Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Intermezzo #72: MTG-930D and the "Recovery Blues"

Hello. Long time no see. Indeed, I took a sabbatical year from 50 Gs. It took me too much time and maybe more important, financially it was hard to keep up coming with interesting new models. I'm lucky that I can team up with my friend Chris again for 2015, so I'm pretty sure we can provide you another series of 50 articles of interesting G-Shock models next year. 
This Intermezzo article is about the so called "Recovery Blues". It's a phenomenon which often occurred on the first generation Tough Solar Waveceptor G-Shock models. Befoer these models were released Casio used the ML2020 rechargable battery for the DW-9300 Raysman, G-2300 and the GW-200 series Frogman (except for the Carbon Fibre Frogman and Snake Killer). The ML2020 is known for the enormous amount of energy it can store. The first generation Tough Solar Waveceptors had a complicated module, with an integrated antenna. Therefore Casio did not have enough room for the ML2020 battery and they choose the CTL1616 as storage battery.
Unfortunately, the CTL1616 could not always handle big drain, which for instance might occur as the EL Backlight is used frequently in a short time period. In such case the watch should go into "Recovery Mode". In this mode it is not possible to activate the EL Backlight and also the alarms don't work. Normally the watch should return into normal mode in several minutes up to maybe an hour. It all has to do with restoring the electrochemical balance inside the battery.
Unfortunately, these models became infamous. Although the capacity of the CTL1616 is less than the ML2020, it can store energy enough to keep the watch running for months. Still the watch can, without any reason turn into "Recovery Mode" on an unexpected moment when the EL Backlight is pressed. As soon as this phenomena occurs, it will always go into Recovery Mode whenever the EL button is pressed again. As this occurred on a lot of these G-Shocks somewhere between 2003 and 2006, the phenomena became pretty fast known as the "Recovery Blues". 
In the video above I show my MTG-930D (UK 2-band version). I have bought this models many years ago from Tiktox in the UK. When I was thinking of wearing it again about a week ago, it suddenly went in Recovery Mode. Even with extensive charging (it has been very sunny last week), the watch kept returning in Recovery Mode. Another Waveceptor went in "Recovery Blues". I think this was the last model with the first generation CTL1616 in my my collection. Anyway, I ordered at the first symptoms a new Panasonic CTL1616 battery. I found a cheap seller in Germany. €12 for the battery and €2 shipping costs. After four working days it landed on my desk. 
The MTG-930D is not an easy model to access the battery. First of all the bracelet has to be disconnected from the case. I also wanted to adjust the bracelet length, so I also opened the clasp, which is not really necessary. 
The bracelet is attached to the case with two large rubber-ish connectors. These are connected to the case with an axle and screw (the arrows in the above picture show where they are). You need two flat watchmaker screwdrivers to open these. Then it is not easy to get the connectors off, because they are also snapped on the case. You can remove them by bending them off carefully the case, until they snap off. 
Opening the case is similar to most other G-Shocks. It's a simple 4 screw back. The back protector and a plastic isolation plate sticked to the back of the watch. In the small hole in the top is a little spring. You find another spring on the 7 o'clock location of the battery. I choose not to remove the items on the back plate, as I had direct access to the battery. 
The battery lock can be opened carefully with a sharp tooth tweezer or, if you don't have this at hand, a sewing pin will do fine too. If placed at the right location (12 o'clock position of the battery in my photo's above), it just pops up. In my case even the battery popped a little out of the lock, so I could take it out with a plastic tweezer. The new battery can be put into the battery holder and the lock can be easily closed by pushing it back with a tweezer until it clicks. 
Do not forget to reset the watch. You can very careful check if the reset was successful by lifting the watch above your head, without turning it over. Really, you don't want to turn it over. The tiny spring will fall out or maybe even worst, the complete module (with probably more springs). If the watch is reset properly, you will see that the internal time has restarted at 12:00am. 
When the reset is successful, it's time to put the watch back together. First carefully put the backplate back on the module. As there was that strange loose spring at the back, I actually "folded" the back on the case, like you close a book. It's a bit tricky, as the rubber seal has to fall in the right place, but eventually you can put the screws back in place. 
As you see above, it took about 5 minutes to take pics of the open watch, the backplate  and put the crews back on. The battery is charged very low. The icon "Charge" is flashing, so an immediate charge is needed. A good occasion to check if the battery is getting charged too. In this mode almost nothing works. Somehow I managed to set the time, but that was all the watch could do.
Unfortunately, the sky went gray, so I needed something better...
It's pretty wise not to put the watch too close to a halogen lamp. The watch and specially the LCD can become very hot. Luckily, the watch became alive after about 10 minutes (it was gotten extreme hot and did cool down very slowly). 
After a while the watch starts looking for the Atomic Time transmitter and, if found, (which is easily in my country) it will set itself to the correct time. 
The cause of the "Recovery Blues'. The first generation CTL1616 battery. I should wear this watch several days to get the battery charged totally full. In my opinion the MTG-930 was the best looking model of the first generation Tough Solar Waveceptor G-Shock models, probably because I like three eyes. I do not know if I will write another article before 2015, but be ready for another challenge of writing 50 articles in a year here on 50 Gs. See ya!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

G-Shock #50: Dawn of the Year of the Horse

We probably are preparing for the end of the year. My Christmas holidays already have begun and a lot of friends of me also have a short end of the year break between Christmas and New Year. When I was preparing for a new series of 50 article a year ago, I knew from a few models that they should be included. This was the first one that came to mind and I also knew when to post it. As 50th and close to New Year. I think when you see which model I am talking about, it makes sense.
Todays article is about a model which you won’t find much information about. It was released as a 20th Anniversary model, but pretty limited and only in Hong Kong. It’s the Horse model from the 2003 “12 Beasts” series. It seems that the initiative to this series was made by the famous Javys in Hong Kong, the legendary G-Factory shop. Recommended to visit if you may be there, but bring a fat wallet.

The 12 Beast series were first introduced March 2000 with 7 G-100BT models. A very beautiful series, which were sold worldwide. This ana-digi models had a tie dye double cloth/Velcro strap and a cool dial with chinese characters instead of ciphers on the dial. In January 2003 Casio released 12 GW-300BTJ models for the Japanese market. These G-2900BT models were released in March 2003. In January 2004 Javys returned with another 12 Beasts series, but now based upon the G-7100-1JF model.
This G-2900BT does at first look not look that special. It actually looks like a basic G-2900 model. The reason why this watch is special will reveal in the dark. It has a special backlight. There are 12 different G-2900BT variations. On for each animal of the Chinese Zodiac. When these came out, it was just out, so I could choose from all 12 Beasts. I choose the Horse (馬 ), as I am born in 1966. In the Chinese zodiac that was the year of the Horse.
The Chinese Zodiac, is like the Western Zodiac divided in 12 parts, but instead of cycle periods of a month, the Chinese Zodiac has cycle periods of a year. A full cycle of the Chinese Zodiac takes 12 years. The sign of a year is also linked to one of the five element. These elements change every two year. This means a full cycle of the chinese Zodiac takes 60 years. In 1966 I was born in the year of the Fire Horse. The Horse is the 7th sign. This new year, 2014, which actually starts according the Chinese Zodiac on January 31st., will be the Wooden Horse.
The year of the Horse should be a better year for people born in a year of the Horse. So I looked at a random Zodiac website. The start is not that good for me, I think. “Horses will be prone to health issues specifically those conditions that target the lungs. They are more likely be involve on accidents too.” Well, the lucky numbers are 2, 3, and 7, which are nice. I often choose number three to be my lucky number. people close to me know it comes from the infamous TB303, one of my favorite machines. Lucky colors to wear are blue, grey and purple. Bloo? I’ll stick to purple then, ha ha. “Horses are more likely to have money issues.””They typically over spend for entertainment and fun and to help others.” Now, that’s funny close. I spend a lot of money to buy G-Shocks, but also on hosting services for my photo’s and websites, so you can view my collection and articles. I better should not read too deep and serious into my Zodiac sign.
The G-2900BT is a slight variation of the G-2900-1A. Instead of red lettering of the G-Shock name, all lettering is white. The G of the light button isn’t red but black. It gives the watch a pretty clean look. The design is typical for the first half of the ‘00s. The watch is moderate in (G-Shock-) size and has a kind of streamlined forms. In the first half of the 00’s Casio released several G-Shocks that were or looked smaller than was usual in the ‘90s, like the G-2300, G-2600 and G-3000. Quite the opposite of what’s happening now with all the new X-Large models.
These 12 Beasts series are also part of the 20th Anniversary of G-Shock. It comes in the usual cardboard G-Shock box, but it has an extra “20th Anniversary” printed under the G-Shock logo. The 20th Anniversary logo (as far as I know, not yet designed by Eric Haze) is engraved on the back of this watch. It’s the only visual mark on the outside of the watch to show it’s different from a basic G-Shock. Unless you unleash the amazing backlight, of course. In my case, a multicolor Chinese Zodiac Horse shows up. That’s why I like this watch so much. It’s very well done and almost a pity these watches are not much known.
On board of this watch you find a pretty unique 2548 module. The functionality of this module is actually the same as the 2821 module, found on the G-7100BT models, which were released a year later. The display of the 2548 module has quite a sporty layout. The big eye, which, strangely, counts up and down minutes, loos like it’s moving. The seconds are count down by two some kinds of sails.
Most different function on this watch is the e-Memory function. It is a kind of Databank function, but then password protected. You can set a 4 digit password to protect the content of the e-Memory from other people. The password can only be reset with an AC reset, so it’s good to find a number which is easy to remind for you, but difficult to decipher by others. The e-Memory can store up records with URLs, e-mail addresses ad other important text data. In total there is a free memory for 315 characters. One record can hold maximal 63 characters. So the number of records you can store depend on how much characters there are stored in memory. I have 2 records, one holding the server address to upload to G-Peopleland and it’s username in one record, my old contact e-mail address in the other. That upload address is pretty long. The memory shows me I have 70% of free memory left.
The other functions on the watch are a 27 cities and 29 timezones World Time, 5 Alarms (one is a Snooze Alarm) with a Hourly Signal, a 24 hour Countdown Timer with facultative Auto-Repeat function and a 24 hour Stopwatch function. Also on board is an Auto-Illuminator function. When toggled on, the EL backlight lights up when you tilt your arm towards you when holding your arm parallel to the ground. This is usually the way you hold your arm when you want to know the time on your wrist. The G-2900 was one of the first G-Shocks with EL that was designed to have a 10 year battery life under normal circumstances. Since I bought this watch more than 13 years ago, I can confirm the original battery is still alive and kicking. I have to admit it has almost never used an Alarms sound or an EL backlight operation, so it might survive another year easily.
This 12 Beasts model is a must have for everyone who likes the Chinese Horoscope. It was cool that you could choose your own sign at the time this model came out. Frankly I do not remember what the price of this watch was. I think I paid around €100.- for it. I cannot remember if it was very expensive, so it probably wasn’t. They sold out pretty fast around that time, so I think they were not made in huge numbers. I also can’t remember seeing one for sale, and actually never saw those G-7100BT models for sale too. Probably they were only sold in the G-Factory in Hong Kong and were never intend to be sold on-line. All I can remember the guy selling it to me had direct access via Javys. Although the look of the G-2900 is not very spectacular and I never will wear this watch, it’s a pretty loved piece in my collection. This concludes my last G-Shock article of 2013. I hope you all have a good “Year of the Wooden Horse”. Happy New Year!!!