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Archive for December 19th, 2010

Opening a USB Stick

After I failed to fix that old USB memory, my friend suggested a brain transplant: swap the Flash chip from the dead stick into a new one. That has a low chance of success because the innards will be different for every manufacturer and, even for USB sticks of the same vintage, nothing remains the same from lot to lot.

Anyhow, I removed the fancy end caps from the donor stick, which looks to be swag from a medical conference:

Case caps removed

Case caps removed

The key step is to crack the case open without damaging anything inside. This technique works wonderfully well:

Cracking the case

Cracking the case

Grab diagonally opposing corners in a bench vise and slowly increase the clamping force until the case snaps apart. Poke a screwdriver in the gap, remove the case from the vise, and pry the thing open.

As it turned out, the innards were completely different: different Flash controllers and different Flash memory chips. So it goes.

Not surprisingly, you can find the data sheets / manuals / configuration utilities for the Flash controller chips by searching for the obvious keywords. Machine translation is your friend…

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