Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Trust 445a Router Recovery

A few years back, when I first went to ADSL from 56k, I bought a router from my favourite company, Trust. The router was a Trust 445A Speedlink xDSL Web Station, a bog-standard Conexant-based router pretty much indistinguishable from a technical point of view from my previous AMX-CA64E router.

After about 6 or 8 months, however, I tried to change a setting in the router's config without thinking about it (I made the router switch to PPP Half-bridge mode as I was pretty much using it in a Half-Bridge configuration anyway) and managed to make the admin interface inaccessible. At the same time, it stopped giving out DHCP, connecting via ADSL or working at all.

I couldn't find any firmware to restore it from (the one time Trust has let me down by not having the correct drivers) and it seemed beyond repair. I threw it into a back cupboard to use as an emergency four-port Ethernet switch in case I ever needed one. At the time I was a bit short of money but still went out and bought a replacement so that must have really meant that back then there was no way to recover this particular router; I never consign anything to the bin if there's the slightest chance I can recover it.

Digging it up a few weeks ago when clearing out some of my older computer cables, I thought that it was worth another shot. ADSL doesn't seem to be going anywhere any time soon so it was worth getting a backup router or using it if I have to fix someone's computer.

Details were sketchy to say the least. Google only turned up Origo Repair as a likely candidate (which would probably work if you knew how to fiddle it and probably works wonders for people whose routers can take most firmwares and who are willing to try any number of firmwares first.

Instructions for the 445A were much harder to track down until I spotted an old forum entry, hidden away in the depths of a long conversation:

"I have Trust 445a too, and it seems it uses the same chipset CX82310-14 ARM940T Processor as Billion BIPAC-711CE and others. Italians secceded flashing Trust 445a to Billion BIPAC-711CE."

The website linked to contained an instructive PDF, a driver set and a firmware image of a Billion router. The PDF itself was in Italian but with that, the firmware and an online translation service, I was able to get the approximate gist of the plan.

1) Open up the router and short jumper JP1.
2) Turn on router.
3) Connect via USB between the router and a computer with an Intel chipset motherboard (the flashing utility requires certain chipsets, otherwise it can't recognise the USB ports). I found this out on the Origo Repair page which seems to use similar flash utilities: "The only limitation is the Flash program that is used. This seems to be very fussy about the chipset in your machine. It is known to work with VIA & Intel but not with SIS, nForce2 & KT266."
4) Boot DOS (I used the Ultimate Boot CD's version of Freedos)
5) Run the flash utility with the /e switch to erase the current firmware.
6) Run the flash utility again, this time supplying the firmware on that website.
7) Wait until it's uploaded and the modem settles (quite worrying that for several tens of minutes it just looks completely inert but eventually it all completes successfully)
7) Remove the jumper, reboot and test the router.

Additionally, there's a further step to then go on to upgrade the onboard files on the router to support UPnP and various other minor fixes, but that's just the easy part.

After a few false starts (a laptop and a desktop with only SiS chipsets that the DOS utility couldn't use the USB ports on, having it plugged into a USB port which the DOS flash utility did not see as the FIRST USB port, etc.) I managed to flash the firmware perfectly.

A quick reboot of the router showed it working just as it should, albeit with another company's branded version of the admin interface. Basically, from a blank EEPROM, it had restored the 445A to perfect working health and even added UPnP support as a bonus (the 445A didn't support UPnP with it's original settings).

I stood little chance of finding this stuff out on my own and am eternally grateful to the forum poster, the Italian website authors and Google for restoring a dead router back to full health, thereby saving me about £50 in the future.

Now to go and burn that firmware, driver and my own instructions onto a million and half CD's, tapes, DVD's, floppies, USB disks and hard drives just in case the website goes down and I need it again!


Lincoln (ljrickwood at uklinux dot net) said...

Thanks - this is exactly the information I've been searching for to save my Trust 445! (It's multitude of settings make it too useful to lose.) The original links have gone and your post seems to be the only place left in which this oh-so-valuable information resides!

Ledow said...

Glad I could be of help. And because of the fact that some of the links have in fact disappeared, I've got backups of all the files mentioned if anyone else needs them.