TideLog Archive for May, 2013

Western Digital make really good hard drives, but where their Elements, Passport and MyBook drives are concerned, they’ve taken a wrong turn. The 2.5″ versions all have proprietary PCB’s on the drives themselves, so there’s no standard micro SATA data and power connectors like you’d expect. The USB connector and LED, plus the interface controller, are on the single board as well! This means you can’t just take the drive out and connect it to another USB to SATA enclosure.

A lot of very modern WD Elements, MyBook and Passport enclosures are now also encrypted, meaning the data can only be accessed when the control board is functioning correctly. In this article I’ll show you how to recover data from a WD Passport (laptop sized drive) enclosure, if the USB connector gets damaged.

1. Disassemble the enclosure, remove the drive, then remove the PCB from the bottom of the drive using a Torx screwdriver.

2. Flip the drive board over, you’ll see the following capacitors. Remove them using a soldering iron or a heatgun, being careful not to overheat or damage anything:

usb-only-western-digital-drive-capacitors

3. Next you need to take a standard SATA connector from another drive, or from a parts supplier (eBay has them in droves, search for COMAX SATA connector). Once you have it, take a look at it, you’ll see long pins and short pins. All the long ones are GROUND pins:

sata-connector-ground-pins

4. From the back side of the PCB (the componentless side which faces away from the drive when fitted), you will see pins E71, E72, E73 and E74, these belong to the SATA data pins. The other four pins marked with a red square belong to ground pins:

usb-only-western-digital-drive-E-pins

5. Now solder everything together, using this pinout:

E71 – Tx+
E72 – Tx-
E73 – Rx-
E74 – Rx+

The SATA standard uses two lines, a positive and negative, for Data TX (Transmit), and two for Data RX (Recieve), each having a separate ground on the ground lines. Use my picture below as a wiring reference:

usb-only-western-digital-drive-finished-wiring

Now all you need to do is use a standard USB cable to power the drive (if your connector is broken you can try soldering the power lines of a USB cable to the port power pins), connect via SATA to your PC, and it should work. NOTE: This WILL NOT work if your drive uses encryption, as that runs through the USB data lines, because we’re bypassing it, it won’t work.

You may get some “USB device not recognized” errors. Try connecting the SATA drive to a SATA hotplug port, connecting the data cable first, then the power, once Windows has started. Hotplug ports are usually purple or orange, it depends on the board manufacturer, Gigabytes are purple.

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Kana and myself were going through the massive inventory of props and costumes in her studio collection, and we came across this really sexy Goddess or Witch costume (neither of us could determine what it was, it even looks like a sexy bellydancer’s type of outfit :)). I wanted Kana to try it on, but the skirt was too long for her, it seems to be designed for a tall girl. A friend of mine called Jennie is one of the girls who was willing to audition for Supergirl wrestling, she’s been a tailor and garment repairer in the past, she’d also come along to help sort Kana’s inventory out to see what repairs needed doing, so she popped it on, and what a stunning angel it made her:

Jennie-the-sexy-Witch

I love it when a girl wears a skirt or dress with a slit down one side, showing a naughty bit of leg off, it’s so sensual 😉 I’m not sure if we’ll be using this costume in our Superheroine site yet, but we’ve definitely got a Lara Croft outfit in stock, and it’s pretty hot. It’s actually a good storyline with Lara: She’s good at raiding tombs, she’s fit, powerful, feisty, not easily manipulated. Supergirl lives in a lair, possibly a cave type dwelling, so Lara is the perfect girl to go fish her out, but they both won’t come out clean 🙂 It’s the perfect combination of girls in capes and shorts, guns, and lots of mess. I personally want to see Lara trick Supergirl into a pit full of sticky thick, sweet honey…..

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I had this problem suddenly pop up on me. My 3GS is jailbroken on iOS 5.01, it was all perfect until about two weeks ago. Every time I fully switch the phone off and then on again either using the power switch or because the battery went flat, with just WiFi and the cellular active, the phone would constantly crash at the home screen after two minutes, and reboot. It didn’t matter if I logged in using my passcode, or left it sat at the passcode screen, it still did it. If I was quick enough to log in using my passcode and launch an app, it still rebooted while the app was starting or running. The funny thing was, if I left it, it would stop the reboot cycle after about 20 or 30 reboots, and I could use it as normal, until it was fully powered off again, then the whole dance started again.

This whole thing is bad for the phone, as it’ll be constantly thrashing the flash chip, as it always does disk checks on sudden resets (you’ll know when it’s doing a disk check as the Apple logo stays on for AGES, it HASN’T crashed, leave it, it will continue, if you have a lot of data and apps it’ll take a while), this will run the chip into the ground if not put right, and you’ll lose all your data and settings if you don’t use iCloud backup. I don’t care about the phone, it can be replaced, but data can’t, so I always keep my phone backed up via iCloud. All I have to do is have it plugged in and connected to WiFi at night while I sleep, with the phone in sleep, and it backs up automatically.

I delved into the system logs, and there were a ton of kernel panic logs, all within three minutes of each other, for all 20 times it had rebooted, all with “WDT timeout” errors in. Now I’m going to get a little technical to explain what WDT is. It stands for WatchDog Timer, and all processors have them, they can also be software, as part of an OS. It monitors system processes, and internal chip functions, so for example if a computer CPU isn’t functioning or one of its subsystems isn’t working (the floating point unit isn’t working, not responding correctly, or reports a fault, for example), the watchdog timer pulls a reset on the CPU and motherboard circuitry by pulling the resistance on a reset pin of the processor high, resetting the device completely including all subsystem circuitry. You cannot reset a CPU without the whole system being rebooted, the motherboard components would be put into an unstable state, software would crash, and can actually allow exploits!

So, I did a bit of playing around with my phone, and I actually switched Airplane mode on, also turning Wi-Fi off. I rebooted, and the problem STOPPED! I switched just WiFi on and the phone stayed on. The trouble was I couldn’t use the phone, if I disabled Airplane mode fully it would reset again. So I had narrowed the fault down to the cellular section. The next phase was troubleshooting whether it was hardware or software, so because I have regular iCloud backups, I went into Settings-General-Reset-Reset all settings.

DO NOT, and I repeat, DO NOT, use the Reset All Data & Settings option when Jailbroken, it will brick your phone and you’ll need to do a DFU reset, if you have no recent backups you WILL lose data. Using the Reset Settings Only option is SAFE, I have used it on customer phones many times.

My phone is now settings reset, and seems to be staying on, it is in the middle of restoring apps, messages, contacts and data…. The thing that makes me feel good as a phone repairer is I did it all on my own, no forums or Apple “Genius”es needed, we all know what clowns they are 😉

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