Thanks htelephone for your update, it's much appreciated. I recognise that it's starting to follow the laws of diminishing returns but I don't want this to defeat me, not least because I want my player back.....
I intended to post earlier with my progress but delayed in the hope that I could report a success but unfortunately I still can't.
I finally managed to get a stupdaterapp to recognise my player. What I didn't realise (and discovered through pure chance) was that you ALWAYS have to put the player in recovery mode (by keeping M pressed before and after plugging it into the PC) before it can be recognised. This is not the case with the other Matsui USB stick style MP3s because they are recognised by an updater as soon as you plug it into the PC - so it's this bit that threw me. By the way, for anyone else interested, the extra hurdle to overcome is that the disc that comes with the player does not supply a recovery driver (I had to get it from somewhere else).
But not only this, I also found that to correctly 'initialise' the player you needed a very specific updater.sb file. By working through several updater applications I found the Maxfield G-Flash family of stupdaterapps to be the most suitable, and more specifically GFLASHNG025. For those that need to get the updater (like Mr Fixy earlier in this post), use this link http://www.maxfield.de/index.php?id=19&L=1, choose G-FLASH NG 2GB, click on the Downloads tab and select "G-FLASH NG Firmware 4.301.025 / Software".
This updater has worked every single time for me, it always completes it routine. And as expected the application has been able to re-format my player so I've finally regained a readable (~4GB) file system on it. I've also found that updaters that only need 4 firmware files initiate the player OK (as long as you re-label the useful updater.sb to usbmsc.sb) but they never get to the stage where you see a summary of the firmware loaded on the player.
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In response to htelephone's observations, these are my thoughts about the firmware files:
I believe we're looking for five firmware files, these being:
This is supported by the following observations (all of which might be flawed assumptions!)
1) The 140MR readme file on the software disc lists all 5 files, plus updater.sb [which I've discounted because I believe this is only used to 'initialise' the player with the updater application]. Intriguingly, as mentioned by htelephone, the updater.sb results in a "This device can perform faster" message during initialisation but fortunately this doesn't matter once the full set of firmware is flashed.
2) When you run the FirmwareExtract tool, you get the following result:
1. partition(0)\ ........data...............(data)........................3923968KB
My assumption is that the extractor application is written in such a way that it always identifies valid firmware files as 'system' files. So to my mind partition(1) is not a firmware file while partition(6) is. Of course the problem is that the application only extracts four files (partitions 2-5) with the sixth partition not extracted.
3) I've tried a stack of stupdaterapp.exe programs. Some never recognise the player and those that require six files usually end up with the requirement for multiple resource.bins. Also when you request an updater application to "Show [Firmware] Details", all the "Current Version" fields become fully populated ONLY when the updater firmware files match the five files listed in 1) above.
As I said, these may all be flawed assumptions but I believe the order in which the files are extracted match the order of the updater application, therefore the re-mapping we need to settle on is:
bootmanager.sb -> bootmanager.sb
resource.bin -> player.rsc
stmpsys.sb -> player.sb
usbmsc.sb -> hostlink.sb
this leaves us looking for a valid hostlink.rsc for the Matsui (ver: 001.003.018).
I believe it's this firmware file that presents the "PC icon and Ready" graphics on the MP3 when connected to the PC. I learnt this the hard way because I went ahead and updated the firmware using my extracted files plus GFLASHNG025's hostlink.rsc file. This screwed up my "connected to PC" graphics. Suffice to say I've tried plenty of hostlink.rsc files but I haven't found one on the net that gets me back to where I was.
A question for htelephone:
with all the experimentation you've done does your player still switch on in battery mode (even though it may not fully start)? and do you still have the expected graphics when connecting to a PC? Do these graphics sometimes corrupt when trialling other firmware combinations but you're able to get the original one back if you use a specific combination of firmware? If you can, then clearly I'm wrong about the re-mapping combination.
The ironic situation I've found myself in is aside from the corrupted graphics described above is that in my early days of experimentation (before I found the GFlash updater) I seemed to have flashed a file on the MP3 that now refuses to allow the MP3 to recognise the Start button (i.e. I can't switch it on in battery mode). But what does work (and you might like to try this yourself) is that if you offer the MP3 to the USB port just enough to engage the power pins but not the data pins, the player will go through the whole of its start-up routine and actually get as far as the menu screen so that you can play music and do all the things you can in battery mode. For this reason I feel I'm very close to solving it, but it's that elusive fifth file.
So to summarise my situation:
o I have a pefectly fine 4G memory stick because I can read/write files to the player without any problems
o The player functions perfectly if I use the power source of the PC (but not the battery)
o The graphics on the player, when connected to the PC, are very basic with a single dot traversing across the screen to indicate data
By the way, of the many MR140s that you have I guess plenty say BootError on start up. Of these did you try to reformat any of them using "Disk Management", under XP Computer Management? I know someone who did this and recovered his player, thus saving themselves the task of re-flashing.