Palm LifeDrive with SanDisk Extreme III 4GB

I am a happy owner of Palm LifeDrive.
Before modifications that I have made, I couldn't say the same ;)
Inspired by :
Howto replace microdrive with compactflash in LifeDrive
and
How to manually install PalmOS on a LifeDrive HDD

I have made fresh customized ROM and replaced internal microdrive with SanDisk Extreme III 4GB CF, which gived quite amazing speed-up.

The only thing that I would be aware of is the number of writes that CF can handle, but I will post updates, as soon as my CF will fail ;) I know it is not a small number, so maybe I will never post updates (I hope so)

So what I did was very simple:
First thing that I made was to create customized ROM, please look at the How to manually install PalmOS on a LifeDrive HDD page, where it is described very well. Of course you can modify the ROM as you want during this step.

UPDATE: the change is no longer needed - updated in the wiki page
Note, that the step did not worked for me:
$ echo \\
'AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAQEABlgPCD8AAACACwIAAFgQCAAoHAu/CwIAgLAAAAAoHQsLz13xP7wCAIBLdwAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAVao=' \\
| python -c 'import \\
base64,sys;sys.stdout.write("\\0"\*432+base64.b64decode(sys.stdin.read()))' & gt; \\
table.sct

So I had to use the following command:
$ echo \\
'AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAQEABlgPCD8AAACACwIAAFgQCAAoHAu/CwIAgLAAAAAoHQsLz13xP7wCAIBLdwAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAVao=' \\
| python -c 'import \\
base64,sys;sys.stdout.write("\\0"\*432+base64.b64decode(sys.stdin.read()))' > \\
table.sct

The hardest part for me was to open my LifeDrive. Since I haven't did it before this was a little challenge. Hopefully there are some videos on youtube showing how to disassemble many parts from the LifeDrive.
Palm LifeDrive Screen Replacement & Take Apart Directions
Install a New Battery in Your PalmOne Lifedrive

After replacing microdrive with CF I have to say, that I was pretty much amazed how fast it is (5x faster??) and much more stable!! Battery life is also much better with that improvement, so I can simply recommend those modifications.

Comments:

I am trying to replace my crashed HD with a compactflash drive but am having trouble creating the table.sct file. Would it be possible for you to email it to me, or explain how to do it. I am a windows user and have installed python for windows. I travel alot for business and use the lifedrive alot. thanks

Posted by Terry Hunek on March 17, 2007 at 08:23 PM UTC #

I have made one and uploaded:
table.sct
--
cheers Migi

Posted by Michal Pryc on March 22, 2007 at 02:01 PM UTC #

Dear Michal,

I owned a LD only 03 wks. And its HD is dead now before I know something about saving an image of the Microdrive in it.
I am just an office staff and using Windows XP Pro SP2. I have the card reader, screw driver, and I will buy the CF.
Can you help giving me some instruction how to get a CF III 4 GB replaced in my LD?

Thank you in advance.

Posted by Van Thanh Nguyen on September 10, 2007 at 01:34 AM UTC #

Hello Van Thanh Nguyen,

In my blog entry, there are two links to documents, which describes this process in detail. I think I can't write more detailed instructions.

For sure it will be easier for you to use some OpenSolaris or Linux distribution to follow those steps, than Windows box. You can give a try on some Live distribution, which works from cd/dvd without installation. The only thing that you will need to do is to copy/paste instructions from the articles followed by links. You can try to use Ubuntu:
http://www.ubuntu.com/

Additionally you can find on youtube some videos telling how to actually open the LifeDrive:
http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=lifedrive&search=Search

Also please note, that not all of the CF can be used with LD. The list that works can be also found in the documents that are pointed by the links in my blog enty.

Actually it is very hard to damage CF card, so you can have as many attempts as you want :) (I am not taking any responsibility for those words ;-)).

all the best
Michal Pryc

Posted by Michal Pryc on September 10, 2007 at 02:46 AM UTC #

Hello Michal and everybody else,

After over 2 years my LD HDD died, and I'm trying to replace it with a SanDisk Extreme III 4GB CF, using Ubuntu Linux and everything seems to go fine but please somebody can send me these 2 files:

1.unpdb.py
2.makecafe.py

I'm trying to download them but without success

or somebody have an image of the LD HDD so I can just clone it on to the CF

Greetings,

Pablo

Posted by Pablo on November 28, 2007 at 10:38 PM UTC #

Pablo,
I have those files, but I am afraid that I can't publish them on my blog, since there is no license information included in those files.

Michal Pryc

Posted by Michal Pryc on November 29, 2007 at 10:51 AM UTC #

Michal,
Would you be kind enough to put the rom.partition file as well? I have downloaded your table.sct; however, I could not find python scripts to build the rom partition.

your help is really appreciated.

Thank you.
Shirish

Posted by Shirish Ranjit on November 30, 2007 at 08:44 PM UTC #

Shirish,
I am afraid I can't do that, since this might break some licenses.

Posted by Michal Pryc on December 01, 2007 at 03:10 AM UTC #

Help - I've been searching high and low for an image of e LifeDrive microdrive to copy to CF, which at tthe moment is an expensive paperweight - does anyone know where I can download this....pleas
Brian

Posted by Brian Coutts on February 15, 2008 at 01:35 PM UTC #

Brian,
You will not be able to find image, since this is not free redistributable software, that is why I have post this blog entry, so everyone can create their own.

Posted by Michal Pryc on February 17, 2008 at 04:50 AM UTC #

I've talked to Palm Corporate, and those HDDs in the LD are failing all over the place now, probably due to age.

hackndev.com/node/92 has what you are looking for.

Posted by Joe on March 22, 2008 at 12:47 AM UTC #

how did u r lifedrive crash? what program was it how did u get it to crash do u know how to make it crash?

Posted by giggty on June 15, 2008 at 10:42 AM UTC #

giggty
It wasn't a program which caused it to crash. It was following the instructions to replace the microdrive with a CF card.
I did all that the instructions said to create the image, but on installing the CF it wouldn't boot. I put the microdrive back and it worked, I put the CF in and it wouldn't, I put the mnicrodrive back, and lo and behold the LifeDrive would not boot at all any more.
It is now repaired, with a CF card, having been sent to a man called Philip Sheard who worked his magic. And, I have to say, my LifeDrive positively flies, and is much more stable.
Does this help?
Brian

Posted by Brian Coutts on June 18, 2008 at 06:09 AM UTC #

Terrence,
Actually on windows it is much more complicated, so I if you really want to do the trick with LifeDrive without blowing away your windows, I would encourage you to download some LiveDVD/LiveCD version of Linux and follow the steps without actually installing Linux on your computer. In this case you will not only save your windows, but also have possibility to try Linux (or even maybe OpenSolris???) :-)

Posted by Michal Pryc on August 18, 2008 at 08:39 AM UTC #

I noticed since i put my e-mail on this public site ive gotten tons of spam could you edit it out or delete it

Posted by Terrence on August 19, 2008 at 12:02 PM UTC #

I couldn't edit this, so I removed your previous comment. Maybe you should give a try with liveCD distribution and connect external drive to have more space where you can actually put your dd image? Please remember that filesystems such fat32 have limit max up to 2G per file, so it would be the best to use some other filesystem.

Posted by Michal Pryc on August 19, 2008 at 12:39 PM UTC #

Hi Michal, thank you for the good post. can you send me these files?
1.unpdb.py
2.makecafe.py
I tried to download them but failed.

Robert

Posted by Robert on August 27, 2008 at 11:07 AM UTC #

Robert,
Currently those files can be found in the repository:
http://git.hackndev.com/?p=tools;a=tree

unpdb.py:
http://git.hackndev.com/?p=tools;a=blob_plain;f=unpdb.py;hb=HEAD

makecafe.py:
http://git.hackndev.com/?p=tools;a=blob_plain;f=makecafe.py;hb=HEAD

Sorry for not sending those files, just pointing, but there is no license information, so I can't redistribute those :-)

Posted by Michal Pryc on August 27, 2008 at 11:35 AM UTC #

Thanks for the quick reply! i got it now. =)

Posted by Robert on August 27, 2008 at 01:58 PM UTC #

Help!!!

My LifeDrive HD just died for the second time! Since it is now not covered by the warranty, I wanted to try the CompactFlash upgrade myself.

I purchased a Sandisk Extreme III 4GB CF card (model SDCFX3-004G-A31) which is listed as a card which has worked in the past.

I have performed all the steps as listed in the various pages linked to from this page, including using fdisk in expert mode to change the CHS of the card. All of the steps seemed to work, but when I insert the CF card into my Lifedrive, it stays locked on the initial PalmOne screen. I tried hard booting several times, using both Quick Erase and Secure Erase, but no joy! I'm at a loss at what to do now.

Anyone else out there have step by step instructions for the Extreme III 4GB card?

Thanks in advance for any help.

Posted by Bill on November 16, 2008 at 11:01 AM UTC #

Bill,
I did that quite a long time ago and since then everything works fine. You could try to do all the steps from the beginning once again, maybe this will help.

I was following the steps from:
http://trac.hackndev.com/projects/palmld/wiki/ReinstallingPalmOS

which works under GNU/Linux, not the ones that uses advanced fdisk options.

Posted by Michal Pryc on November 16, 2008 at 11:09 AM UTC #

i was wondering how to install a cf into a lifedrive if you do not have the original hd

Posted by joeogio on December 05, 2008 at 04:21 PM UTC #

Having the image file and only one step using cygwin (for passing image file to CF), waiting 3 hours for 4GB is a simple job.
Doubts? don't stop asking. Bye

Posted by eaguiler on December 29, 2008 at 10:49 AM UTC #

i try to do this, but i cant, i dont know what to do, i just think to buy a TX, some body, can sell me one formated CF?

thanks

Posted by Edd on February 14, 2009 at 05:22 PM UTC #

I've read all the comments above, bcuz my LD HD just died after 1month only of purchasing

and i arranged CF card and it's reader

but i have a problem understanding a ROM replacement mechanism

so please could anybody help me in deep details .

thanks very much

Mouhanad

Posted by mouhanad on March 01, 2009 at 01:35 PM UTC #

Hello guys
My second Lifedrive has died for no reason.
I have the CF card and reader.
Also I tried to mount the microdrive.
Doesn't work.
I am an official moron with Linux and such!

Could I please send my CF card to anyone to put the lifedrive image on it?
I am willing to pay.

Very desparate!

Rutger

Posted by rutger on April 27, 2009 at 10:59 AM UTC #

my LD crashed 2 years ago during an update for the ptunes app from the palm website. palm wanted $150 just to look at my LD before fixing anything, so i said to hell with that and looked around and found hackndev.com... ive been trying their instructions repeatedly for 2 years, i always get the proper verification response sequences when i follow their instructions however when i put my microdrive back into my LD, it still will not boot. i am wondering if anyone can just point me to an image or iso or something of the drive in original condition of how it came from palm that i could just write directly to my microdrive, pop it back into the LD and have it boot up the same as the day i bought it. thx in advance. :)

Posted by ihatemyLD on May 10, 2009 at 12:21 AM UTC #

I have the same problem that Mr. Rutger. How is possible to get a iso image from micro lifedrive HD, because I have lost mine?

Posted by ROCarneval on January 09, 2010 at 03:50 AM UTC #

ROCarneval,
You don't need to get an iso image from micro lifedrive HD.

This receipe creates complately new iso image, which can be put on CF.

Posted by Michal Pryc on January 15, 2010 at 08:46 AM UTC #

For the lazy heads, you can buy a PalmOs preformatted CF - plug-and-play:

http://www.unityelectronics.com/product-product_id/5196

or

http://usedpdaparts.com/Lifedrive.html

Posted by Mitch C. on March 10, 2010 at 07:01 PM UTC #

Hi Michael
I have evrything I need to perform this upgrade, but the linux commands do not seem to work. The Git repositories seem to have been moved and some of the commands do not work. Do you have any knowledge re this, and in particular how I get this automated script detailed below to work. Any advice would be appreciated

Thanks

Alan

git clone http://git.hackndev.com/hackndev/modrom.git
cd modrom
./customize_rom.sh

Posted by Alan Thompson on June 15, 2010 at 04:52 AM UTC #

Have you had any problems with your lifedrive up to this point after the compact flash card install?

Posted by Robert on October 27, 2010 at 03:02 PM UTC #

Do yourself a favour and get PowerDrive from PalmPowerups. Great program which makes a LifeDrive what it should have been from the start.

Posted by Brian on October 29, 2010 at 11:46 AM UTC #

Hi Robert,
The lifedrive is working fine so far. I am using it for daily in-car navigation, so I am very happy with this improvement.

Posted by Michal Pryc on October 29, 2010 at 03:10 PM UTC #

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