Recently I bought a Toshiba Netbook NB200. If you use a computer mainly for email, browsing, music etc. this is a great machine. It has good performance with pre-installed Windows XP. The only problem I found was the power LED which is a major irritant during daytime. Don’t even think of using a Netbook as your primary development machine.
Usually I don’t put a BIOS password on the computers I use. I normally keep my content protected and never felt the need to use a BIOS password. But when I got Netbook, I decided to put a BIOS password. A few days later I removed the BIOS password. After a few reboots suddenly the NB200 started asking for BIOS password. To my horror, it refused to accept the earlier password and after 3 attempts I got a nasty message on screen – “System Disabled. Error 0004” (Sometimes it was Error 0000).
The Toshiba Netbook NB 200 comes with a Phoenix BIOS named “phoenix trustedcore setup utility”. It probably has a bug related to password reset. I am not sure about the bug, but one thing is sure – Entering incorrect BIOS password three times causes some flag change in CMOS/EPROM and it permanently disables the system. The only option left was to take it to a Toshiba service centre with proof of ownership to get it unlocked! In short “trusted” means customer is screwed[If you own a NB200, I suggest you update the BIOS firmware immediately].
But then I realized that there are no Toshiba service centers in my area and the only option was to send it via courier. It meant that I may not see the NB200 for the next few weeks and it is sure to cause me a lot of headache. So the next thing to do was to see whether there is a way to either clear the password or bypass the password. After a bit of Googling I came to know that earlier Phoenix bios chips had backdoor passwords such as PHOENIX, CMOS, BIOS etc. Some Toshiba laptops had “Toshiba” as the backdoor password. However none of them worked on Netbook NB200. So the only option was to open NB200 and see whether I could pull out the CMOS battery. I was pretty excited since it was a while since I did some hardware hacking!
Hacking Toshiba Netbook NB200
Step 1 : Getting the tools for the Netbook surgery
Following is the toolset I used to disassemble Toshiba NB200. I had recently purchased a screwdriver set for mobile devices from Bangalore ($3) and it came really handy for opening NB200. I also used a multi-LED torch so that I can take a look at the edges to see how to open a specific section. A torch is must have if you don’t have the technician manual with you.
Toshiba cover design is such that without technician manual, it is very difficult to open the Netbook. Also the screws are not tough enough and if you don’t select a correct screw driver bit you may damage the screws and then you are completely stuck. I had to saw the inner cross section of one of the screws after it got damaged by a wrong screwdriver bit.
Step 2 : Getting the Netbook NB200 ready for the surgery
Before opening the Netbook ensure that you have removed the battery. It is very important and initially I forgot to do that. Luckily nothing bad happened.
Step 3 : Opening the back cover of Toshiba NB200
To remove the battery unlock the switches indicated above as B1 and B2 and then pullout the battery on top. Then remove screws indicated as C1, C2 and C3. It is fairly easy to remove the plate behind C1/C2. However removing C3 plate requires some effort and requires you to pull it out hard. Behind C3 plate you will find RAM module and behind C1/C2 you will find hard disk and WLAN card.
Step 4: Removing hard disk, WLAN card and memory module
To remove memory module, press out the locks indicated as 1 and 2 and then pull out the memory card. To remove hard disk push the hard disk as indicated. Removing WLAN card requires you to remove two screws. Unless you want to completely dismantle Netbook, it is better not to touch WLAN card. The red circle indicates the screw damaged due to wrong screw bit.
Step 4: Removing BIOS password on Toshiba Netbook NB 200
After removing the memory module I noticed a paper sticker behind it. So I removed the paper sticker and then noticed the jumper as indicated by the red circle. To remove the CMOS/BIOS password all you need to do is to short circuit the jumper leads. Use a screw driver to do that and keep it short circuited for 10 seconds.
Now you may be wondering how I found this without the technician manual. To be frank it was pure luck. From a couple of other sites I came to know that resetting password required short circuiting some jumper. For example, the instructions to reset BIOS password on Toshiba Satellite L10 is,
- Open Wi-Fi Cover
- Locate & Short Out JP1 for 15 Seconds
I think the same technique might work on other Toshiba Netbooks namely NB100, NB205 etc.
Step 4 : Dismantling Netbook completely
If you want to dismantle the NB 200 completely you need to remove all screws marked as F6 and F4 at the back cover. Then you can remove the top cover over the power light as shown above. After removing the cover above, pull out the keyboard completely. Before pulling it out ensure that you remove the keyboard connector.
Step 5 : Final steps
Now to dismantle NB200 completely you need to remove a number of connectors including monitor connector (top left with white sticker) and a number connectors on the right. Then you need to remove four screws on both sides of the monitor lid. This way you can completely detach LCD screen from the Notebook base. By this stage I had already spent about 5 hours on it and hence assembled it back.
Last week I sold NB200 since I realized that a Netbook is not something I needed. It is too big to replace a mobile device and was not good enough to replace a laptop.
November 18, 2009 | Posted in DIY 21 Comments » | By Jayson Joseph