Dell M6500 Problem

Discussion in 'BIOS Mods' started by catgirl, Jan 15, 2014.

  1. catgirl

    catgirl MDL Novice

    Jan 15, 2014
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    Hi Guys,

    This is going to sound like a sob story, but it is what it is.

    I updated my system to A10 bios because it said "recommended", related to security issues. Just my luck (heres the sob story) My less than year old battery was bad and the apartment just happened to have a power outage just while I was in the middle of the update. So now I have a dead system.

    All I have been reading in google space ( most of which points to MDL) talks about a "crisis recovery mode". I can get the system into this mode:

    1) End key depressed and held, plug power, release while Battery indicator amber.
    2) System Battery indicator will then alternate between blue and amber.
    3) No drives in the system. (recommended by the Dell Tech)
    4) System will briefly read the USB Stick (tried format /FS: Fat32 X:, Bootable, and just formatted).
    5) File on stick is the hdr output from the Dell M6500A10.exe -writehdrfile, M6500A10.hdr
    6) Let sit for 20 minutes, nothing.
    7) Called Dell, paid 75 bucks to have a 2.5 hour call of this guy finding 2 pages stating the very same thing found here. Seems they don't even know how the meaning of the term "bootable", whether it the stick can boot if formatted or it has system on it.

    So the question is, Do you guys know what Dell forgot about the process?


    1st Dell Document:

    1. On a separate functional computer, download the BIOS flash for the troubled system and save it to the C: drive. Open a Command Prompt.

    2. At the prompt, type c: and press <Enter>. At the C: prompt, type biosflashname –writehdrfile. (or biosflashname /writeomfile if you receive an error) This will create an .HDR with the same file name as the BIOS flash. The HDR file will end up in the same location as the BIOS flash executable was ran from, the C: drive.

    3. Copy the .hdr file from C: to a bootable USB key.

    4. Remove AC adapter from the system to be recovered. The battery can stay in.

    5. Insert the USB key into any open USB port on the notebook.

    6. Hold down the <End >key while inserting the AC adapter. One of the system LEDs (most likely the battery status LED) will flash amber. Release the <End > key within one or two seconds of the amber LED turning on. NOTE: If the <End > key is not released within one or two seconds of the amber LED turning on, the system will abort crisis recovery mode, and will instead attempt to boot normally. If you this correctly, the NUM, CAP, and SCROLL lock lights should all come on and the fan should spin at high speed.

    7. The BIOS will be automatically updated. When the operation is complete, the system will shut itself off.

    2nd Dell Document:

    Crisis Recovery Procedure

    Once the BIOS .ZIP file is obtained from Agile as referenced by the SWB extract the .ZIP to obtain the .CAP or .HDR files.

    Prepare a USB Key


    1. Format the USB Key to FAT32 (if needed). NOTE: Formatting the key will delete all data from the key. Open a CMD (Command Window) - START->RUN->CMD

    1. Run the following command "format /FS:FAT32 X:" where X is the letter of the USB key from the command prompt.
    2. Copy the BIOS Crisis recovery file (.CAP or .HDR file) to the USB key. NOTE: Do not mix multiple crisis recovery files on a single key, each file is specific to a platform.
    3. Insert the USB containing the BIOS Recovery file into the system to be recovered without AC power connected (Refer to the Screenshots below if necessary).
    4. Depress the <END> on the keyboard and do not release it
    5. Connect AC power to the system
    6. Now with AC power connected to the system release the <END> key
    7. After releasing the <END> key the system will power up automatically with nothing showing on the screen.
    8. Wait roughly 3-8 minutes for the system to attempt recovery. If the USB utilized has an LED indicator you can see that the key is being accessed after about 1-2 minutes as the recovery file is being loaded. If there is no response after 10 minute power down the system and repeat the process.
    9. Once successfully recovered you should see a Dell logo on the screen and the system should be functional again.
     
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  2. tqhoang

    tqhoang MDL BIOS Modder

    Apr 29, 2008
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    #2 tqhoang, Jan 15, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2014
    The Precision Mobile M6500 requires the Dell HDR Recovery method. The Phoenix Crisis Recovery is only for regular Phoenix BIOS'es, not the standard Dell-Phoenix ones.

    Couple things to note:
    1. The M6500 HDR recovery filename needs to in a DOS 7.3 format, matching either of these wildcards (note the dot is a character).
    - M6500???HDR
    or
    - REEBOK??HDR
    Ex: "M6500XX.HDR" should work.

    2. When you hold the END key and plug in the power cable, if the battery LED on the keyboard changes to amber then it looks like it's starting the HDR recovery procedure ok. The fans should kick on high and the recovery should only take a minute or two at most.

    3. Try all of the USB ports (namely the ones on the back of the laptop).


    P.S. Coincidentally I had a user PM me looking for an M6500 A10 mod to update the Intel OROM to support SSD TRIM. I have the BIOS to try if you get the HDR recovery to work.
     
  3. tonto11

    tonto11 MDL Addicted

    Jun 18, 2012
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    #3 tonto11, Jan 15, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2014
    Welcome to MDL.
    You put your finger on an issue on which there is a lot of discussion, put no clear path forward for some of us.
    This thread will give you an example:
    http://forums.mydigitallife.net/threads/50806-HDR-name-and-bios-recovery-for-Dell-M4600

    Good luck with your search for a recovery process that works.
    In my own case I've got a custom bios, and I want to revert to the original
    but I can't seem to get there from here
    fortunately my custom bios still works well
    so I don't have a brick

    Update:
    Using a usb floppy I was today able to restore the A06 bios from the header
    http://forums.mydigitallife.net/thr...ll-M4600/page8?p=864616&viewfull=1#post864616

    ...T
     
  4. tqhoang

    tqhoang MDL BIOS Modder

    Apr 29, 2008
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    Were you running the *FINAL* version of my D610 A51 BIOS?

    If not, perhaps you need to use the D510's HDR recovery filename (D510????HDR or TAHT????HDR)? Ex: D510A04.HDR
     
  5. catgirl

    catgirl MDL Novice

    Jan 15, 2014
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    Ok so do you think if the filename is M6500A10.hdr;

    is it M6500A1.hdr or,
    is it M650010.hdr

    I guess I'm not following the ?? question marks, I'm assuming that it has something to do with the version being loaded?
     
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  6. tqhoang

    tqhoang MDL BIOS Modder

    Apr 29, 2008
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    The '?' is a single wildcard character, so you only have enough room for 7 chars in the main filename + 1 dot char + "HDR" extension.

    So the filename that was created during HDR extraction is too big for recovery. Try this and let me know: "M6500XX.HDR"
     
  7. catgirl

    catgirl MDL Novice

    Jan 15, 2014
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    No luck on the "M6500XX.HDR.

    Btw: whats the "REEBOK", and whats the format we are supposed to use for the flash drive?

    512 byte clusters, 4096, don't matter?

    System bootable, or just physically being boot compatible.

    MSDOS, FREEDOS, win98, ?

    I'm definitely hitting the USB stick, just nothing there it's expecting....The ""format /FS:FAT32 X:"" above is from Dell and their not saying anything about booting.
     
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  8. catgirl

    catgirl MDL Novice

    Jan 15, 2014
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    Funny I have the same, an old 512mb sandisk, but I did the fat32 as Dell doc said, and its the "format /FS: Fat32" from CMD prompt.

    Fans kick on high, batt indicator alternates blue to amber on .75 sec intervals, then one "seek" to the stick for 1 sec, then just the alternating led, ran it last night for an hour. Tried all USB ports, same response / action from all ports.

    Tried the following:

    M6500XX.hdr
    M650010.hdr
    M6500A1.hdr
    M6500XXX.hdr
    M6500A10.hdr
    REEBOKX.hdr
    REEBOK10.hdr
    REEBOKA1.hdr
    REEBOKXX.hdr


    Got to be something simple we are missing...
     
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  9. catgirl

    catgirl MDL Novice

    Jan 15, 2014
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    Would'nt that be a hoot if the m6500 was expecting a 1.44mb floppy via usb for a 2mb file!
     
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  10. catgirl

    catgirl MDL Novice

    Jan 15, 2014
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    Well no luck on that pass either. Whats odd is Dell's doc stating to use the -writehdrfile output, its obviously 8.3 format. I found the M6500?? and the REEBOK? strings in the floppy code imbedded in the HDR. Clearly it's the 7.3 format you refer to.

    I even tried to use various characters from the SVC TAG for the ?'s, to follow tonto11's effort.
     
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  11. tqhoang

    tqhoang MDL BIOS Modder

    Apr 29, 2008
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    Not a chance. The D610 is a pretty old laptop before USB sticks were really popular or cost-effective. From what I remember, it's a single-core 2nd generation Pentium-M laptop.


    Don't waste your time with that. Just use the 7.3 format and something like "XX" or "ZZ". I think the problem might be that it doesn't like your USB stick. Did you reformat yours with FAT16 and 8kB clusters? Maybe even try a 1GB or 2GB stick?
     
  12. catgirl

    catgirl MDL Novice

    Jan 15, 2014
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    Well just to follow-up, I have tried 256mb, 512mb, 1gb, 2gb, 4gb, 8gb, 16gb, 32gb, sticks. I have a funny feeling that phoenix messed up the code a while back and its never been corrected, or Dells never updated it.

    As a secondary train of thought, does the Phoenix tool 250 have a .rom or bin output switch? One of the guys in our lab has a eeprom tool (says he can write any device in existence, has a drawer with 76 adaptors!) Says he'll just pull the chip and burn it? But we have to have the binary image.
     
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  13. catgirl

    catgirl MDL Novice

    Jan 15, 2014
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    Just Curious, How did you get the module integrated, and then output as a .rom extension? I don't see an option in the phoenixtool250 to do that
     
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  14. LatinMcG

    LatinMcG Bios Borker

    Feb 27, 2011
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    catgirl make sure he makes a BACKUP.bin with the eprom tool first !!

    might need a part from it and part of the posted rom. (asus is like this usually.. so just in case)
    or try to find similar laptop to backup from and copy chip. or find one on ebay preprogramed.

    btw did you try older versions of bios .hdr ??
    and i think if u have multiple .hdr in usb it gets confused.
     
  15. catgirl

    catgirl MDL Novice

    Jan 15, 2014
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    OK,
    1) So is the HDR Header and Trailer, always a fixed size and offset, is so could you share those items.
    2) Is there a reference layout of the header and trailer
    3) And is the .rom file a true JEDIC bin so that you can just rename and "burn"?
     
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  16. catgirl

    catgirl MDL Novice

    Jan 15, 2014
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    Will Backup, My lab rat stated that was the process.
    Did try older versions, did not mix.
     
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