Reviving a brick

Ralph Siemsen ralphs at
Fri Feb 5 18:24:32 EST 2010

Hi Ben,

On Sat, Feb 06, 2010 at 09:40:41AM +1100, Ben Williamson wrote:
> I dusted off a Netwinder DM that's been idle for about a year. The front
> panel LED comes on steady and the disk and fan spin up, but no other signs
> of life. No keyboard LED, no video, no beep.

Odd, usually the problem is the hard disk won't spin up, drawing too
much current and preventing the rest from working.  Sounds like this is
not the case here.  Note, there is no beep on the ARM netwinder.

You could try the serial port, see if you see any output there.  If the
first block of flash is intact, it is possible to serially load a kernel
and then recover the rest of the firmware.

I'd also suggest checking the power supply - should be 12V 1A, although
some of the early ones went out with 9V ones (mostly to Europe, AFAIK).

> I'm sure this box booted last time I got it out about a year ago, and I
> don't think I've done anything silly with it since then. Is it really
> possible that the flash contents has just decayed over time? It would be >
> 10yrs since the flash was written.

I suppose anything is possible, but I've never seen that happen.

> Anyway, any advice on reviving the brick? Parallel port JTAG hackery is an
> option, but I've no idea where to start for JTAG driver software or for
> flash images to download.

I have a very homebrew JTAG cable and highly fragile software, dating back
to the Corel days.  I tried to get OpenOCD working a while ago, didn't
make too much progress.


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