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ThinkPad X61 BIOS issue

X60/X61 series specific matters only.
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Kingair
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ThinkPad X61 BIOS issue

#1 Post by Kingair » Mon Aug 31, 2020 1:28 pm

I was upgrading a ThinkPad X61 to Middleton BIOS
I've done it many times previously and never had an issue
This time I hit the lid by accident and it almost closed
It did not closed but nevertheless the X61 went into sleep / standby mode and the BIOS installation stopped
Now the X61 won't boot
How can I get the BIOS back installed ?
Let get this baby back alive !

Scratchmonkey
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Joined: Sun Aug 30, 2020 4:18 pm
Location: Regina, Canada

Re: ThinkPad X61 BIOS issue

#2 Post by Scratchmonkey » Mon Aug 31, 2020 9:07 pm

What happens when you turn on your ThinkPad? Any signs of life at all? Did you disconnect the CMOS battery?

Cheers,
Scratchmonkey
Current ThinkPads:
T420 * X230 * X220 * X200 * X61
Former ThinkPads:
600E * 600X

olex126
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Re: ThinkPad X61 BIOS issue

#3 Post by olex126 » Mon Aug 31, 2020 9:45 pm

Your BIOS at this point is unequivocally and totally pooched!

IBM specifically warns about doing a BIOS update without a 2nd source of good power (although some have gotten around that issue!) and not allowing the machine into sleep or hibernation, which corrupts the write with ANY type of power loss...

(Actually what happens during a power loss is that. depending on what stage the power loss occurs at, the registers are mostly left in an un-written state....no instructions to follow, so the BIOS isn't quite sure what to do :??: ). IBM's solution is a new system board. However, IF by some miracle you can ever get it to boot, you'll have to write an original BIN file back to the BIOS from a floppy disk, if it's not corrupted to the point that it won't accept a re-write.

Failing that, I believe another of the ways to cure the problem is to purchase a new BIOS chip, have it programmed with a BIOS image from your specific machine Type, un-solder the old BIOS chip and solder in the new one. (The one problem here is if the Security chip (TPM) is active, it may reject the new BIOS and not allow the machine to start...(or is the TPM chip tied to the embedded controller?...not sure on a Thinkpad whether the TPM chip is electronically tied to the BIOS or Controller...anyone?)

Never done it myself for Thinkpads (in another life....with some specialized programmers, some chips, and different "receiver types"...yes....ah, the Fun days :D ), so can't vouch for this specific method, but from what I've read, it works, and I'm sure someone on the Forum who has experience with the process on a Thinkpad can chime in.

A third (and probably the cheapest) option is to just replace the planar, lots of them around. I have several good X61T boards here, but none for a straight X61, and I don't think they're compatible.


Regards.

Dave
Previous & Collection Thinkpads: 701C A22m A30/A31p T23p x2 T30 T41 X31 various 750's 760's & 390's.

DD's & Test Benches: X41T, X60T & X61T's, various T42p-T43p's, x200 x201 x220T x230 T520 W530 T601F LED (X9000/8Gb/250SSD/W7 U)


"Life Is A Journey...Enjoy The Ride!"

dr_st
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Re: ThinkPad X61 BIOS issue

#4 Post by dr_st » Mon Aug 31, 2020 11:09 pm

Ouch.

Check this thread for possible solutions:
viewtopic.php?t=126912

A more detailed description of WinCrisis:
https://techzei.com/how-to-fix-lenovo-b ... enix-bios/
Thinkpad 25 (20K7), T490 (20N3), Yoga 14 (20FY), T430s (IPS FHD + Classic Keyboard), X220 4291-4BG
X61 7673-V2V, T60 2007-QPG, T42 2373-F7G, X32 (IPS Screen), A31p w/ Ultrabay Numpad, A21m 2628-GXU

olex126
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Re: ThinkPad X61 BIOS issue

#5 Post by olex126 » Mon Aug 31, 2020 11:15 pm

Hi dr_st.

Yep, I've used Wincrisis before on a couple of bad BIOS writes, and it DOES work....providing the O/P can get his X61 to boot.... and THAT could be an uphill battle from his description of the situation :eek:

Regards.

Dave
Previous & Collection Thinkpads: 701C A22m A30/A31p T23p x2 T30 T41 X31 various 750's 760's & 390's.

DD's & Test Benches: X41T, X60T & X61T's, various T42p-T43p's, x200 x201 x220T x230 T520 W530 T601F LED (X9000/8Gb/250SSD/W7 U)


"Life Is A Journey...Enjoy The Ride!"

Kingair
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Posts: 83
Joined: Mon Apr 20, 2020 3:00 pm
Location: Mexicali, MX (Coachella)

Re: ThinkPad X61 BIOS issue

#6 Post by Kingair » Tue Sep 01, 2020 1:32 am

olex126 wrote:
Mon Aug 31, 2020 11:15 pm
Hi dr_st.

providing the O/P can get his X61 to boot....

Regards.

Dave
Pressing the power button
Lights go on
Fan spins
And than you here a sound like a .22caliber with a silencer
That's it
No boot screen ...

Kingair
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Posts: 83
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Location: Mexicali, MX (Coachella)

Re: ThinkPad X61 BIOS issue

#7 Post by Kingair » Tue Sep 01, 2020 1:34 am

Scratchmonkey wrote:
Mon Aug 31, 2020 9:07 pm
What happens when you turn on your ThinkPad? Any signs of life at all? Did you disconnect the CMOS battery?

Cheers,
Scratchmonkey
Gonna try to disconnect the CMOS tomorrow !

It fires up
Green lights go on
Fan spins
But than a weird sound and it shuts down
No boot screen

Kingair
Freshman Member
Posts: 83
Joined: Mon Apr 20, 2020 3:00 pm
Location: Mexicali, MX (Coachella)

Re: ThinkPad X61 BIOS issue

#8 Post by Kingair » Tue Sep 01, 2020 1:37 am

dr_st wrote:
Mon Aug 31, 2020 11:09 pm
Ouch.

Check this thread for possible solutions:
viewtopic.php?t=126912

A more detailed description of WinCrisis:
https://techzei.com/how-to-fix-lenovo-b ... enix-bios/
I'll remove the CMOS battery and wait for a week
Let's give it a shot !
Maybe this still works in 2020
Let's hope
I'll disconnect it tomorrow and keep you posted

Appreciate all your input
Thanks gents ... 🙏

Kingair
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Posts: 83
Joined: Mon Apr 20, 2020 3:00 pm
Location: Mexicali, MX (Coachella)

Re: ThinkPad X61 BIOS issue

#9 Post by Kingair » Tue Sep 01, 2020 1:43 am

olex126 wrote:
Mon Aug 31, 2020 9:45 pm
Your BIOS at this point is unequivocally and totally pooched!

Regards.

Dave
First I'm gonna try the other solutions mentioned here I'm the thread
Maybe if lucky but don't suppose I will
Than only rests me to find another mobo
X61 and X61t are different
Thanks Dave for you input !

Sweater Fish Deluxe
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Location: Ukiah, California

Re: ThinkPad X61 BIOS issue

#10 Post by Sweater Fish Deluxe » Tue Sep 01, 2020 3:50 am

olex126 wrote:
Mon Aug 31, 2020 9:45 pm
Failing that, I believe another of the ways to cure the problem is to purchase a new BIOS chip, have it programmed with a BIOS image from your specific machine Type, un-solder the old BIOS chip and solder in the new one. (The one problem here is if the Security chip (TPM) is active, it may reject the new BIOS and not allow the machine to start...(or is the TPM chip tied to the embedded controller?...not sure on a Thinkpad whether the TPM chip is electronically tied to the BIOS or Controller...anyone?)
The X61 BIOS is programmable on the system board, so there's no need to actually replace the EEPROM. A $15 CH341a SPI programmer with a SOIC8 clip will do it just fine. So will a Raspberry Pi if you happen to have one of those.

It does require a full disassembly of the system to get to the flash chip, but X61 owners should be used to that. Give it some new thermal paste while you're down there.

Kingair
Freshman Member
Posts: 83
Joined: Mon Apr 20, 2020 3:00 pm
Location: Mexicali, MX (Coachella)

Re: ThinkPad X61 BIOS issue

#11 Post by Kingair » Tue Sep 01, 2020 4:58 pm

Sweater Fish Deluxe wrote:
Tue Sep 01, 2020 3:50 am
olex126 wrote:
Mon Aug 31, 2020 9:45 pm
Failing that, I believe another of the ways to cure the problem is to purchase a new BIOS chip, have it programmed with a BIOS image from your specific machine Type, un-solder the old BIOS chip and solder in the new one. (The one problem here is if the Security chip (TPM) is active, it may reject the new BIOS and not allow the machine to start...(or is the TPM chip tied to the embedded controller?...not sure on a Thinkpad whether the TPM chip is electronically tied to the BIOS or Controller...anyone?)
The X61 BIOS is programmable on the system board, so there's no need to actually replace the EEPROM. A $15 CH341a SPI programmer with a SOIC8 clip will do it just fine. So will a Raspberry Pi if you happen to have one of those.

It does require a full disassembly of the system to get to the flash chip, but X61 owners should be used to that. Give it some new thermal paste while you're down there.
The CH341a I can order
But I don't have a Raspberry Pi ?
Any other solution ?
Can I use another ThinkPad instead of the Raspberry Pi or ... ?

Sweater Fish Deluxe
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Location: Ukiah, California

Re: ThinkPad X61 BIOS issue

#12 Post by Sweater Fish Deluxe » Thu Sep 03, 2020 1:02 pm

A Raspberry Pi would be an alternative to the CH341a. You don't need both. Any computer with a USB port and running Linux or Windows can work with the CH341a.

Here's a picture of the X61 motherboard pointing out the BIOS chip you need to attach the clip to for flashing.

And here's a guide to flashing the bios, though you can easily find other guides and I do advise reading several of them to get a good sense of the process and how it can be different.

Kingair
Freshman Member
Posts: 83
Joined: Mon Apr 20, 2020 3:00 pm
Location: Mexicali, MX (Coachella)

Re: ThinkPad X61 BIOS issue

#13 Post by Kingair » Sun Sep 06, 2020 11:44 pm

Sweater Fish Deluxe wrote:
Thu Sep 03, 2020 1:02 pm
A Raspberry Pi would be an alternative to the CH341a. You don't need both. Any computer with a USB port and running Linux or Windows can work with the CH341a.

Here's a picture of the X61 motherboard pointing out the BIOS chip you need to attach the clip to for flashing.

And here's a guide to flashing the bios, though you can easily find other guides and I do advise reading several of them to get a good sense of the process and how it can be different.
Appreciated !
CH431a is ordered ... 😉👌

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