Don't Let Loose Cables Trip You Up
By: Mike Davis
Often a defective piece of hardware is thought to be the cause of a system error, and in most cases this is true. However, that is not always the case. Here is my story of a recent example I encountered while working on an ultrasound system.
I had methodically disassembled the ultrasound machine including all the parts on the front end, carefully documenting with photos of all the cable and screw locations. Each group of screws got its own plastic cup with labels. After cleaning all the pieces of hardware, I reassembled the system.
I ensured that all the cables and screws where exactly where they belonged. I powered up the machine and everything was booting exactly as it should. That is, until I received a system configuration error. Not only did the system produce an error, it was not even reading the correct model. It should have shown a version 10 but it was reading a version 6.
What went wrong?
I powered off the system and began to check all the connections to see what I had missed. Everything looked exactly like it should according to the photos I took. I disassembled and reassembled the system with the exact same error. The only possible cause I could think of was a corrupted drive, so I installed a clean drive and proceeded to load the software. Again, I experienced the same error.
Thinking back to my training, I realized that the system was booting in demo mode. This only happens when the back end is unable to communicate with the front end of the system. I removed the entire front end assembly and fully disassembled it. It was only two boards so it was not very difficult. I decided to check the riser cards that connect the two boards. As I pressed down I heard a click on all three risers. I reattached the two boards insuring that I fully seated all the risers. Upon reinstalling the board, the system booted all the way into imaging mode with no issues.
A piece of hardware that is not seated is the cause of many ultrasound issues. Here are some other causes to check:
• A loose cable on the hard drive will cause a multitude of issues, from not booting to not being able to read the required transducer files.
• A loose I-BUTTON on a Philips iU22/iE33 will cause errors.
• A loose cable to the front end can cause a system to produce an error code or boot into simulation mode.
The parts can come loose simply from transporting the system from room to room and floor to floor. Going over thresholds, uneven flooring and even the occasional bump into the door can loosen hardware. If you have a system that moves around a lot you may want to start by looking for a loose cable or board. In my case, it happened because I was exchanging parts to perform tests. My recommendation is to check all your connections when you are performing your preventative maintenance. A little extra time here will help save you time and effort in the long run.