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Author Topic: Is it bricked?!  (Read 12500 times)

XwpisONOMA

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Is it bricked?!
« on: January 15, 2014, 07:01:10 PM »

My DNS-323 had been working fine for the last 6-7 years without any problems at all and with minimal maintenance.

So recently I decided to do an upgrade, I was running f/w 1.08 and opted to go straight to 1.10.

Upon rebooting I noticed the box was accessible and was working fine except for the 2 LEDs for the HDs that appeared dead (i.e. not blinking at all) even though I was successfully transferring files back and forth, with no problem.

So I started reading here in the forum and found that 1.10 is not the most stable f/w but 1.09 is! So I started the process to downgrade to 1.09. But this time, I noticed it was taking longer to complete and at some point it became unresponsive. It got stuck at ~75% completion, the green progress line did not move at all past that point. After waiting for -almost- an hour(!), I pushed the blinking power button in and waited 'till the box shut down but it did not, even after holding the power in for more than 2-3 minutes(!).

I removed power, let it sit for a few seconds and pushed the power button to restart. It started blinking but there was no noise coming from the HDs as usual and no significant activity from the network LED, maybe an occasional flicker once every 10-15 seconds. Still no activity AT ALL from the 2 hard drive LEDs.

I've repeated this a few times with no change.

So ...

Is my DNS-323 bricked?

Why, what did I do wrong?

Most important, is there a way to fix it?

I am not concerned about the data, the HDs were reformatted and I had saved a backup of my files anyway. But I was very happy with the performance of this box (OK, for home-office use) and I'd hate to see it go to the graveyard, even though it was -probably- time for something newer and maybe better.

I guess they are right when they say "if it ain't broken don't fix it!"

However, is there hope or it's bricked for good?

Thanks -in advance- for your time and replies!
« Last Edit: January 28, 2014, 04:52:57 PM by XwpisONOMA »
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fordem

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Re: Is it bricked?!
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2014, 08:43:58 AM »

It certainly sounds like it - and whilst there are ways to recover form a failed firmware flash - they all involve making interface cables and hacking the unit, putting them a little too complex for most of us. 

Even though I have some experience and probably could do it, I question if it's worth the trouble - given the fact that these units are outdated and can be replaced with newer, better performing units at reasonable cost.

I bought another unit from another manufacturer.
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FurryNutz

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Re: Is it bricked?!
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2014, 09:08:47 AM »

Something to remember for future FW updates:

Disable any 3rd party PC security programs and browser add-ons when working with FW and devices. Use IE or FF for doing the actual file xfer. Some other browsers have been known to not correctly send FW files to devices. Always be LAN wired to the device with a PC. Do a factory reset before and after sending FW files, then set up the device.

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XwpisONOMA

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Re: Is it bricked?!
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2014, 09:27:20 AM »

Fordem, thanks for your reply -

We both agree there's definitely something newer and better than the DNS-323 to be purchased BUT I still think it's worth trying to resurrect this one. I have a feeling this can be done at a fraction of the cost for a brand new unit, plus for my home network this box was performing fine. Still would like to know what is the unit you replaced it with, just in case.

So, if you know, please point me to a link on f/w recovery. I am not afraid to "hack" and being good at soldering will come in handy if I have to "tinker" with the unit. I'd really like to have it back!

By looking at the m/b I noticed there is a small connection labeled CON4 which I suspect is my entry point, but with what(?). I am not sure if this is a straight-in serial or something else. If it said COM4 I'd say, yes, it's an RS232 port but it says CON4 probably meaning connection (I do not know). I am so determined to recover the unit, 'cause I wanted to load Alt-F to see if the HDs led problem would go away. If not the box was probably on its last leg.

Thanks!

--

BTW, I like the footnote, can't stress enough to some people that RAID-1 is not a backup but a backup could be (stored) on a RAID-1.    ;)
« Last Edit: January 16, 2014, 09:39:51 AM by XwpisONOMA »
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XwpisONOMA

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Re: Is it bricked?!
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2014, 09:36:10 AM »

FurryNuts, thanks for your reply -

Unknowingly, probably intuition, I did it exactly as you said: Made a backup of my data, saved a configuration file on my PC, restored to factory defaults, then did the f/w upload. I only failed to follow your advice re: the browser: I used Chrome. I felt confident doing that and it did work fine with going from 1.08 to 1.10. I am not sure why it failed going back to 1.09. I am using Windows7 Professional with the Security Essentials not sure if that was the issue, although I doubt it.

So any ideas (anyone) of where I can find instructions on how to recover from this mess?

Thanks for the input!
« Last Edit: January 28, 2014, 04:53:35 PM by XwpisONOMA »
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FurryNutz

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Re: Is it bricked?!
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2014, 09:40:20 AM »

Understand. I've helped a few people recover there routers from brick mode after they used Chrome. Not sure what about Chrome seems to be bad when handling FW files. We just have people try to play safe and use IE or FF and don't use any add-ons or PC security while working with FW.
FW Update Process

Unfortunately I don't think there is a recover mode like there is for routers. Might ask JavaLawer for additional information. I believe he and I talked about a user over in the EU region, I think, who works on DNS units.  ???

Hope you find some info.


FurryNuts, thanks for your reply -

Unknowingly, probably intuition, I did it exactly as you said: Made a backup of my data, saved a configuration file on my PC, restored to factory defaults, then did the f/w upload. I only failed to follow your advice re: the browser: I used Chrome. I felt confident doing that and it did work fine with going from 1.07 to 1.10. I am not sure why it failed going back to 1.09. I am using Windows7 Professional with the Security Essentials not sure if that was the issue, although I doubt it.

So any ideas (anyone) of where I can find instructions on how to recover from this mess?

Thanks for the input!
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ivan

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Re: Is it bricked?!
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2014, 09:50:33 AM »

First question, how good are you at soldering small close packed solder pads?  Then how good are you at making up multi-cable leads?

Those are the first requirements, then you must decide if you will go the serial or JTAG path while bearing in mind that there may be a physical reason for the flash to have failed.  The latter is the more probable reason considering your stated problems with the indicator LEDs.

The other thing you need to do is check you are getting 12v and 5v from the power supply under load.  If you are not that will also contribute to your problems.

As fordem says, without the necessary technical knowledge it is going to be an uphill battle with no guarantee of success at the end.
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FurryNutz

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Re: Is it bricked?!
« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2014, 09:53:20 AM »

There he is.  ;D
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XwpisONOMA

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Re: Is it bricked?!
« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2014, 10:51:25 AM »

Ivan, thanks for your reply -

1. I am very confident I can do a good soldering job even with close packed pads. I am a photographer (by day)/musician (at night) and I often make my own multi-lead cables. Not an electronics wizard but I do have decent solder equipment, and I've done this (customizing/hacking cable leads). Long story short, I believe I can do it.

2. I do know and have extensively worked with serial connections from a PC to various devices, but I had no idea what JTAG was (now I kinda do, I googled it). I would say go with the serial path since with JTAG there will be a (steep?) learning curve.

3. Yes, you are correct, there may be a physical problem with the unit, however it was ONLY the HDs leds that seemed to be constantly out. The Power and Networking leds work fine. And this happened ONLY after I (successfully!?) loaded f/w 1.10. Actually, I only noticed that after I had restored my configuration and I was on my way to transferring back my data, when I realized that the HDs were being accessed but the leds were not blinking. So I stopped and after reading up here in the forum I realized that I should have probably upgraded to f/w 1.09. Since it was clearly stated that going back to 1.09 from 1.10 was possible without any adverse problems, I tried it but it ...failed. What I'm trying to say is the unit was basically fulfilling its function fine, i.e. storing and retrieving data, so not having the two HDs leds not work was merely a nuisance, I should have left it alone but I didn't! So now you see why I am a little, well ...miffed, with my situation. My DNS323 was basically working fine and now it is NOT!  

4. I understand how you say "check you are getting 12v and 5v from the power supply" but how can I NOW test it "under load" if the unit is bricked? I did check the P/S (alone) and it does output 12 and 5 volts. Then I used it to power a spare HD I had, by using a specially made power cable, after I identified where the 12V and where the 5V is, and making the appropriate connections to the HD. It worked, the HD fired up all right and I was actually able to connect it to my pc (via an ATA/SATA bridge connector) and make some data transfers, it all worked fine, so I don't think I have a bad P/S.

5. I agree with all of you, this is not a project for a novice. I am not an expert but not a novice either. I want to try salvaging this unit, hopefully with a little help from you all I can do it. I do not intent to abuse your time/kindness and at the first sign that this is out of my "league" I 'll quit and fork the $$ for a new NAS box.

--

Now that I've answered your Qs here's some of mine:

Q1. That little white connector on the m/b labeled CON4, is that my "entry point"?

Q2. If NO what/where is my "entry point"? If YES, is that a normal serial (RS232) port or NOT?

Q3. If YES, what is the pin-out of the CON4 so I can match it to a RS232 (9-pin) DB9 plug?

Q4. If NOT, what kind of connection is it? What kind of cable do I need to buy/make to use it?

Q5. Assuming that using the proper cable, a connection to DNS323 has been established via CON4, what are the software requirements for loading a good f/w and recovering my unit? Can all this be done from a PC (with HyperTerminal, Putty, etc.) or do I need to set up a Linux (is Ubuntu ok?) box?

Thank you all for your time!
« Last Edit: January 16, 2014, 11:00:08 AM by XwpisONOMA »
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ivan

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Re: Is it bricked?!
« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2014, 11:47:43 AM »

You should be able to test the power supply under load, or at least enough of a load, by plugging it into the unit and trying to power it on [we have a special resistive load unit, but then we have to get equipment out of the door or our clients will be upset].  Locate the power pins on the board and measure the two voltages there with hard disks in place.  The reason I ask you to do that is that it should show up any partial, or full, short circuits.  Also check the capacitors for any bulging tops [in which case replace them] and check the ICs and processor for excessive heat [the processor should be warm not hot].

Power down, remove hard disks and get a magnifying glass and look at all components checking for any that appear discolored or where the solder joint looks as if it is broken.

If it passes those tests we move on to your questions.

A1.  Yes that is one of the entry points.

A2.  It is NOT a normal RS232 even though it will act as one if you have a voltage converter.

The best answer I can give to the other questions would be for me to grab our information in the morning, put it together as a pdf and PM it to you [thinking about it I might not have time until the weekend].

The only problem you might have is getting the components to make the voltage converter for ARM to standard RS323 converter.  I will also get my service manager to dig out the software and scripts we use [last time was over 12 months ago and that was caused by a power spike on the mains].
 
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XwpisONOMA

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Re: Is it bricked?!
« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2014, 12:57:23 PM »

Ivan -

I have already inspected the capacitors, when I disassembled the unit. I did not see anything out of the ordinary, I know how a blown capacitor, fried IC, over-heated resistor, etc. look like. All other components and solder connections also looked fine, albeit I did not look with a mag-glass. Will do it  shortly when I take it apart again to test the p/s voltages. Still, the unit was not over heating, I had it set to hibernate after 15 mins and I was monitoring its internal temperature via email. Whenever ON, it was running around 40-45 Celsius, which is normal right? 

Also, keep in mind that after I turn the unit ON nothing happens except the power button led blinks for ever. The HDs do not start and there is no noise from the unit whatsoever. So I am suspecting that the testing the p/s will not be very reliable since the only load will be coming from the m/b electronics. Anyway, I will do as you instructed.
   
I'd appreciate if you send me anything related but PLEASE take your time, YES, I'd like this NAS fixed (and learn in the process) but I am not in a hurry at all!

Wisely enough, I have made a backup (and a backup of the backup) of my data. Doing what I do for a living, we're talking about ~1TB of pictures, videos, songs/music and documents, etc.,  which is my professional production for the last 10 yrs or so, I'd have to kill myself if I lost it, but I do have backups.

--

So CON4 is "the way IN", basically if I understand, I need a serial (DB9) cable connected to a little device that will enable me to convert from RS232 to the ARM I/O which -correct me if I am wrong- can be also referred to as TTL (transistor transistor logic)?

If I am on the right path could n't I -then- use a USB to TTL cable I think they come ready with the required electronics/chip inside?

I am just asking this last question so I can read up until you have the time to respond with all the info, so I am not wasting your time.

Anyway enough for now, I think I can (we can) do this!

Thank you!
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fordem

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Re: Is it bricked?!
« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2014, 01:21:55 PM »

Now that I've answered your Qs here's some of mine:

Q1. That little white connector on the m/b labeled CON4, is that my "entry point"?

YES, it is

Q2. If NO what/where is my "entry point"? If YES, is that a normal serial (RS232) port or NOT?

It does not use RS232 standard voltages

Q3. If YES, what is the pin-out of the CON4 so I can match it to a RS232 (9-pin) DB9 plug?

Q4. If NOT, what kind of connection is it? What kind of cable do I need to buy/make to use it?

A JTAG cable

Q5. Assuming that using the proper cable, a connection to DNS323 has been established via CON4, what are the software requirements for loading a good f/w and recovering my unit? Can all this be done from a PC (with HyperTerminal, Putty, etc.) or do I need to set up a Linux (is Ubuntu ok?) box?

That one I can't answer.

Thank you all for your time!

Check your PMs.
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ivan

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Re: Is it bricked?!
« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2014, 01:44:16 PM »

Quote
So CON4 is "the way IN", basically if I understand, I need a serial (DB9) cable connected to a little device that will enable me to convert from RS232 to the ARM I/O which -correct me if I am wrong- can be also referred to as TTL (transistor transistor logic)?

Correct.  You can get one ready made from Amazon [RS232 to TTL converter board DCE with female DB9  3.3v to 5v  Made by NKC Electronics] for $9.95.


Quote
If I am on the right path could n't I -then- use a USB to TTL cable I think they come ready with the required electronics/chip inside?

The only thing with that is getting the necessary windows drivers.  Using a standard COM port on the computer means that you can use standard terminal programs for communication.

I checked earlier and I should be able to put together the information at the weekend - might even do it as an epub. after all one of the things we do is produce technical manuals.
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XwpisONOMA

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Re: Is it bricked?!
« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2014, 03:11:32 PM »

Thank you very much Fordem for the PM link (lots of useful info there, looks like a great site) and thank you Ivan for all the input so far. I have enough to study, how about calling it a day, I promise I won't "bother" you again for a few days. I'll also see how I can find that cable/converter or maybe build it myself. I know some (usually helpful) people who may have some electronics parts lying around (lol).

Again, all, THANK YOU for your feedback so far!
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XwpisONOMA

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Re: Is it bricked?!
« Reply #14 on: January 19, 2014, 12:03:35 PM »

ΟΚ, hello all!

I've spent the last couple days reading and learning more about how to unbrick the DNS-323 (thank you all for the input) and it basically boils down to this:

1. I searched the link Fordem provided to the DNS-323 wiki and there, I found this tutorial http://dns323.kood.org/howto:reflash_from_windows  which will try first and if not successful then explore other options i.e. from Linux.

2. I chose to get this 'Logic Adapter' --> http://dns323.kood.org/hardware:serial#bkamen_s_rs232-_logic_adapter  which is mentioned in that tutorial as one of the ways to connect to the NAS and I also installed (per the tutorial) a terminal emulator called "Tera Term".

3. Unfortunately, one of the tutorial's steps is downloading/installing a utility called "splitdns323fw" but the link is not working, so that's one roadblock to overcome.

4. However, the tutorial's author does provide a link with firmware v. 1.10 ALREADY split in the two files it consists of (e.g. Kernel and uRamdisk). So if I can't split my own firmware (version 1.09) I will have to use the ones provided and if successfully restored, downgrade to 1.09. Of course this is what I tried in the first place and ...failed, will see how it goes this time. Perhaps this time I should power the DNS-323 from a UPS just to eliminate bad grid power.

5. Given that I have all parts in place (adapter, term. emulator, f/w files, connection to NAS, etc) one last step needs to be explained: The tutorial says "match" the pins from the adapter to the NAS motherboard connection. I do know the pinouts on both sides but does this mean that Tx goes to TX and Rx goes to Rx or the opposite? i.e. Tx goes to Rx. To me the later makes more sense since a transmitted signal needs to be sent to the corresponding receiving end. But I really know nothing so I want to be sure before I try anything stupid and fry the unit for good.

BTW, I wanted to ask Ivan if this method (of recovering from Windows) has anything to do with your version that you mentioned might be able to provide. And thanks again for all the feedback so far!

Finally, I did check the power supply and it provides good/stable +5 and +12 volts. But I did not have the time to check connected to the unit. I will do so though before I attempt anything more elaborate and let you know. However, if I see no problems (significant voltage drop, shorts, etc.) will proceed with the recovery as per the tutorial.

--

Well, that's it for now, please if you have to time, do comment on the above, I will get back with more info, if not shortly, definitely by tomorrow, after I have the adapter and made the connection to the NAS unit.

Thanks again for your time and feedback!
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