’ll even get another few off eBay for a few dollars apiece for backup and to give away.