Roland PCR-500 unresponsive fff display fix

How to repair a Roland Edirol PCR-500 that when powered on displays “PCR” then “FFF”.
I signed up for a Roland backstage account, then emailed Roland tech support, and asked them what might be wrong. Roland responded the same day, which is absolutely top notch for someone troubleshooting a second hand piece of gear. Big ups to Roland, I will be considering them first when/if I buy new. Here is the Roland response:

It sounds like your PCR-500 is in an update mode. We would recommend running the update and this should return it to normal operation. Here is a link to the download page for the last update for this model (version 1.05).

I downloaded the PCR system update located at

The downloaded zip file contains a pdf instruction file and a midi file named p00001.mid. I also downloaded the driver for Windows 7 from the Roland website. The problem was that my windows computer never had the drivers installed, and would not finish installing them with the keyboard in update mode. The windows device manager recognized the device, but would not allow me to install the older drivers even with some tricks like certificate signing disabled for self installed drivers, and compatibility mode. Maybe there is someway to do what I did on windows, but i turned back to linux.

The following are the steps from the manual that are relevant to linux, and worth mentioning, these aren’t all the steps Read The Fabulous Manual. I connected then powered on the PCR pressing the Edit button, which then displayed “Eras”, then pressed Dynamic Mapping, which displays “Sure”, then pressing Channel 3. I am not sure that this must be done, and it can be tricky, because if i didn’t do it fast enough it would go to display fff, and then display nothing after a few minutes. When i finished this part of the procedure correctly the display was reading 0, and the 0 stayed on.

Using the alsa sound system from the command line in Linux we can list the connected midi devices. I knew the pcr500 would show up because it had appeared in jack audio for me using cadence and catia. Now I figured the port would be PCR 1 since the manual mentions [1:EDIROL PCR] as the midi port to choose for the update. Using alsa we can list the connected midi devices with the following command, and my systems subsequent output.
aplaymidi -l
Port Client name Port name
14:0 Midi Through Midi Through Port-0
24:1 PCR PCR 1

So I played the midi file to the PCR-500 with the following command from the directory where the midi file is located:
aplaymidi -p 24:1 p00001.mid

The PCR went through a display sequence where the 0 would animate around, then change to the next 0 on the display until finishing and displaying “end” as the manual indicates. I followed the rest of the manual, turning the unit off, flip the dip switch back to the correct position, turn back on, then going through the factory reset. It works again, and I started setting up and fooling around playing midi keyboard!

Hopefully this helps someone else in the future.