Got a cloned clone R4 card - fake R4i3D - trying to identify

Discussion in 'NDS - Flashcarts and Accessories' started by vma, May 7, 2011.

  1. vma
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    Newcomer vma Member

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    Hi,

    About a year ago I bought a R4i3D at www.buyincoins.com.
    I know it is a cheap cloned clone of an R4, but it was very cheap and basically worked: I just downloaded the kernel at www.r4i3d.com and never had any trouble.

    Last week I had to order stuff at www.buyincoins.com and used the oportunity to order a second R4i3D, which I wanted to give as a present.

    The card arrived and looked exactly the same as the previous one:

    [​IMG]

    However, it would refuse to work with the SD I had working on my first R4i3D. I found that strange and investigated further:

    [​IMG]

    Closer look:

    [​IMG]

    As you can see, the PCB's are similar, but not the same!

    When I start the first card without an SD inserted, I get a white screen.
    On the new card, without an SD inserted, I get the NO CARD SIM image.

    When I start the first card with SD inserted, I get the R4 menu, it works.
    On the new card, with an SD inserted, I get the LOADING SIM image.

    Another difference:

    The first card will work based on a "Star Wars Lethal Alliance Ubisoft" hack.
    The second card will (should) work based on a "Alex Rider Stormbreaker THQ" hack.

    [​IMG]

    I assume that both cards, while having similar PCB's and same casing, use a different CPU/Flash, or at least a different firmware.

    The result is that the new card is looking for a different kernel. While there are only few truly different kernels, the firmware of the card will look for specific file names, and Chinese seem very eager to mess with those - if you end up not knowing what PCB you actually have (like in this case), you might have to try THOUSANDS of kernels to find the matching one!

    My questions:

    - Does any one by chance recognize what my new card/PCB is?
    - What other cards have the "no card/loading" sim card image? I tried DTTS, which has a similar ?Menu image, but it did not work.
    - Anyone with the same issue with a newly bought R4i3D?

    I am not sad, because this card did cost only 4.35 US$ on an otherwise great deal order. It is my mind that sees it as a challenge to get the damn card working...

    The last resort would be to de-solder the flash chip on the back of the PCB, dump its contents and search for file names, in order to understand what kind of kernel is needed. This however, does not justify the amount of work involved.

    Any help or suggestion appreciated.

    Again, I know the card sucks, it will be hard to find the proper kernel, if I find it, it won't have much support, ...

    It cost 4.35 US$ - what can you expect? So please spare me with that kind of replies!

    Cheers,
    vma
     


  2. Crystal the Glaceon

    Member Crystal the Glaceon GBAtemp Inkling™ Squishies~

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    Going to be honest with you, why not just be a little less cheap and buy an Acekard?
     
  3. vma
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    Newcomer vma Member

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    I like to hack!

    If I don't find any other solution I WILL DUMP THE FLASH to know what it is.

    I already have a working card, so this is rather a challenge to me.

    And btw. all cards are the same: they just have different firmware files. I would bet that I could externally flash my new PCB with the R4i3D binary and it would work.

    Different prices on cards are only due to support/packaging/updates/marketing. Some may have better PCB's, spring loaded SD-slots, etc.

    But at the end of the day, you get the same core product: either a Star Wars Alliance based hack, or an Alex Rider based hack. They will normally load the moonshl and thats it.

    Cheers,
    vma
     
  4. Briadark

    Member Briadark GBAtemp Regular

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    I've got fake carts a lot of time's.

    But the works so I don't care a lot.
     
  5. Buleste

    Member Buleste Old Fart

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    Chances are the old one with it still being the Star Wars lethal Alliance is a 1.4 compatible card and the newer one is a 1.4.1 compatible card which is why there are differences in the layout of the PCB and also in the hack used. The r4i-sdhc went through similar changes when they started producing the 1.4.1 cards.
     
  6. vma
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    Newcomer vma Member

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    Yep.

    This time, however, I have the problem that I don't know what fake it is... I tried a lot of different kernels, but no luck so far.

    What kernels are for firmware/cards that use the Alex Rider hack?

    Cheers,
    vma
     
  7. Buleste

    Member Buleste Old Fart

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    Most cards are on the Alex Rider Hack. The Supercard DSTwo uses the Alex Rider Hack and your card is definitely not a Supercard DSTwo. You cannot guess what kernel to use based on the hack that is used.

    Besides have you ever thought it is not a fake it is just a hardware and firmware update but the card is buggered?
     
  8. Evo.lve

    Member Evo.lve All that you could be.

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    It most certainly does not, it poses as Fish Tycoon.
     
  9. Buleste

    Member Buleste Old Fart

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    Apply the 3DS update and you will find it is now Alex Rider.
     
  10. Evo.lve

    Member Evo.lve All that you could be.

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    That makes no sense, because IIRC the Fish Tycoon hack was better than the Alex Rider one.
     
  11. Buleste

    Member Buleste Old Fart

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    Then have a word with the Supercard Team because they are the ones that did it. If you don't believe me apply the update one of the many joys of the SCDS2 is that you can downgrade back if you want to.
     
  12. Evo.lve

    Member Evo.lve All that you could be.

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    Defensive much? IIRC the Fish Tycoon bypass bypassed both 1.4 and 1.4.1 (?) whereas Danny Phantom did not, oh well.
     
  13. Buleste

    Member Buleste Old Fart

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    I usually do get defensive when people call me a liar. In fact most people do.
     
  14. vma
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    Newcomer vma Member

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    That was my first thought, but after trying all kernels available on www.r4i3d.com, both for the old and new card version they specify, the conclusion is that my card is definitely not one of them.

    Of course it could be broken, but I don't think so: it will identify as Alex Rider and show NO CARD or LOADING, accordingly. This means it can see the SD and it does something, so the CPU is not dead and the fw is flashed.

    I just think it is trying to load a kernel with some odd filenames.

    My questions remain:

    - What other cards use kernels for Alex Rider hack?
    - What other cards will show the NO CARD or LOADING sim picture?

    Cheers,
    vma

    PS: Don't start flaming each other - all the cards are mutually hacked, copied, pirated by Chinese companies. They probably sell at factory for 2 US$ without flashed fw. The distributor then programs them, using their fw development kit. Same with all the cheapo mp3 players.
     
  15. Buleste

    Member Buleste Old Fart

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    Like I said before things went off topic, you cannot try to find the correct kernel from your card based on the fact it uses the Alex Rider hack. Many many cards of all sorts of flavours use or have used the Alex Rider hack which would mean that you have to go through almost every single flashcard to find the right kernel.

    EDIT: I've just looked at the latest kernel on the r4i3ds.com website and it is exactly the same as the r4i-yes.com and the r4ipocket.com and is probably the worst kernel that you can ever find (it has it's own kernel and ttmenu that it uses). Try looking on the R4i-Yes.com site see if that one works on your new card.
     
  16. vma
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    Newcomer vma Member

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    I know that. My idea is that at least I w ould not have to go through ALL cards using Star Wars, as well.

    Looking at so many kernels right now, I figure that different cards/firmware look for only a few different file names, like:

    TTMENU.DAT
    R4i.3DS
    R4.dat
    IEDGE.DAT
    F_CORE.DAT
    _DS_MENU.DAT
    ...

    Different cards will probably start with different branded kernels, if the file names are the same. This I will try with the good card. It seems that if you have ANY R4 clone, you might just need to change the name of the *.DAT file to use kernels meant for different clones.

    So much about the "quality" of higher priced cards: at the end it's all the same.

    Cheers,
    vma
     
  17. AlanJohn

    Member AlanJohn くたばれ

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    I see IEDGE.DAT, probably an iEDGE clone.
    Have you tried using iEDGE firmware?
     
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  18. vma
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    Newcomer vma Member

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    I tried all listed and many more.

    None worked.

    I figure the card I have is some new cloned clone of a clone, which was put by some dumb head in an R4i3D case.

    It certainly is just another R4/R4i clone, but it does not respond to the common *.DAT file names.

    I copied them all on the SD, hoping I would get to the menu, but no luck. The same multi *.DAT SD will start on the good card (using the R4i.3DS file present).

    I am therefore assuming that "compatibility" is just an issue of the manufacturer messing with an hex editor in the fw binary to change the name of the file the boot loader loads upon start.

    Thats why my last resort will be dumping the flash to find the correct file name.

    Cheers,
    vma
     
  19. Buleste

    Member Buleste Old Fart

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  20. vma
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    Newcomer vma Member

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    I just made this test:

    My good card is an R4i3D. The corresponding kernel has a file called R4i.3DS on the root, which is what the firmware of the card loads.

    I now formated the SD card and copied the kernel of an R4iDSXL, which does have an R4i.DL file on the root.

    I renamed the R4i.DL to R4i.3DS and started the console with the good card and this SD.

    Naturally it booted and was recognized as being an R4iDSXL. This proves my point:

    All R4 clones use the same kernel base. They just change the skin and the addons/plugins. In order to refrain competition to use their kernel, they customize the firmware of their card to seek for a specific loader file: in case of the R4i3D it will look for R4i.3DS, the R4iDSXL will look for R41.DL and so on.

    Interesting how much one learns about the clone market!

    And yes, Chinese will even copy the whole website to go, changing only the color theme. LOL!

    Cheers,
    vma
     

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