Speeding up a ThinkPad x41 via a SATA SSD conversion

[Marek Walther] uses a ThinkPad x41 tablet for business on a daily basis. Since he’s on the go with the device he figures that hardware failure is eventually going to strike and with that in mind he purchased a second unit – slightly broken – to fix as a backup. He had never been excited about the speed of the tablet so he set out to find improvements. One of the options was to replace the traditional hard drive with a solid state model (translated). But simply dropping in an SSD isn’t going to make things faster. That’s because the stock drive uses a PATA interface. After a bit of snooping [Marek] discovered that the motherboard has a SATA interface that has a bridge connecting to the PATA plug. By removing the bridge and soldering a SATA cable to the board he was able to improve performance while increasing storage capacity at the same time.

Hard drive password recovery

Here’s a guide for recovering protection passwords from ATA hard drives (translated). These passwords are stored in a special area of the hard disk that also contains the firmware for the device. Normally you can’t get at them but [Supersonic] walks us through a method used to grab the data off of a Western Digital Scorpio drive. Booting into a program called MHDD you are able to bypass the BIOS (which won’t allow you to read protected data) and directly drive the SATA or PATA controller on your motherboard. Once you’ve dumped the data it can be viewed with a HEX editor, and if you know where to look you can grab the passwords that are locking the disk.

This reminds us of some of the original Xbox hacks which used a variety of methods to unlock the stock hard disk.

Xbox 360 hard drive adapter (redux)

[Chlazza] let us know about their Xbox hard drive to SATA adapter, allowing the use of an Xbox 360 (original) hard drive on a PC without voiding the drive’s warranty. Looking for a fun and enriching experience read: really bored and inspired by a previous adapter we featured, [Chlazza] set out to make their own and ended up succeeding with a board that costs less than $1 in parts. Of course the drive uses its own Fat32 based file system so there is still some hacking to do if you intended to read the data, but this is a step in the right direction.

Tear your iMac’s insides out

imac1_external_hdd_ mod

Saying that [Ian] had some overheating issues with his iMac G5 would be an understatement. After losing three hard drives due to heat he decided to do something about it. The first step was replacing the thermal paste with Arctic Silver. The solution for the hard drive was a little more unorthodox.

[Ian] picked up a 320GB Western Digital Caviar Blue drive because of its very low noise rating. He used rubber grommets to mount it outside the case and ran SATA data and power extension cables through a quarter inch hole to the motherboard. He mentioned to us that the cutout seen above the drive is from a previous mod.

This certainly will fix an overheating problem but it doesn’t do much for the sexy style we’re accustomed to with Apple hardware.

Second hard drive in a Macbook pro

Picture 4 (Custom)

[Reid] wrote in to show us how to add a second hard drive to his Macbook Pro. He found that he hardly ever used his DVD drive, so sacrificed it in favor of added storage. What he found was that it had a proprietary adapter that he was unable to find for sale anywhere. Making an adapter may seem like a pretty simple hack, but this could save some people considerable time. Its also worth noting that upgrading the firmware got him an 18% speed increase, so don’t ignore those updates. We don’t see too many mac hacks around here, you may recall the mac tablet hacks and the logo monitor.

Adding eSATA to an Acer Aspire 1

esata

In another installment of her ongoing efforts to mod the Acer Aspire 1, [tnkgrl] has added eSATA capabilities. During the hard drive upgrade she did, she used the spare PATA connection, leaving an SATA connection free. This time she has gone in and extended it to be accessible outside the case. To do that, she scavenged an eSATA connector from a desktop and simply wired it into the connections on the motherboard. She then mounted it flush as seen in the picture above.  In the past she’s covered adding RAM, internal Bluetooth and the hard drive upgrade.

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