The Deliverator – Wannabee

So open minded, my thoughts fell out…

Hardware hacking on the H320

Posted by Deliverator on January 6th, 2005

I wrote earlier about my experience flashing my US H320 with the international (Korean) version of the firmware in order to get some of the neat features that are only present in the international firmware (video playback, built-in file manager, misc improvements). On the international version of the players, there is a secondary USB port for connecting the H320 directly to flash drives, camera card readers, cameras and other MP3 players! This is known as “USB On The Go” or USBOTG for short. On the US model (with US firmware) this secondary port is present, but functions as a special DRM media port for transferring DRM’d music files (only works with WMP 10 at this point). I could care less about playing DRM files and really wanted to be able to use my H320 as a digital wallet for storing photos from my digital camera while on long trips. I didn’t have much success (although a few devices worked) in getting the port to work at first. I finally figured out that the only devices that worked were those that supplied their own power (i.e. wall wort powered USB HDD) . After closely comparing pictures of the circuitboards on the US and Internation models, I noticed that the trace that supplies pin 1 of the auxilary USB port with +5v power had been cut on the US models. Some brave souls from the MisticRiver forums did some very precise soldering and managed to bring in +5v from nearby on the circuit board. This simple mod re-enabled full functionality of USBOTG on US models that had been flashed with the international firmware! As I mentioned in a prior post, the US model is selling for ~$260 at Best Buy. The European/Asian models have tended to sell for significantly more. Now, by simply flashing the firmware and soldering 1 wire, anyone could have the full functionality of the international model at the significantly lower US price!

I wasn’t quite brave enough to open up my case to do the mod. I still want to be able to take advantage of iRiver’s warranty, should I break it, and soldering on a new wire would be a obvious warranty coverage violation. Also, my surface mount soldering skills leave something to be desired, partially because all my irons have rather old, mangled tips. I figured out a couple other ways to supply the missing power to external devices. In the end, I decided to modify a flash card read to get the needed (+5v) power from a set of 4 AA NIMH rechargeable batteries. I ordered the smallest CF reader I could find that would read a CF type II card (for use with microdrives) off eBay. It is fairly generic, but is manufactured by or named KAWAU. It ended up costing me $1 for the reader and $10 for the shipping from Hong Kong! The battery box and connector cost me $1.50 at Frys in Renton. You could definately do this even cheaper, but I was looking for something small. Anyways, I did the mod on the flashreader and everything is working swimingly. Here are some links to pictures of the mod: