Saturday, 4 April 2015

BT Broadband Fibre 3rd party router working with BT TV - TP-Link Archer C7 AC1750

BT Broadband Fibre 3rd party router working with BT TV - TP-Link Archer C7 AC1750


We would like to thank the original author of this review at www.punj.co.uk for granting us permission to publish this particular blog content. The original contents of the review can be found at http://www.punj.co.uk

On this page we are going to look at how we can use our recommended 3rd party router to work with BT TV.

We no that we struggled to find a lot of information on purchasing a compatible 3rd party router working satisfactory with the BT IPTV multicast channels.
Our working setup was using the TP-Link Archer C7 AC1750 wireless router which worked satisfactory with IPTV multicast and BT TV channels. This router worked for us on the BT Infinity fibre package with BT TV and BT Sport channels.

BT now provide some fantastic TV packages as part of their BT Broadband portfolio.  They also provide their BT Homehub to their customers which works great with their broadband packages.



Some people how ever prefer to use their own routers rather than the working BT supplied Homehub. You should note that BT do not provide support for using 3rd party routers.  

You can find further information on other compatible 3rd party wireless routers on the BT help Forum site

Most third party routers will work satisfactory with BT Broadband, however most will be problematic in working satisfactory with BT TV and IPTV Multicast channels.

BT TV is delivered through the broadband line and most 3rd party routers have difficulty or are not compatible with the IPTV multicast channel delivery. Therefore even tho the broadband works great you will get a black screen or error message when viewing any BT IPTV multicast channels. On other 3rd party routers you may find that even tho you have configured IPTV the muticast packets flood the wireless router which in turn locks up the router and provides a very unsatisfactory internet experience.

Our set up however uses the BT FTTC Modem and the TP-Link Archer C7 AC1750 wireless router on our BT Infinity fibre line which so far has worked great with little setup.


The TP-Link Archer C7 AC1750 wireless router can be purchased from most retailers and at the moment is very competitively priced compared to other AC wireless routers.
One word of warning - This router is available in three versions. We are unable to confirm that the version 1 router will work satisfactory. However the newer versions 2 and 3 certainly are. We recommend that you purchase version 2 or 3.

When getting your TP-Link Archer C7 AC1750 wireless router just make sure you up date the firmware to the latest from the TP-Links web site. If you see the following router setup screen as shown below with the "IPTV" settings on the left hand side menu then your router will most certainly work satisfactory.

The only setting within the router that we were required on our setup was the pppoe username and password which will be found in your old BT Homehub setup pages. The IPTV muticast channels worked with the default router settings.

Our setup has now been working very well for sometime. We decided to do this blog as confirmation that the TP-Link router mentioned above worked satisfactory as mentioned above.

We hope our readers have enjoyed our project and will come back to www.punj.co.uk for our views on more technological projects and products.

If you have enjoyed our latest tip or wish to discuss this further then please leave your comments and suggestions below.
We are providing the contents here for educational purposes and offer no guarantee that this process will work for you. On this note you should be aware that by carrying out the processes here you do so at your risk.

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Using USB Drive to install windows 7 / 8

We would like to thank the original author of this review at www.punj.co.uk for granting us permission to publish this particular blog content. The original contents of the review can be found at http://www.punj.co.uk

On this page we are going to look at on how you can create your windows 7 or 8 media installation on to a usb 2.0 flash drive.

Like us you may have your current windows 7/8 installation media provided on a DVD. By creating your installation media onto a usb drive you will certainly cut the installation time to around 15 minutes compared to the DVD installation which can take up to an hour.

USB flash drives are now very cheap and come in various storage sizes.


To create your windows 7/8 installation onto a usb drive you will need a usb 2.0 4GB flash drive.
As these usb 2.0 flash drives are relatively cheap, using a larger capacity drive sometimes proves useful as you can keep other files on your installation media. An example of additional files would be having additional drivers, and your favourite programs readily available on your installation media.





So here is the check-list of items you require to create your usb 2.0 installation media.

– Windows 7 DVD installation disc or ISO image.
– USB 2.0 Drive minimum size 4GB but the larger the better.
– PC or Laptop running the Windows Operating system.




In brief our guide will show you how to prepare your usb drive and make it bootable. The final stage is to copy your installation files and folders on to your newly created usb drive.

Please be aware that if you make a mistake in carrying out the procedures there is a risk of corrupting your main computer drive. You have been warned.

Now here is our guide:-


1. Plug in your new clean usb 2.0  flash drive into your PC/Laptop.
In "My Computer" Make a note of the drive letter for the DVD rom drive and your new usb drive.
In our example our DVD drive was shown as the "D Drive" and our usb drive was shown as the "e drive".

2. Now open the command prompt program with admin rights. You can do this by going to the "Start menu" and typing "cmd". You will see "cmd.exe". Right hand click cmd.exe and "Run as administrator". This will open the command prompt with administration rights.

3. Next type "DISKPART" this loads and runs the diskpart application we need for our procedure.

4. The next step is to type "LIST DISK". This shows all the disks within our computer. In our example "Disk 0" was our main C drive and "Disk 1" was our usb drive. In our example we will be using "Disk 1".

5. Now type "SELECT DISK 1". In our example this was our usb drive. If your usb drive was shown as Disk 2 or any other number then type "Select Disk" and then that number that your usb drive was shown as. Be careful and make sure you only choose the usb drive number. 
If all is well you should see as in our example a confirmation stating "Disk 1 is now the selected disk".

6. Our next step is to ensure that our usb disk is clean. We can do this by typing "Clean".
You should get a successful response ‘DiskPart succeeded in cleaning the disk”.

7. The next step is to create a primary partition and format our usb drive. To do this we type "Create Partition Primary" You will see a confirmation that the  primary partition has been created.

8. Now type "Select Partition 1" to select the the partition on your usb drive.

9. We now need to type "Active"

10. The next step is to format our usb drive. We can do this by typying "format fs=ntfs quick" This will format our usb drive. Wait until you have received confirmation that the format has 100 percent completed.

11. We now need to type "Assign" and then "Exit" to exit from the diskpart program.

The final few steps is to make our usb drive bootable and copy our installation files and folders onto our newly created usb drive.

12. To make our usb drive bootable we type d: cd boot. This takes us to the boot folder within our dvd rom drive which has our windows 7 / 8 installation media.
Now type "Bootsect.exe /nt60 e:.
In our example e: is our usb drive. Substitute the e: with the letter of your USB drive. This procedure will create a boot sector on the USB drive.

Finally you can exit the command prompt and copy the files and folders on the Windows 7 DVD to the USB drive. Do this as you would normally copy and backup files to the usb drive.

Once all the above steps have been completed you’ll be ready to boot from your newly created bootable usb installation drive.

You can now install windows 7/8 installations much quicker and this should save you between 40% to 60% of the time it takes from a DVD disc.

We hope our readers have enjoyed our project and will come back to www.punj.co.uk for our views on more technological projects and products.

If you have enjoyed our latest tip or wish to discuss this further then please leave your comments and suggestions below.

We are providing the contents here for educational purposes and offer no guarantee that this process will work for you. On this note you should be aware that by carrying out the processes here you do so at your risk.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

DM500s Recovery Repair your DM500s STB from a failed firmware upload

We would like to thank the original author of this review at www.punj.co.uk for granting us permission to publish this particular blog content. The original contents of the review can be found at http://www.punj.co.uk

How to revive and recover your DM500s STB from a failed firmware upload

On this page we are going to look at on how we can recover from a failed firmware update on the satellite DM500s STB. We will provide our tutorial and hopefully by carrying out the steps as shown you will recover your DM500s STB from its bricked state.

 

The DM500s STB is a very power full set top box for viewing satellite TV and radio. The satellite set top box runs open source Linux software. If you search the internet on the DM500s you will find hundreds of developers around the world who have tweaked and made enhancements for the firmware software for the STB.
Due to this you will also find many users who have bricked their set up boxes from failed firmware updates. If you find yourself with this problem then you will be glad to hear that these boxes do offer a few options for recovery.

The recovery method that we used on our DM500s was to use a null modem serial RS232 com cable and a utility called DreamUP to communicate and upload a good working copy of the firmware to our set top box. Below are the instructions and where to get a copy of DreamUP software. You will also need a good copy of the firmware for the DM500s which you can get from searching Google.
 
So this is how we recovered our set top box.
 
Download a copy of DreamUP and place this on your desktop from here  DreamUP_ver1.3.3.1.zip
You will also need a good copy of the DM500s firmware. Download this from the internet if you don't have a good backup.
 
Next you are going to need a Null Modem Serial RS232 com cable. You can get one from your local electronic shop.
 
We made our own and below is the schematics for those wishing to make their own cable.
 

We must point out that the use of the correct cable is absolutely essential. If you are unable to communicate with the set top box and dreamUP or receive errors it will most likely be the use of using incorrect cabling. Please check that you have not got a straight through serial cable. The correct RS232 serial cable requires pins 2 and 3 known as the transmit and receive lines to be crossed linked.
As you can see in the schematic you really only need 3 wires from your DB9 socket to make the RS232 serial cable. Note that pins 2 and 3 are crossed over for transmit and receive of the signals.
 
Assuming that you now have the correct cable lets go onto the next step.
 
Using your PC / laptop download DreamUP_ver1.3.3.1.zip and unzip the contents to your desktop.
Also make sure you have on you desktop a good copy of the DM500s firmware obtained from a working backup or downloaded from searching Google.

Next plug your Null Modem RS232 cable between the DM500s and the serial port of your PC.
Now run the DreamUP_1_3_3_1.exe utility as an administrator.
You will notice the following screen.
 
 
Next make sure that the "Use Network" box is un-ticked as shown above. Ensure that you also choose the correct serial port eg COM1 or COM2 or COM3 etc.
 
If the connectivity is successful between the DM500s and your PC you should see the "Box attached and ready" message as shown blow.
 
 
Its probably best to do the "Flash Erase" option to erase the faulty firmware embedded in the system.
Now browse for the new working firmware in the .IMG format and flash the new firmware by clicking the Flash Button.
 
 
This process of uploading the new firmware may take 15 to 20 minutes or longer. Do not interrupt this process or you may permanently brick your DM500s.
 
If everything has gone well you have now recovered your bricked DM500s.
 
If you have enjoyed our latest tip or wish to discuss this further then please leave your comments and suggestions below.
 
Disclaimer :
There is a chance you can brick your hardware permanently if something goes wrong, also this can then void your guarantee / warranty of your hardware.
So by flashing the firmware you  do so at your own risk 

We are providing the contents here for educational purposes and offer no guarantee that this process will work for you. On this note you should be aware that by carrying out the processes here you do so at your risk.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Dell mini Inspiron 910 - STEC SSD repair faulty disk

We would like to thank the original author of this review at www.punj.co.uk for granting us permission to publish this particular blog content. The original contents of the review can be found at http://www.punj.co.uk

How to revive your Dell Mini 9 failed Mini PCIe SSD disk 

On this page we are going to look at the Dell Mini 9 Inspiron 910 mini laptop / netbook and a common problem that some users have faced.


The Dell Mini 9 Inspiron that we are going to talk about here had the following specifications and were all just over twelve months old.
Intel Atom N270 1.6GHz, 1GB DDR2 RAM, 16GB SSD , 8.9" WSVGA, Integrated Webcam
Graphics Media Accelerator950, USB 2.0 Ports: 3 , Video Out Ports: 1, OS XP Home
            
We have had several of these mini laptop / netbooks sent to us for repairs all giving symptom's of a failed disk. When switching the Dell Mini 9 on,  the screen would show errors as " Operating system not Found" and on two of these the SSD disk was being reported as 0MB within the bios.

Normally this error in most cases is the symptom's of a failing hard disk and usually requires the hard disk to be replaced.

On the Dell Mini 9 the hard disk consists of a Mini PCIe PATA SSD disk which unlike normal hard disks consist of no moving parts. The Mini PCIe PATA SSD is made of memory chips which will retain data after power loss.


The STEC Mini PCIe PATA SSD on the Dell Mini can be located on the rear of the laptop by removing the hardware compartment lid which is held by two screws.

Most people that we have come across seem to replace their SSD disks when they encounter this error as this is the advise by Dell Support to them. Further when you encounter these errors the disk becomes inaccessible for any of the usual disk utilities including Linux GPart. You will find that using the Linux Live CD for accessing the SSD for partitioning, formatting and other tests is always unsuccessful. 

We believe that occasionally some of the data on the disk becomes corrupt and the disk is also occasionally unable to re-align itself. The disk will then go into a lock and give symptons as described above. You will also find very limited information on the Internet to resolve this issue.

Our method for recovering your STEC Mini PCIe PATA SSD disk evolves running a utility within a bootable CD or USB media to re-align and updating the disk firmware. This utility was made available from STEC the SSD Disk manufacturer to whom we are very grateful to. The utility will destroy all data on the disk and when completed revive what was a dead SSD disk. You will then need to re-partition and format your SSD disk. If all goes well your final task is to re-install your OS and data to your Dell Mini 9
You Should be aware that this procedure will destroy all data on the disk. We offer no guarantee or warranty that this procedure will work for you.

To repair and revive your failed STEC Mini PCIe SSD disk this is the procedure that works for us.
You will need to download the utility firmware and prepare the bootable media on another computer or laptop. Below are the step by step instructions we use to repair our STEC Mini PCIe SSD.
  1. Prepare a USB Pen Drive formatted with Fat32 and with a bootable dos system.
  2. Instructions for creating a bootable usb pen drive can be found at How to make a bootable usb flash drive
  3. Download the following STEC SSD 8 / 16GB util firmware to your desktop and unzip the contents with winzip.
  4. Copy the unzipped "stecssdutil" utility folder to your bootable USB pen drive.
  5. When the above steps are complete remove your newly created USB pen drive and now go to the Dell Mini 9.
  6. Ensure that the Dell Mini 9 is plugged into the power supply. This is very important.
  7. Now plug in your USB bootable pen drive with the stecssdutil folder contents.
  8. Switch on your Dell Mini 9 and keep pressing 0 (Zero) on the keyboard. You should be prompted with a screen asking which device to boot from. You will need to ensure that you are booting from the USB pen drive (USB Hard Drive).
  9. If the usb pen drive has successfully booted you will be navigated in to the dos environment with the screen at the command prompt C:\  .
  10. Now type "CD stecssdutil" and press enter. You will now be navigated into "c:\stecssdutil" folder.
    If a message is shown that the directory cannot be found or does not exist then for those people type "cd stecss~1" and press enter. For those people you should now be navigated into "c:\"cd stecss~1".
  11. Type "mcru004.exe" and press enter.
  12. Now do not touch any thing or switch off. Let the utility complete. This may take some time to complete. Let the utility firmware finish or you will destroy your disk.
  13. If an error is shown by the utility then the chances are that the disk is failing and should be replaced. We recommend that you carry out the procedure again to confirm that the disk is failing. If no errors are shown then go to the next step. 
  14. When the utility completes you will be back at the C:\ prompt or C:\stecssdutil\ prompt .
  15. You can now remove the pen drive and switch the Dell Mini 9 off.
The final steps require preparing your repaired STEC SSD drive and then re-installing your OS from your recovery CD's.
We used the Linux Live GParted CD which can be found at http://gparted.sourceforge.net/livecd.php for deleting the old partition and then creating a new NTFS partition and a NTFS format to complete our procedure.
The final step will be to re-install the Dell Mini 9 OS and drivers from the Dell Recovery media that came with your Dell Mini 9.
Finally this is the very same procedure that some people are selling on ebay to revive this particular SSD disk for you. We hope that our readers will save some money and have the satisfaction on carrying out this repair themselves. Our personal opinion is that Dell Support should offer this publicly as a free of charge repair for the user's effected to carry out. They should also make more of an attempt to make this issue more known on their support site and the Internet.
We hope our readers have enjoyed our project and will come back to www.punj.co.uk for our views on more technological projects and products.

If you have enjoyed our latest tip or wish to discuss this further then please leave your comments and suggestions below.

** Update **
We will publish updated firmwares at our main site at  www.punj.co.uk 
once we are satisified that they are safe to do so.
So please keep checking our main site for further information and updates at www.punj.co.uk

Please Note:- We do not offer support for disk passwords. Please do not ask us for password support. We are sorry but we will not be able to assist.

punj

Sunday, 29 April 2012

BT Homehub V 3 Open ports 161 and 4567 stealthed

We would like to thank the original author of this review at www.punj.co.uk for granting us permission to publish this  particular blog content. The original contents of the review can be found at http://www.punj.co.uk/

On this page we are going to discuss why the BT Home Hub V3 is shipped with open ports




On our previous blog we discussed using OpenDNS with BT Broadband and the BT home hub. We still congratulate BT for providing their customers with a great home wireless router but like most people we cannot understand why they supply their router shipped with open ports.
It is now confirmed that the current BT Home Hub v3 is supplied with ports 161 and in some cases 4567 permanently open and not closed. We are also going to provide our readers a simple fix to stealth these open ports. 
Further the BT Hub Manager settings do not allow these ports to be further configured or turned off.

There is a lot of discussion at the BT Care Community Forums at
With people asking this very same question and the response from BT. 

You can check to see if your firewall or router has open ports by visiting the Gibson Research Corporation port scanning service called ShieldsUp. This can be found by following this link


The image below shows our test BT Home Hub V3 with port 161 open.


We would agree with the Gibson Research Corporation comments regarding port 161 and why open ports are vunerable to hack attacks.


“Most users will not be exposed to SNMP (nor will they ever find port 161 open) unless some piece of their networking equipment has an active and open SNMP service port. If our port analysis ever shows that a router (for example) or other network device exposed to the Internet has its SNMP interface open you will want to arrange to disable and close that port immediately. Malicious hackers know that some consumer networking equipment has been shipped with exposed SNMP ports and with default access passwords. Therefore, it would not be at all unlikely that such a router or other equipment would be quickly discovered and exploited. Malicious hackers would find this amusing, but you would probably not”
  
You can read the Gibson Research Corporation full description of port 161 at

Port 4567 is explained at

How to temporarily fix and stealth open ports 161 & 4567

OK now how can we stealth these open ports. Well it’s really up to BT to provide a permanent fix with an updated firmware to fully secure these open ports. As BT currently leave these ports open we can carry out a temporary solution in stealthing these open ports.

In brief we are going to access the BT Home Hub manager settings and use the port forwarding settings to route these open ports to an unused IP address on our network. 
We must ensure that this IP address is not or ever used for any device on our Lan network.

Well here is the simple fix. 

  1.  Login to your BT Home HUB  manager settings at 192.168.1.254.  
  2. Select “'Settings”. then 
  3. Select ‘Advanced Settings'. then 
  4. Select 'Port Forwarding'. 
  5. In 'Device’, select 'User-defined IP' and enter an unused IP address eg 192.168.1.250.  (Must be unique and not to be used by any device on the network). 
  6. Now Click 'Add' and 'Assign' and then 'Apply'  
  7.  In this same screen, click 'Supported applications'.  
  8.  Now add a new application. Name this as  SNMP/TRAM. This will represent the two protocols ports 161 & 4567.  
  9.  Set 'Protocol' to 'Any'.
  •  In all the boxes labelled 'Port Range' and 'Translate to', enter 161 then Click 'Add' 
      •  In all the boxes labelled 'Port Range' and 'Translate to', enter 4567.then Click 'Add'. 
        • Now Click 'Apply' to save and apply the new changes.
          Now if you go to

          and try the Gibson Research Corporation port scanning service called ShieldsUp this should show the previously open ports as now stealthed.


          So to re-cap what we have done is used the port forwarding settings to route these ports to a unique unused IP address within our network which doesn’t exist. When the port scanner now tries to communicate with these ports to the non-existing IP address it can’t because the IP address has no device to communicate with.

          Finally it’s really up to BT to provide a permanent fix with an updated firmware to fully secure these open ports. The port forwarding solution above is only a temporary solution in stealthing these open ports.

          We hope you have enjoyed our latest tip and if you wish to discuss this further then please leave your comments and suggestions below.

          punj

          Sunday, 15 January 2012

          Solve wireless router connection problems

          We would like to thank the original author of this review at www.punj.co.uk for granting us permission to publish this  particular blog content. The original contents of the review can be found at http://www.punj.co.uk/

          Many people today connect to the Internet using a wireless router either provided by their ISP or purchased by themselves.  Wireless routers are great devices letting people connect to their home networks without having a wired connection between the device and the router. As an example you can sit in your garden and connect wirelessly to your home wireless router to access the Internet.

           

          We have come across many occasions when the wireless router sometimes becomes problematic and intermittently disconnects the user providing an unsatisfactory connection. To help we are going to give our readers some useful tips on how to resolve these issues.

          You may have experienced one of the following symptoms:

          1. Your PC or laptop frequently connects and disconnects you from the wireless router.
          2. You are connected to your wireless router but the wireless connection seems very slow.

          We have resolved these issues on many occasions by just following some simple tips.

          Some useful tips to resolve wireless problems

          Nearly all wireless routers today come preset so that the user simply connects their wireless router to the ISP connection and by using the security key provided they are ready to surf the Internet.
          The security key will normally be found on a sticker on the back of the router.
          The manufactures try very hard to make the installation of the wireless router an easy experience for the user.
          An example of this setup by the manufacturer would be that the wireless router comes pre-configured with the wireless channel pre-set to "Auto" or Channel "6".
          Normally in all occasions an unsatisfactory wireless connection is due to external interference interfering with the wireless connection.
          The external interference can come from neighbouring wireless routers and devices. Indeed even the neighbours microwave can interfere with your wireless connection.
          A simple solution to resolve and fix your connection is by changing the channel your wireless router uses to communicate with your devices eg computer or laptop.
          To change the channel you will need to go into the wireless router set up pages. You can find more information on how to get into your wireless router setup pages by reading your router manual or by searching in google for your router.
          Once you are in the wireless router setup page you will notice that the wireless channel is set to "Auto" or channel "6". This channel setting can normally be changed. You can normally manually set the channel number between 1 to 13.
          By simply changing this to say channel "2" you can resolve a lot of issues. You may even find that your wireless router can now be picked up at longer distances and stay satisfactorily connected for a longer time.


          Some of the more experienced users will also tweak their devices in other ways in an effort to get the best wireless connection. How ever some of these tweaks can also result in making the connection unsatisfactory and even worse for the user. An example of this is one that we came across very recently.
          We had a user who had the DD-WRT firmware on their wireless router. They were able to set the transmit TX power settings which basically either transmits the wireless signal at higher or lower power settings.
          They thought by using higher power settings they were improving their wireless signal so that it would be picked up more easly by the wireless devices. However by setting this at higher power settings they were just saturating the signal to their wireless device. We recommend that you never increase the power transmit settings on your wireless router. Not only will you saturate additional noise but you will most probably shorten the the life of your wireless router. We were able to resolve this issue for this user by just lowering this slightly lower than the default setting. In our case this was lowered from the default setting of "70" to "50".

          Some people will also access the wireless NIC settings within the wireless NIC device on the laptop or computer. Within the "Wireless Network adapter connection" you can get access to the wireless adaptor settings within the advanced menu. Here you can also see that on some wireless adaptors you can set the "Transmit Power". Some people think by setting this to the "Highest" setting they will be able to iimprove their wireless signal as it is now operating at the highest setting. All they are doing here is again shortening the life of their wireless adaptor and as stated before saturating the wireless signal. 
          We again recommend that you choose a medium setting for the transmit TX setting.
          The lower the setting the better the wireless connection will perform. Also the wireless NIC card will use less power which will result in less heat and a longer life for that device.

          We are amazed that the tips we have detailed above are not given as standard by the manufactures support  personel.
          We have come across many users replacing their wireless routers stating that the previous router that was purchased not so long ago as poorly made by the manufacturer. Indeed the same has been said for the free ISP supplied wireless routers.  In our opinion manufactures do try to make good quality products and ISP do want to provide the best for their customers. However by just changing the wireless channel will most defantly in most cases give amazing results.

          Over the years we have resolved many wireless issues by just using the simple tips above.

          So finally if your wireless router is playing up whether this is the one you purchased or this was given free to you by your ISP,  we recommend you try our tips here, Hopefully you will once again have your wireless router and devices working as they are suppose to.

          If you have enjoyed our latest tip or wish to discuss this further then please leave your comments and suggestions below

          punj

          Saturday, 31 December 2011

          Best Wishes for 2014 new year

          Seasonal Greetings to all

          Wishing everyone a happy new year for 2014
          May the new year bring love happiness and peaceful living to all

          Best Wishes from everyone
          at
          Punj Technology Blog
          and
          www.punj.co.uk

          Friday, 19 August 2011

          Toshiba Corrupt bios Recovery

          We would like to thank the original author of this review at www.punj.co.uk for granting us permission to publish this  particular blog content. The original contents of the review can be found at http://www.punj.co.uk/


          On one of our previous blogs we reviewed and demonstrated on how to recover your computer / laptop from a corrupt bios using the EPROM / EEPROM MCUmall True-USB PRO GQ-4X Willem Programmer 

          Now we are going to show you how you can recover from a corrupt bios using no specialist equipment.

          This method will require the use of a floppy disk media, CD/DVD or a standard usb stick flash media device. This method is commonly known as"Bios Crisis recovery disk method".

          The bios is the first part of software code to run when you switch on a computer. This code gives instructions for the power on self test (post). This self test checks and ensures that the computer has all the required parts eg disks memory etc and that they function.

          Most modern computer bioses can be recovered by using a crisis disk whether this be via a floppy or usb disk media. On some computers however when the bios boot tables become corrupt this can be problematic as this normally requires the bios chip to be manually reprogrammed or replaced. If your bios boot tables have become corrupt then this process will probably not be successful.

          We were recently contacted by one of our clients who had corrupted the bios to his Toshiba A100-210 Model PSAA8E laptop.

          Our client had visited the official Toshiba website and downloaded the bios for his laptop from here
          He then carried out the procedure of updating his bios as instructed. 
          The Toshiba bios program seemed to run and complete as confirmed at the end of the update. However when the laptop re-booted he noticed that the start up screen seemed to stay stuck on the blue bios start-up screen. He was then unable to get the laptop to progress further and boot to his windows xp installation.


          There was a lot of private data which was now UN-accessible. In desperation the laptop was given to us to see if it could be recovered. We are not sure why the bios update had failed as our client seemed to suggest that he had carried the update as recommended.
           
          We knew that this laptop has a Phoenix Bios so our first attempt was to try the bios disk recovery method. 

          For this method which we have successfully used before you will need a usb floppy disk drive with 1.44M floppy media. You will also need to download files as instructed below. In brief we will create a recovery diskette which will have a good copy of the bios file. For this particular laptop a good copy of the bios file will be available within the download below.

          This is a step by step instructions on how we carried out the bios disk recovery method.
          1. Download the BiosRocoveryMethod.rar file from here  This will have all the files required to create the floppy diskette and a good copy of the bios file for this laptop.
          2. Use winrar to decompress the downloaded file and place them in a folder on your desktop.
          3. Now you will need a floppy drive or usb stick. We used a usb floppy drive as we no from experience that the usb stick will be unsuccessful with the recovery of this particular laptop.
          4. You need to carefully read the instructions in the BiosRocoveryMethod folder downloaded earlier.
          5. You will now need to Click on the Phoenix_Crisis_Recovery.exe to make a bootable Floppy.
          6. Copy all the files from Rescue folder to your newly created bootable floppy diskette.
          7. Rename your BIOS file to bios.wph and copy it to your floppy diskette. We have provided a good copy of the bios file for this laptop.
          8. Now un-plug the power to your laptop. Connect your usb floppy drive to your usb port with the newly created bios recovery diskette.
          9. Hold down FN+F keys on the keyboard and while holding plug the computer in to the power and press the power button.
          10. You should hear the laptop bleeping and also the floppy drive being read and working. Hold the keys for a while and then let go.
          11. Leave the laptop for at least 10 minutes. Within this time the laptop may also repeatedly bleep whilst also copying the new bios file to your laptop.
          12. If the laptop does not restart itself after about ten minutes turn the power down and re-start the laptop
          Hopefully the laptop will re-start and at the intial bios boot screen ensure that you set your bios to "Load bios Defaults".



          Your laptop should now boot to your xp installation and hopefully you will have recovered from your corrupt bios.

          A few words of caution. This method with the provided bios file is only for the Toshiba A100-210 Model PSAA8E laptop. Do not use this file if you are going to use this method for a different laptop / computer. If you do use this method for a different computer / laptop which has a phoenix bios be sure to use a bios file for that computer or laptop and re-name to bios.wph.

          You should also be aware that updating the computer / laptop bios carries risks and could render your motherboard completely dead if things go wrong.

          We are providing the contents here for educational purposes and offer no guarantee that this process will work for you. On this note you should be aware that by carrying out the processes here you do so at your risk.

          We hope our readers have enjoyed our project and will come back to www.punj.co.uk for our views on more technological projects and products.

          If you have enjoyed our latest tip or wish to discuss this further then please leave your comments and suggestions below.

          punj

          Sunday, 27 February 2011

          Using OpenDNS with BT HomeHub Broadband

          Using OpenDNS with BT Homehubs Broadband

          We would like to thank the original author of this review at www.punj.co.uk for granting us permission to publish this  particular blog content. The original contents of the review can be found at http://www.punj.co.uk/punjwebfiles/telecom/bbrouterproblems.html

          On this page we are going to show you how to use the OpenDNS service on BT Broadband using the BT Homehub and some additional cheap hardware. BT has currently disabled their users from entering their own dns settings on the BT Homehubs using the current BT firmware. BT had adopted to disable certain features on their homehubs to close certain security vulnerabilities on their hardware.

          So first of all lets briefly find out what the OpenDNS service is.

          OpenDNS is a dns service which can help in providing the user in controlling and blocking Internet sites which the user deems as inappropriate. This can be useful if you have kids on your home network and you want to filter and block web sites which you deem appropriate for them to visit or use.
          OpenDNS also provides anti-phising and  malware / botnet protection to further protect the Internet user. We do however advise strongly that the user still incorporates security software on each PC / Laptop and home  network devices that they currently use to ensure a high level of protection.

          Now we will give a brief explanation of the BT Homehub.
          BT provide all their customers exclusively using the BT Broadband product their branded wireless router known as the BT HomeHub. In providing this great piece of kit  BT can provide support for the BT Broadband customer. The latest BT Homehub version 3 includes the smart wireless N technology, provision of a gigabit LAN port and the USB port for connecting a printer or hard disk to your home network. This version of the home hub can also be used on BT's ADSL and Infinity product. Overall we have been very impressed with this latest BT Hardware and congratulate them in providing such an outstanding piece of kit.


                    

          By using some additional hardware and setting the home network correctly we can use the OpenDNS service and still get support from the official BT support channel as we are still using their provided piece of kit on the BT Broadband product.

          In order to use OpenDNS we need to configure the dns settings on our home network to use the OpenDNS servers. This can be done in a couple of ways. The user can either at each computer or laptop  access the  network configuration and manually enter the OpenDNS server settings, or use these dns settings at the router  to globally use the dns service for all devices on the network. Entering the dns settings within network configuration at each device can be quite time consuming and can also be quite easily bypassed by someone  by just entering their own dns settings. By configuring the router correctly we can ensure that the chosen dns service is the only dns service used.

          Our tip includes the use of an additional router which will be configured with the OpenDNS setting and provide DHCP to all devices on the network. In using our method the user is required to disable the DHCP on the BT Homehub for providing IP addresses to devices on the home network. In brief the DLink will be used as a slave router providing DHCP and DNS in lieu of the BT HomeHub.

          In our method we chose the DLink DIR-615 version D2 router as our additional piece of hardware. We chose this router as it cost just £1.50 plus £3.50 shipping from eBay. The DLink DIR-615 is a wireless  broadband router with wireless N and four 100mb Ethernet ports.


          The first thing we did with this router was to upgrade the firmware from the DLink to the DD WRT firmware.
          The DD WRT firmware is a free Linux-based firmware offering a great number of functionalities. This firmware allowed us to setup this router as a slave router which provided all devices on our network with DHCP and the DNS settings for the OpenDNS service. In addition we configured this router to intercept the dns port to prevent users from using their own dns server.

          The following setup configurations was used within the DLink configuration page. All other settings were left as the default settings.
          Wan Setup
          Wan Connection Type - Disabled
          Network Setup
          Local IP Address - 192.168.1.1
          Subnet Mask - 255.255.255.0
          Gateway - 192,168.1.254 (IP address of BT Homehub)
          Local DNS - 208.67.222.222 (OpenDNS server)
          Wan Port
          Assign WAN Port to Switch - Tick check box (This enables the Wan port to be used as a LAN Port)
          Network Address Server Settings (DHCP)
          DHCP Type - DHCP Server
          DHCP Server - Enabled
          Static DNS 1 - 208.67.222.222 (OpenDNS Primary server)
          Static DNS 2 - 208.67.220.220 (OpenDNS Secondary server)
          Static DNS 3 - 208.67.222.220 (OpenDNS Server)
          Use DNSMasq for DHCP - Tick check box
          Use DNSMasq for DNS - Tick check box
          DHCP-Authoritative - Tick check box

          All other settings can be left in their default.
          The final step was to disable the DHCP within the BT Homehub. All that is needed now is to connect the DLink router to the BT HomeHub via the LAN Ports using an Ethernet RJ45 cable and re-booting the two routers.

          This is the basic setup to use the OpenDNS service using the BT Homehub within the network by using an additional slave router providing the DHCP and DNS settings. Additional settings can be entered into the slave router to prevent users on the network using their own dns settings. The DD WRT firmware offers other additional functionalities such as custom DDNS which can be very useful. We have not shown these  additional settings but may cover this at a later update.

          We hope our readers have enjoyed our project and will come back to www.punj.co.uk for our views on more technological projects and products.

          If you have enjoyed our latest tip or wish to discuss this further then please leave your comments and suggestions below.

          Read this topic on http://www.punj.co.uk/punjwebfiles/telecom/bbrouterproblems.html 

          Disclaimer :
          There is a chance you can brick your router if something goes wrong, also this can then void your guarantee / warranty of your router.

          So by flashing the firmware of your router you  do so at your own risk 

          punj

          Saturday, 23 October 2010

          Motherboard faulty bad capacitor repair

          We would like to thank the original author of this review at www.punj.co.uk for granting us permission to publish this  particular blog content. The original contents of the review can be found at http://www.punj.co.uk/punjwebfiles/electronics/mbbadcap.html 

          Motherboard faulty bad capacitor repair

          On this page we are going to show you an example of bad capacitors on a computer motherboard. We will discuss the motherboard specification, the symptoms of this problematic board and the final repair outcome of this motherboard.

          BioStar Motherboard

          We were recently given a computer which would give occasional BSOD (Blue screen of death) and always provided grainy poor quality video. The computer would also when shutting down not completely switch off. Although the computer was switched off the power LED would remain on and you could then not switch the computer back on. The only way to switch the PC back on was to un-plug the PC from the wall socket and plug the supply back on. The PC would then boot up again until the next shutdown. Any good graphic applications would always cause a BSOD (Blue screen of death) using either the internal graphics GPU or the use of any add on graphics card.

          On opening the computer casing we noted that the motherboard was a Biostar GeForce 6100-M9 with an AMD Athlon 3000+ 64 bit socket 939 CPU. The main memory ram installed was 1GB with a Western Digital 80GB IDE hard disk drive. Apart from the above symptoms the computer ran fine.

          Straight away we noticed when looking at the main motherboard that quite a few of the electrolytic capacitors looked bad. Actual component testing on today's modern circuit boards can be quite difficult without test instruments. The use of specialist test meters and equipment is the only way to satisfactorily test components.

          Not everyone will have access to the specialist test equipment. We can however sometimes assume failure of some components by visually looking at these components.

          Visual checking of a capacitor to determine failure is one example where an electrolytic capacitor will look different to a good electrolytic capacitor on a circuit board.

          For a basic understanding of what a capacitor is and what it does you can either google for more information or you can visit our web page http://www.punj.co.uk/punjwebfiles/electronics/basicelectronics.html 

          Below the image on the left shows what a good capacitor should look like. On the right image we show an example of a bad capacitor. You will notice that the bad capacitor casing on top is bloated where as the good capacitor on the top is completely flat.

          Good Capacitor     Bad Capacitor

          Image on the left shows a Good Capacitor     ----     Image on the right shows a Bad Capacitor

          You may also notice that a bad capacitor has leaked from the top or bottom with its electrolytic content. Capacitors can also go bad and show no visible signs. The only way to test a capacitor which shows no visible signs of failure is to measure the capacitors ESR and capacitance value using an ESR meter. You can read our review on a great budget meter called an ESR Micro which can be used for the correct method for testing capacitors on http://www.punj.co.uk/punjwebfiles/electronics/microesr.html

          On our motherboard we had five 3300uf 6.3V capacitors located near to the CPU and two 1000uf 6.3V capacitors elsewhere on the board showing the bulging effect of a bad capacitor.

          bad caps near cpu

          As you can see on the image above the five capacitors which are next to the CPU heat sink are bulging with some signs of electrolytic leakage.

          It is advisable prior to removing the capacitors to make a sketch or take photographs of where the capacitors are located on the motherboard. The last thing you would want is to forget which capacitor came from which location on the motherboard. You certainly don't want to be putting in the wrong capacitors in the wrong location of the motherboard. You must also take your time and double check each task when carrying these procedures.

          Removing capacitors on modern motherboards can be quite tricky. Most modern motherboards are made of multiple layers interconnecting each layer. Care must taken that the layers not visible on a motherboard are not damaged when soldering or de-soldering. When removing these components the soldering iron must be clean and hot enough to melt the solder but not to hot that it will cause heat damage to the circuit board tracks which may be visible or located within the un-visible layers of the board. A good tip is to heat the lead of the capacitor and wiggle and pull on one side then heat the other lead and do the same to that. Eventually the capacitor will come out. The other problem you may encounter is once the capacitor has been removed the component hole is completely blocked with solder. Our tip to unblock these holes is to apply some more solder on the blocked hole and then use a solder sucker tool to suck the solder out of the hole. If you find that the solder sucker is not totally unblocking the component hole then pushing a stainless steel needle into the hole while holding the hot soldering iron on to the blocked hole sometimes helps. The hot solder should not stick to the stainless steel needle and therefore this tip should work.

          Below we provide an image of the motherboard with the capacitors removed.

          Caps removed

          Once the capacitors have been removed you should inspect the motherboard with a magnifying glass to ensure that no solder that should have been removed is shorting the board. If all looks well then you are ready for the next procedure.

          If you look at the image above, of the motherboard with the removed capacitors you will notice where the capacitors came out there is a symbol of a circle with one side coloured white. This white coloured area shows us the polarity of the capacitor to be negative on this white coloured side. The polarity of the capacitor is very important for the correct function of the capacitor.

          On our motherboard we chose our replacement of capacitors manufactured by Panasonic and Nichicon. We wanted to ensure our replacement capacitors were sourced from reputable manufactures. We chose the same value capacitance and voltage for our replacement capacitors. You can use higher voltage capacitors but you should ensure that the capacitor leads are not to thick to put back into the motherboard component hole. 
          Once the new capacitors have been put into the motherboard always double check before soldering that the correct values have been used. It is quite easy to confuse and mistakenly use a 100uf capacitor instead of the correct value 1000uf. Also check that you have inserted correctly the polarity of the capacitor.

          new caps on mb

          Above you will see an image of the motherboard with the new replaced capacitors.
          On completion of the soldering task you may want to clean the excess flux deposits left behind by the soldering. We normally use a cotton bud dipped into alcohol which works fine for us. Now is also a good time to re-check the new capacitors to ensure that the correct values have been used and that the motherboard is clean and ready for re-installation.

          On re-installation of the motherboard into the PC tower case we ensured that all the add on cards and memory went back into the same slots as originally found prior to stripping out the motherboard. If you do end up using a different slot for your add on card or memory you may find that the PC will not re-boot until you have cleared the CMOS and loaded the default factory settings. Your motherboard manual should help to locate the correct jumper on the motherboard to clear CMOS if you find you have a blank screen.

          For us the motherboard switched on straight away and booted straight in to the XP operating system with out any problems. We used Everest to stress test our repaired motherboard for two hours without encountering any problems.

          On completion we decided to test the faulty removed capacitors using the ESR Micro V4 for measuring the capacitance and ESR readings.

          A good 3300uf capacitor should give us a measured capacitance reading of the same value subject to the manufactures tolerance of about 10% either side of the tolerance value. We would also expect the ESR measured reading to be approximately 0.02 ohms. Testing the removed bulging capacitors gave us typical measured readings of 138uf capacitance and an ESR measurement of 36 ohms for the 3300uf capacitor. This clearly showed that these capacitors were faulty and if left in their current state they could have caused more severe problems to other components on the motherboard.

          In our final conclusion we can say that replacing the bad capacitors on this motherboard completely resolved our previous problematic issues. Our motherboard seems also quicker in load times and faster over all.

          The whole cost of the five 3300uf 16V and two 1000uf 16V capacitors was under £6.00 GBP including shipping. The whole task of replacing the capacitors took approximately forty five minutes.

          We hope our readers have enjoyed this article on replacement of faulty bad capacitors on computer motherboards and will come back to www.punj.co.uk for our views on more technological products.

          punj