BIOS help for Dell Inspiron 1501

Discussion in 'BIOS Mods' started by Skeetmann, Oct 30, 2010.

  1. Skeetmann

    Skeetmann MDL Novice

    Oct 27, 2010
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    Howdy:

    I need some help with an interesting dilemma...I have a Dell Inspiron 1501 with BIOS version 263 (latest)...have been running Win 7 with Daz' 1.7 loader. Needed to run WATFix.exe and WAT removal...one of the programs messed with the BIOS and makes an Optiarc DVD player show up as Opl`';] (various symbols inserted) ]]]] in the BIOS. Now, the computer locks when just starting into the Win 7 welcome screen. Interestingly, if I remove the DVD player, the computer will boot into Win7 fine. I cannot put the DVD player into the computer running Win (or even safe mode) b/c that action will lock the computer up again. I have re-started multiple times and this will not fix itself even with Win 7 repair.

    At first, I thought I'd be clever and just flash the BIOS using the Dell exe; however, I have Win 7 64-bit and the Dell exe is 32-bit. So, it will not run and produces error codes. I then tried to run the Dell exe in compatibility mode and tried all of the options, producing the same error. I then thought I'd be clever and try to restore the computer, but still locks on boot-up. Next, I thought I'd try to look around for a 64-bit flasher from Phoenix and then just insert the Dell BIOS .rom (or wph) file, but b/c Dell makes the flasher an .exe, that will not work. I then called Phoenix and spoke to an engineer who said he really had no suggestions since they just produced the basic BIOS for Dell and that he really had no good ideas. I then called Dell and asked if they had a DOS version of the BIOS so I could flash the BIOS in DOS (and avoid the whole 32 versus 64-bit conflict), but Dell doesn't have a DOS BIOS version--even though the website says the .exe is both an exe and DOS compatible. Dell's highest technical support stated no DOS version exists.

    I have also thought about re-setting the DVD player's firmware via Sony/NEC (who makes the drive), but since this is an internal drive, I have no way to hook it up to a computer to allow the firmware to be updated/re-established; although, a converter to allow the slim drive to be hooked up via SATA/USB is available from a company called Addonics, which I may try if all else fails.

    Does anyone have any ideas on how I can either flash the BIOS in DOS or how I can open up the Dell exe and then use a 64-bit Phoenix flasher to select just the .rom or wph from the Dell executable? Or, does anyone have a better idea than what I've come up with? Any suggestions or thoughts or work-arounds would be greatly appreciated!

    Oh, yes, Dell offered to extend my warranty for a mere $300, which I declined.

    I really would appreciate some thoughts/work-around on this dilemma.

    So far, I think re-flashing the BIOS is my best best--if someone can figure out how to do that; next is buying the connection converter to re-establish the DVD player's firmware and see if that prompts the BIOS to identify it correctly again; next is buying a new DVD drive on eBay and see if the new drive will prompt the BIOS to identify the drive correctly and allow the computer to boot into Windows;

    I have also removed the CMOS battery, which did nothing and Dell has said clearing the CMOS is not possible in the laptop.

    Any thoughts on all of this???

    Thanks so much, in advance!

    David
     
  2. shakeyplace

    shakeyplace MDL Addicted

    May 5, 2007
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    The flashable.rom is located in the executable from 1E284h - 11F339h inclusive for a file size of 1,052,854 bytes but I find it hard to believe it corrupted your bios, more likely the registry.
    If you run the executable on another 32 bit machine it will extract flashable.rom along with other required for flashing in a 32 bit environment in the same directory the executable is run, the you can use a 64 bit phoenix flasher
    I still doubt it corrupted your bios though, perhaps just re-install windows from scratch...
    If you suspect it is the dvd drive's firmware that is corrupt then you would need to re-flash the dvd drive, not the laptop
    You could also try booting from a linux live cd or a winpe disk to check the status of the dvd drive or flash from a 32 bit environment..
     
  3. Skeetmann

    Skeetmann MDL Novice

    Oct 27, 2010
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    Shakeyplace...thank you so much for the reply! Excellent thoughts you have. A bit of an update and your additional thoughts would be appreciated! I did extract the whole package and found the FlashBL.rom. I then attempted to use the 64-bit flasher from Phoenix with that FlashBL.rom. It didn't work! To trouble shoot, I downloaded both the flasher and the Dell BIOS again and tried it all again, with the same result. Hmmm... Also, I thought about the idea that the Registry is corrupt versus the BIOS. I'm still convinced that the BIOS is corrupted because where the BIOS hands off to Windows is when it hangs. As far as I think, it doesn't seem like Windows is even started yet; although, I don't know what process/protocol has started that is un-seen to the user. Also, I wonder why the BIOS shows a set of symbols for the DVD drive when it used to recognize it correctly prior to using WATfix and watremover. Lastly, as a thought, I'm confused why the DVD will not read any sort of start-up disk, such as Acronis or a Win7 start-up DVD like it should when the BIOS begins its hand-off...any thoughts about that? Thanks for your thoughts and input! I'd really appreciate any additional thoughts or ideas!
     
  4. shakeyplace

    shakeyplace MDL Addicted

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  5. Skeetmann

    Skeetmann MDL Novice

    Oct 27, 2010
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    ...okay...I have some new information: 1) I have gone into the registry and deleted all of the optiarc entries I found...there were 2 that I couldn't delete even by changing the permissions. 2) I went into the BIOS and re-configured it so it boots from the HDD first and the DVD last. Upon re-boot with the it completes the POST and I do get the Win7 screen (with the colored dots coming into focus and then arranging into the MS Logo...meanwhile, the HDD is blinking away...at some point soon thereafter, the DVD is pinged--at which point the computer locks up entirely and only a power switch depression will shut down the computer. I have also verified this similar outcome with the DVD player when trying to boot into Safe Mode--as the screen is cycling through files, it get down to...win sys32 driver classpnp.sys and the computer locks.

    I attempted a Win7 startup repair...interestingly, 4 files were found as "root causes". They were: win sys32 slmgr.vbs, " " sppcomapi.dll " " systemcpl.dll, and " " winver.exe. I copied all of these files from a working unit and replaced them in the laptop. No luck. Same exact errors when trying to boot.

    In the BIOS, the Optiarc DVD is identified as: "opliirk LVL +/- ZWLAL" I think the correct entry is more akin to Optiarc DVD +/- A5440A" or something more similar to that.

    Next, I have attempted to flash the extracted Dell BIOS Flashabl.rom using two different versions of the 64-bit Phoenix flasher: 1) WinPhlash 64-bit, version 1.0.2.5 and 1.0.3.7. Both produce the same error message, which is: "Image file %s is either no valid or is damaged. Platform signature not found in the interface. Erro code:-103".

    I'm not a BIOS guy, and I'll fully admit this may be my incompetence in using a Phoenix flasher--I've used AWARD almost exclusively. Although, the Phoenix flasher seems pretty intuitive where to navigate to in order to tell it where to find the Dell ROM and where to save the old BIOS. I cannot get into the Advanced settings of the flasher. It seems to start and then I get the exact error message aforementioned.

    I hope this offers a more detailed explanation and illustration of what I'm experiencing. I never would have guessed this would have ever gotten this complex and I'm perplexed...heck, at this point, I tend to agree that the DVD firmware needs to be re-established, but I can't connect it to anything to re-flash it since it's a slim drive and only connects to the laptop. I cannot re-install anything b/c I cannot boot from the DVD drive. I'm not sure why the BIOS lists the DVD drive incorrectly.

    Any thoughts of what to try next? I'm not against using a modded BIOS, but I've never done anything like that and I'd hate to try to download tons of apps and try to learn my way through that just to solve this, but I'm not completely against that either, if it solves this problem!

    Thanks so much, in advance!
     
  6. Skeetmann

    Skeetmann MDL Novice

    Oct 27, 2010
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    ...the DVD drive is not, unfortunately, SATA, which leads me to my problem hooking it up to another computer to re-flash the firmware of the drive. Any thoughts about that? Besides this, I have no ideas: (won't show up since I have less than 20 posts, but Addonics and slimedrive converter and you'll find it via Google).
    Yes, I was running WinPhash as an administrator when trying to use it. Any thoughts about the error message?

    Thanks, once again.
     
  7. shakeyplace

    shakeyplace MDL Addicted

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  8. Skeetmann

    Skeetmann MDL Novice

    Oct 27, 2010
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    Okay, here's an update: 1) I disabled Autorun. The laptop still hangs/locks-up when booting up, specifically, when it pings the DVD. 2) I have downloaded the modded BIOS. I tried the flasher that came with it, but that will not work on Win 7 Ultimate, 64-bit. Same error as before, which is the program is not meant for the version I'm trying to run it on. 3) I did take one of the 64-bit flashers I found online and tried both the Dell BIOS and the modded BIOS. The flasher actually starts and runs for a few seconds and then produces an error saying the image is not valid and the winphlash.sys is not accessible. I have run the flasher as Admin, so I'm not sure what the .sys issue comes into play. Also, I've looked around, and there's no apparent way to set the permissions for the .sys file. If you know how to change the permissions, that might help. 4) I also looked at running the winphash.exe from DOS, but in order to that, I'll have to make a flashdrive bootable. I'll have to read the tutorials on that since I've never done that before. Is a work-around to put the winphlash.exe on the root drive and boot into dos from a floppy and then run the flasher from the C: drive? That might be easier than me reading tutorials on how to partition and make a flashdrive bootable. But, I'm open at this point! I think that's all I can come up as an update. Any suggestions on proceeding forward at this point?

    Thanks so much!
     
  9. shakeyplace

    shakeyplace MDL Addicted

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  10. Skeetmann

    Skeetmann MDL Novice

    Oct 27, 2010
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    ...okay...after days of trying this, I'll have to admit this is not working...I have downloaded the HP tool and formatted a flash drive and then copied over the two files in the MiniDos folder. However, the flash drive is not bootable. What am I missing on this since the instructions on how to do this are less than clear, in my opinion? Also, I thought I'd just boot up into DOS from an existing floppy and then use the winphlash.exe. However, I get an error message that winphlash.exe cannot be run in DOS. I've also set the BIOS to boot from USB devices first, but no USB ports are accessible in DOS. How would I get around that obstacle? Any assistance would be appreciated. Thanks.
     
  11. Skeetmann

    Skeetmann MDL Novice

    Oct 27, 2010
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    Okay...another update...I cannot get winphlash to run in DOS. I have, however, gotten some new information: 1) I did get the laptop to boot into Win 7 with the DVD player in it. In Device Manager, the Opticarc DVD Writer shows up as a generic CD player with no driver loaded and disabled. Even when uninstalling it in Win 7 and allowing Windows to find it, it shows up as a generic CD player with no drivers. Upon re-boot, same thing as before--the computer locks up after pinging the DVD player. Interesting, huh? Of interest, as well, I looked at the player ID in Device Manager and it shows the same as I listed before with the funny symbols and such. So, the firmware of the player is at fault--not the BIOS.

    Next, since I could sort of have the laptop booted up and running and have the player installed, I tried to re-flash the firmware of the DVD player using the exe from Dell. Interestingly, the Sony (Optiarc) updater does not see the player itself. Dang it! I'm stuck out in the cold again!

    So, since I can't seem to flash the BIOS in DOS using either the original Dell BIOS or the modded bios--get error image file %s is either damaged or corrupted. Platform signature not found in the interface error.

    Next, I have restored an Acronis Image that contained the correct registry inforamtion and the computer still locks at the same exact point in the boot-up process, which to me, strongly suggests it's the player firmware that's causing all of this.

    Does anyone know how to refresh the player firmware in DOS or differently? Since I cannot use the Sony .exe since the player can't be recognized in the updater itself?

    If I can't refresh the player firmware, it seems buying a optiarc player via Ebay might be the best course of action, huh?

    Any thoughts, please?
     
  12. tqhoang

    tqhoang MDL BIOS Modder

    Apr 29, 2008
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    #13 tqhoang, Nov 14, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2010
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  13. Skeetmann

    Skeetmann MDL Novice

    Oct 27, 2010
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    ...okay...cool...thanks...read through the site...quick question: if the drive isn't recognized correctly in the BIOS or even in Windows, how can I flash the firmware? I tried to use the Windows version of the NEC Bin flash, but it says there is not NEC drive in the computer. I have downloaded the DOS version, but have not tried to re-flash the firmware and wanted to understand how I would even recognize it in DOS if it's not recognized correctly in the BIOS itself. Thoughts? Thanks.
     
  14. tqhoang

    tqhoang MDL BIOS Modder

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    #15 tqhoang, Nov 14, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2010
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  15. Skeetmann

    Skeetmann MDL Novice

    Oct 27, 2010
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    ...good questions! The label on the DVD Drive says it's a Sony NEC Optiarc AD-5540A. The Dell website, by using my model number of the laptop or the Tag number, shows the drive as a Optiarc 5560A. So, to answer your question, I'm not entirely sure; although, I'd tend to think the label on the drive is the more correct information. So, at this point, I'm going with the NEC flash utility and using the Dell supplied firmware, if that sounds okay to you.

    Regarding the drive being messed up, I agree. If the drive is in the laptop upon boot-up, the OS locks-up as soon as the drive gets pinged by the OS. By removing the drive completely, the laptop boots up/works perfectly.

    Upon boot-up, the BIOS identifies the drive as: Opliirk LVL+-ZWLAL (various symbols). I know from booting up the computer for years, the drive should be identified as: Optiarc DVD RW+- AD5540A. Also, based upon all of my trial and error/experimenting, I can assume the firmware or drive is shot! I can slide the drive into the laptop during a Windows transition during boot-up and get Win 7 to operate with the drive in the slot. The drive is un-usable with CD or DVDs, but will open, close, and try to read discs when they are inserted. Also, the drive shows up in Device Manager as a generic CD, but has no drivers installed. Un-installing the drive and letting Windows find it again results in the same result as a generic CD with no drivers. This same scenario occurs in Safe Mode. Using Liggys 64-bit Win GUI flasher, the flasher says it cannot identify a drive that it can flash.

    I don't mind trying to flash it in DOS, but am un-sure how that will work if the drive and the BIOS cannot even identify it correctly. Thus, how can I force the DOS flasher to flash a firmware when it cannot even ID the drive?

    Also, can I ask another question? What connector is the slim drive? It's not IDE or SATA I know that. I never SCSI devices, but it doesn't look like SCSI either.

    Is there anyway to reset the firmware like the CMOS, by chance? Also, I wonder if there's a USB-type converter out there where I could hook the drive up to another computer via USB and then force the NEC flasher upon it.

    Your thoughts? Lastly, Dell sells a re-furbished unit for about 69 dollars and used drives are about 25 dollars...any experience or thoughts on which might be better?

    Thanks a bunch!
     
  16. Skeetmann

    Skeetmann MDL Novice

    Oct 27, 2010
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    Also...I forgot to mention that the NEC -scan command shows no devices. I assume that's not a good sign, huh? Do you think BIN flash might result in a different outcome? Interestingly, the drive does show up in Device Manager as a generic CDROM. Weird, huh?
     
  17. tqhoang

    tqhoang MDL BIOS Modder

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    #18 tqhoang, Nov 14, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2010
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  18. Skeetmann

    Skeetmann MDL Novice

    Oct 27, 2010
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    I ran it with the verbose output. It said it was querying the E: drive, which is a virtual drive by Elby (shows up in Device Manager as SCSI drive). It found the Virtual drive (Elby) and showed nothing else. The DVD drive does not show up in devices in Computer.

    To answer your question, I ran Remove WAT. I know it was at fault because I ran Remove WAT once and it did the same thing to the DVD Drive and wouldn't boot...luckily, the first time, I had to run fix boot via Win 7 and it somehow managed to fix it...upon re-boot, the DVD Drive was correctly identified in both the BIOS and in Device Manager. Of course, I had to re-run Remove WAT and promptly ran into this issue that I have been trying to un-due ever since.

    At first (as you can read in the initial posts), I thought the BIOS had been messed up, which was why I was trying to re-flash it. As I have experimented on this and tried a lot of different things, I think I have surmised it was the firmware in the DVD Drive that got hosed, don't you think? Of course, now the issue is how to flash the drive firmware since it doesn't show up as identifiable by the flashing utilities itself. I'm not sure how the BIOS knows it's a DVD drive (shows up under CD/DVD drives in BIOS settings), but yet it is identified incorrectly and furthermore, shows up as a generic CD in Win7 Ultimate. Even if I get the adapter, I wonder if the drive would even show up enough to get the firmware updater to flash it back into existence...does that make sense? I hope so. That is all I can think of right now. Did that address all of the outstanding issues?

    Thanks for your time and thoughts on this matter.
     
  19. tqhoang

    tqhoang MDL BIOS Modder

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    #20 tqhoang, Nov 15, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2010
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