The Zune that couldn’t read

Some time last year a good friend of mine gave me his barely used 80gb Zune media player because it kept giving him an error and the error pointed to faulty hardware. After telling him it would be about 20 bucks to fix by replacing the cable he decided against it as he had an iPod touch making the Zune redundant.

Well here we are a year later and I finally ordered that cable, and in under an hour it was replaced and the zune it now syncing. You see the error was caused by the cable being broken not allowing the Zune to read it’s own hard drive. After replacing the cable everything works beautifully. It’s probably the best thing I’ve ever been given for free.

No pictures this time as I forgot because the process was over so quickly, although it did claim one of my safe open tools. But hey they’re cheap for a reason.

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Converting Micro SD to M2: M2 to MSPD adapter

This is a continuation if this story, read it first if you have yet to do so.

The M2 cards I ordered came in the other day so I figured I’d have a look at them while I wait for my dual MicroSD to MSPD adapters to come from china. After opening the package I discovered that these adapters are actually quite difficult to get apart if you’ve never done one before, I hope not to have to open the other but if I did I’m certain it would go much more smoothly. As you can see below I managed to get the adapter ripped open and quickly discovered this is just a straight pin to pin adapter as I suspected it would be seeing as they are technically the same format.

Continuing with my work I used my multimeter’s continuity tester to see which pins were connected to which, turns out they’re in the same order except that the MSPD has one extra pin which serves as a second ground. When I discovered that they were basically the same I drew a quick diagram so that I’d remember the pinouts without having to retest everything. I also discovered that the two outside pins are not connected when the card is in the adapter so I went and found the pinouts for both which are in the links below.

Well that’s really all I’ve got for now, check out the info below if you care, or don’t if you don’t! Until next time…


Acidmods Topic about the first SDHC to MSPD adapter

SD spec comparison

M2 pinout


Filed under M2 to MSPD, Projects

The tale of the Ebay PSOne

As some of you may know I have a bit of a gadget obsession, I love rare, obscure and cool tech. As a result the PSOne is high on my list of cool stuff. This being said I own 3 or 4 of them now with the screen. This is the tale of the most recent unit I purchased off eBay, needless to say it didn’t go as planned.

Part 1: The Transaction

I purchased the console on eBay in late december 2013. The auction was a simple one with no real description from the seller just some photo’s which was good enough for me. The item was listed as “Used: An item that has been used previously. The item may have some signs of cosmetic wear, but is fully operational and functions as intended. This item may be a floor model or store return that has been used. See the seller’s listing for full details and description of any imperfections.”. The four pictures made the console out to have seen better days with dirt in the disc drive, but it was listed as functional so for all intents and purposes it would do the trick for me.

It was a slow cheap shipping option I chose so when the console finally arrived early January I was pleased as punch. I ripped open the box to find an immediate feeling of unease. It’s not so much that the console wasn’t packed well, just the manner in which it packed left something to be desired. It was stuffed in the box with a bunch of plastic grocery bags used as a form of bubble wrap, and after the PSOne I bought before it was probably the best packaged item I’ve ever received this was disappointing. But I pressed on none the less, digging to find my treasure, a ratty looking PSOne. The dirt was way worse than it looked in the pictures, but it cleaned off fairly easily using some baby wipes I had lying around from when my son used to need them. After I got it all cleaned up I noticed something; there wasn’t a power supply. As a man who just told you I already owned 2 or 3 of these things I wasn’t really worried, I grabbed the nearest power supply which would work, which happened to be the power supply from a slim PS2. Now I don’t recommend just using a power supply on something it wasn’t designed for but these are well-known compatible power supplies that only run 1 volt higher than the original. Anyone with a basic understanding of how electronics work knows that the voltage regulator can deal with an extra volt no problem. So here it came, the moment of truth, and… nothing.

Well, maybe not nothing, after all the console is powered up, the screen just isn’t on, but who knows if the problem is with the console or the screen? Again, owning many of these a grabbed a known good screen and slapped it on the back of the system, BINGO! worked perfectly. With a sigh of relief I started looking into why the screen I got wasn’t working. A quick google search provided me with this: the greatest resource ever to come from one google search. I looked into it further over at, a well-known console modding/hacking community and it turns out there are 2 fuses that can cause this in the lcd screen. It seemed quite likely that one of these fuse was simply blown as it seems to be a common problem. Here was my problem, I can’t just rip this thing open without contacting the seller first, as he might ask me to return it for a refund which I’d rather not do as I can probably fix it.

So I sent a message off to the seller informing them of the situation, the transcript is below.

Me 11-Jan-14: Hi, The Playstation is in much worse condition than the pictures made it out to be and the screen doesn’t work like the ad said it would. Without the screen functional I really have no use for this. Please get beck to me ASAP so we can figure this out together.

Me 16-Jan-14: it’s been several days since my last message. I’ll be filing a claim with eBay and PayPal if you do not respond by 5 tonight

Seller 17-Jan-14: ok I understand, I did inform you the item was untested and that there was no way to test it

Me : maybe you should have said that in the auction. and when did you tell me anything? we haven’t had any communication.

Seller : item was given to me and sold for a friend. and was not tested bc there was no way to test it

So basically he claims he told me it was untested although we have had no communication until I messaged him the first time. I filed the Paypal claim at 10pm on the 16th, 5 hours later than I told him I would, hoping he’d have more time to get home from work or check his eBay account, no such luck. He only contacted me once the claim was filed, and after over a week, Paypal refunded me the total and let me keep the item because it was under the dollar value for it to be worth returning. If the seller had of contacted me I would have definitely accepted a much smaller partial refund of around $10 instead of the entire $50 I got back.

Part 2: The investigation

Once this fiasco was over I decided it was time to rip this thing open and check out those fuses. I’d only taken apart one of these before and it had a fried ballast for its backlight, but that’s another story I suppose; so I began looking up how to disassemble this thing and it hit me, THE BOOK! I ran over to my book shelf (not even joking here) and began searching through them, it wasn’t long before I found it; one of the holy grails from my youth, a book titled Hacking Video Game Consoles by Benjamin Heckendorn (remember from above? How do you think I found that?). This book is a step by step guide to building portable versions of home consoles (The NES, SNES, PSOne and Atari 2600 if you were wondering) and all of these consoles used the same screen, that handy little PSOne screen. Sadly this book is long out of print and nearly impossible to find for a reasonable price, but if you look around an ebook version is somewhere out there on the net. So I opened the book and away I went.

The stock photo was used because my photo contained my hairy legs!

The stock photo was used because my photo contained my hairy legs!

Once disassembled I discovered 3 things, once again the backlight ballast was blown, the fuse PS1 was blown while the fuse PS2 was functioning (Just to clarify these fuses are labelled PS for power supply, not for PlayStation), and in the most incredible engineering feat I’ve ever seen EVERY singe screw holding this screen together is the exact same size. Using a jumper wire I jumped the blown fuse which powered the circuit again, This resulted in a tiny electrical fir at the backlight ballast. I disconnected my jumper and everything went back to normal so I powered down the unit, disconnected the power supply and removed the backlight ballast entirely. After this I hooked everything back up and jumped the fuse once more, no fire this time, just a faint image on the screen; with no backlight the screen was very dim but I could make out the disc and memory card icons meaning the screen itself is fully functional! Unfortunately getting it to display required both hands and the image was extremely faint so I couldn’t get a picture of it.

A common modification for these screens when used in portables is the LED mod in which you remove the original backlight and replace it with 3 white LEDs and a resistor connected directly to the voltage regulator. With a blown backlight I don’t have much of a choice now do I? I won’t be getting around to the repair this time as it’s late and this is quite a long process, but at least I can do both screens I have with the same issue at the same time. As soon as I begin the process you can expect and update.

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New Project: Converting Micro SD to M2

I recently rediscovered my PSP go and decided it would be fun to play again. The issue I ran into was that I’d like all my games on the console at once, including emulators and all the roms for them. The built-in memory of 16Gb would not be sufficient for this purpose so I needed to see what was available.

Proprietary format can burn in hell!

Proprietary format can burn in hell!

I started looking at the proprietary Memory Stick Micro (m2) Sony had developed for the PSP go and select other Sony devices, mostly mobile phones. These sticks were generally over double the price of an equivalent Micro SD card which bothered me too much to buy one, especially when you consider that these have been discontinued for at least a few years by now. On top of that the maximum size available is 16Gb, and for around 80 dollars. I began my search for an adapter.

The search wasn’t long, a resounding “NO!” cried the internet. The issue here is that SD and Memory Stick are not compatible formats. The two formats are written to and read from in completely different ways. For the larger Memory Stick Duo and Memory Stick Pro Duo this isn’t an issue when adapting to micro SD because the Micro SD is so small that there is plenty of room inside the adapter to put a chip which adapts one format to the other in a more complex manner than your typical adapter. This is necessary because unlike normal adapter for format x to format y simply rearrange the pins and the size/shape of the card to make it fit the slot properly; Memory Stick is not a typical card, it was developed by Sony specifically so that people had to use them and could not adapt cheaper cards to the format. So what could I do? Dead end right? Wrong!

Micro SD to Memory Stick Pro Duo Adapter

Micro SD to Memory Stick Pro Duo Adapter

Here’s the plan, I’ve purchased 2 Micro SD to Memory Stick Pro Duo adapters as well as 2 1Gb m2 cards that came with an adapter from m2 to Memory stick Pro Duo adapter. I purchased 2 of each because both were relatively cheap and this way I could disassembly one of each and still have a spare left in case I ruin it on my 1st attempt. The idea here is that if I can convert Micro SD to Memory Stick Pro Duo, and m2 is essentially a tiny version of that, then it should be possible to convert it externally of the slot. I plan on removing (or at least disconnecting) the memory in the 1Gb m2 card and hijacking the pins to run to the micro SD to Memory Stick Pro Duo adapter. I’ll use the m2 to Memory Stick Pro Duo adapter that comes with it to determine which pins connect to which on the micro SD to Memory Stick Pro Duo adapter. By doing this I should be able to read the micro SD cards just fine. The fact that this is external and may be ugly is a non-issue because my PSP go is always in a case which could be easily modified to accommodate the adapter and a flat ribbon cable.

m2 card w/ Memory Stick Pro Duo adapter

m2 card w/ Memory Stick Pro Duo adapter

The adapter I purchased is capable of accepting 2 micro SD cards which is perfect because I already have one 16Gb card and a second would be dirt cheap. This would allow me to meet the maximum capacity for the PSP go at 32Gb. It would be possible to go even higher if Sony hadn’t limited the maximum capacity card readable in the PSP go’s firmware, however I think 32Gb from the cards and 16Gb internal should be just fine for my purposes.

I’ll update when the adapters arrive, one is set to be here within 7 days and the other 3 weeks so I may make an update for each or just update when they both get here and the real work begins.


M2 pinout

MSPD pinout

Useful SD info

Micro SD to MSPD adapter teardown

Wikipedia comparison of memory card formats

Wikipedia SD size

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Armored Core 5 – The gripe that stopped me playing day one

On march 20th of this year I went to my local EB Games and with the excitement of a little girl getting a puppy I bought my copy of Armored Core 5. As a fan of the series I knew what I was getting into, I only own every AC game ever. So I bring it home and it immediately starts off with a problem; the opening cutscene. In all other AC games the opening involves a few of the coolest looking mechs in the game duking it out in a cool environment, and that part hasn’t changed. However, a staple of the series, the soundtrack, has become as bland as any other game music. AC started of with electronic music and slowly worked its way to some awesome orchestral scores in AC4. Well in AC5 the music, rather than serving as a center-piece, serves as the background; it’s just a means to make the game less boring. Even the intro music has no epic feeling or scope.

So after This I’m a little down but I charge in and start having some mech killing fun. Let me just say the game play has nothing to do with why I put the game down; The game plays well and I, unlike many others, don’t rue the series for it’s change of direction to be more of a “real robot” game. The real problem is From’s new obsession with the internet. I want to buy some parts to upgrade my mech so I head over to the shop and click on new parts; what happens next is baffling to say the least, it’s empty. The store is completely empty, so I go back and notice a new addition to the store, the “used parts” section. So I go into there and there is a sparse variety of used parts which I can choose from. So I make do with my used parts, “no problem” I’m thinking. Perhaps as the game goes on I get to join a corporation and then I can buy new parts to keep the balance going throughout the campaign. After another hour of play I figure it’s time to upgrade again when I notice the used parts store is giving me an error, “could not contact the server” or something to that effect. So now, I can’t upgrade my mech at all therefore I can probably only continue a little further before I run into a mission I just can’t beat. So I continue and beat the mission I’m currently on. When I’ve one I notice the mission over screen gives me the same error as the shop, and I just did that whole mission and got no money for it. So I put the game down and haven’t picked it back up since. 

I recently read an article saying that games need to vie for your complete attention early on otherwise your chances of buying DLC drop exponentially with each passing week. On top of that you never want a use to walk away from your game, it’s the single worst thing you can do in gaming. If From had of just thought for a second to say “Hey, what happens if the servers aren’t working properly or get overloaded on launch day?”. They may have seen that this would basically make the whole game unplayable. What happens when the servers go the way of Chromehounds servers? I’ll bet you that From will do the same as sega and just leave it at that. For some reason these companies don’t want to say “Hey community, here’s the server software we use for this game, set up your own servers and we’ll throw a little patch into the game to find servers to play on”, nope they just leave it dead. 

So in conclusion, I’m not sure when I’ll pick AC5 back up again, but maybe you’ll get a review eventually.

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My biggest pet peeve with the Vita (And a simple solution that anyone can do)

Today while my car was in the shop I was wandering around the mall and mooching free wifi to watch some netflix to cure my boredom. Soon the dreaded battery low warning appeared and I was without a charger, although I did have my USB cable. So I roamed around the mall and found the cheapest USB wall charger I could find. To my dismay the vita did not light up when I plugged it in and I was stuck bored yet again. however some googling once I got home found the same issue on the PSP Go, and a simple solution that involves a USB extension cable and a knife.

What you’ll need:
– A USB extension cable
– Something sharp to cut it open
– some electucal tape or heat-shring tubing

A simple diagram outlining the process

So once you’ve got these things you’re already more than half way there. All you’ve got to do now is open up a section of the cable by cutting off the outer plastic shielding (try not to cut the wires inside). Once it’s opened you’ll see 4 little wires each with their own insulation. Leave the red and black wires alone (those are for power) and cut the other two. Now on the female end of the cable take those 2 wires you cut and join them together. Now make sure the wires on the other ends don’t touch my isolating them with some electrical tape and then tape the whole wire back together like that (or use heat shrink for a nice finish).Bam now your vita will charge in ANY USB port! I wouldn’t recommend using this USB cable for charging anything other than the PSP Go or Vita and this cable will now only supply power to you cant use it as an extension for transferring media to/from the vita, that’s why we use an extension instead of just cutting the vita USB cable.


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Sony PS Vita: Video Review (2012)

The PS Vita is one capable system. Check out the video review below to see what we really think.

At the end of the day The vita gets a great mark for a quality build and incredible gameplay. A sold grade A machine.

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