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CharredPC's Acer Extensa 5620 Hot Rod Project


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#61
CharredPC

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I've delved a bit deeper into this unit.

I've learned how to extract my Phoenix bios, do some editing, and reflash it. Thus far, I've simply changed the "acer" logo splash screen (now an Apple logo with "acertosh") as a proof-of-concept. I could easily modify the DSDT and flash that in too... and eventually may. I'll wait until I've truly finished the DSDT first. My point to this is getting the annoying video issue fixed, without having to resort to a Display Override.

The working theory is this: most laptops don't need the EDID reported properly, because the video bios reports some working resolutions anyway (called VESA modes). In some laptops, the VESA modes don't completely match up to all the resolutions the LCD is capable of; this is when folk can boot into OSX just fine, but don't have all their resolutions listed. Or when specifying resolutions to Chameleon fails- you can only use listed VESA resolutions. Once within OSX, injecting your EDID via a Display Override solves this.

Now, in certain laptops like my Acer, the idiot designers decided to shirk this responsibility completely. The available VESA modes seem to change on the fly- simply by using a different Chameleon theme, the available resolutions get bumped! With the default theme, I only have tiny 4:3 resolutions listed. Using my favorite higher resolution "true mac" one, I get 1280x800 and 1440x900 listed. In any case, when means when my EDID isn't automatically detected, OSX decides (perhaps based on the changeable available VESA modes) that I have a 4:3 CRT screen, and gives improper resolutions at various refresh rates.

Thus, the solution is either to embed the EDID into the bios, or alter the VESA modes to ones the LCD can actually display. To that end, I've extracted my bios and located my vbios (video bios) file. Now if I can just figure out how to properly edit it, the solution should be permanent and OS-agnostic. Me being me, I'm also tempted to do some editing elsewhere... but first things first ;)

Status update1: Managed to find a much newer vbios for the GM965 chipset! Now debating on actually flashing the new code... it might fix things without a manual edit. Guess I'll go try... wish me luck!

Status Update2: Yikes! That didn't work so well. I replaced the older vbios with the new one fine, and flashed the bios no problem... then got a blank screen! Lost all video. Luckily, I was smart enough to have the previous bios on bootable USB drive. The scary part was remembering how many of what keypresses it took to set my USB drive as the first boot device in the BIOS without being able to see it :rolleyes:

Status Update3: Looks like I either need a vbios from a similar widescreen laptop, or need to create a new vbios using the IEGD (Intel Embedded Graphic Drivers) kit. Without access to the first, I'm trying the second. I've tried simply opening the current vbios in a hex editor, but anything readable was useless. Now that I have the 'blind recovery' process down, maybe I'll try once or twice more with some vbios from other extracted bios's...

Blurry-eyed 4am Update: Well, partial success. I've now updated my system's bios from vbios 1471 to 1478 :D This seems like a small step, but bigger jumps caused a blank screen. I've also noticed that it handles the Chameleon bootloader differently (won't accept the 1600x1200 theme anymore on my 1440x900 LCD). Likely because Chameleon reports the available VESA resolutions all as 0x0x0. And unfortunately, the EDID issues still exists. I'll try some more tomorrow.

#62
CharredPC

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Go me!

Setting the vbios updating aside for the moment, I decided to to some other much-needed bios work. I don't need to load my own DSDT anymore! My bios version is fully tested and works great with both Windows and OSX, but gives the added benefits to those running a Hackintosh:

-changed out USB code (to enable sleep)
-changed out all RP0x devices (better labeling)
-changed out _GPE (fixes wakeup issues)
-changed out LID0 (enables lid sleep)
-added Method DTGD (for Mac fixes)
-added duallink fix (enables WSXGA+ LCD's)
-added device PNLF (for Mac compatibility)
-added device PWRB (for Mac compatibility)

As well as:

-newer model Acer boot screen (white on black background)
-SLIC 2.1 (Acer Win7 offline activation, if certificate + valid key)

I still plan on updating the vbios, but it looks like I'll have to create my own, so that may take a little while. Once I'm happy with the final results, I'll post it up as v1.36, complete with flashing and recovery instructions. I'm almost looking forward to the next time I have to reinstall... things will be so much easier!

I also noticed that my flaky / jumpy trackpad had the same issues in Win7, pointing to a hardware, not driver issue. So I completely dismantled my Acer and checked how the trackpad is set up. I noticed two flaws- the main ground isn't actually connected, just touching the PCB; the entire board is open and uninsulated. From, I surmised that the random jumpiness might be due to static buildup. So I added a small ground wire from the touchpad PCB to the chassis, then covered it with electrical tape. So far, no more issues! Seems nice and stable. Only time will tell, of course, but the mods definitely couldn't hurt.

#63
gatsu_1981

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Hello, I bought an isight module for modding my lappy, but I received it withouh the cable.
I'm pretty good at soldering, but I have to be absolutely sure WHAT I am soldering on!

Can you please confirm that, looking the rear of the module, from left to right, the cabling should be:

- two pins shorted together, should be GND
- two more pins shorted, should be +5v
- USB data -
- USB data +
- not used
- not used

I'm not crazy enough to solder everything on the base of the connector :)
I could easily solder GND and VCC on the couple shorted pins, then USB + and USB - on the back, near the black SMD.
I'm short sighted, so whitout my glasses I can easily follow traces ;)

#64
dawntodon

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charred-pc> slightly off-topic, but I noticed in your signature that you have Snow Leopard installed on your 5620 and was wondering how it runs and if it has any significant limitations opposed to Leopard. Also, can I ask which distribution you use and if much fiddling is needed to set it up correctly? Thanks!

#65
CharredPC

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charred-pc> slightly off-topic, but I noticed in your signature that you have Snow Leopard installed on your 5620 and was wondering how it runs and if it has any significant limitations opposed to Leopard. Also, can I ask which distribution you use and if much fiddling is needed to set it up correctly? Thanks!


I do have SL installed, but use 10.5.8 daily. The main limitations which stop me from switching over entirely is:

-no sleep!
-lousy (IMO) trackpad support

That said, I'm going to look into solutions for this when I get a chance. 10.5.8 + Win7 + Chameleon RC4 dualboot = nothing but problems (stuck on systemversion error).

#66
scg2

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Hi Charred

I was so inspired by your hot rod project so much that i decided to start one myself, even though the objectives were pretty different since i wanted to maximize the battery life, reduce laptop weight and heat dissipated while increasing performance ( sounds like a tall order, but my project looks like child's play when compared to yours)

Anyway, i've read about your battery woes and actually manage to get a good deal from ebay. The seller provides 24month warranty, 30 day money back and free shipping. In fact i bought a 4400mAh grape32 but received a 4800mAh grape32 instead. Moreover, the battery was even under rated and i could squeeze 4831mAh out from the battery during real time usage.

He sells it lower for USD34.90 now (:rolleyes:''), when i bought it for USD38.80 just 2 weeks ago.

http://cgi.ebay.com/...=item27acb74812

As for my project, it is a very lengthy post, and you can find it here
http://forums.vr-zon...sd-battery.html

#67
ariethekid

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iSight project - 100% successful!

Yes, I actually remembered to snap some pictures this time while doing it. The project took me less than two hours, with most of that just trying to work slowly and be cautious. I'll skip the part about taking the plastic rectangle molding off the screen (it's covered previously from when I replaced the LCD) and jump right to the meat of things.

I purchased a used Macbook A1181 internal iSight module, complete with all flex cables and microphone, off eBay for $9.95 shipped. It arrived in just four days (weekend included), so I highly recommend the seller. We don't actually need anything but the module itself and its USB plug. Ignore the microphone wire- we'll remove the entire mic eventually.

The Acer Crystal Eye suck-cam uses a 5-pin USB plug. After some deliberation, I decided to unsolder the plug socket off the old module, and use it to fashion a sort of adapter. I don't recommend you do this. It's totally uneeded, and more hassle than its worth. I left mine that way, but might someday go back and remove it. Surprisingly, this mod is easiest if you never go near a solder gun.

Looking at it pointing right as though installed, the 5-pin Acer plug has the following pinout:

1. (Top pin) 5v+
2. USB Data+
3. USB Data-
4. Ground
5. (Bottom) ??? not needed

The iSight has what looks like an eight-pin connector, but don't worry about. There's only four wires (looks like three) coming off the USB plug. The pinout of the connector itself is:

Pin 3 (light blue outside, white conductor): USB Data+
Pin 4 (light blue outside, purple conductor): USB Data-
Pin 5/6 (orange): USB 5v+
Pin 7/8 (orange): USB GND

That seems too confusing though. To clear things up, the orange cable all the way to one side is Ground. The next one over is 5v+. That last light blue one has the other two wires inside (white, purple). To make this more fun, inside each of these wires is a smaller internal wire surrounded by a common shield. This is tough to do if you don't have good eyes...

I snipped the cable a few inches away from the plug- leaving extra, thinking I may have to redo it a couple times. Then I lightly scored the outside of each wire with some scissors, so I could strip the plastic insulation off. The loose shield wire has to be pulled back, preferably lower than where you scored, to make sure there's no short. You can then cut the shielding off. This leaves the actual "live" wire showing, but we still need to strip the insulation of a bit of that. I was able to do the 5v+ and Ground the same way, carefully with scissors.

The Data line is a different story. These wires are even thinner. I scraped the insulation off those using a razor blade and some patience. Once I had bare wire showing on all four, I used my meter make sure nothing was shorted out anywhere. Now, as ranmasaotome510 predicted, these wires are way too small to solder well. Even if you can do it, they can't stand any tension. I ended up soldering slightly higher gauge wires to the old Acer webcam's plug, then wrapping those with with the iSight's micro-thin cable wires. Since we're going to be wrapping wires anyway, why not just cut and wrap straight from the iSight cable to the Acer cable?

In any case, here's the results so far:

Posted Image

Much longer than needed, but it's a theoretically functional adapter cable between the iSight and the Acer! The question is, will it work? Time to fire up the laptop and try it out...

Posted Image

Hooray! It works! ...yes, that's me with the camera taking a picture of the iSight camera taking a picture of me taking a picture.. :wacko: :rolleyes:

Now to slim things down. The iSight module came mounted to a piece of aluminum framework, which we'll remove. After taking out all four screws, the iSight pops in half so it can be freed. By pulling on the microphone cable, the unneeded microphone pops right out as well. Here's a shot of the iSight module beneath the original Acer Crystal Eye one (minus its plug, of course):

Posted Image

That circular hole is where the mic was. The iSight module is actually smaller, so I bet it can fit as a replacement for pretty much any laptop's webcam. Speaking of which, time to mount it!

My original module wasn't held in place with any screws, but a single strip of double sided adhesive tape and some plastic guidepoints. I debated how to secure the iSight- glue, maybe? Finally I decided that if tape worked to start with, why not for the replacement?

Posted Image

It turns out I didn't have much to worry about- the height is perfect, so when the screen was closed up it holds everything in place quite well. Probably why Acer simply used tape. It took me a try or two to fit my way-overly-long wiring properly (again, why I suggest just cutting, twisting, and wrapping) but now everything's just perfect! Looks like I never touched it. Anyone need a slightly used Acer webcam sans plug?

To be honest, I'm not even sure how much I'll use the webcam. But I can't argue with an under $10 mod that puts my little Acertosh so much closer to being a native Mac ;)

Edit: Decided to do things the right/easy way. Last night I removed the long homemade adapter deal, snipped off the plug, then trimmed and wired the iSight plug directly to the LCD/USB cable. Much simpler. I was even able to cover each of the twisted wires with a dab of solder to make it truly permanent, though it worked fine without it. If anyone else has this model laptop, the color code for the Acer / iSight wiring is:

Purple (Acer) = Outside orange (iSight) = Ground
Brown (Acer) = Middle orange (iSight) = 5v+ (3.3v)
White (part of twisted pair, Acer) = Purple (inside light blue, iSight) = Data-
Brown (part of twisted pair, Acer) = White (inside light blue, iSight) = Data+
Grey (Acer) = n/c

I snapped some more pictures while (re-) doing it, if anyone wants them. Really think this will be the way to go for incompatible webcams in the future.


I was curious... does your webcam work if you plug it into a USB port? I am trying to add a webcam to my tablet fujitsu running SL and I bought a macbook isight cam just like yours and I cannot for the life of me get it to work. I was thinking of wiring usb lines up to the screen from the motherboard and hooking up like that. But for some reason they won't to each other. I think its getting power but I does not detect it at all. Theoretically, shouldn't it work if hooked up directly to a USB port or is there something i missed?

#68
YouDoMeIDoYou

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Hi CharredPC!

Thanks for your quite impressive work you've done with your Acer! I upgraded my Acer Extensa 5220 (I think using the same motherboard like Acer 5620 with X3100 graphics) with a T6400 2x2.0Ghz CPU, a 5200 mAh (14.8V) battery pack, a BCM94311 wireless card and a 2.0 bluetooth module +cable. Everything worked like a charm with my 10.6.4 Snow Leopard. I even had a battery live of about 4! hours. Then I found this thread with your display mod and hell yeah - I wanted to reach 1920x1200 WUXGA resolution too :P

In the following I want to tell you my steps made and maybe we can point out why my project isn't working:

I've bought this original spare lcd connector at ebay (50.4T327.001 original replacement cable) and pulled out eight wires for my cable-mod

Attached File  image_101713_1.jpg   50.58KB   51 downloads

Then I placed those eight wires as shown in your diagram - and I hope I put them in at the right holes... (below picture is from your tutorial)

Attached File  cable_mod_1.jpg   340.2KB   48 downloads
Attached File  The_WXGA_to_WUXGA_LCD_cable_mod_PT2_seen_here_fi.jpg   23.13KB   42 downloads

I realized that your cable configuration is slightly different to mine. I think our "ground" configuration differs. I have two ground wires that don't exist in your LCD-connector. On the other side your configuration shows two "ground" wires that aren't present in my cable. Hope you understand the following picture :P (below picture is from your tutorial)

Attached File  cable_mod_2.jpg   1.08MB   60 downloads
Attached File  CharredPC_s_tutorial.jpg   55.62KB   39 downloads

Could it be that our previously installed displays differ and though the wirings? Following picture shows my original LCD. It is an AU Optronics B154EW08 V.1 Display.

Attached File  Original_Display.jpg   318.43KB   34 downloads

I bought a Samsung LTN154CT02 Display

Attached File  Neues_Display.jpg   304.31KB   31 downloads

Unfortunately it has two CCFTs. Our Acer only supports one. Anyhow - I couldn't wait and attached my modded cable and one of the two CCFTs. I booted with an Ubuntu Live CD (OSX shows me a black screen after the rotating beachball). Ubuntu recognized the resolution of 1920x1200 but the picture looked like it was only running with 256 colors (next picture is an example of the web). I didn't see any vertical lines!

Attached File  samplephototo256colors.jpg   29.18KB   43 downloads

Any ideas what I made wrong? Could the replacement of the "ground" wires be a solution? Should I place my wires 1:1 to yours? I'm looking forward to any suggestion :) It would be great to know how you get to your pin configuration because I personally don't think the 30pin dual channel LCD pinout is standardized? Did you try until you got a good picture? Did you make better experiences with LG displays? If this screen mod will ever work - do I have to use an edited dsdt to get higher resolutions?

I know - lots of questions and I hope someone can help me ;)

good night!

#69
CharredPC

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Hi CharredPC!

Thanks for your quite impressive work you've done with your Acer!

...

good night!


Glad it was helpful! I'll take a look at what you've done tonight- sorry I've been away for a bit. Offhand, I wanted to say a few things first:

-The 30-pin LCD pinout configuration is -technically- standardized. Between our two (very similar) Acer models, the pinout should be exactly the same. After studying my original cable, and the standard WSXGA pinout, I came to the conclusion that half the data channels were simply missing- luckily, no need for much trial and error!

-The blank screen is normal! No need to panic. In order to get higher resolutions in Mac on OSX using the X3100, yes, you have to add the "dual-link" DSDT mod. I've put mine into the BIOS itself, to make things more permanent ;) I can even explain how to do that too, if the LCD project works out. It can be really helpful when installing retail OSX (otherwise, no DSDT patch is loaded, and the setup goes 'blank screen' as well).

-That picture may indicate a few things. You might just need more ground wires, or (if we're really lucky) it's simply a Ubuntu driver issue. I haven't tried it, but it may very well be that Ubuntu needs a "dual link" type fix as well. The important thing is that it DOES have picture! Was it just the images that looked poor, or was the text fuzzy as well?

Sounds like a good game plan would be to do the dual-link DSDT mod with things "stock" (it should have no effect on your original screen, so no harm in adding it). Then put the new screen on and boot into OSX. And troubleshoot from there.

These days I triple boot between 10.5.8, 10.6.x, and Windows 7. I'm usually in Leopard, though, since sleep remains broken in SL and I prefer my old drivers. It's worth mentioning that Win7 had no problem seeing and using the new LCD / resolutions.

#70
YouDoMeIDoYou

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Thanks for your quick reply - nothing to apologize :(

I am looking forward to getting your opinion about my wirings. Pointing out a mistake in this step could make it easier for me. I personally made a greeeat idiocy and completed the missing four ground wires #10, 16, 22 and 28 (left #5 because I thought that wire isn't used) and attached them to the four empty holes of the 40pin jack. My thought was: If there are four ground wires missing in my 30pin jack... it must be the ones missing in the 40pin. Well... my green power supply LED went on and off! I turned off my Acer via the power button and pulled out the 40pin jack - a little spark appeared and till that moment my notebook was kind of dead... I'll never make that again. So my next idea (but a bit too late) was to complete those ground wires at the 30pin jack and connect them to the already bared blank wires right next to them. I'd love to use the WUXGA resolution - my feelings tell me im really close :( Would you propose to change my wirings 1:1 to yours? Could you send me an up-to-date dsdt with dual-link injected? I've read through this thread. I wouldn't mind to know the true promise of your work made over the last months :) First thing I have to do is waiting for my "new" used mainboard from ebay and reproduce the status quo I've had before my chort circuit mistake. Hope no other hardware took damage... I'll post all my findings the next days. Thanks for the Windows 7 advice!

Have a nice day!

#71
CharredPC

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I see no harm in trying a 1:1 match of my cable (since it works well- no shorts here!). I was pretty nervous the first time I tried new wiring too. Just triple-check everything, keep notes, and take your time. Not included in the pictures, I also decided to add the missing ground wires to my cable as well, back when I was trying to pin down the EDID issue. As far as I can tell, it made no difference either way... but the specs call for it, so it couldn't hurt. As long as you go strictly by the standard wiring code map, there shouldn't be any more sparks ;)

I'll try and dig up my latest DSDT tonight (one that isn't embedded in my BIOS!). I also highly recommend the latest Chameleon RC5 rev428 build package- it solved a few important glitches here (fixes dual boot RC4 problem; enables native speedstep- so no more need for Coolbook- yay!; recognizes ram & cpu properly; a few other random little things).

Not sure how closely your hardware matches mine, but I'd be happy to post my current driver selection as well. As I said, I prefer Leopard on this machine because sleep is important to me. To be honest, once things were 100% stable and "just worked," I started using my 'Acertosh' instead of tweaking and fixing it! Which I guess means it was a success... ;)

#72
YouDoMeIDoYou

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I don't know if things are getting better or worse... Today i received my replacement motherboard. Fantastic! On the face of it it looked identical to my previous one. I wanted to assemble it to my Acer's body and realized a DVI output... ;)

After some research i found out that it does fit to my notebook (the boards have the same id) but is equipped with an extra mxm port for mobile graphic cards without shared memory like the 8800m gt and so on...

Attached File  DSC_8605.jpg   246.09KB   49 downloads
Attached File  DSC_8606.jpg   333.28KB   34 downloads

Bah! I really don't know what to do now. On the one hand I could buy an extra GPU for more graphics power (with x64 support). On the other hand I'm scared my WUXGA project won't work due to the fact the wirings could be totally different? Do you know if this project can be done with other GPUs? Otherwise I would return that board and search for an identical one with x3100 graphics :unsure:

Sorry for bothering you ;)

#73
CharredPC

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I don't know if things are getting better or worse... Today i received my replacement motherboard. Fantastic! On the face of it it looked identical to my previous one. I wanted to assemble it to my Acer's body and realized a DVI output... ;)

After some research i found out that it does fit to my notebook (the boards have the same id) but is equipped with an extra mxm port for mobile graphic cards without shared memory like the 8800m gt and so on...

Bah! I really don't know what to do now. On the one hand I could buy an extra GPU for more graphics power (with x64 support). On the other hand I'm scared my WUXGA project won't work due to the fact the wirings could be totally different? Do you know if this project can be done with other GPUs? Otherwise I would return that board and search for an identical one with x3100 graphics :unsure:

Sorry for bothering you ;)


Never a bother!

I'd consider myself lucky, and view this as a happy accident. Our boards were designed to have MXM slots (even my 5620 has a space for one), but they didn't implement it. I even considered buying one! In theory, it should be a drop-in replacement... make sure the LCD connector is the same, and I say run with it. You'll have a seriously pimped out Acer, and nearly any MXM card you toss in there will probably run circles around an onboard X3100 :)

#74
YouDoMeIDoYou

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I came to the conclusion to sell my new mainboard. I would need an additional heatsink for CPU/GPU and a new graphics card. Altogether too much money in my opinion. The X3100 will be a better choice for me. Working oob, QE, QI support and nothing to think about. Looking for an appropriate GPU with OSX support took me some hours - not to mention that this card couldn't work with my motherboard. Too risky in my opinion. I'd be glad getting your driver selection! Don't hurry - don't know if my Acer will ever work again :wacko: Any idea if two CCFTs will effect a better LCD illumination? I thought about changing my inverter board with two CCFT connectors...

Best greetings from Bavaria!

#75
CharredPC

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Well, good to hear that I have some time. Today I'm reinstalling Snow Leopard from scratch, and will make it work no matter what it takes. By the time you get your laptop revived, I should have instructions and a new set of drivers. Already done some tests, and I have working sleep, deep sleep (hibernate), and native video and speed step support under 10.6.4 with all updates. I think I'll finally make the move from 10.5.8 to 10.6.4 now that all that is solved... it's a much faster OS :)

#76
Palikari

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Hey Charred:

How did the upgrade to SL work? I am running the same configuration as you and have most things working. The only real annoyance is the internal mic isn't recognized. I am running VoodooHDA.

I am running triple-boot SL 10.6.4-Win7-Ubuntu 10.04.

I think my next mod will be an SSD drive. It would be nice to have it along with my 750GB internal.

#77
CharredPC

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Hey Charred:

How did the upgrade to SL work? I am running the same configuration as you and have most things working. The only real annoyance is the internal mic isn't recognized. I am running VoodooHDA.

I am running triple-boot SL 10.6.4-Win7-Ubuntu 10.04.

I think my next mod will be an SSD drive. It would be nice to have it along with my 750GB internal.


The only real problem in SL now is... audio! I hate VoodooHDA. It has the internal mic problem, but also is totally useless after sleep for me as well. I'm working with Slice to get an alternate solution working, and will update here once we finalize a solution.

If the SSD drive were small enough, it might even fit inside the 5620 casing (where the MXM card goes in different models). There's even another SATA port to tap into on our boards... maybe once I have the money I'll make that another project :)

#78
Palikari

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The only upgrade I haven't done is the LCD. If I remember correctly, yours works under Windows 7 as well as OSX. I would want to make sure it works under Ubuntu as well prior to making the change. I need all three.

I don't think there has been any further development of the Voodoo driver since Apr '09. I have been using a Griffin iMic that is plug and play with SL for my sound solution.

#79
turbocheke

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Please you cand send me the all the info for make the cable wxga+ ,please
email: turbocheke@gmail.com

#80
Pep One

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I know that it's an old thread, but it's a bible for extensa owner.
I have a problem with your dsdt 3.2, display go out of range but with the previous version of dsdt works very well.
Can you help me, what's the matter?
Where i can find custom bios 1.36?
Thank you.

P.s. Sorry for my poor english.





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