Novice buys a programmer,

Discussion in 'BIOS Mods' started by thatguychuck, Jun 15, 2012.

  1. thatguychuck

    thatguychuck MDL Member

    Feb 6, 2011
    The problem: Unsuccessful BIOS flash on an ASUS M5A97

    After a mostly successful flashing career, I bricked my desktop. There are only a few solutions to a problem like that, blind flashing, order a new chip, new motherboard, or get a programmer. Thankfully my motherboard BIOS has a socket and ASUS actually has replacements, so I put one on order. Still though, I couldn't help but think if I had a programmer I would have been back up and running in an hour, rather than days. Most of the advice on programmers I found were about building them at home, which I don't have the skill for. This is just a quick note on the True-USB PRO GQ-4X Willem Programmer, something I would have like to have read prior to buying one. I thought of posting some un boxing photos, but what you see from the commercial links is pretty much what you get. I purchased this one here: from a site which claims to be the developer of the programming software. This unit gets power and programs through a single USB cable, and does not have any jumper switches.

    This package comes with a few adapters, though none of them were needed for my 8 pin bios chip. The software CD that came with the unit was out of date, but current versions were available for download from the MCUMALL page. I installed the software on my laptop, Win7 x64, updated the driver from device manager, and was good to go. I selected my BIOS chip in the software via serial numbers, and it showed me proper chip orientation on the programer. The software itself seemed well designed, and I was able to navigate without much trouble. I read my chip out of curiosity, and sure enough my BIOS was mostly empty code. I erased the chip, verified it was empty, loaded my BIOS rom, and wrote to the chip. I wasn't timing, but read and writing operations took around 5 minutes or so each. When it finished I popped my chip back into my PC, and it powered on just fine. My ASUS replacement showed up 6 hours later :eek:

    The software has quite a few different settings. To be honest I haven't really run the programer through too many paces as I fixed my problem and don't have an older board to test with.

    Along side my programer I also purchased this:

    Basically a set of clamps for DIP8 and SOIC8 chips that supposedly allows for in circuit programming. I haven't had a change to test it as I don't have a suitable machine, but the ability to program a chip that cannot be removed might come in handy...if it actually works anyway.

    All in all I dropped about $200 USD. Expensive for what you get, especially for something that you could probably build if you had the know how. You could buy a pretty nice motherboard for that much. There were other options that cost less, but I wanted to cover my bases. I'm happy with my purchase. I wish I would have bought this a while ago, I might have been able to revive a few laptops that I parted out. Anyway, just thought I'd share my experience if anyone was thinking of getting one.
  2. nononsence

    nononsence MDL Addicted

    Aug 18, 2009
  3. thatguychuck

    thatguychuck MDL Member

    Feb 6, 2011
    Ah, that does look interesting! Wish I'd seen that one earlier!
  4. bp1

    bp1 MDL Member

    May 11, 2009
    I to have this very good programmer. I bought this a couple of years ago when like you i had a laptop bios mod go corrupt. I tried in vain to recover the laptop but failed. Then i read a review at about this programmer. Like your motherboard the laptop had a PLCC removal bios chip which i could re-program with this programmer.
    The good things about this programmer is if you come across a chip which isn't supported then the programmer manufacturer MCUmall will help you to program the programmer to support the unsupported device. They have done this with me a few times. Making contact with their support is so easy via email or via their forums.
    I have tho had problems with trying to do onboard programming with the test clips. This is because the the other components on the motherboard will interfere with the programming process. There are however ways to over come this on some bios chips eg resistor or short across pins 5&6. This is all dependent on the the bios chip and google will always provide loads of info when you encounter problems. If however you find a SPI header on the motherboard you should be able to re-program your bios very easily.

    Must say that i have had this programmer for a couple of years and it has served me well.
    A good tool for the toolkit to help when things go wrong.
    You may also want to look at this
    which is a JTAG/SPI in circuit programming adapter which works very well with this particular programmer
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