MP3 Player Recovery and Hacking

Conclusion and Outcome :

After loading the slightly modified firmware image with the replacement introduction animation binary, the player did roughly display the correct intro screen on powerup, however it was rather garbled, and included an animation sequence that did not originally exist (garbled text runs across the screen before "Ministry Of Sound" is displayed). The powerdown "Goodbye" message is also pretty garbled and misaligned, but quite distinctive nonetheless.

Surprisingly, the player did actually work, in that it could play MP3s, record WAV files, and display readable text on the LCD while doing so. There were also some small but annoying spelling mistakes in the menus which were very easily fixed by editing the strings binary files

Unfortunately, due to my inability to understand either polish or chinese, it is very hard to work out what other information is available out there, particularly on forums such as elektroda.pl, where other users may have determined how to split the PM.bin file back into separate binaries. Again, if any reader here can understand polish and could translate the relevant information from here, please let me know. Also, if anyone has a datasheet for the M5661R B1, or any information on how the firmware is made, this information could be very useful. The best way to contact me is through the forums at LaptopServiceManuals, under the section ALi M5661 Based MP3 Players, where any questions or findings posted may be of benefit to other visitors.

Lessons Learned:

The most obvious would be to always use new, good quality batteries. The whole mess of reloading the firmware could have been avoided had the player not had its firmware corrupted through rapid power cycling.

Loading the wrong firmware will not magically make it work again. I made the mistake of loading firmware which, while similar, was designed for a player with a different type of display and button layout. When you do this, the player will NOT power up or respond to pushed buttons. It will however work as a storage device. The biggest problem of randomly loading new firmware is that it erases the original firmware, which leaves you with nothing to compare to other firmware images out there. Even if damaged, it may be possible to reconstruct the missing bits from a similar firmware image, and you stand a better chance of making the player work properly again.

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