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Is there a way to unlock a dead console's HDD?


Sherlock
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Last year I put together my personally ideal XBox.
Decent AV cables, hard-mod, big HDD, quiet fans... all the fun stuff that increased the consoles capabilities and improves the experience.

And until last week that XBox was running perfectly fine.
However, the console is now completely dead.

The PSU is fine, and I tried changing several of the capacitors on the motherboard, but there is simply no life at all.

The console just doesn't react at all when the power button (or eject) is pressed.
There's not even a 'blink-and-you'll-miss-it' kind of signal that the console is even receiving power.
But, like I said the PSU is fine, that was the first thing I tried.

And after several hours of replacing capacitors, trying to find the one that may be stopping the power from reaching the console... I gave up and held a respectful funeral for my short-lived friend.
Close friends and family attended.

Clearly I'm just trying to add some humour there.

But when I did finally run out of components to replace I procured a replacement console to start the project again.
That console came, and works fine.

However, I cannot use the 2TB HDD I had installed in the previous console.
I can't remember when or exactly why I did... but I locked the HDD to the, now dead, console.

As such no matter what I connect the HDD to, because of the 'lock' the XBox imposed on the drive; I can't do anything with it.

The replacement console can't unlock it, or format it.
My PC sees the drive and it's capacity, but is unable to do anything with it. I've tried Windows and Linux, as I though the 'brutish' nature of the latter's terminal commands could break the 'locked' state.
But, even Linux doesn't work.

Replacing the drive isn't all that much, money-wise. However, it would be a shame if this perfectly functional HDD is now reduced to nothing more than an overengineered door-stop.
Although not a massive capacity by modern standards; 2TB could still be useful for many things, if there is some way I can 'unlock' it.

As I mentioned above the console it was 'locked' with is completely dead.
I cannot find any reason why, but there isn't even the slightest of a glimmer of life at all.
I don't know what could cause such a state, and it's confusing that it was working fine a few days before.

And just for those who go straight for this suggestion...

I already took out the clock capacitor.
I've done that on every XBox I've ever had in my possession.
It's usually the first thing I do upon opening them up.
And just to be clear; I am careful when removing them. I don't force them; I do use a soldering iron and take them out with a delicate touch.

Anyway...

I have just ordered a replacement 2TB HDD.
But, if there's a secret way of reenabling the use of the one I have now; I'm sure I could find a productive use for it.
However, after trying a few 'suggestions' already; I am not going to hold my breath.

That said; I am open to suggestions.

I also want to clarify that the PC motherboards I have are unsuitable for running XboxHDM.
The only PC motherboard I have with IDE can't boot from USB, and I don't have an IDE optical drive.
And the other (which can boot from USB) doesn't have any IDE connections at all.
If memory serves me; XboxHDM need to access the HDD via IDE, even when connecting a SATA HDD (via an IDE-to-SATA adapter).
So, unless XboxHDM has changed since I last tried to run it; that particular software won't function properly on the hardware I currently have.

Also, because the cost of replacing the HDD is so low, I'm hoping to avoid spending too much, if any money on rescuing this 'locked' HDD.
I am just traying to be a little eco-friendly in repurposing it if possible.

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That's one of the reasons I don't lock hard drives.

If the boards are the same version you could swap the EEprom chip or using a eeprom reader/writer read the old chip and write to the new chip.

If you can read or have a copy of the EEprom there is ways of unlocking the HDD

 

 

Cheers

SS Dave


Soft modding is like masturbating, It gets the job done but it's nothing like the real thing.

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Like I mentioned above; I can't remember why, or even when I locked it.
To be absolutely honest, I don't even remember doing it at all; although I have seen the options available to me in the various programs I've run before.

Although I am competent with a soldering iron, the EEprom chip has extremely thin legs and the pitch is quite fine also. So, I'm not all that confident that I would be able to successfully not only safely remove two of those chips, but also re-install one without the distinct possibility of damaging another console.
I really can't justify the price of buying a hot-air machine for the little use I'd get from owning one either.
Also; I've seen enough dead XBox's over the years already, I'd like to try and preserve the working ones I come across for as long as possible.

I have learned of an EEprom interface for Raspberry Pi.
I'll have to read on how to connect the EEprom to the Pi itself. But, I know of a shop that currently has an old Raspberry Pi 2B at an attractive price right now.
Connecting the Pi to the consoles JTAG points isn't an option, as I clearly stated that the console has absolutely no signs of receiving power. So, I can't turn it on for the Pi to access the required data.

I am not all that optimistic though, and I may have to consider cutting my losses; accepting that I have a 2TB desk ornament.

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You have nothing to lose by trying. What version board is it?

The EEprom pins are at the LPC port as well as the power pins.

You need the 3.3 volt, Ground, SDA, SCL

You will need a external 3.3 volt supply to power up the chip. But you could try forcing the PSU on with a link to get the power to the eeprom

1292688628_XboxLPCpinout.jpg.017c9582b21d80b32fdd602fbd869b6a.jpg

 

There is also a Arduino version of the eeprom read/writer

https://github.com/Ryzee119/ArduinoProm

 

 

Cheers

SS Dave


Soft modding is like masturbating, It gets the job done but it's nothing like the real thing.

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Sorry, I've been busy setting up the replacement console I acquired amongst other 'real life' things in need of my time.

I think the dead console is a 1.0 version; the very early revision with the smaller GPU heatsink and extra 40mm fan on it.

My replacement console is almost identical; also having the GPU fan configuration.
I could try a EEprom transplant now. Because, and after realising that the EEprom isn't the chip I thought (I assumed it was the TSOP), but instead the much more manual soldering iron friendly 8-pin chip next to it; I feel that I could perform the transplant successfully.
However, at this point I have a working console, and I'm a little hesitant to risk changing that state of affairs should something go wrong or because of an accident.

I've already had one console die on me in the past when I performed what I thought was a 'low risk' procedure.
All I did was remove the clock capacitor and clean up the bad soldering job whoever installed a chip did, and the console wouldn't boot after the latter was done.
And as I never could discover the reason that console just stopped working, I try to limit my 'tinkering' as much as possible now. Only doing things that I am certain I know are almost impossible to go wrong.

Unfortunately removing and re-installing multi-leg chips is something that I feel is easy to be a potential for creating damage, even when being as careful as possible.

As for now, the dead motherboard couldn't get any worse; in terms of it's current level of functionality (or lack of).
The same applies to the 'locked' HDD.
So, leaving them alone for some time, while I work on other projects (including the replacement console rebuild), with the intention of revisiting it at some point in the future; even if it is just to 'unlock' the HDD to free it up for another use, is likely what I'll do for now.

Thank you for the details on how to connect to the EEprom.
Unfortunately that Raspberry Pi I had my sights on was gone by the time I revisited the shop. And as much as I want to get one to play around with, I really can't justify purchasing one at a higher price than I saw for the one I saw.
It's one of those cases that I already own, and regularly use other devices that can everything I could ever want to do with a Raspberry Pi, so buying one would literally be because I just want a new toy to play with.
One day, maybe.
I think I could use my PC's Serial port, using a couple of resistors and diodes. But, I'd still need to get the components for that option.
I have options, and when I have the time and patience; I will return to this.

When I made the opening post; I was kind of hoping that there was a way I could have used software to unlock the drive with brute force.
However, it seems Microsoft really did 'try' to make the console as 'secure' as they could.
But, I know for certain I won't be 'locking' the HDD in my current working console, as well as making sure I have the EEprom backed up in a few places should anything happen to this console.

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7 hours ago, Sherlock said:

Sorry, I've been busy setting up the replacement console I acquired amongst other 'real life' things in need of my time.

I think the dead console is a 1.0 version; the very early revision with the smaller GPU heatsink and extra 40mm fan on it.

My replacement console is almost identical; also having the GPU fan configuration.
I could try a EEprom transplant now. Because, and after realising that the EEprom isn't the chip I thought (I assumed it was the TSOP), but instead the much more manual soldering iron friendly 8-pin chip next to it; I feel that I could perform the transplant successfully.
However, at this point I have a working console, and I'm a little hesitant to risk changing that state of affairs should something go wrong or because of an accident.

I've already had one console die on me in the past when I performed what I thought was a 'low risk' procedure.
All I did was remove the clock capacitor and clean up the bad soldering job whoever installed a chip did, and the console wouldn't boot after the latter was done.
And as I never could discover the reason that console just stopped working, I try to limit my 'tinkering' as much as possible now. Only doing things that I am certain I know are almost impossible to go wrong.

Unfortunately removing and re-installing multi-leg chips is something that I feel is easy to be a potential for creating damage, even when being as careful as possible.

As for now, the dead motherboard couldn't get any worse; in terms of it's current level of functionality (or lack of).
The same applies to the 'locked' HDD.
So, leaving them alone for some time, while I work on other projects (including the replacement console rebuild), with the intention of revisiting it at some point in the future; even if it is just to 'unlock' the HDD to free it up for another use, is likely what I'll do for now.

Thank you for the details on how to connect to the EEprom.
Unfortunately that Raspberry Pi I had my sights on was gone by the time I revisited the shop. And as much as I want to get one to play around with, I really can't justify purchasing one at a higher price than I saw for the one I saw.
It's one of those cases that I already own, and regularly use other devices that can everything I could ever want to do with a Raspberry Pi, so buying one would literally be because I just want a new toy to play with.
One day, maybe.
I think I could use my PC's Serial port, using a couple of resistors and diodes. But, I'd still need to get the components for that option.
I have options, and when I have the time and patience; I will return to this.

When I made the opening post; I was kind of hoping that there was a way I could have used software to unlock the drive with brute force.
However, it seems Microsoft really did 'try' to make the console as 'secure' as they could.
But, I know for certain I won't be 'locking' the HDD in my current working console, as well as making sure I have the EEprom backed up in a few places should anything happen to this console.

As both sound the same version I would 1st unlock the HDD in the working Xbox

Then you could read the eeprom in the non working Xbox and write to the working Xbox  or swap the chip to the working Xbox.

Then fit the locked HDD and boot the Xbox and unlock the HDD.

 

You can also make a eeprom read/writer with simple and cheap parts, and use a freeware program called PonyProg.

1083027377_simpleeepromreader.PNG.8098223e9d336ed48612329e7c28cdf1.PNG

I have used this to read and write Xbox eeproms as well as eeproms in car audio systems.

 

https://www.instructables.com/XBox-EEPROM-ReaderWriter/

 

Cheers

SS Dave


Soft modding is like masturbating, It gets the job done but it's nothing like the real thing.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I just wanted to put an ending to this little saga.

I got adventurous and transplanted the EEprom from the 'dead' console to my current working one.
At first I had an issue with a flashing red light, and the console not booting beyond the ind-bios screen (that's what I have on my chip). But, I think it was a bad solder joint as touching each of the 8 legs of the EEprom with the soldering iron seems to have fixed that.

So, as I type this I am backing up all of the irreplaceable data I had on the old drive I had potentially lost, to move it onto the replacement one I have spent time setting up.
Just some settings files and a custom UnleashX skin I've been making on-and-off for a few years.

Other than that, I intend to 'unlock' this drive and put it into another project.

I know I could leave it in the console, as well as the EEprom chip. But, I intend to put the original EEprom back once I've finished my back-up and 'unlock'.

Thank you for the offering of information and helpful suggestions and guides.

If I only learn one thing from this experience it will be to leave well-enough alone and not bother locking XBox HDDs in the future.

Like I said; I'm just putting a more happy ending to this particular story.

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