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Old 04-16-2012, 12:28 PM   #1
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Registered: Dec 2005
Location: Durham, CT
Distribution: Ubuntu 11.10, CentOS 5.7/6, Fedora 16, JLime, Debian Sarge, Bactrack 5R2, Slackware, Redhat
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Resurrecting a Dead MN-520 Wireless Card

First off, as I always do, let me apologize in advance if this has been asked. I've been working on this issue for a few weeks now and haven't made much progress, so the (large) amount of info has all rather bled together in my head.

I have an old Microsoft MN-520 wireless card that I've been trying to resurrect from a firmware flash I made years ago that hosed the thing pretty completely. From what I've found online, the chipset is a Prism 2.5 (Intersil), with SST flash (confirmed when I opened the hardware up). Before anyone says it, I do have a backup from my other MN-520, and can dump any more needed info off that one; thankfully this means I know I've got viable firmware dumps.

What I was hoping somebody could shed some light on though is getting it to take a new firmware image. When I try to load the card up under Windows, its not recognized and shows up as something along the lines of "PCMCIA_UNKNOWN_MANUFACTURER"; every Linux distro I've tried just shows a "PCMCIA timeout during reset" in dmesg. As one can imagine, this has made it hard to be able to use anything from hostap_utils or (on the windows side) the WinUpdate program from Intersil. Though the light behavior on the actual card is different in each OS, it *does* light up the power light briefly before going off- what I believe is a "classic" symptom of a cooked flash.

Its also worth noting that I've made a DOS flash drive with various versions of "flash.exe" and "ilhopfw.exe"- both of which recognize the card. Using "ilhopfw.exe" (which is the later version of flash.exe) I can even shove the card into what appears to be genesis mode using an initial firmware image I found (ID01001.HEX, I believe)- complete with both power and wireless lights on solid- but any flashing I do from there seems to fail. The genesis mode also seems to fail to stick if I don't use the "-3842" option to set the HCR to either 0F07 or 0F0F. In all honesty, I can't comment too much about this- mostly because alot of the "old" documentation on the chipset is no longer hosted anywhere, so I'm not sure if these are correct for the MN-520's hardware config register.

I'm at work right now, so I don't have any of the exact details handy, but I do remember the NICID for the card is 800C, and when the flashing attempts fail under DOS they usually involve an issue with the busy-bit being set, auxEnable failing, or the command simply not being acknowledged.

Is there any experience anyone has with bringing this card back from the dead? I know the thing is an antique, but I recently found a few of my old HP palmtops, and these things are one of the few wifi cards I've found that work reliebly with the JLime distro. I could likely buy another MN-520 for a hill of beans on eBay, but this hosed one has been mocking me for weeks now and I refuse to oblige its demands by admitting defeat.


firmware, flash, prism

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