Lenovo ThinkPad T430 / Nitrokey NitroPad T430

I have a black CH341A. What is the difference to the black, blue, green CH341A?

I take the advice to use short wires to be relevant. I will buy something shorter than I have. I suspect that having fluorescent lights, and LED lights might have EMF problems. I may try to do flash on front porch. Lots of light as well. Now to find a teenager who dreams of being an engineer. All my coffee drinking buddies are old.

The two Pomona clips I purchased previously might have been counterfeit, the blue part quickly crumbled away from being reset, stress, The SOIC clip which came with the programmer is like epoxy, quite sturdy.

I would guess the hooks must never be allowed to brush up against two legs of the IC at the same time. So buying exactly the correct size would be important. Also don’t plug programmer in until the all the hooks are set. I am not sure which I should attempt.

If the Flash works, I thought, I don’t need to know which Chip I have. Annoying that it is so difficult to find out exactly which ROM Chip I have. As if I know the correct ROM chip number I could get the original ROM to Flash. My experience with an Lenovo X230 ROM chips, they had adhesive from the black plastic cover. After I used alcohol to clean it off, even in the sunlight my camera could not come up with numbers I could read.

But if the first Flash works, I don’t really need to know.

Sven, I recall that when the Flash seemed to be working, the information provided came rather quickly. Meaning a 'insufficient Contact" becomes clear in like thirty second, nothing happens, reset SOIC, or Hooks. Is that Correct?

Zrubi, the T430 I purchased was refurbished, which increases likely hood the T430 will continue to work. unless I mess up the Flash. I will need more RAM for it. A better WiFi adapter, the original one in the X230 was not nearly as fast as the replacement. Suggested by Sven, a top of the line SSD. For a hundred something I could get a better screen. I already have a Librem Key. So yeah, there are more expenses to get to where I want to be. I can do them at a hundred a month or so.

All of you, Thanks for the help.

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On many lenovos, it makes little difference which chip set you choose,
either for reading or writing.
You can confirm this yourself by reading using different chip sets - you
will get the same result.
The same for writing.

Generally, if you clean the chip with alcohol swab you can see enough
of the identifier to work out which chip it is. But it really isnt

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It felt even faster than that. Like 2-3 seconds maybe.

Unman, thank you for your reply. When one is first reading through the check list a lot of details would be too much. but right now, Knowing what I can expect, is comforting to anticipate what is likely to happen.

Like wise, Thank you Sven.

I have been looking at the github Skulls:

Has check list/documentation for installing Core Boot - either X230 or T430- on separate pages–… From what I read. I can use this to do hardware Flash, and come back later and from software- with the laptop closed up, install Heads, and get my Librem Key to be used for checkup at start. The Heads website does not have a list for T430.

Interestingly, the github Skulls page suggests one use a CH341A set to five volts, saying 3.3 Volts is not powerful enough… That would be a black CH341A.

I will test the machine for a few days. To verify if it seems functional before doing the Flash. If the Flash went bad, I don’t think it fair to return it for being dysfunctional. Which means if any of you have any other suggestions, there is time.

Thanks all of you…

Doesn’t it say they use an external power supply, they mention using the AMS1117 which they probably set to 3.3V, the chip isn’t designed to handle 5v vcc.

The CH341A can only do 5V logic signals, which is an issue, but using 5v vcc could destroy the chip.

" Also, we don’t use the included 3,3V power output (provides too little power), but a separate power supply. If you don’t have any, consider getting a AMS1117 based supply for a second USB port (like this or this)."

Which to me seemed to mean, use 5V. I think I bought the power supply, but I did not recognize a way to hook it up. Someone, on a forum said, 'don’t worry, just Flash it."

Right now I see for sale, black CH341A. Perhaps before the green version was the only thing around.

There was, in my mind, a question of whether I should leave the CMOS battery connected while doing the Flash. As no one mentioned it. “Just do the Flash.”

I see some write about modifying the black CH341A to use 3.3 Volts. I have not read that carefully.

Which makes it look like using the PI would be a better option. PI would be a less complicated option for voltage. Also another two hundred dollar cost.

FWIW if you like the performance of a T430 but need more than 16GB RAM, the W530 (with a Quad core) supports up to 32GB (4x8GB) and otherwise has very similar hardware.

I also like that you can utilize up to 3 SATA drives (main, mSATA slot, optional hot swap caddy).


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@catacombs the instructions I followed when doing this will be published by the author (not me) very soon (like within a week). So it might be a good idea to wait a few days.

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Sven. Uh, Did your friend write a method to flash Heads?

Apparently a lot of the black ones use 5.5v despite saying they use 3.3, something like that. If you search for it on reddit there is chatter about it.

Apparently the blue ones are at 3.3v, and I got mine off ebay very cheap & easy international. I wouldn’t bugger around with the black one if you are able to get a blue.

If you have the right equipment I was surprised how simple it turned out to be, for as complicated as it all seemed beforehand.

@catacombs he hasn’t had time to publish yet. Let me summarize quickly so you don’t have to wait longer:

  • start with debian-11 based template
  • install these packages: build-essential zlib1g-dev uuid-dev libdigest-sha-perl libelf-dev bc bzip2 bison flex git gnupg iasl m4 nasm patch python python2 python3 wget gnat cpio ccache pkg-config cmake libusb-1.0-0-dev autoconf texinfo ncurses-dev doxygen graphviz udev libudev1 libudev-dev automake libtool rsync innoextract
  • in the qube: git clone https://github.com/osresearch/heads
  • wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/corna/me_cleaner/master/me_cleaner.py
  • wget https://download.lenovo.com/pccbbs/mobiles/g1rg24ww.exe
  • the sha256sum hashes are

f60e1990e2da2b7efa58a645502d22d50afd97b53a092781beee9b0322b61153 g1rg24ww.exe
28e9c1904690a39d9bbb913ddfde38f6f6a6428654105be3ca911fd53866b27a me_cleaner.py

  • inside the /heads/blobs/xx30 directory: innoextract ~/g1rg24ww.exe and then python ~/me_cleaner.py -r -t -O me.bin app/ME8_5M_Production.bin

  • back in the /heads directory: make BOARD=t430-maximized CPUS=$(nproc)

That’s the build with cleaned ME. To additionally set the HAP/AltMeDisable bit, do this after the build:

python ~/me_cleaner.py -s ~/heads/build/t430-maximized/heads-t430-maximized-*-bottom.rom

Then flash it (obviously your file names will be different, but you’ll get the idea):

sudo flashrom --programmer ch341a_spi -c "MX25L6406E/MX25L6408E" -r t430-8mb.rom
flashrom v1.2 on Linux 4.19.213-1.pvops.qubes.x86_64 (x86_64)
flashrom is free software, get the source code at https://flashrom.org

Using clock_gettime for delay loops (clk_id: 1, resolution: 1ns).
Found Macronix flash chip "MX25L6406E/MX25L6408E" (8192 kB, SPI) on ch341a_spi.
Reading flash... done.

sudo flashrom --programmer ch341a_spi -c "MX25L6406E/MX25L6408E" -w heads-t430-hotp-maximized-v0.2.0-1150-g0670bcd-bottom.rom
flashrom v1.2 on Linux 4.19.213-1.pvops.qubes.x86_64 (x86_64)
flashrom is free software, get the source code at https://flashrom.org

Using clock_gettime for delay loops (clk_id: 1, resolution: 1ns).
Found Macronix flash chip "MX25L6406E/MX25L6408E" (8192 kB, SPI) on ch341a_spi.
Reading old flash chip contents... done.
Erasing and writing flash chip... Erase/write done.
Verifying flash... VERIFIED.

sudo flashrom --programmer ch341a_spi -c "MX25L3206E/MX25L3208E" -r t430-4mb.rom
flashrom v1.2 on Linux 4.19.213-1.pvops.qubes.x86_64 (x86_64)
flashrom is free software, get the source code at https://flashrom.org

Using clock_gettime for delay loops (clk_id: 1, resolution: 1ns).
Found Macronix flash chip "MX25L3206E/MX25L3208E" (4096 kB, SPI) on ch341a_spi.
Reading flash... done

sudo flashrom --programmer ch341a_spi -c "MX25L3206E/MX25L3208E" -w heads-t430-hotp-maximized-v0.2.0-1150-g0670bcd-top.rom
flashrom v1.2 on Linux 4.19.213-1.pvops.qubes.x86_64 (x86_64)
flashrom is free software, get the source code at https://flashrom.org

Using clock_gettime for delay loops (clk_id: 1, resolution: 1ns).
Found Macronix flash chip "MX25L3206E/MX25L3208E" (4096 kB, SPI) on ch341a_spi.
Reading old flash chip contents... done.
Erasing and writing flash chip... Erase/write done.
Verifying flash... VERIFIED.

Good luck!

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It me and @Sven that wrote it i want to get it out this week. Perhaps you can do a trail run for us? I can add you to the github?

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Thanks to you guys for writing this up. For those not familiar with this discussion, Flashing the ROM on Think Pads is well known, but the documentation was written when the easily available hardware was different.

Right now I am obsessing which things to buy to attempt another Flash.

In my previous attempt I used a black CH 341A which uses 5 volts or so on the Flash, which is predicted to burn the ROM. One can use a Green PC Board model which uses 3.3 Volts, but that needs the voltage to be stabilized… . . Well that is explained in the notes. Just I miss perceived what it said.

I now read a website where someone said they damaged a resistor on the edge of an Lenovo Thinkpad X230 board, which they finally replaced with a wire, and the computer worked.

Yes, i will post my results back. But it may be awhile. Right now I am obsessing which bits and pieces I should buy to attempt the Flash. (I presume the black CH 341A might be damaged in some hidden way, and so I should replace bits for Flashing. Not sure which ones I want. Using a PI looks more natural. Finding a blue PC base for the CH341A looks difficult. I can modify a black one. Everyone seems to use a SOIC clip. I broke two Pomonoa Clips, where the blue material that makes it up crumbled. Likely a counterfeit Pomona. The cheap clip that was supplied with the black CH341A was solid in feel. But does not clip on in the same way. Likely whatever I order comes on 'slow boat from China." Has anyone tried the hooks instead of the Clip?

I expect the coming recession may bring some prices of some things down. I purchased a "Microsoft Approved Refurbished Thinkpad T430"for $132.00 plus tax. They promised they replaced capacitors on Mother Board as needed. Things like that. Then I did something odd, I purchased a two year insurance for forty dollars. My thought being that whoever was selling these things would be more likely to send me the one out of the stack he thought was likely to hold up. So it was like nearly two hundred. I would not return a laptop I damaged in messing with the BIOS/EFI, but if I break it, the sting is not so bad.

My general sense is that it is a bad idea to pay for Extended Warranty insurance for Electronics.

The recession might make a PI kit purchase more comfortable.

Re the flashing, i have always used ch341a on x220, x230, t430, w530 repeatedly over many years and never had a single issue. The only time I ever had an issue with the ch341a voltage was trying to modify the rom on a AsrockJ4500 based board, so I bought a cheap voltage converter i think for like 5 EUR. it piggybacks into the rom clip on the ch341a, steps everything to 3.3v and then has its own rom clip on the top.

While i have never had an issue using 5v ch341a on the lenovo laptops, that does not mean others do not. I always just saw it as an acceptable risk as im comfortable using a heat gun to replace a one of the roms if they break. They just never broke when using ch341a at 5v for me yet. and i cant even count how many times ive flashed lenovos now. thousands probably?

You can use a multimeter to confirm that VCC is 3.3V, it should only be the logic signals that are 5V. As long as VCC is 3.3V it’s safe to use.

I have flashed firmware on 7 difference ThinkPads with the black CH341A, never had any issues with it. The basic package with the programmer, test clip, and ZIF socket adapter is all you need.

I use this $12 one: https://a.co/d/cIejWui

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I think I have all the parts. Yes, I will give it a go and record what happens, and highlight differences between what I expected and what happened.

No hurry. I have some other projects I need to work on. and I will be busy until after the July Fourth.

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Work well. Been using it for a while now with no issues. Heads t430 maximized with nitrokey.

  • Video
  • Networking, wireless
  • sleep
  • USB

Qubes-HCL-LENOVO-2349DT9-20220809-092830.yml (959 Bytes)



Thank you for your HCL report @thewanderer and welcome to the T430 club!

I moved your post into the T430 superthread (in general I aim to have one thread per OEM/model in this category).

You report is online now!

@sven write-up is good.
Here is another one from tlaurion. Explains how to start from scratch to build heads. (Need to replace board with t430, not x230 as in write up but otherwise same).

I used this Tigard flasher, with a Pomonda soic clip. It works well out of the box and doesn’t require any modifications. The Pomona soic clips are more expensive but better quality than the cheap ones you get from China. I have used both.

There are two chips u49 and u99 that need flashing. The write up on skulls isn’t too bad for this part of the process. If you follow the skulls writeup and use a raspberry pi make sure you check your pinout, don’t just use the one they have. Pinouts change between raspberry pi versions. Also double check the flashrom pinout as per manufactures datasheet once you have identified which ones you have.

Unfortunately with the T430 you need to pull the whole system apart to get access to them. unlike the x230 they are easier to access. There is a good service manual that guides you through each step. My suggestion is to take photos along the way and to have a good method to sort and remember which screws went where.

Good luck.

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