Hacking Magellan Maestro 4xxx series

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At the Santa Cruz Flea Market I got, among other things, a Magellan Maestro 4050. I already have a slightly later unit, but this one has bluetooth. They run WinCE 5 which means most relevantly that they have persistent storage. WinCE 4 and earlier devices almost uniformly have only volatile memory, so when your battery runs out, your device resets itself to its factory settings. This was likely the best design decision Microsoft could have made, because WinCE 4 was an unreliable pile of debris that would corrupt its own installation at the slightest opportunity.

One of the things I've often wanted to do was to put a media player on my GPS. These devices have SDHC support, even if the installed software stack does not. Often it indeed does not, as no more than 2GB is typically required at the outside for the largest of map updates. This GPS has 2GB of internal flash memory, formatted as FAT, and installed with Windows CE 5 core and the Magellan Navigator software. It also contains mobile BlueSoleil for bluetooth functionality, and the IVT Dialer application for the purpose of communicating with your phone. Support is quite poor; I have a motorola W365 which is similar in all important respects to the supported V600, but only basic phone features work correctly. This will only keep you from accessing SMS, however, so it is not really a major drawback.

The first thing you need to know is how to talk to the device. As shipped it implements a mass storage interface, so you can just plug it in via USB (by which it unfortunately will not charge) at the same time you plug it in with the AC adapter; USB takes a bit of power. The first thing you need to know is how to properly back up the device, and how to restore it, so here goes:

  1. Clean installation of OS 2.36 on Maestro 4XXX: this forum post explains how to speed up your device. Short form: copy ALL files from the storage device, format it (via windows) fat32, copy the map files back to the device, copy all the other files back to the device, disconnect the USB cord and it will reboot. That's all you need to know if you've never done anything traumatic to your unit.
  2. Install third party software: This forum post is the home for MioPocket 4.0, a shell replacement and bundled utilities for WinCE-based GPS units (WinCE 4 through 6!) I so far have only succeeded with the SDfree installation, sans games which wouldn't fit. (Some will, but I wasn't being choosy.) MioPocket 3 is more bloated and won't fit.

I used the first approach to remedy the mess I made with the second, which worked like a charm. Make sure you make a full backup! The fat32 format speeds things up considerably.

The other thing you must know about the device is how to get it to the boot loader. Updates contain images, one of them is the image for your device, and renaming it to "winceimg.bin" on an SD card, installing the SD card, and then holding down both power and reset until the screen turns blue will do the trick. If at first you don't succeed, try the next .bin file. THIS WILL NOT RESTORE YOUR MAPS, SO MAKE A FULL BACKUP BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING WEIRD TO YOUR GPS UNIT. And if any of this stuff doesn't work on your unit, don't blame me, this is merely a log of my experiences, which is why it's in my blog.

Comments

The 4050 uses the Samsung S3C2440A, an ARM920T processor, which is one of the very fastest ARM9 processors. Official specs show up to 500MHz but I've got a reference somewhere of this unit running at 600MHz. There IS volatile storage, and in a reset the unit loses its settings, which are stored there. In theory it might not be too hard to cook the ROM to store them? I have some related bookmarks to share later. When you install MioPocket, prevent the SDHC.reg from running. It will only ruin things. This processor does not provide an SDHC host.

I discovered bluesoleil.com, you can download evaluation versions of their WinCE stack (is there a time limit or something? I haven't figured that part out yet) from the website. The unit comes with some variation on their 2.0 stack which appears to be the "classic" stuff. I tried (casually) to get the evaluation kit to run without success. I then tried just as casually to install the prettier 3.0 version with complete success. There are manually installable packages for both the 2.0 and 3.0 BlueSoleil WinCE stacks on the above link.

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