I seem to be getting at least two unsolicited questions a day from people who have inadvertently bricked their Eken M001/M002/M003 or Flytouch/noname tablets . So here’s a quick post with what I know about unbricking.

You should also try slatedroid, and hassle whoever is making custom firmwares to remove the unnecessary bootloader reflash steps. These dangerous reflashes are what is causing so many tablets to brick in the first place.

Also, always plug your tablet in to the charger when flashing. Never unplug it or turn it off while it’s flashing, even if you’re accidentally flashing it twice. Seriously, people.

Bootloaders

WM8505 tablets have a pre-bootloader called W-Load, then a bootloader called u-boot, then the main OS boots.

U-boot will read a custom boot script from a file “script/scriptcmd” on an SD card, if it is present. This is how upgrades and reflashes work. U-boot is also capable of interacting with the user via the built-in 3.3v serial port, if you solder some wires to it.

Stuck on the ‘Android Logo’ boot screen

This is the first screen, which also says “Kernel Version X.Y.Z” and “SDK Version X.Y.Z.”. This screen is put up by u-boot.

If you’re stuck on this screen then u-boot is loading, which is a good sign. If putting in an SD card with an upgrade script does not work, then it may be broken in some other way. You may be able to connect a serial cable and interact directly with u-boot to issue commands.

Before you bother with the serial cable, make very sure you have formatted your SD card correctly (FAT32) . Try reformatting and re-copying all the files to the SD card, and then try using a different SD card. Various people have reported that only SD cards 2Gb or smaller work reliably.

Stuck on the ‘Android’ “shimmer” boot screen

If you’re stuck on the next boot screen (the text ‘Android’ that shimmers back and forth) then Android has started loading but is crashing. Reflash via the SD card.

Blank screen

If you have a totally blank screen then this is a much worse sign. In my experience, I’ve seen three possible things:

If the red power light blinks on when you press Power but then immediately goes out

Then you have a fault in your power circuit on the board. In my Eken, I can still make it boot if I take the back off and heat up the board with a heat gun (hair dryer would also work.)

If the red power light stays on and eventually you hear the ‘ding’ startup sound

(Instead of the ‘ding’, another sign is if you can connect it to your computer via USB.)

Then your Eken is working but your LCD panel is not. It might be broken, or it might be a bad connection. I’ve had luck pressing (lightly) around the edges of the screen.

If the red power light stays on but you don’t eventually hear any ‘ding’ startup sound

Then your Eken is probably stuck either loading W-load or u-boot. There are some anecdotal reports that these boards will still take a normal SD card based update, so try some different firmwares via SD card as a first step.

If that doesn’t work then you probably have a brick. The only way from here would be to reflash directly or via JTAG, and noone has found a JTAG pinout on these boards. You can connect the serial port to be 100% sure, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

EDIT: Ziann123 has posted a comment about unbricking via JTAG. Apparently he has a newer revision board, where the JTAG pinout is broken out and clearly labelled.

I have none of the above

If you have different symptoms, feel free to post in the comments. You’ll probably get better responses by posting on slatedroid, though.

50 thoughts on “Unbricking WM8505-based tablets

  1. My symptoms are:

    1-pushing on/off turn red light on imediately
    2-black screen but sometimes flashing briefly
    3-tried and screen is fine
    4-pushing on/off when on turn imediately red light off

    No white screen here and no logo just black screen
    I tried diferent combination of keys but still
    I tried to connect to PC with ipod cable and no go
    I tried the special USB conector I made changing pins and conecting to PC screen turn on white
    I tried 10 diferent firmware + WinCE + Linux and no go
    Black screen

    I really apreciate your help.

    Thank you

  2. Why, you don’t try to unplug the processor to show how it connected and to know if the jtag pinout int thes board ? if you do that, please dont forget to make a picture in the blog. thank you, for all.

  3. thank for your response.
    I seen where is the JTAG Connector in the ship (at the bottom right) but i don’t know, where the contructor pinout the connector. I think my probleme is that SD Card is empty. I search a solution to rewrite in the W-Load and U-Boot program.

  4. My M001 hang at Android logo after firmware upgrading. I tried to run upgrading from SD again but it dun work.
    I looked into the console and i can see the below logs and it stop at “Hit any key to stop autoboot: 0”
    If i hit any key i am able to proceed to the WMT# prompt.

    Any advice how can i proceed from here or recover the crash ?

  5. shiki – If you have the WMT# u-boot prompt then you should be able to recover. What do you see on the console if you boot with the SD card in? (I suggest pasting to somewhere like pastebin.com if you can.)

    – Angus

  6. Did you have the upgrade SD card in the slot when you booted? Because it looks like it was not found. I need to see what happens when the normal upgrade process tries to run. :)

  7. Hi Angus,
    Yes, my 2BGSD was inserted before power up, I tried FAT16/32 all dun work at all. During the boot, it just hang after “Hit any key” if i dun touch it:
    ….
    ….
    reg op: 0xD8130054 | 0x1
    ### main_loop: bootcmd=”nand read 0 0 300000;bootm 0″
    Hit any key to stop autoboot: 0 <——- Hang here

    If hit a key inside wmt# prompt, I tried the command mmcinit….and it went hang too

  8. Sounds like your SD card slot may be physically broken, then. The boot process should mention if it finds an SD card.

    I’d first try a different SD card (just to be sure) then maybe check the physical solder connections between the SD card slot and the board. Maybe inserting the SD card flexed the slot a little and broke a bad solder joint?

  9. I do wish is the sd card issue as I did tried quite a few sdcard running on fat16 but of no avail too. On the other hand, i had used ohm meter to test slot joint and ensure no broken connection too.
    I suspect the uboot did not had any SD card parameter that why cause mmcinit stuck, if not normally without or missing SD the uboot should throw error such as “no SD inserted”, in my case it just stuck, without error.
    Since I’m still able to console in uboot, is there way to change uboot boot parameter without saving permanent as not to brick it?

  10. AH yes, you’re correct. The output on mine is as follows:

    ### main_loop: bootcmd=”nand read 0 0 300000;bootm 0″
    Hit any key to stop autoboot: 1  0
    ATSMB Host 390KHz
    SD Card is not inserted
    Read finsih
    ## Booting image at 00000000 …

    … but everything above looks identical in yours.

    I don’t know exactly what the “ATSMB Host” is, I think it is the initial SD card clock rate. If it’s hanging before then, then possibly the SD card host is damaged somehow?

    No shorts between pins in the SD card slot, at all?

    I don’t have any other ideas, sorry. Will let you know if something springs to mind. Good luck!

  11. hi, my eken in the boot dont complete,

    I tried to update the firmware again, more the same thing for in

    Upgrading file-system…..
    Please wait…
    much time, and it does not ask to move the SD card for new boot with firmware, I tried already slate firm, scotox, and it swims: (

    is there anyone solution? firmware of log, debug, in process of updating or of boot to carve in the SD Card?

    tks

  12. is possible build a spi flash programmer? so with it, load the w-boot and u-boot on the flash memory. by the way, what chip flash has the Eken?
    I have a mini netbook with wm8505 and I think the flash chip is a 25q80scp.
    – Edmian

  13. very very good information Angus, I have that problem, no output on serial console. Im think that the spi flash programmer is a solution easier than to find out the jtag.
    I have to looking for more information about spi flash programmers and spi flah chips.
    Thank you very much Angus.

  14. Hi Augus,
    Thanks for your help, I confirmed that my SPI Flash was corrupted.
    Lucky i managed to erase and reflash my SPI flash successfully.
    Now everything back to life again.

    I guess alot of bricked m001 was due to crappy package of EN25F40-100GCP, it is so unstable that any modification will corrupt it if we do it inside m001. Only external flasher able to reprogram it.

  15. Hi Shiki!, I want to ask you, what kind of flasher did you use? did you buy it? or did you build it?
    Thanks, Edmian.-

  16. Hi Edmian,
    To simplified the process, i used the most easiest way for me using the below config OS, SW and SPI Flasher:

    OS: Ubuntu 10.04
    SW: flashrom (http://flashrom.org) install via ubuntu package
    SPI Flasher:FT2232H/FT4232H-based USB-to-serial controllers (http://flashrom.org/FT2232SPI_Programmer)

    For spi flash, you can DLP-USB1232H Single Channel High-Speed USB Adapter (buy from electronic store) connect it soic8 using the wiring http://www.coreboot.org/images/2/26/Dlp_usb1232h_spi_programmer.pdf

    As on hand i dun have any 3.3V voltage regulator and capacitor, i just get my stable 3v dc from 3v coin battery :p

    Let know if u have other qns :)

  17. This is a supposition and may be undesirable for all sorts of reasons:

    Adding a line to script/scriptcmd or choosing firmware containing this instruction appears to unstuck my tablet when I have had problems flashing as in “Stuck on the ‘Android Logo’ boot screen” or “Blank screen”.

  18. WTF, EKEN dont have boot loaded can be installed to SD in case SPI Flash and internal SD (NAND) failed. Android too much read/write to NAND and it will be failed soon.

  19. Segun lo que entendi, para reprogramar la tablet hay que utilizar un cable usb a serie, soldar los 4 pines qe se encuentran en la tablet. Lo que no entiendo si de ser asi, se soldan al conector serie o al usb, y luego de lograr esto, con que software cargamos la programacion y que programacion se utiliza?

  20. Hi Felipe,

    Hopefully Google Translate understands you. The USB serial cable will let you see if the u-boot loader is still intact. It may not let you reprogram the tablet, and reprogramming will not be easy. The pins on the board (follow the link in my post) are 3.3v serial pins. Do not try this if you are not comfortable with doing it, just save time and money and buy another tablet.

    Sorry,

    – Angus

  21. hi

    a have flased my flytouch with the wrong firmware
    now i cant reflash anymore
    the tablet wil start but touchscreen not working
    i have used multiple firmwares but it wont start the script

    at boot i get the relax 2.02 logo
    and firmware 1.8.2

    wo can help please ????
    nico

  22. Hello, my wm8505 read the sdd images and all everything works except the installation.
    Uboot therefore is not broken right?

    Thanks.

  23. Hello, thanks for reply :)
    Yes! Tested on android it work!
    Hi have the mini smartbook wm8505, tested much firmware but does not work, only whith this version of android:

    http://www.bluecosto.com/script.zip

    Is normal?
    I may have damaged portions of memory but will work with this firm?!? I am very confused :/

    Thanks :)

  24. Hello

    Hi i had a problem with my no name droid pad
    and also via chipset8505
    1. I had startup screen but, nothing appear after the booting sequence, and also there’s “ding” sound which sign that the pad can enter the OS.
    2. How to open M002?there’s no screw at all

    can you give me some advice pls

  25. @Genta

    there are screws but you need first to peel off the cover of the screen (the black cover) on the corners there are 4 small screws.
    do it carefully. :)

  26. Please for help!

    After firmware upgrading on my MID tablet WM8505 with:

    Android Ver: 1.6
    Kernel ver: 2.6.29
    WMT SDK ver: 1.9

    After starting, the buttons don’t work correctly.
    Touchscreen don’t work.
    The battery status not displayed.

    I can work width external keyboard and mouse.

    I tried to run upgrading (width WMT2.0 105) from MicroSD again, but it dun work.
    After starting the tablet show the first row something like this “instalig begin – please wait”
    and after 2-3 sec. system begin starting the olready installed version.

  27. I threw the firmware on an SD card, ran the tablet, the display shows “installing the firmware will start in 8,7,6 and so on.
    But suddenly I remembered that I had the camera turned, and I squeezed off button to cancel the firmware, I thought I have time, but managed to flash started, and you can see the “Update U-Boot” or get by the case, and the tablet is turned off.
    Now when you press the power button is illuminated green LED, but nothing on the screen does not show up and flash does not start, tried many firmware and on and on FlyTOuch Eken m001 \ m003, nothing happens, but he Appliances heats up as well as before

    And yet, and now to turn the tablet does not need to clamp the power button, all on a single click on trial and he will turn on or off ….
    Can I get by rebuild my tablet?

  28. Hi! I had blank screen (system dont start) issue on my son’s EKEN m003 after hard-reset after system freeze. Now I can start upgrading process but in step of “Update files” i get “Erase file-system partition fail. maybe kernel dont supprt NAND flash” message…
    And there is no difference that firmware used,- still that message at this stage…
    Is it still possible to get device to live? Maybe full battery unplug of decharge can help?
    Sincerelly yours, Vacheslav Maximoff

    • Vacheslav – Are you sure the device is an M003, not something similar? If it is definitely an M003, your flash has possibly failed – nothing much you can do, sorry. If it’s something else, you need to find a firmware that matches it. Good luck. – Angus

  29. have an off brand Chinese android tablet.
    It is hung on start. I have the Android critter and the info:
    Android 2.2, kernel 2.6.32, build # V1.1.1.
    tablet is labeled VIA ARM926. 256 ram.
    There is no name on it. It vibrates at start up.
    Do you have any idea where I could ID firmware and download it to reinstall?

  30. I have the eken m001 nad it is stuck at the wavy android screen. It just stays there forever. I am able to reflash it via sd but it never gets past that point. I have had this thing for like 2 years with the same problem. What is the next step to check?

  31. hello i have 1 pc 128MB 2GB 300MHz Yoshima M70003 MID 7 “, it was Brick.
    spi flash chip 25Q80SCP my, can I use to load uboot-wm8505.bin 512KB.
    I know the chip is 8Mbit 25Q80SCP.
    if one bin file for this chip for my share.
    Thank you!

  32. chinese Apad WM8505 processor. 128 Mb RAM.

    bricked by flashing wrong firmware.

    now while running update script is stucks at “prepare software package…” and nothing happens then for long time.

    please resolve

  33. Hi,

    I get the following error, regardless of which firmware I’m trying to install:

    Error: can not find wload: firmware/w-load_DDR3_5_3_1_2_512MB ……

    I’m not sure what this means or how to fix it. Any ideas?

  34. I have reinstalled firmware on my generic chinese tablet, and now he screen has gone blank. any hlp would be great thanx.

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