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DaElderGeek
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Posts: 12
Registered: ‎06-20-2012
Location: Aurora, CO
Views: 4,289
Message 1 of 11

W510 BIOS Brick Recovery Possible?

I experienced a BIOS update failure on my Lenovo Thinkpad W510.  I've done it dozens of time over the years with no problems, but not this time.  I downloaded the BIOS update .iso from Lenovo's website, burned it to a DVD, and rebooted to Flash the update.  My battery was fully charged and and my laptop ws mounted on a docking station with a 135Watt AC adapter connected.  All seemed to be going well and it told me it had completed successfully but I should reboot with the disc in for further processing.  I followed the instructions but after rebooting nothing happened for about an hour.  At that point I knew the update had failed.  Now, when I power on a few lights flash for a bit, the CD-DVD drive starts up for a few seconds, but the screen remains black and after a while everything goes quiet.  My questions are:

 

1. Is it possible to recover and reflash the BIOS, or should I just:

    a. buy a new motherboard,

    b. buy a new BIOS chip to replace the dead one on the motherboard, or,

    c. use it too replace my broken door stop?

 

There''s lots of discussion of BIOS recovery techniques on this board and elsewhere around the internet but I haven't yet seen any indication that any of them have worked, and none of them appear to be recent.

 

Any insight will be appreaciated.

 

Santoku
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Posts: 188
Registered: ‎11-30-2010
Location: CA
Views: 4,267
Message 2 of 11

Re: W510 BIOS Brick Recovery Possible?

I don't necessarily have the solution, but some potential avenues to try. There may be a potential issue with the CMOS battery which could be contributing to the symptoms rather than the BIOS, or you could at least rule it out.

You could first try discharging it by doing the following:

- unplug the AC adapter and take out the battery
- push the power button 10 times in a row at one second intervals
- push and hold the power button for 30 seconds
- put the battery back in and push the power button

If that doesn't work, you can pull the battery itself, discharge the system overnight, and replace it. Read up here:

http://www.stafforini.com/blog/what-to-do-if-your-thinkpad-t520-wont-power-on/
DaElderGeek
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Registered: ‎06-20-2012
Location: Aurora, CO
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Message 3 of 11

Re: W510 BIOS Brick Recovery Possible?

Hi Santoku:

 

Things for your help and suggestions.  I've tried the 10xbutton push after shorting the CMOS battery pins early this morning.  I'll try it again just for the heck of it.  I haven't tried leaving it disconnected for 15 hours but will do so tonight.  I saw you were one of the guys trying to help in a similar situation some time ago (2012?).  That community member was trying to work with the "Lenovo-Phoenix Crysis" tool to make a bootable USB drive to force a reflash.  There was a lot of discussion of .FL1 & .FL2 files and converting one or mor of them to .WPH files for use in the force flash.  I didn't really understand all of that and there were obviously large and important steps not discussed.

 

How does one change a .FL1/.FL2 into a .WPH file?  I've managed to extract unpack the contents of the .exe file for BIOS version 1.45 and there are four .FL1 files:

 

1.in a folder labeled 6LET84WW

     a. S01C1100.FL1, and 

     b. S01C1100.FL1

2. in a folder labeled 6NET84WW

     a. S01C1300.FL1, and 

     b. S01C1300.FL1

 

I believe the BIOS version for the W510 began with "6N?" so I surmise I should be focusing on the files in folder number 2.  Both folders folders had a bunch of files with a .HSH extension.  My assumption is that those are "Hash" files to verify the correctnes of various elements of the flash?

 

Is it possible to recover/reflash my BIOS with the .FL1/.FL2 files above?  Do I have to convert them to .WPH files or, as mentioned in some threads, simply rename them.  If I have to convert them, what tool do I use?  I haven't seen any really good step by step instructions on the web for accomplishing it.  Most of the instructions I've seen talk about making "boot floppies" and the tools try to write to drive "A".  It's been a long time since I've seen a floppy drive.

 

Can you shed any light on any of this?  Sorry to hit you with all these questions but, to paraphrase Princess Leia, "You're my only hope."  :-)

 

Santoku
802.11n
Posts: 188
Registered: ‎11-30-2010
Location: CA
Views: 4,201
Message 4 of 11

Re: W510 BIOS Brick Recovery Possible?

That previous discussion was quite some time ago, and I was never able to find all the proper tools and files that were needed to try to try to re-flash the BIOS, so unfortunately I will not be much other help in that regard. 

DaElderGeek
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Registered: ‎06-20-2012
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Message 5 of 11

Re: W510 BIOS Brick Recovery Possible?

Not to worry; I've managed to find all the tools and created a rescue disk but haven't been able to figure out how to force a reflash.  So,  maybe I haven't figured out anything really.   Right now,  I'm thinking of just buying a new motherboard. 

Santoku
802.11n
Posts: 188
Registered: ‎11-30-2010
Location: CA
Views: 4,183
Message 6 of 11
DaElderGeek
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Registered: ‎06-20-2012
Location: Aurora, CO
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Message 7 of 11

Re: W510 BIOS Brick Recovery Possible?

I've looked at those (and more) and tried them all.  The system never tries to access the USB drive no matter which USB port I use.  To make sure the USB was FAT16, I created a 4GB partition on my 8GB drive and formatted it to FAT16.  I then created the Crisis  disk with no problem, but no joy.  It’s not dead though.  After I do the Fn+B, or Fn +R, or Fn+F, or Win+B, or Win+F or Win+R, the Keyboard lights flash, the CD/DVD drive grinds for a little but soon quits.  However the CPU area gets quite hot and the fan eventually comes on but the screen remains black.  The only thing I haven’t tried is making a boot CD.  I’m out of CD media but I have some coming in.  However, I have made a crisis disk with DVD media but I don’t think the system can read it in it’s crippled state.  I'll try that when my blank CD media arrives.

Santoku
802.11n
Posts: 188
Registered: ‎11-30-2010
Location: CA
Views: 4,147
Message 8 of 11

Re: W510 BIOS Brick Recovery Possible?

If you are getting some CD/DVD drive activity, then trying a boot CD might be your best bet. I have not had luck with using DVD's in these scenarios either. If that does not work, then in the following thread, the user bought a $30 pre-programmed BIOS chip off of eBay and had a local shop solder it on for a small fee, and had success. This might be less expensive than replacing the whole board.

http://forums.lenovo.com/t5/W-Series-ThinkPad-Laptops/WANTED-Thinkpad-W510-BIOS-FL1-or-WPH-Update-Fi...
DaElderGeek
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Registered: ‎06-20-2012
Location: Aurora, CO
Views: 4,135
Message 9 of 11

Re: W510 BIOS Brick Recovery Possible?

I saw that thread and this videos as well as this one.   As a result, just replacing the BIOS chip was my first thought.  I am an antique audio (vacuum tube) buff and have some soldering skills but would be reluctanct to work on anything that small.  I've checked around and it would cost me around $110 +/- ($40 chip + $85 labor) to have it done with no guarantee that it would work.  For about the same amount of money I can get a motherboard with a 60 day warranty.   My new CDR media is coming in Thursday and I'll try a boot CD and let you know what happens.

DaElderGeek
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Registered: ‎06-20-2012
Location: Aurora, CO
Views: 4,047
Message 10 of 11

Re: W510 BIOS Brick Recovery Possible?

I gave up on the bios recovery.  I found the exact used mobo on eBay (63Y1551 for $85) and installed it today.  It was labor intensive but it booted up just fine.  All that's left to do is restore serial number and product Id; or maybe I'll just live with the nag screen on boot up.

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