Friday, 27 June 2014

Kohjinsha SC3 SSD Upgrade

A few years back due to a lucky bit of eBay-ing I managed to acquire a Kohjinsha SC3 for £50 with a 'boot drive error' After much faffing around it turned out the data cable was damaged and therefore the drive was not recognised. A bodge in the form of a bit of card wedged underneath the cable at the right point fixed the issue (as long as you never knocked it too hard) and all was well.

Recently it failed again and being fed up with having to dismantle the unit every few months and fed up with the painfully slow speed of it's Toshiba MK6028GAL 1.8" drive I decided to treat it to a SSD upgrade and  replace that pesky cable. I could of bought a Kingspec or Runcore Zif PATA SSD but they seemed either very pricey or not much faster than the drive I was replacing, In the end I threw an 80GB Intel 310 mSATA SSD together with a mSATA to ZIF adapter and a new zif cable (look for Toshiba suitable ones, mine was 15cm long.) The upside is the mSATA drive would ensure the chipset on the SC3 is the limiting factor.

I have taken a few pics to help show how to wrangle one of these apart and a couple of before and after benchmarks using CrystalDiskMark

Lets look at the interesting bit first, the original drive as you can see if just painfully slow, 1.8" drives were never really meant for desktop OS use more iPods and integrated applications. The Intel 310 SSD can achieve much higher reads which shows the limit of the SC3's chipset, however it's pretty much hit the write speed limit of the drive so I'm happy overall.

Original Toshiba MK6028GAL

New Intel 310 mSATA SSD

The installation:
Taking apart one of these is not difficult just fiddly due to it's size. I ditched the TV module ages ago as it cannot receive UK DVB signals and I never had the GPS or Bluetooth modules so you will find in places that things may look different to yours. Follow the captions in each image paying attention to the green arrows and you should be fine. Click the images for a much larger size.

The Kohjinsha SC3, the lump on the right side is my USB 3.0 card.

Firstly remove the flap in the center, I just pulled it up with using my finger nail.

Flip the unit over and remove all the screws marked by the arrows, make sure they don't get lost.

Remove the SO-DIMM and Pen (and Battery if you have not done so)

Flip back the right way and angle the screen as shown, the top plate at the rear will lift off with gentle pressure. If it will not come away make sure all the screws have been removed from underneath shown in the above pictures.

Remove the screen hinge and keyboard screws, make sure the screen does not flop over and break any cables.

Flip up the latches for the keyboard and touchpad zif cables, be gentle with the connectors.

Remove all the screws and connectors shown, the screen connectors in the top right just need a gentle tug upwards. If you have a TV module it's in the top left and has a small zif cable and the two antenna connected to it. You will need to remove these and put the module aside.

The top half pulls away from the lower, start at the back and slowly pry the top from the bottom, if everything is ok it should just come apart. If something feels stuck check all screws are removed. Watch for the little metal bits where the arrows are, they like to fall out when your not looking. Once done remove the three screws show as well.

You should now find the board lifts out, you can remove the ethernet port as I have done if you wish to.

Flip the board over and you can see the drive plus the screw that holds the cage in.

As you can see the dent in the cable around the 94V lettering is why mine stops working, the previous owner had dropped it and managed to damage the cable. You cannot buy these anywhere :(

My partially assembled lash up to image the old drive and run the benchmark. I used the same setup with the new drive to re-image and make sure everything worked before putting it back together.

Macrium Reflect is pretty awesome, it's free, it works with modern stuff like USB 3.0 and actually images in decent time unlike some of the alternatives.

New and old side by side, the Intel and adapter are slightly higher at 6.5mm than the 5mm drive but it fitted fine.

New drive held in place underneath with a small sticky pad, also fitted a new longer lead (maybe a bit too long) to replace the old duff one. Needed a small fold when reassembling but nothing that will cause it harm. To reassemble just reverse the disassemble steps.

Some eagle eyed viewers may notice my WiFi card is not the stock Via chipset one, I ditched that ages ago in favour of a modern Atheros Azurewave AR58XB72 card that supports WiFi N traffic, I had also used an Intel 3965ABG in this as well so you can pretty much chuck any card at it you want . I did at one point try a combined WiFi and Bluetooth card but that was just hopelessly awful. I posted about it here Combined WiFi/Bluetooth Card on pockatables and I try not to think about it too often.

If you have other older Kohjinsha units or any other the other smaller netbooks/tablets/pocketables from around this time you should find this setup will work for you, two things to bear in mind are 'will it actually fit inside?' and 'what is the max drive size my BIOS will recognise?'  I cheated and bought an 80GB as it was large enough to do the job and small enough to fit under the 128GB BIOS limit which I'm not sure the SC3 can handle.

The big question is was it worth it? Well costwise it was cheaper than buying a PATA SSD (just) and while the unit will always be slow at least it's not like waiting for a ZX Spectrum to load a game anymore just to open notepad. While not in daily use it's sometimes handy to have a proper Windows system for some jobs, this can hide in my bag next to my fancy Ramos i9 tablet for when it needs to show Android how things are done. (Albeit slower than the Ramos could do it if it could)


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Hey Archimark why the delete? Just got in from work and found your post in my inbox.

      A couple of quick suggestions based on your mail...
      1) Does the old HD work in the same enclosure as the SSD does?
      2) What's the model of the Kingspec SSD you are trying to use?
      3) Have you tried the cable both ways?

      These old ZIF connected devices are weird, you have Toshiba and Hitachi wiring, when I did mine as I had a Toshiba HD it was safe to assume I need a Toshiba ZIF cable and adaptor and it all worked out. If the Kingspec wants Hitachi cabling then that might cause issues.

      I hope this helps, if not don't be shy and post a reply. :)

    2. Hi Andy,

      Thanks for your kind help.....

      I did the deletes as I managed to finally get the SSD working....of course after finally deciding to post asking for your help......Murphy's Law, right?....should have posted a lot sooner as it would saved me several hours of disassembling and reassembling the SC3....

      I ended up doing similar to you and getting a new length of ZIF cable (10cm instead of your 15 cm....) and setting up SSD backwards like you did.

      After turning around the SSD relative to the cable, it finally worked.....

      So, was feeling good until I had almost re-assembled SC3 for the umpteenth time, and I managed to snap of the beige tiny plastic retaining clip for the keyboard cable.....fortunately, searching online I found the suggestion to cut out a small thin plastic shim and after inserting the ribbon cable, I pushed in the shim into the slot on top of the ribbon cable, and it worked.....

      So, think things are OK now, but in process of testing out everything...

      Thanks again for your instructive post and photos and your reaching out to help. Greatly appreciate it, Andy!


    3. Cool, glad it all worked out for you :)

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Actually could use your help with one some missing drivers when I look in Device Manager in Windows.....

    One is labeled Unknown Device in properties, I see 'ACPI\IEC2007\2&DABA3FF&2'
    and other is shown as PIX-ST141. Think the second one might be for the TV.

    Also, I read there is something called KJSUtilities and a BIOS update v. 1.1H

    Do you know where I can download these files?

    And are there any other important files I should have?




    1. Looks like Kohjinsha's site is having a wobbly so I've uploaded the last driver pack they did to my site. Download this file.....

      This has all the last drivers and the KJS utilities included, most of the drivers are hideously out of date. Win 7 and above will pretty much pick it all up. I think the ACPI gets covered by the KJS utils as it's part of the Hotkey system.

      Bios 1.1H here

      The pen drivers are now supplied by Advantech and are much more recent

      Audio drivers, grab the latest Realtek Audio drivers (2.79 at present)

      Touchpad drivers , grab them from Synaptic

  4. Andy,

    I can't thank you enough for all your wonderful help!

    Just completed 437MB download of your driver pack......and the BIOS file....

    Will download the other drivers you provided links to.....

    One other issue I have is that the ethernet port is not working since I last reassembled SC3.....not sure if it's connection issue inside or perhaps a driver missing....or needs reinstalling to version in your driver pack....hopefully, it's just a driver issue....would like to avoid opening up the SC3 again.....meanwhile, I've been using a USB ethernet adapter works OK....but one more thing to carry around....

    Installed Win 10 and working well so far.....and dual-booting it with Linux well so far.....

    So, all in all, things are good in SC3 land......

    Thanks again!


    1. Just downloaded Pen Driver OK....

      Link to the Realtek audio driver should be:

      For others sake, it's 101MB download.....

      Now downloading the Synaptic touchpad driver.....149MB.....



  5. Win 10 should pick up the ethernet port it's nothing fancy just a generic Atheros (I think) one nothing to get massively excited about, I would fire up my SC3 but I went too the other night and the PSU decided to let out it's magic smoke so just waiting on a replacement.

  6. Thanks, Andy....would have thought that Windows would have picked up ethernet port too....had same issue in Win 7, which I installed first before updating to Win 10 (got the free upgrade to 10 that way....). So, very it worked OK in prior Win 7 install that was on the HD that came with SC3 when I bought it recently.

    When disassembling SC3, I just unplugged the ethernet port unit and then plugged it back in when reassembling.....had to imagine I damaged it.

    Sorry to hear about your PSU.......hope your replacement arrives soon....if you do get your SC3 working will be interesting to know what drivers it's using....

    Guess I can try install from your driver pack and see what happens...

    Only other thing I can think of is that the USB ethernet adapter I'm using is an Apple one that I've had for 5- 7 years or so...I manually installed Asix drivers for it on the SC3 and if I'm not mistaken it has same unit I see the same number (AX88x772A) in Device Manager if I'm remembering correctly....if I'm correct in this, maybe the version of driver I installed is not compatible with the SC3 ethernet port unit.....or something like that?....

  7. Installed the Kohjinsha Utilities. Now can control brightness by the display button which is nice and notice several other controls in the taskbar popup (forget what it's called...) use click on to disconnect devices, etc...

    Still having problem with the built-in ethernet port. Installed the driver from the driver pack. Port is now recognized as being there and a bunch of driver items are now listed in Network Adapter list in Device Manager. But still doesn't connect. When I run Windows troubleshooter, it lists 2 issues; one cable not plugged in (it is plugged in and it works with my Apple USB ethernet adapter...) and other is Ethernet does not have a valid IP configuration and suggests contacting network admin or resetting modem or router. Neither should be needed as ethernet port is working fine with my Apple USB adapter.....

    Very odd.....

    1. Hey there, I managed to fire up my system for a bit and the Asix ethernet is just a USB to 10/100 Ethernet, the cable is just for the port and the actual chip is on the mainboard itself. Driver wise Win 10 picked it up straight away. If you want to try a later driver try here

      My SC3 is a bit unwell at the moment I think the mSata drive is overheating or something as it keeps crapping out, time to break out the hammer.

  8. Thanks for the update and info.....

    Will try the new driver soon.....

    Sorry to hear your SC3 has a new issue....

    Maybe you should get a SSD.....faster and so nice and silent.....

    1. Already have the SSD that's what the post is about :)

      It's just a fluffy Intel one that they could not write proper firmware for so it's semi broken by design, watch this space. Broken things can be fixed :)

  9. Sorry, was mixing you up with someone else.... ;-)

    Sounds like you've got this handled......

    Still no go with built-in ethernet port.....very odd......system recognizes it is there.....just no internet, thinking that perhaps something happened to the black covered cable that is connected to the ethernet port from taking it out and putting it back in so many times.....

    Fortunately, the USB adapter works OK, but would be nice to have the option to use the built-in port and not need to depend upon having the adapter with me.