Fun with nIc (New Internet Computers)

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So, I got a whole batch of these cute little net appliances. They're
kind of cool. 64Mb ram and a cyrix m2 266mhz chip. I've decided to play
with them to see what I could do as far as hacking them goes.

What I know:

They will boot from *any* live linux CD (so far). I think they will
boot from any cd in general, not I've not tested.

I can subsitute a K6-2 for the cyrix chip. In one revision, the
multiplier is locked to 3, in another, it can go to 5.5. You can also
tweak the voltages some. To 3.5V.

They can see max 256MB ram as long as it's double sided, up to 128
single sided. THe Height of the ram chip is an issue, though, As even
the ultra low profile chip it comes with touches the bottom of CDROM.
Anything higher forces the cdrom to go at an angle. Too steep, and the
CD door won't open, as it's obstructed by the plastic case. Not that it
matters greately for an OS on CD application.

It uses an Award Bios

The FSB is, in both revisions I've looked at, locked to 66mhz. While
you can put a K6-2 550mhz in, It will only run at 366MHZ. On the other
hand, you can put a k6-2 500 in, and crank the multiplier to 5.5 and
still run at 366mhz....

What I suspect:

Judging by the yellow pallor of the motherboard, and the fact that it
uses an award bios, I THINK ASUS made the mobo. Not real sure on that.

What I would like to know:

There are several headers without any labels that I would like to know
what they do. Maybe I can unlock the FSB with jumpers. It would be cool
to get them to run faster. I suppose there is minimal damage I could do
by blindly shorting pins. 6 years ago they were worth $200, now we've
been reselling them at $10 per (unhacked :) )

I would like to copy the bios from the unlocked version, to the locked
version. But there are a couple obsticles. No floppy, being the first.
THere are USB ports, into which I could plug an external flash drive,
but.... Need dos drivers for the usb key. And puting awdflash onto a
bootable CD could be done. Still need the ability to transfer data. The
other option is the LAN. No, I don't have a chip reader/writer. Not yet
tried prying out the bios chip from the Unlocked revision, and
implanting it into the Locked revison and seeing what happens. Maybe

Re: Fun with nIc (New Internet Computers)

On 26 Aug 2006 22:35:49 -0700, ""

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Do these have the whole system built into the back of the
monitor?  If so, IIRC there are hacking guides on the 'net
for them, a Google search might find those.

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Some of the K6-2 & -3 chips reinterpret motherboard
multipliers, such that any multiplier below 4X has +2 added
to it.  IE - if it's a multi. of 3X, and you put a K6-2/500
in it, you might be good to go if the voltage support is
there... and I don't recall what voltage either CPU uses,
maybe 2.4-2.6V for the K6/2-500 depending on stepping.

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What chipset does it use?  There might be some way to hack
it to 100MHz FSB, if the chipset support is there.

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Hard to say based on color and Award Bios, is there anything
else distinguishing about it like where the silkscreening is
or what capacitors it uses?  IIRC, Mitac also made a lot of
yellow boards at the time, maybe a few others as they were
all mostly green or yellow, and it would've been a fairly
trivial thing for the same factor to just use a different

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If by minimal you mean that the systems aren't worth much,
yes that's true.  If by minimal you mean, just take jumper
back off with no harm done, not necessarily.

Some manufacturers like PCChips had an annoying habit of
putting 5V and Gnd on opposite pins.  There might be other
pins opposite a power pin, hard to say what they'd do on
proprietary boards if not standard pinouts.

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If the USB key can boot, you should not need the driver.  If
you have to boot something else, do you need the USB key at
all instead of having the bios on the boot media?

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Transfer why?
There's no need to write to the media doing the flash if you
don't care about backing up the original bios.

If you do want to do it, hook up a hard drive that boots DOS
or Win98 then <F5> (or is it <F8>?) to the boot menu and
choose safe mode command prompt... of course having the bios
and flasher on that HDD.

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What I find handy is using a leftover Compact Flash card
hooked up to a CF-IDE adapter.  It has enough room to keep
several flashers, memtest86, and other misc things on it...
plus it's very reliable and small/light enough that unlike a
HDD or CDROM, you can just plug it into the IDE cable and
leave it dangling in mid-air to do something quick, so long
as you're sure it won't short out against anything.

Check ebay if you dont' have a CF-IDE adapter, a basic
PIO-mode supportive type costs only $4 or so direct from the
Orient... plus shipping, so it's most cost effective to buy
a few at a time).  There might even be DMA/ATA66 supportive
cards on ebay now, but there weren't last time I looked (a
year ago) and the only products with the feature came from
US companies wanting about $45 or more, which is a bit
ridiculous for what they are, just a simple pin-adapter.

Re: Fun with nIc (New Internet Computers)

kony wrote:
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Nope, seperate. One of these.

I haven't found anthing useful so far on the hardware end. A couple of
useless software hacks.

Nevermind, just came across this.

Apparently I can get the bus to 75MHz via jumpers, and it has a link to
upgrade the bios to unlock the multipliers. A bootable ISO, no less.

Re: Fun with nIc (New Internet Computers) wrote:
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Update: The hacking guide is incomplete: with 2 jumpers, instead of 1,
I have been able to boost FSB to 83MHZ. This results in a 457MHZ
computer. Which beats 266 any day.
This used a k6-2 500, with the multiplier at 5.5x and the bus maxed out
at 83mhz. A weird overclocking/underclocking combo. Voltage let to
2.2v, which is what the chip has printed on it. So far it works
charmingly. It's a tad picky about which ram it has in it. It's stable
with the original RAM. Weird video issuses with another.

The full list of possible settings is 50, 54, 60, 66, 75, and 83 mhz.

The bios upgrade for unlocking the multiplier works, too.

Fun, not too painful.

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