Simon’s Backup Weblog


Unbricking a Belkin KVM

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on July 31, 2006

A while back I mentioned my shiny new Belkin F1DH102U Dual Head KVM.

After a day or so using it, I discovered that it really couldn’t cope with UK keyboards directly – quite hard when writing about C# and the # key doesn’t work. I suspect this is down to it capturing and scanning key codes to handle the keyboard shortcuts for device switching.

I could switch to a US layout, but that’s not really much good. However, after a little experimentation I discovered that you could put a USB keyboard in one of its standard USB ports, and it would work just fine – in fact you could go back to using application launch buttons and media controls (and in the case of my keyboard of choice, the scroll wheel and copy and paste buttons). There was just one problem. The KVM complained most vociferously that it didn’t have a keyboard where it was expecting one. The incessant bleep was rather annoying, and meant I had to find another solution…

Luckily Belkin has some firmware that removes the keyboard detection functions from its KVMs, so I downloaded it from the Belkin site, and set about reflashing the KVM.

This is where this turns into a cautionary tale. I didn’t realise there was a problem with my PC’s printer port (I still struggle on with a motherboard that I really should have replaced after the PSU went “bang” last year), and a failed firmware transfer bricked the device. Ooops. It was working on one PC, but I couldn’t switch to the other. The button didn’t work. At least it wasn’t going bleep every few seconds.

More awkwardly, Belkin didn’t seem to make the default firmware available, so I wasn’t able to return it to its default state. I decided to put things aside for a couple of days, and got on with writing. After all, it was deadline crunch week.

When things quietened down, I went back to the problem. I wondered if the Belkin software contained both versions of the software. It seemed bigger than it should be – but there was no documentation one way or the other on the Belkin site.

In a spirit of scientific enquiry, I hooked the KVM up to ‘s PC, and reflashed it. After I power cycled it, it sat there going bleep. The buttons seemed to work, too! I quickly hooked it up to my rig, and yes, everything was back to normal.

I then hooked it back up to ‘s PC, and flashed it again. No bleep, and the buttons worked. I hooked things back up, and everything was working just the way I hoped. It even coped with multiplexed USB devices (so I’ve got a USB port free that I can share between my PCs. I suspect I shall hook the web cam into it).

Phew.

A lesson or two learned.

Oh, and Belkin? Please update your documentation to note that the flash software contains both the original and new software, and will happily restore the device to the default configuration if there are any problems with a firmware update. Thanks.

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