Switch Hacking 101: How to launch the Homebrew menu on all FW

Discussion in 'Switch - Tutorials' started by jjbredesen, May 15, 2018.

  1. jjbredesen
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    Welcome to Switch hacking 101!

    The goal of this thread is to prepare users for CFW / HB in a safe manner, to avoid bricks and bans and keep all the information end users should need in one place with simple and easy to understand language.

    Please note that Homebrew is in its early days, and thus several things might not work on the FW you are currently on, check back here often for updates.



    So, you want to hack your Switch? Then let’s get started.

    Note: This is for running the HB launcher through Hekate, Atmosphere has not been released. The guide will be updated once Atmosphere is ready for the end user.


    Introduction to FW and blocking updates:

    First, figure out what FW you are on, to do this go to settings and scroll down to system.

    [​IMG]

    Under system update you will see “Current system version: x.x.x” this is the FW you are currently on.

    If the number is between 1.0.0 and 4.1.0 you will want to block updates, why?

    On newer FW Nintendo can patch certain loopholes that let us run Homebrew, for you to get the best experience staying on lower FW is always better. Currently the versions mentioned above have a softmod exploit. Softmod means that the hack only requires software modifications, later FW 5.x require a minor hardmod, this will be explained further in the relevant section.

    Blocking updates is easy, follow this guide: https://switch.hacks.guide/blocking-updates

    Come back when you are done.


    The Homebrew launcher.

    Now that you know what FW you have we can start to look at how you can hack your Switch.

    Before we get into what you can do, you will need to access the Homebrew Launcher. The Homebrew launcher is a “home menu” for homebrew apps.

    [​IMG]


    Method 1: Fusee Gelee, getting into the Homebrew launcher (ALL FW)

    If you purchased a Switch in late July 2018 or later, it is possible you have a unit that has this exploit patched.


    We will be using a method that works on all FW, this is the “hardmod” you heard about earlier.

    >See the other methods in this guide for softmods on lower FW.


    The hardmod is known as Fusee Gelee, discovered by the Reswitched team.

    Before you continue you will need the following items:

    - micro sd card (32GB minimum, but you will want a 64GB or larger card in the future)

    - A computer

    - A screwdriver / paperclip / needle or something else small made of metal

    - USB A to USB C cable, this would be the same cable as your phone charger (Android) or the Switch Pro controller charger

    [​IMG]





    This is where the fun begins. As always modifying your console can damage it, so make sure to follow this guide in detail. I am not responsible if you damage your Switch.



    To begin, you will need to download a few things on your computer:

    >TegraRcmSmash by @rajkosto with GUI by @eliboa

    Download: https://github.com/eliboa/TegraRcmGUI/releases/tag/1.3.0

    This program will allow you to execute payloads on the Switch, payloads are special .bin files that contain different hacks.

    Download the .zip and extract it to a folder on your Desktop.

    [​IMG]


    Your computer will also need drivers that will work with Switch, we will get back to this later, but for now download and install this program: https://zadig.akeo.ie/


    Now that we can run payloads, we will need a payload that let’s us run the Homebrew launcher. In this case we will be using a payload called Hekate by nwert.

    >Download the sd files:

    https://github.com/tumGER/SDFilesSwitch/releases

    >Then download this .bin file:

    https://github.com/CTCaer/hekate/releases/

    You will have 2 files.

    A .zip file and a .bin file.

    Insert your micro sd card in your computer. Now open the .zip (sdfiles) and extract the content to the root of your sd card.

    Keep the .bin on your desktop for now.


    Homebrew Appstore:

    You will also want the Homebrew Appstore by @vgmoose and @pwsincd , so can easily download and update homebrew apps from your Switch, think of it as a Eshop for homebrew.

    [​IMG]

    Download:

    https://github.com/vgmoose/appstorenx/releases

    On the root of your SD card make a folder called “switch”

    Place the Appstore folder from the zip in the Switch folder (sd:/switch/appstore/)

    You can now remove the sd card and put in back in the Switch!


    RCM mode

    To run payloads in Switch we need to boot it into a special recovery mode.

    Doing this is relatively simple but can require some time to get working.

    1. Turn off your Switch by holder power and then choosing shutdown.

    2. Remove the joycon

    Now you should find the needle / screwdriver / pin / paperclip.

    On the right joy con rail, at the bottom you will be able to see ten tiny pins used to connect the joy con in handheld mode. To boot into RCM pin 10 needs to be grounded.

    What this means is that pin 10 must connect to pin 9, 7 or 1 OR a screw on the rail. To do this you can bend a paperclip like the picture below or look at other methods people have used in the following thread: https://gbatemp.net/threads/the-ultimate-list-of-mods-to-enter-rcm.502145/

    [​IMG]


    Once you feel like you have grounded pin 10 we can move on.


    Place the pin / needle etc. in the rail grounding pin 10. Now turn on your switch while holding volume +.

    If you have successfully grounded pin 10 nothing should happen, the screen should not even turn on, if this is the case you have successfully booted into RCM mode.

    Now connect the Switch to your computer using the USB C to USB A cable. Windows should make a sound saying a APX device is connected.

    Installing the drivers:

    As I mentioned above we will need drivers to use Switch with our computer.

    You should have downloaded the program Zadig earlier.

    [​IMG]

    If your Switch is connected to the computer it should show up as APX in Zadig, select it in the top dropdown menu.

    For the driver type, cycle the arrows until you see libusbK (v3.0.7.0) in the text box (IMPORTANT!)

    Click the big Install Driver button.

    Congrats, you are now ready to run payloads on Switch!


    Making a backup:

    Before doing anything else on Switch, it is important that you make a backup of your system memory. This will allow you to restore it if you make any mistakes in the future.

    Now that drivers are installed and your Switch is in RCM mode, you can open TegraRCMSmash GUI.

    In the program select the payload.bin file you downloaded earlier and click “inject payload” button.

    Your Switch screen should now turn on with a small menu like the picture below:

    [​IMG]

    You can use the volume buttons to navigate the menu and the power button to select things.

    Now go to tools…

    [​IMG]

    Now select Dump Emmc Rawnand.

    This will take some time, but once you are done you will have a backup for your entire NAND on the SD card. Copy the backup from the SD card to your computer for safe keeping.

    Booting Hekate and using the Homebrew menu.

    Now that you have a backup you are safe to use any homebrew you want! Not all apps are updated for all FW, but they are being worked on.

    If you have turned off your Switch and placed your backup on the PC, you need to boot back into RCM. (bridge pin 10, and hold down volume + while booting) connect your Switch back to the PC and run the payload again from TegraRCMSmash.

    [​IMG]

    This time, chose launch and then CFW


    Your Switch will now boot into the OS!

    When you open the Album the homebrew menu should launch instead!

    You are now free to download any homebrew apps you want from the Appstore.

    Note: You will need to run the payload every time you want to replace the Album with the homebrew launcher.

    Not all Homebrew works on 4.x and 5.x, you can find a list of working homebrew here, this information could however be outdated when you read this, so you can always try them on the appstore: https://gbatemp.net/threads/a-list-of-all-the-homebrew-that-currently-works-with-5-0-2.503515/

    Getting into Hekate "on the go"

    By now you hopefully understand the basics of how to run a payload on your Switch, and should be able to repeat the steps above without any issues.

    If that is the case, and you own a Android phone you can also use the app NXloader to run payloads from your phone, instead of TegraRCM Smash, you can download the app here: https://github.com/DavidBuchanan314/NXLoader/releases

    Download the .apk file from github and install it on your android device. Copy the payload.bin file from your PC to the phone.

    If you have a USB C to USB C cable you can now also run the payload from your phone!


    Softmod guide for 1.0.0-3.0.0


    If you want to use the HB menu on 1.0.0-2.3.0 follow this guide (advanced): https://switch.hacks.guide/homebrew-launcher-(pegaswitch)

    If you want to use the HB Menu on 3.0.0 follow this guide (easy): https://switch.hacks.guide/homebrew-launcher-(installer)
     
    Last edited by jjbredesen, Jul 10, 2018 at 7:03 PM - Reason: Added a warning due to Fusee Gelee patched units being reported in the wild
  2. jjbredesen
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    jjbredesen Developer

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    - Reserved for updates and to answer common issues users report-

    Issue 1: My Switch turns on normal when i plug it into my PC!


    Answer: If that is the case you have not booted into RCM, make sure pin 10 is grounded and try again.

    Issue 2: I followed all the steps, but my Switch does nothing when I inject the payload!

    Answer: Make sure you have the right drivers, and do not use a USB hub, make sure it is connected to a port on your actual computer.

    Issue 3: Homebrew App "x" does not work, why?

    Answer: Most apps do not work yet on higher FW, they were designed for 3.0.0, and thus need to be updated by the developers, keep checking for new updates on the HB App store :)

    Issue 4: The homebrew app store is stuck on a loading screen.

    Answer: Make sure you are connected to the internet, wifi can be a bit unstable in Hekate :)

    ---
     
    Last edited by jjbredesen, May 16, 2018
  3. satan89

    satan89 GBAtemp Fan

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    Good guide, thank you.

    Noob question - does Hekate mess up the console's battery calibration?
     
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  4. jjbredesen
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    jjbredesen Developer

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    There have been reports from some users, but it seems rare. Fixing it is as easy as holding down power for 15 seconds to discharge the capacitors.
     
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  5. Galaxysm

    Galaxysm Member

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    Feb 28, 2018
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    Thanks a lot for this! Now i can make a backup. :)
     
  6. peteruk

    peteruk GBAtemp Advanced Maniac

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    Jun 26, 2015
    thank you for this, really helpful

    there's so many threads on so many things scattered through out the section and now it's all in one place, good job
     
  7. jjbredesen
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    jjbredesen Developer

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    Thank you, glad I could help :)
     
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  8. Dayr

    Dayr Newbie

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    May 23, 2007
    What about 3.0.2? Currently none of them works, but the first one will "soon", right?
    I guess we could update with a game, but why risk it? :P
     
  9. eliboa

    eliboa Advanced Member

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    Jan 13, 2016
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    Good guide, well explained and simple :yay:
    Btw TegraRcmGUI 1.3 is out, you should probably update the link ;)
    Edit : 1.3 includes APX driver so you don't have to install Zadig anymore.
     
    Last edited by eliboa, May 15, 2018
  10. jjbredesen
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    jjbredesen Developer

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    Yep! Once Atmosphere is out or someone "Ports" Hekate to 3.0.2 it will work :)

    Thanks, have updated OP :)
     
    Last edited by jjbredesen, May 15, 2018
  11. Kafluke

    Kafluke GBAtemp Psycho!

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    Great guide
     
    peteruk likes this.
  12. choco_crafteur

    choco_crafteur Newbie

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    May 2, 2018
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    hi !
    first, thanks for this very great guide :)

    here's my problem :
    i've only a 16 gb, so i've only make a backup of the sys and the boot part, is that problematic ?
     
  13. Akuseru06

    Akuseru06 Developer

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    Jan 8, 2018
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    The guy who told is hekate is dangerous and not for user end is now telling us how to install and use it...
     
  14. jjbredesen
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    jjbredesen Developer

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    That should work fine! System and boot is what you would want to restore if something brakes.
     
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  15. choco_crafteur

    choco_crafteur Newbie

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    ok, thanks :)
     
  16. jjbredesen
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    jjbredesen Developer

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    Well... now that we know Nintendo also has the same "wrong" config, we can assume that it does not damage the SoC. Regardless as a lot of people are trying to run it, and failing or even bricking there Switches I thought it would be smart to have a safe guide for users to follow.
     
  17. KTroopA

    KTroopA GBAtemp Fan

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    Mar 15, 2007
    Ahh so clear just what the doctor ordered. now we are looking at switch hacking in HD. thank you for this :)

    look forward to updates as they unfold.

    [​IMG]
     
  18. WDragon

    WDragon Advanced Member

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    ****Unknow*****
    You rock dude! Continue the good work ;)
     
  19. NiftyBeard

    NiftyBeard Newbie

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    May 10, 2018
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    Sweet, hopefully we can get this pinned on the discord.
     
  20. jjbredesen
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    jjbredesen Developer

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    Sure, try to suggest it :)
     
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