This may be of use to others out there with an RNS 510 satnav unit fitted to VW’s and Skoda’s. I had an issue where the media page would not show music files located on the HDD and navigation mode kept prompting to insert the maps DVD, but if I went for a drive and let the unit warm up a bit, I would find it would start working again. However in the winter it would take longer and longer for it to start working.
Finally I got so fed up with this I started doing some research and came across a great forum post here.
Turns out quite a few people have replaced the built-in 30GB HDD with a 64GB SSD. I purchased one from Amazon (spec here – mine is a KingSpec SSD, if you can’t find the exact model make sure you get one that is “PATA” not “SATA” – you need one with a traditional old fashioned IDE interface). They don’t have much stock left and it does come all the way from China, so expect to wait a few days for delivery. If you can’t find them on Amazon, then try ebay. In the forum at VW Watercooled, the post said you basically have to reload the firmware and maps in order to get the RNS to repartition and format the SSD. However I noticed some people had reported problems so I thought I would try skipping this step by cloning the HDD onto the SSD.
When the SSD arrived, the first problem I had was plugging it into my PC – actually the SSD and 30GB HDD are laptop style 2.5” drives, so have a smaller 44 pin high density IDE connector than what is present in older PC’s that support 3.5” IDE drives. So I got a couple of adaptors, again from Amazon here but also available on ebay, and this enabled me to plug both the 30GB HDD and SSD into my PC’s IDE connectors.
The first thing I noticed is the SSD did actually have an NTFS partition on it, I did wonder if this was the cause of other peoples problems, so deleted it using Windows Disk Management applet in MMC. Another problem was getting my PC to recognise the 30GB HDD. The BIOS did recognise it but when booting up the PC reported a hard disk error. I don’t think it was spinning up and could be symptomatic of the cold start issue I was having when in the car. I laid it on a radiator for 15 minutes to let it warm up and sure enough this was enough to get it working.
With the HDD now working, I used Acronis True Image to create a backup image that I stored on the PC’s internal HDD (drive C), then I restored this image onto the SSD.
I put the RNS all back together and it’s working a treat! The only problem is that the partition sizes have been retained so the media partition is only about 13GB in size and there’s about 30GB of wasted space on the SSD. What I am hoping to do is repartition it at some point in the future using a hacked version of the firmware, but I am still researching this. I did try several partitioning tools to see if I could repartition the drive before putting the RNS all back together again, but none of the tools I tried could resize the media partition (the first partition on the disk). I think it might be because they didn’t recognise the file system so didn’t dare touch it. I probably could have tried something like gparted but to be honest it was 2am at this point and I just wanted to wrap up so will re-visit this another time.
The post in the forum showing how to take the RNS apart was really helpful, my little tip is for each step to stick the screws to a piece of paper with sellotape and note the step number, so you know which screws go with each step. Here’s mine:
Here’s my RNS in bits:
I was really quite impressed with the design and construction of the unit, especially the way multiple PCB’s stack up and connect together. Also the tolerances on the parts are very good so it all fits together really neatly. It’s basically a very well designed and engineered product, and you can understand why they are so expensive to replace when you compare it with a cheap Chinese Android head unit.
I found the post at VW Watercooled so helpful, I have decided to reproduce it here with some of my notes attached (prefixed by PR>). I have also re-hosted the images on my blog platform as I noticed they had gone missing in the past when the original poster left the community. So this is really my way to help preserve this knowledge. As these RNS units get older, more and more people may start suffering from the cold start issue and may start looking how to replace their hard drives……
Remove 2 x T8 screws from top of unit
Remove 2 x T10 screws from side of unit. There are only 4 of these T10 screws in the job. Don’t mix them up with your other T8 screws.
Repeat step 2 for the other side.
Carefully drop screen down as shown. The screen is connected with data ribbon in 3 locations. Pull the beige ribbon locks outwards to release the ribbon. There is no need to disconnect the DVD drive ribbon (A). Move the screen in foam aside while you do the rest of the job.
PR> Be vary careful in this step, the screen will literally fall off if you are not careful as there are no screws attaching it to the chassis at this point. I didn’t realise this and the screen fell off and pulled the ribbon cables out before I had had a chance to release the locks. NOTE, each ribbon cable socket has a little collar that pulls forward or up, these lock the ribbon cable in place, release these first before pulling out the ribbon cables. And when you re-insert them later, make sure of close the locks to secure the cables in place.
PR> One of the connectors is not a ribbon as such but a small white plastic connector, it is quite hard to get out and the plastic is quite soft to be careful not to chew it up with a screw driver or whatever tool you use to prize it apart – you may just be able to tug on the cables to pull the connector out.
Remove 2 x T8 screws from DVD drive mounting bracket. Aternatively, you could undo the 2 T8 screws that mount the DVD drive to the bracket.
Remove the 1 x T8 screw which secures the HDD mounting bracket to the exterior cover.
PR> There’s another one of these white plastic connectors here so again be very careful when prizing it apart.
Remove the 1 x T8 screw from the rear of the heatsink. Then remove the 2 x T8 screws which are down inside the heatsink. The two arrows in the picture highlight their location. This is one of the reasons behind the long reach T8 driver.
Remove the 1 x T8 as indicated.
Carefully lift the card (red highlight) in an upward direction. The card is plugged into the upper circuit board and may resist a little. See Step 10 to see what the card sits in. Just try to lift it evenly, and also pay attention to the opposite end of the card as is needs to be guided up between 2 metal prongs. These prongs can be seen in Step 11.
Remove the 3 x T8 screws from the board.
Straighten the 2 tabs (as shown) in order to lift out the upper circuit board. Lift it out and pay attention to any places where it may catch on the existing frame. It needs to be done at a bit of an angle to clear the 4 screw tabs towards the rear of the left and right cover plates.
PR> I didn’t realise this, but in the upper right corner of the pic, the PCB is actually connected to the bottom PCB via a connector underneath the board, so when you lift the PCB out you just need to be aware of this connector coming apart (and the gentle force it needs to disengage) instead of yanking it really hard and damaging something!
Once the upper circuit board is out of the way, you need to remove the 1 x T8 from the HDD mounting cover bracket. You can then carefully lift the HDD directly out of its plug in an upward direction.
Once removed, undo the 4 screws from the HDD mounting plate and replace it with your new drive. I’ve replaced this one with a 64GB 2.5” SSD IDE PATA MLC. Depending on your firmware version, this will either give you a 40GB music drive (2 partition firmware) or a 30GB music drive (with new 3 partition firmware). Remember to remove the jumper on your new SSD drive. You cannot insert the HDD with a jumper in place.
Reverse the procedure and you’re done. Double check all of the ribbon connections along the way. Plug it into your car, load your firmware+maps and check that everything is working as it should.
After it’s all back together and plugged in, you’ll need to install the firmware and then your maps to get the drive working.
After some recent developments by kamold, it is now possible to change the size of the partitions on the drive. For more details, visit: How to re-partition the HDD in your RNS510
PR> I haven’t done this yet as the post seems to refer to a much older version of firmware than what I am running, so I’ll need to do a bit more research before trying this.