Unbricking and upgrading an ASUS wl520 router

unbricking_upgrading_asus_wl520

[Andrew] has an ASUS wl520-gU router that he is pretty fond of, despite its numerous problems. CPU clock bug aside, the router only has 16MB or memory like many others on the market. While tooling around with the bootloader he bricked the device, so he decided it was time for an overhaul.

After some searching online, he found that the router could be unbricked by shorting out one of the pins on its flash chip. With an emergency unbrick button installed on the board, he can now reset it in seconds by power cycling the device.

Now that he had a working router again, he proceeded to remedy his initial gripe – the lackluster amount of memory. He soldered in a 512Mbit (64MB) module in the original chip’s place, crossed his fingers and booted the router. It started up just fine, so he ran a few commands to instruct the router to recognize the new memory capacity. After rebooting, he found that it only recognized 32MB of RAM, which was remedied by soldering a 22 Ohm resistor to one of the module’s pins.

It did take a bit of careful soldering to get things upgraded and working, but we think it was well worth the effort.

Smartphone hacking without risk – plus, broken phones needed

[Adam Outler] and [Rebellos] have been working feverishly to advance the world of mobile device hacking. They’re attacking on two fronts, making it easier for the common hacker to monkey with the phone’s firmware and OS with impunity, and by finding ways to make regular handsets into dev-hardware for low-level hacking.

The Hummingbird Interceptor Bootloader (HIBL) circumvents the chain of trust on smartphones running the Cortex-A8 family of processors. This opens a lot of doors, not the least of which is the ability to run any OS that you’re capable of porting to the hardware. We’re certain that Android builds will come first as they are open-source, but there’s talk of iOS or Windows Phone being run after some heavy assembly hacking.

But the two developers are trying to bring more people into the fold with their recent hacks. [Adam] has put out a call for your broken hardware. He needs your dead smartphone boards to reverse engineer the circuitry. Soldering one wire from the OM5 pin on the processor to the OM1 resistor will make the phones unbrickable (something we heard about back in July) and remove the need for soldering in a JTAG interface. With borked hardware in hand he pops off the processor and traces out this connection as well as the UART pins.

The soldering isn’t an easy process, but it’s a marked improvement that breaks down more barriers that keep people from hacking their coveted hardware. The clip after the break shows how easy it now is to recover your phone if something goes wrong while messing with the firmware or OS.

[Read more...]

One-click unbrick for Samsung phones

[Adam Outler] has been pretty heavy into mobile device hacking lately. The biggest problem with that field is recovering from back flashes or development firmware glitches. In many cases you can use a JTAG programmer to reflash stock firmware to resurrect a handset. Unfortunately you’ll be hard pressed to find a phone that comes with a JTAG header, and soldering to the microelectronic boards is not for the faint of heart.

But a solution is here, [Adam] pulled together a wide set of resources to create a package to unbrick Samsung phones. Now we’re sure that there’s more than a handful of people who would argue that a bad firmware flash that can be fixed this way means that the phone wasn’t actually “bricked” in the first place. But what we see is one more barrier torn down between being a hardware user and becoming a hardware hacker. You’re much more likely to get in there and get your hands dirty if you know that you’ll be able to undo your mistakes and reclaim you precious pocket hardware. See just how easy it is in the video after the break.

[Read more...]

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