Upgrading a HP T5710 Thin Client Internal Drive
I wanted an inexpensive way to increase the size of the c:\ drive on my T5710. After some searching for options, I chose to do that by replacing the on board ATA flash drive with a Compact Flash adapter. I liked this approach since the adapters have a small form factor and fit nicely inside the T5710 and by using a microdrive rather than a compact flash card I would have an actual hard drive without the attendant problems of having to worry about whether the flash card would be damaged. It is handy to be able to keep browsing history, cache and other temporary files without fear of writing to the flash too much and causing it to prematurely fail.
If you donít intend to use the T5710 as an internet appliance but simply want to just increase the size of disk capacity then you can simply use a compact flash card instead of the microdrive. Every thing else remains exactly the same as described below. The read speed of a microdrive is about the same as the stock flash memory which comes in the T5710. Using a 233X compact flash card you can have read speeds about six times faster; so if it is speed and not versatility then the flash card may be a better choice. There are also replacement flash memories available which both increase speed by about three times over a stock flash unit and come in a variety of capacities.
At the end of this article I will provide you with links for all the devices discussed here. I will also give you a link to a .zip file containing this article and full size versions of the photos. (worth more than a thousand words) You can view the larger photos now by clicking on the images shown here on the page.
The hardware installation is actually extremely simple. There are some idiosyncrasies in dealing with the software which have to be dealt with which weíll get into later.
The Hardware Modifications
From the hardware viewpoint there are only four screws which need to be removed in order to open up the T5710. Two are located on the back of the unit and once removed will allow you to remove the plastic outer cover. Once that is removed two more screws will be revealed one on each side at the back which will need to be removed so that the metal cover may be removed. Once you have done that you can unplug the speaker wires from the motherboard connector and set the metal cover aside. When you need to replace the speaker remember the white wire points toward the outside of the case. After you have the covers out of the way it should look something like the photo at the top of this page. I have seen different style heat sinks used in different units but the board layout should be the same. Some of the heat sinks are secured with metal clips; however others are simply glued on using thermal conductive glue. I had erratic performance from one of my units until I realized that one of the heat sinks was loose. After I obtained some thermal glue and re-glued it, it became as rock stable as it twins have always been.
If you orient the T5710 the way I have shown in the first picture of this article; the flash memory will be located in the upper left hand corner of the unit as seen on the right here. It consists of a daughter board secured with a nylon standoff. To remove the daughter board youíll need to squeeze the nylon standoff clips on top of the daughter board and rock the module back and for the while pulling up to remove it. They are a tight fit on the IDE connector so it will require some effort to remove the module without damaging it.
After you have removed the flash module you will see the 44 pin IDE interface as shown to the left here. The fact it has 44 pins means that power, as well as other signals, are supplied via this connector. This is why youíll want a 44 pin compact flash adapter rather than the more common 40 pin adapters. If you used a 40 pin adapter then you would have to obtain power for the adapter from a power plug elsewhere and the thin clientís donít have these.
I first tried ordering adapters with the proper connectors to mate directly to the motherboard however all of these types are too large to fit into the space available inside the T5710 so I ordered a 6Ē standard IDE cable with female connectors on each end. The cable is then plugged into the motherboard as shown to the right here. Notice that pin 1 (the red wire) is on the right next to the PCI interface connector.
The microdrive is inserted into the compact flash adapter and plugged into the other end of the IDE cable as you can see to the left. I chose the Hitachi 4GB microdrive primarily because of the low cost and it works well. You could use any microdrive or a compact flash card here if you prefer the procedure is the same except for what device you plug into the adapter. Notice the position of the pin 1 (red wire) on the adapter. Also hard to see in this small photo is the jumper select pins on the right side in the photo. The adapter should be selected as master which is having the jumper plug to short the two pins located closest to the 44 pin connector (the top two as shown in the photo). All the ones I purchased came configured this way as delivered.
Now that we have the hardware hooked up we need to mount it inside the T5710. I chose a nice clear spot near the back of the T5710 as shown in the photo to the right. This position works out quite well and almost looks like it was made to fit in there. The 6 ď cable is a perfect length also. The adapter and microdrive assembly needs to be secured to keep it from flopping around inside the case and perhaps shorting something out or damaging the microdrive.
For this I chose to use double back foam tape which you can get at Radio Shack or even at most drug stores. In the photo to the left you can see I placed one piece of tape on top the connector shield at the back of the T5710. This piece will be stuck to the underside of the microdrive or compact flash card and help to hold the adapter and card assembly in place at one end.
To support the other end of the assembly I use double back foam tape placed along the top edge of the heat sink to the left of the connector shield where I placed the piece of foam tape as shown above. You can see that tape in the photo on the right here.
Now you will need to reconnect your speaker wire since the connector is located beneath where the adapter is about to be placed. You can just lay the metal top next to the unit for now.
After removing the protective cover from the foam tape, which I left on for the photos to make it more visible; you carefully first align the backside of the IDE connector on the compact flash adapter with the top of the heat sink and center the adapter with the connector shield at the back. First press the IDE connector to the foam tape on the heat sink and then lay the other end down and press into the foam tape we placed over the connector shield. This should give you a nice sturdy mounting with no movement when you wiggle it.
Once that is done it should look like the photo on the left here. Note I forgot to put my speaker wire in place and had to remove the adapter and do that after I took the photo. It is hard to tell in the photo but there is about a quarter inch or more clearance underneath the adapter/microdrive to any of the motherboard components. The heat sink to which it is attached does not get very warm, in my units, so I do not believe there will be any problems with the sticky on the foam tape located on it.
The side view photo shown here demonstrates that there is plenty of clearance between the top of the adapter/microdrive and the metal cover which covers it. My only concern would be that there could be some cold flow problems with the wires of the IDE cable over the sharp edges of the heat sink with time; so I will probably go back and place a piece of thin plastic like that from a wallet photo holder between the heat sink and the IDE cable. I do not have that in either of the two units I have modified so far yet and have had no problems but in hind sight it would probably be good insurance to avoid future possible problems.
Handling the Software Installation
Now that we have the hardware all taken care of it is time to talk about installing the software. HP apparently has licensed Windows XPe from Microsoft and make it available on their website for download so you can get the latest version and add-ons there using the link at the end of this article. Youíll also need some software capable of creating and re-sizing hard drive partitions. And finally a utility which tricks XPe into thinking that the compact flash adapter is a fixed hard drive so that it can be partitioned.
After you have downloaded the flash image utility from HPís site you need to insert a bootable USB DOK or thumbnail drive into your desktop or laptop computer and run that utility there. The utility will install DOS onto the DOK and copy the image file and it loader utility to the DOK. After you have that you can take it to your T5710 and insert it into one of the USB ports on the back. You will need to have a keyboard attached to the T5710 as well and during power up you press F10 to enter the BIOS setup. In the BIOS settings select USB as the first boot device then press F10 again save your settings and exit the BIOS setup. The T5710 should boot up and offer to install the image. Just answer yes to all the questions. It will take some time for the image to be transferred from the DOK onto your microdrive or compact flash card but once complete you will be prompted to remove the USB DOK and re-power the T5710. As it powers back up again press F10 and go into the BIOS setup and set ATA flash as the first boot device. Then press F10, save your settings and exit. The T5710 should boot up into Windows xPE.
If you go to the start button and open up my computer you can right click on the C: drive and see it is shown as a removable drive and itís size is 512 Mb. While you now have a working system your not able to make use of all your new drive space. So weíll do some partioning in a bit to fix that. First you will want to do a couple of things.
Gaining Administrator Access
Temporarily Eliminating EWF
First EWF is great; it causes any changes which would normally be written to disk to instead be written to a ram disk or optionally to a scratch area on another drive. I wonít go into the EWF and all of itís options here since there is plenty on information about it elsewhere on the net. The best part is that by using it you keep a pristine operating system and if anything virus etc. gets loaded all you have to do is cycle power on the T5710 and voila you are back to original. If you are using compact flash instead of a microdrive the EWF is a must to keep from wearing out your compact flash with too many write cycles. If you do really want something to be saved permanently you have to tell the EWF to commit the changes to memory in which case it copies the current settings to drive memory. It appears to me that EWF also creates a type 45 partition of itís own in the drive space immediately following the first partition. For now we want to stop using the EWF until we have the drive repartitioned the way we want. Next we need to open up a command window. The cmd.exe is located in c:\windows\system32 directory. I usually drag a shortcut to this to my desktop. We need to issue some command line directives to eliminate EWF for now which are as follows:
ewfmgr.exe Ėcommitanddisable Ėall
I have a included these commands as a batch file called prep4flash.bat in the .zip of this project for your convenience and you can either just execute that batch file or type the commands into the command window. These commands will remove the EWF partition and itís registry settings. After these commands have been executed you just go to the start button and perform a shutdown/restart of the T5710.
Getting Ready to Partition the Drive
Windows XPe does not allow removable disks to be partitioned. Our task now is to make XPe believe that the compact flash adapter/microdrive is a fixed disk. Fortunately Hitachi has developed and makes available a filter which performs the magic of making XPe believe that the drive is fixed instead of removable. If your T5710 is attached to the internet you can download the Hitachi Filter Driver to the T5710; if not you can download it to your USB DOK and use the sneaker net to get the files onto your T5710. Once you have the Hitachi Filter Driver located in a subdirectory on your T5710 youíll need to modify the cfadisk.inf file to match your compact flash or in my case microdrive. You can do this using notepad.exe which is located in the C:\Windows\system32 directory. Again I usually drag a shortcut for note pad to my desktop. However you do it open up the cfadisk.inf file in notepad to edit it. Once you have it open scroll down till you locate the [cfadisk device] section which should look like the following:
; debug on VMWare/special drive
There are several devices specified there but we wonít be using any of these. Instead we must add an entry here to specify our newly added microdrive/compact flash device. To get the name of the newly added device we click on the Start button then right click on My Computer and select Properties from there we click the Hardware tab and click on the Device Manager button. Once the device manager windows opens we click on the + sign to the left of Disk drives and your device will be shown there. The following is a screen shot of what mine looks like:
So in my case the device name is HMS360404D5CF00 as you can see above. Leave the Device Manager open for now and go back to the notepad window to do your edits. We need to add that device to the [cfadisk disk] section of the cfadisk.inf file. To bad you canít use cut and paste here but I was unable to find a way to do that so I just carefully typed the device name I found in device manager into the cfadisk.inf file. Since were not using any of the other devices in the [cfadisk disk] section; we should either comment them out by placing a ; at the beginning of each of there lines or just delete them. If you just delete them; after your finished the [cfadisk disk] will look like mine below with your device name replacing that of my device (HMS360404D5CF00):
Now save the cfadisk.inf file with the edits. After you have saved the file go back to Device Manager and right click on the newly installed drive and select Update Driver. Choose to select your own driver and have disk etc. Then point to the cfadisk.inf file you edited. During the driver update you be notified that Windows needs the file disk.sys from the service pack two disk. You can just point to the file which is located in the C:\Windows\system32\drivers directory. Once the update is complete youíll need to reboot the T5710.
After the T5710 boots back up navigate to My Computer and right click on the C: drive and select Properties. You should now see the drive shown as Local Disk in stead of Removable as it was originally. This means it is recognized as a fixed disk and can now be partitioned. The drive size will still be the original 512 Mb for now.
All three of my T5710 use the 8600 processor. I understand that some of them use a 8800 processor I am not sure if this is the reason some will work with primary partitions over 1 Gb and others will not. I made several attempts to partition the other microdrive I installed in one of my T5710s with a primary boot partition of 2Gb without any success. I finally just gave in and left the first partition at the 512Mb it was set to during the image installation and created a second partition and the EWF partition intact and this worked. Of coarse the size of the first (c:) partition was limited to the 512Mb.
With this second one after removing the EWF partition I resized the first partition to just under 1GB left some space for the EWF to use (120Mb in my case but it could probably be less) and finally created an NTFS partition to use the remainder of the drive capacity. (in this case about 2.58 Gb). So I wind up with a C: of 980 Mb and a D: of 2.58Gb formatted. This works like a champ!
The Actual Partitioning
Now that we have the drive recognized as a fixed disk were ready to do the actual partition work. I used an open source program called Parted Magic to do this. It is a Linux based utility which provides a nice GUI for the open source utility GParted which does the actual partitioning work. I used the failsafe graphic selection and selected the Visa graphics in Parted Magicís options during itís start up. I have and used a USB CD drive but you could also load these utilities on a USB DOK and run them from there by changing your bios setting back to boot from USB. The Parted Magic and GParted websiteís give you more information about how to do this. You could also just run GParted or any other partioning utilities as long as you set the partition correctly.
My first step was to increase the size of the initial primary partition to 980 Mb. I then created a second NTFS partition of 2.58 GB leaving the unused space in between the two or to the left of the second partition. I left about 120 Mb here but you could experiment to see if it could be smaller. The space is where EWF will later create itís partition when we re-enable it.
After the repartitioning is complete, it is time to power off the T5710 disconnect either your USB DOK or USB CD drive. Donítí forget to press F10 again during bootup after you power up the T5710 and change the BIOS setting to boot form the ATA flash first.
After the reboot is complete you should now have two drives shown in My Computer C: and D: which look like the following:
Re-enabling the EWF
If your using a microdrive you donít have to enable the EWF since you actually are using a small hard drive just like any other hard drive. I however like the failsafe features of EWF myself and choose to use it to protect the C: drive. I do not use it to protect the D: drive although this is possible to do as well. There is lots of information out on the net about the use of EWF.
To re-enable the EWF we need to open up a command window again (you did make the shortcut on your desktop earlier didnít you) if not just go back up and see how to open it. We then need to issue the following commands:
I have also included a batch file to do this for you called enableEWF.bat projectís .zip file. So either run the batch file or type in the commands to the command window. After that is accomplished reboot the T5710 again. After the reboot you should see the little green lock indicator or the right hand side of the taskbar indicating EWF is enabled.
As described above the EWF is active only for the C: drive. I also go in to the windows settings and change the TMP and TEMP environment settings to point to the D: drive since it is not protected by EWF and thus my temporary files can be located there. Navigate to the D: and create two folders there d:\TMP and D:\TEMP. Next go into control panel and select System then select the Advanced tab and finally click on the Environment Variables button. In both the top and bottom windows change the environment variables to point the TMP and TEMP to the D: directories you just created.
You can also relocate the user My Documents to the D: drive as well and modify your browser setting to keep their files on the D: drive. By doing things this way you have the advantage of having EWF protect your C: but maintain the flexibility of keeping cache and temporary files to increase usability.