Replacing HDD in RNS 510 with a SSD

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:

IMG-20151017-01661

Here’s my RNS in bits:

IMG-20151017-01660

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……

Exploded Component Overview:
arnshdddiyoverview

STEP 1
arnshdddiy-step1
Make sure the area you work in is clear of dust. Have some soft foam padding ready for when you remove the screen. Avoid anything that creates lint.

  1. Remove 2 x T8 screws from top of unit
  2. 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.
  3. Repeat step 2 for the other side.

STEP 2
arnshdddiy-step2
Remove top cover plate by pulling up at point (A) and work the hinge at point(B).

STEP 3
arnshdddiy-step3
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.

STEP 4
arnshdddiy-step4

  1. 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.
  2. Remove the 1 x T8 screw which secures the HDD mounting bracket to the exterior cover.

STEP 5
arnshdddiy-step5
Lift out the DVD drive, and flip it over to access the 2 ribbon locks. Unplug both ribbons as you did in Step 3.

PR> There’s another one of these white plastic connectors here so again be very careful when prizing it apart.

STEP 6
arnshdddiy-step6
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.

STEP 7
arnshdddiy-step7
Remove these 3 x T8 screws from the rear of the heatsink. Then remove the 2 x T8 screws which are down inside the heatsink (PR> these are actually the same 2 screws mentioned in step 6).

STEP 8
arnshdddiy-step8
Drop down the rear cover plate in the same way you removed the top cover plate in Step 2. Disconnect the cable for the fan and remove the plate from the hinge.

STEP 9
arnshdddiy-step9

  1. Remove the 1 x T8 as indicated.
  2. 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.

STEP 10
arnshdddiy-step10

  1. Remove the 3 x T8 screws from the board.
  2. 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!

STEP 11
arnshdddiy-step11
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.

STEP 12
arnshdddiy-step12
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.

SSD drive specification
arsn510ssdspec

STEP 13
arnshdddiy-step13
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.

kamoldcomesgold
Enjoy.

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Posted in Motoring | Tagged , , , | 15 Comments

Part number discrepancy on RNS 510

Ok, so just a follow-up to my post about upgrading the firmware and maps on my RNS 510 (see post here), one of the question marks I had was about this screen after I upgraded my firmware, note the last character of the part number is “L” which I thought was quite late for my 2008 VW Passat R36, here’s the screen shot from that post:

Well it turns out my suspicions were correct, the firmware does report the wrong part number, I pulled my RNS out in prep for a HDD to SDD swap, and found it’s actually an “A” model:

IMG-20151017-01657

Note however that the HW-Version matches “H04” both on the screen and what is printed on the sticker. This all doesn’t really mean much to me but it could have an impact when trying to figure out what firmware version you can run. Luckily I did the upgrade as per my other post and it all went fine.

Stay tuned for my next post about swapping the HDD for an SSD!

Posted in Motoring | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Upgrading firmware and maps on VW RNS 510 SatNav

I was starting to find the maps on my RNS 510 were getting a bit out of date, after all I had never updated it since I purchased the car in 2009. I also read that newer versions of firmware also provided additional features, bug fixes and performance improvements, obviously! So I started doing a lot of googling and reading and found a wealth of information spread all over the place about how to upgrade both the firmware and maps on the RNS 510.

So having successfully updated both the firmware and maps on my unit I thought I would write a guide to summarise, in one place, how I did it.

First I will describe how I did the firmware upgrade, then I will move on to how I updated the maps.

1. Determine which revision of hardware/firmware you are running

There are various different versions of RNS 510 along with multiple different versions of firmware, so it seemed like a good first step was to work out what I had. You can find out the specific hardware revision by a) taking the unit out of the dash and looking for the part number or b) using a secret hidden menu.

I opted for the second option, I really didn’t want to have to pull the unit out. To access the hidden menu, simply press the setup button for around 10 seconds and a radio service menu should appear with a menu option called “Version info” – unfortunately, on my unit this did not work. It seems that on older firmware versions this hidden menu is not available. So I was struggling at the first step, I had no idea which hardware/firmware revision I was running.

Fortunately, I found a web site that was quite encouraging and convinced me to take the plunge anyway. A high-risk strategy, and I would only encourage you to take it if you are prepared to take the risk!

2. Obtain new firmware

I found a really useful web site at gpsunderground here.

The chap here makes some pretty bold claims about which version of firmware works with with hardware revision, and the forum is full of people asking in broken English if it will work with their unit. So he basically says this:

1. Everyone can use firmware 5238 and newest maps
-> You can always use firmware 5238 on any device from 2005 to October 2013 (with HDD). *Hardware C3-C12*.
-> You can update directly to 5238 with no need for an update in between.
-> There are no exceptions to this, no matter what anybody else says.

I decided to go for firmware 5238, this also includes the video-in-motion (VIM) hack that stops the DVD player cutting out when you drive faster than 5mph.

You can get the download links from his site, but I’ll reproduce the links here, note that these links could go dead at any time:

SW: 5238 Update by josi
HW: C3-C12
part1 / part2 / part3 (452 MB)

After downloading, I used 7-Zip to unzip and merge the three files together into a single ISO image.

An alternative is to try and download it from BitTorrent, here’s a torrent file you can try (you will need to unzip it to extract the torrent file then use something like utorrent to process the torrent file and start the download).

It’s small enough that it will fit onto a CD-R, no need to waste a DVD-R! I burnt the ISO at the slowest speed my burner supported, which was 10x. My laptop came with CyberLink Power2Go, which is a very basic burner, but it worked fine for me. I’m sure you could use Nero or some other burner and burn it slower if you wanted. All the advice I have read states that the RNS 510 optical drive can be a bit fussy, so best to burn at the slowest speed you can.

So now I had the firmware all burnt and ready I was itching to give it a go… but wait!

I work in IT, and whenever you do anything in IT you ALWAYS have a back-out plan. So what was I going to do if it all went tits up?

Well, turns out there is a recovery ISO that can help fix an RNS 510 if the firmware upgrade fails. I didn’t actually need it it in the end, but it sure helps calm the nerves knowing that it’s out there. Here’s one place you can find it.

3. Perform the firmware upgrade

Now there is a magic button combination you can press to get the unit into software update mode (Setup + Eject + Info/Mic – top right hand button next to the DVD slot) – I didn’t actually need this (not until later anyway) but it’s handy to know.

Open the car up but do not put the key into the ignition. I put the CD-R with the firmware on it straight into the RNS 510 and it powered up and started to read the disc. If it doesn’t power up then press the on/off button. Then it’s just a case of being patient, letting it reboot several times and following the prompts. When it starts updating you’ll just have to leave it for about 1 hour. With a bit of luck, everything will go smoothly!

WARNING: There is a real possibility you will lose all your map data and music files on the HDD – make sure you have a map DVD available to reload your maps, unless you are happy to worry about that later!

image

image

image

image

image

4. Check the upgrade was successful

After my unit rebooted I was curious to see if my maps and music on the hard disk had survived the upgrade process. They had not!

I don’t have a definite explanation, but I believe that whether the HDD gets wiped or not depends on which firmware version you were running – that’s why it’s nice to know what you are running so you can work out if you are going to lose your map data and music files or not. It seems that older firmware versions only used 2 hard disk partitions, one for the map data, the other for the music files. When you upgrade to a later version of firmware, it creates an additional partition for the new POI data available with the latest map DVD’s, so the upgrade may wipe your HDD to create 3 partitions. Of course if you are running a later version of firmware, you may already have 3 partitions, so may not lose anything.

BUT, it also seems that the map partition may not be big enough to hold all the data for the latest map DVD’s (the V12 Western Europe DVD is 5.5GB, compared with V4 which is about 3.5GB), so I’ve read somewhere that some firmware versions may actually resize the partitions, so even if you have 3 you may still lose all your files.

There are also other custom firmwares that change the partition sizes to give you more space for music files and not so much room for the POI data. Basically it all becomes a bit of a minefield trying to figure it all out so I didn’t really get too bothered about all this. But there’s plenty of info in the forums if you can be bothered to read it!

Anyway, I was curious to see how much space I had for music, and as the HDD icon in media player was greyed out, I knew it had been wiped. The way to get it back is to copy some MP3’s from an SD card, then you will see how big the music partition is. On mine it is only 13.8GB, this is definitely smaller than what I had before, I think I had around 20GB before, so I probably do have some wasted space for the POI database which I could reclaim using one of these repartitioning tools, but I will save all this for another day.

image

Next step is to check the hidden menu – I held down the setup button for about 10 seconds and sure enough it popped up. I selected version info and got this screen:

image

What is interesting is that this is showing my unit to be a “L” hardware rev (last character of part number), which seems to be quite a late rev considering my car is a 2008 model, but I’m sure I read somewhere that this firmware update actually changes the part number. No idea why, but I guess the only way to really check is to pull the unit and look at the physical label.

Anyway, you can see I am now running S/W version 5238, so that is all good. No map data is listed because I haven’t loaded the maps yet. So what I did was insert my original map DVD that came with the car, this is Western Europe V3, so is really old, but it copied to the hard disk and I was up and running in no time.

5. Obtain latest map DVD or ISO image

The latest Western Europe map DVD at the time of writing appears to be V12. If you manage to get hold of the DVD (ebay is your friend) you can simply load it into your unit and copy it to your HDD. However, if you know where to look you can find the ISO image. The issue with this is that the ISO is too big to fit on a single layer DVD-R, so you’ll need to get some dual-layer DVD-R’s and burn it or use another way. After reading about all the problems people have had getting the RNS 510 to load the maps from a home-burnt dual-layer disc (sounds like it has to do with where the transition between the 2 layers occurs) I opted for “another way” – and this, my friend, is ingenious!

6. Prepare SD card with map data and custom map loader CD

The Internet really can be a wonderful place sometimes! Due to the problem of the latest maps being too big to fit onto a single layer DVD-R, the Internet found a way around the problem. This sounds almost like evolution and reminds me of that line from Jurassic Park where Jeff Goldblum says “Nature always finds a way” or some other rubbish.

Turns out a clever chap by the name of Christian Jeanin figured out a way to get the RNS 510 to load the maps off an SD card – brilliant!

People appear to have been having problems with this, but I did it and it worked first time.

Anyway, if you go to this site and download “maps-tool” you get a lovely little tool that helps to prepare a set of files that can be copied to an SD card (minimum 8GB size) along with an ISO image that you can burn to another CD-R. This is used to boot the RNS 510 so it can copy the maps off the SD card. To start with, do a full format of the SD card using FAT32 and default allocation size and give it a volume name.

Start “maps-tool” and specify source ISO and destination directory. You can do it straight to the SD card if you want but it might be quicker if you use a local directory and then copy the files over to the SD card when it’s finished (I foolishly did it across my WiFi network to my NAS and it took ages!). Ooops. Smile

There are two options, you can prepare to copy to SD card or try and compress the ISO to fit it onto a single layer DVD. I wouldn’t bother with the second option as the latest maps will still be too big, also it doesn’t actually compress the data but removes stuff like TMC and POI data to try and make it smaller.

Select the first option, hit build and let it run.

image

When the build is complete, you will find in the destination the following folders and files:

  1. MAPS (folder)
  2. MAPSDVD (folder)
  3. test.mp3 (file)
  4. sd_to_hdd_fw.iso (file)
  5. help.html (file)

Copy the [1], [2] and [3] folders and files to the SD card, then insert a blank CD-R and burn the sd_to_hdd_fw.iso ISO using the slowest burn speed available.

7. Load the new maps using SD card and custom CD loader

On the RNS-510 unit of your car (engine is OFF, key is NOT in ignition):

  • Power on the unit and insert the SD card into it. Make sure you can hear the short test.mp3 played (that means the SD card is OK)
  • Restart the unit in Software Upgrade Mode by pressing SETUP + EJECT + MIC (INFO) buttons
  • Wait 20 seconds and insert the firmware CD-R you burnt earlier (sd_to_hdd_fw.iso)
  • The unit will restart and will display a message about the upgrade/copy process. Confirm upgrade and wait.
  • The unit will start to copy the maps from SD card to the HDD. Usually this takes ~30 mins. The copy process displays 31% complete all the time, so don’t panic, just wait ~30 mins
  • When the copy is complete, the unit will restart and display a success message. After that, it will eject the firmware DVD and the new maps will be available on your unit

Afterwards, I went into the hidden menu (press setup for 20 seconds) and sure enough, I now had the latest maps (8195) loaded. Fantastic stuff!

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That’s it, I hope this helps someone. Please leave a comment if it did help.

Posted in Motoring | Tagged , , , , , | 220 Comments

Lovely pic from evening cycle ride

A beautiful evening again, so I took this picture of the rapeseed while out this evening (unfortunately my phone underexposed the pic due to the sun, but the colours were so vibrant, this pic doesn’t do it justice)…

image

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How to protect yourself against the Shellshock BASH vulnerability

Like many people I was quite shocked to learn about the recent vulnerability in BASH that can leave servers wide open to attack. My SugarCRM system has been running on Ubuntu for the past two years, and has ports wide open to the net. Fortunately I had already disabled CGI access in Apache as bots were trying to exploit vulns, and Sugar wasn’t using CGI anyway, but this bug still scared the crap out of me.

So I read some blogs and checked out my system, sure enough the command below revealed it was vulnerable:

$ env x='() { :;}; echo “vulnerable”‘ bash -c ‘echo “test”‘
vulnerable
test

The fact that the command managed to print the word “vulnerable” is the red flag.

Fortunately, updating BASH in my case was quite painless:

$ sudo apt-get update
[output snipped]
Fetched 3,399 kB in 4s (680 kB/s)
Reading package lists… Done

$ sudo apt-get install bash
Reading package lists… Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information… Done
Suggested packages:
  bash-doc
The following packages will be upgraded:
  bash
1 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 0 to remove and 344 not upgraded.
Need to get 616 kB of archives.
After this operation, 12.3 kB of additional disk space will be used.
Get:1 http://gb.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ precise-updates/main bash i386 4.2-2ubuntu2.3 [616 kB]
Fetched 616 kB in 0s (1,222 kB/s)
(Reading database … 254702 files and directories currently installed.)
Preparing to replace bash 4.2-2ubuntu2.1 (using …/bash_4.2-2ubuntu2.3_i386.deb) …
Unpacking replacement bash …
Processing triggers for menu …
Processing triggers for man-db …
Setting up bash (4.2-2ubuntu2.3) …
update-alternatives: using /usr/share/man/man7/bash-builtins.7.gz to provide /usr/share/man/man7/builtins.7.gz (builtins.7.gz) in auto mode.
Processing triggers for menu …

$ env x='() { :;}; echo “vulnerable”‘ bash -c ‘echo “test”‘

bash: warning: x: ignoring function definition attempt
bash: error importing function definition for `x’
test

The word “vulnerable” is no longer printed so it seems that I’m okay now.

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Have you noticed how slow or laggy Google Chrome is now?

A recent update to Google Chrome (one of these versions seems to be the culprit… 35/36/37) seems to have caused some unintended side-effects. I noticed that it is now really slow when typing text into a web form, and selecting text is also quite tricky as the text selection “block” doesn’t seem to fill in your selection right up to the cursor, but only completes when you click CTRL/C. Basically it is a right royal pain to use and had me briefly switching back to Firefox (I forgot how bad it was, couldn’t even do print to PDF without having to install some dodgy plug-in).

Anyway, I did actually manage to downgrade Chrome to v34 and all was fine for a while until I had to reboot my laptop, whence Chrome automatically updated itself to the latest version and the problem came back.

Now I think I have managed to find the solution, disable “hardware acceleration”. There are those nerdy settings under chrome://flags/, but you can do it easier than that.

Go to “Settings” on the Chrome menu…

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Scroll to the bottom and select “Show advanced settings”:

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Scroll to the bottom and deselect “Use hardware acceleration…”

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I also disabled “Continue running background apps…”

Click on “restart” and it seemed to fix my problem. Let me know in the comments if it worked for you.

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Generating VAT invoices for Skype

Skype, in their infinite wisdom, have decided to remove the ability to download VAT invoices – this makes it tricky for those of us who want to claim back the VAT or use our personal Skype accounts and submit monthly expense receipts to our employers to cover the cost of using this service.

Fortunately a bright spark on the Skype community forums has found a way to generate invoices by modifying one of the URL’s as follows:

  1. Log into the Skype web site and find the purchase history record you want an invoice for.
  2. At the end of the URL, add the following (excluding quotes) ‘/invoice?regenerate=true’

 

 

Posted in Computers and Internet | Tagged | 8 Comments