The Nomad Jukebox 20GB Upgrade Experience

by redzuan a.k.a. dJ phuturecybersonique

I got myself a Creative Nomad Jukebox sometime back in April. It was actually a choice between a Compaq iPaq PDA or the Nomad Jukebox (henceforth referred to as the NJB). Since I'm still very much a pen/pencil/paper/clipboard person and very much a music lover, the choice of the NJB over the iPaq was a no brainer.

Anyways, the NJB came with 6GB capacity right out of the box. While that may seem a lot, it didn't take me long to actually fill it all up with the stuff that I ripped from my collection of 100+ CDs (and some MP3s that were lying around in my computer harddrive ;) ). So, until a couple of weeks back, I finally managed to fork out the dough to upgrade the NJB. I'd like to share with you how the whole upgrade experience went.

But before I go any further, here's a piece of caution for all you eager beavers out there: Upgrading the NJB would involve taking apart the NJB. DISASSEMBLING THE NJB WILL VOID ANY WARRANTY YOU HAVE FOR THE UNIT. I'm also assuming that you're somewhat comfortable taking your PC (or any electronic equipment) apart and have a clue as to how to hook a hard drive to the PC motherboard, master/slave IDE settings, etc. etc. 'cos that's the stuff that we're gonna be dealing with here. I shall not be held responsible for any damages that might occur in the course of you doing the upgrade. This article that I'm presenting to y'all is merely a bunch of rough guidelines, gathered from my own experience.

A lot of people don't seem to be aware that the storage device in the NJB is actually a hard drive -- a 2.5" laptop hard drive to be exact. Heck, even the dude from the shop that sold me the unit said that it has some sort of solid state storage device or memory chip in it! C'mon! But that's how most of them are at the Imbi Plaza, KL anyways -- clueless even on the stuff they sell! Heh! But they do have good prices for computer parts indeed! Anyways, back to business, these are the stuff that I used for the upgrade:

  • a Fujitsu MHM 2200 AT 20GB 2.5" laptop harddrive
  • a 2.5" to 3.5" IDE connector/adaptor
  • a screwdriver
  • Disk Sector Editor -- Hex Workshop V3.1 (software)
  • NJB Image file -- downloadable from Nomadness.net

The choice of harddrive is not just limited to the one mentioned above. I've heard other people using IBM and Toshiba harddrives in their upgrades and they work just as fine. Also, laptop harddrives come in heights of 9.5mm, 12.5mm and 17mm. Be aware that the NJB can ONLY fit harddrives that are 9.5mm in height.

Contrary to many other how-tos and guides that show you about ways of upgrading the NJB, mine's gonna be a little different in the approach. Other guides will generally tell you to do the following:

  1. Take the NJB apart and grab the existing harddisk out of the NJB
  2. Plonk the harddrive into your PC and use a disk sector editor to save the first 32,768 sectors of the NJB drive.
  3. Take that NJB harddisk out of your PC and replace it with the new harddrive that's gonna be put into the NJB.
  4. Write that image you saved in step 2 to the new drive.
  5. Take the harddrive out and put it into the NJB.
  6. Power the NJB up and format the harddrive. Done.

My approach to the upgrade goes like this instead:

  1. Hook the new hard drive into your PC.
  2. Use the disk sector editor to write that NJB image you downloaded (remember the list of stuff I mentioned earlier?) to the new drive.
  3. Take the NJB apart and take the existing harddisk out of the NJB. Replace it with the new one that you just wrote an image to.
  4. Put the NJB back together. Whilst powering up the NJB, hold down the EAX, Middle Soft Menu and the Arrow Down buttons together and when you're prompted with the option, choose Format.
  5. When it's done, reboot your NJB, you'll notice that your NJB now has an even bigger capacity!

Why this approach instead? Well this way, in the event that something goes wrong, you'll always have your original NJB harddisk, which is not hooked up to any other hardware besides the NJB itself, that you can hook it back to. I found out the hard way that when I hooked the original NJB hard disk into my PC, it messed up some of the initial sectors of the drive (the BIOS didn't want to recognize the harddrive despite various attempts) and I ended up not having any image to copy from! It was a good thing that Nomadness.net has an NJB image file that you can download from and use. But at that moment, it was too late and the stuff that I had on my 6GB NJB harddrive was totally gone and I had the fun task of having to rip all 100+ of my CDs all over again!

Also, you might be wondering, why do I use Hex Workshop instead of WinHex? Well, WinHex is shareware and if you need to use the imaging functions of it, you'll need to get the fully registered version of it. I don't see why I should cough up USD 35 for something that I know I'm gonna use just once. I'm not too sure about Norton Ghost though. I've heard some people having success with that. I'd like to reiterate that in my approach, we only have to WRITE the image to the harddrive, not read from it. Hence, the choice of Hex Workshop V3.1.

Okay! Now that you've upgraded your NJB with a bigger harddrive, what are you going to do with the 6GB one then? Well, since you have that 2.5" to 3.5" IDE Connector/Adapter, you can always hook the 6GB NJB harddrive to your PC, fdisk and format it and there you have it -- extra storage space for your PC!

Alright, hope you find the guide somewhat useful. Before I end this, it also helps to read what other people's approches are in upgrading the NJB and I found the links below very useful indeed:

Have fun!

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Geeky and musically inclined male carbon based bipedal life form capable of operating machines that can perform billions of operations per second without bloodshed. Also capable of producing millions of male reproductive cells on a daily basis without even trying. More...

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