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Old 03-05-2017, 21:41   #1
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Furuno MFD8/12 - Replace HDD with SSD

The Bad News: If you wait until the internal hard drive fails you will have to find Furuno Service to install a new one, with all of the inconvenience and cost that it entails. The drive is encrypted and without the license key from Furuno (not happening) it will not be possible to format a new one that is compatible. No use complaining: they have a legitimate concern for preventing piracy of their charts.

The Good News: If your MFD is still working it is possible to replace it with an SSD before it fails. Unfortunately it will not be possible to take advantage of a larger SSD, and it won't noticeably speed things up. (The OS and apps are stored on internal flash already, and the old IDE interface isn't nearly as fast as the SSD.) But it will be more robust, and you should keep the old drive if anything goes wrong in the future.

What you will need: First you will need a 2.5" laptop SSD drive with IDE interface. It will need to be at least as large as the current drive, which is either 40GB (early units) or 80GB (later production). Close doesn't count - if you buy a drive of the same nominal size it might not be large enough. Since these drives were replaced by SATA drives in PCs a decade ago there aren't a lot of choices. It is possible to buy cheap ones online but judging by the reviews I wouldn't trust the no-names. I bought a 120GB drive from OWC, which specializes in upgrading Macs and has a good reputation for SSD drives. https://eshop.macsales.com/item/Othe...LP120/#owctabs

The next thing(s) you will need are IDE-to-USB adapters. Personally I think everyone should have one of these for installing new HDD/SSDs, and can also be used for backing up to bare drives (they usually support SATA as well as IDE - but not vice-versa). If this is a one-time thing then just buy the $10 USB 2 version; if you plan on using in the future then go for the $25 USB 3 version. I used two so that I could do a direct disk-to-disk clone. It should be possible to use just one and clone to an image, then switch drives and clone the new drive, but I can't make a recommendation on the software to do it - perhaps try Clonezilla. I tried several programs before I found a free one that worked for the direct copy. Read how here: Clone Bitlocker Encrypted Disk Drive in Windows 10/8/7

Opening the MFD: Pry off the bezel. Remove the 14 screws around the periphery (not those holding the display marked with a triangle). Turn over and remove the nuts around all of the connectors. Remove the cover over the optional port by removing 4 screws, then remove the 2 screws inside. You should then be able to lift off the aluminum case and see the innards. Locate the drive under the raised board. Gently pull on the plastic loop to disconnect the ribbon cable from the drive. Remove the two screws on either side of the drive (opposite end from the connector) and loosen the two screws on the side near the connector. The drive in its tray can now slide out in the direction of the connector. Remove the four screws on the bottom of the tray to free up the drive. Then connect with the adapter to your computer, and if you do it my way, connect the SSD with another drive and make the clone as described in the instructions at the above link. Re-assembly is just reversed. Be sure to snug down the screws, and it would be a good idea to put a drop of glue or threadlocker on each because you really don't want a screw loose inside the box.

The MFD should just start up as normal - it won't detect the change. Put the old drive in a well-sealed baggie (inside another well-sealed bag to be certain) and put in a safe place just in case.

I hope this helps.

Greg

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Old 03-05-2017, 22:38   #2
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Re: Furuno MFD8/12 - Replace HDD with SSD

How old was your mfd8 before you decided it needed this PM?
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Old 03-05-2017, 23:45   #3
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Re: Furuno MFD8/12 - Replace HDD with SSD

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How old was your mfd8 before you decided it needed this PM?
It was manufactured in 2008 and I installed it in April 2009 in the USVI before heading back via NYC and the Great Lakes. I haven't used it much since.

It is not so much the hours of use as the age that has me a bit nervous. IIUC these drives are only written to when new charts are installed, and they only read the charts initially and as the display pans or zooms, so not not very active. But age is a different issue. I pulled out an old Mac (1996) a couple of years ago and most of the drives I had for it wouldn't work, just from sitting. Even with newer technology drives are not uniformly reliable; I just had one of the four 2TB 2.5" drives fail that I installed last year. The other concern is what happens if one fails, and depending on where or when it could be a nuisance or a giant PITA. For $130 it seems like good insurance.

BTW I should add that when reassembling it is best to put the front screws in first, then the back, as the tolerances are tighter on the front. I used a threadlocking compound on the screws for the drive (bottom and side), not the exterior ones.

Greg
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Old 04-05-2017, 05:44   #4
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Re: Furuno MFD8/12 - Replace HDD with SSD

Thanks for the writeup Greg. I've worried about drive failure also on my MFD-8 and posed a question over on Furuno's forum about doing this SSD swap. Are you concerned about performance degradation over time, as I'm not sure TRIM support exists in the version of Windows running on the MFD?
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Old 04-05-2017, 09:30   #5
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Re: Furuno MFD8/12 - Replace HDD with SSD

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Are you concerned about performance degradation over time, as I'm not sure TRIM support exists in the version of Windows running on the MFD?
No, not at all. If you read the description of the SSD I chose you will see that it has an internal controller that handles wear leveling. That is part of what makes a quality flash drive worth paying for. Considering that only a third of the storage is being used there will be a lot of spare blocks available to shuffle the data around. Even replacing an 80GB drive there will be a third left over. And unlike a hard drive there is no wear from reading, only writing - which is not done very much in this application. I expect this SSD to last the life of the MFD, barring defective components which should make themselves known sooner than later.

To be fair, my guess is that most of these MFDs will be taken out of service before the original drives fail. The problem is that some won't make it, and if that is yours and you are out cruising at the time it could be a real pain. The other consideration is that IDE drives are getting scarce, and at this point are priced significantly higher than SATA drives as a result (both HDD and SSD). So if you are going to do it, and the MFD is out of the 2-year warranty, sooner would be better. If nothing else having a copy of the drive will ensure repairability in the future; what will you do if Furuno no longer has these (already long obsolete) drives available and yours fails? So as I have said before, I consider this cheap insurance. YMMV

Greg
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Old 06-05-2017, 08:36   #6
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Re: Furuno MFD8/12 - Replace HDD with SSD

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No, not at all. If you read the description of the SSD I chose you will see that it has an internal controller that handles wear leveling. ...


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Originally Posted by CarinaPDX View Post
...The problem is that some won't make it, and if that is yours and you are out cruising at the time it could be a real pain. ...
Sounds like another good boat project. Thanks again for the informative post.
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Old 18-05-2017, 09:40   #7
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Re: Furuno MFD8/12 - Replace HDD with SSD

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Originally Posted by CarinaPDX View Post
No, not at all. If you read the description of the SSD I chose you will see that it has an internal controller that handles wear leveling. That is part of what makes a quality flash drive worth paying for. Considering that only a third of the storage is being used there will be a lot of spare blocks available to shuffle the data around. Even replacing an 80GB drive there will be a third left over. And unlike a hard drive there is no wear from reading, only writing - which is not done very much in this application. I expect this SSD to last the life of the MFD, barring defective components which should make themselves known sooner than later.

To be fair, my guess is that most of these MFDs will be taken out of service before the original drives fail. The problem is that some won't make it, and if that is yours and you are out cruising at the time it could be a real pain. The other consideration is that IDE drives are getting scarce, and at this point are priced significantly higher than SATA drives as a result (both HDD and SSD). So if you are going to do it, and the MFD is out of the 2-year warranty, sooner would be better. If nothing else having a copy of the drive will ensure repairability in the future; what will you do if Furuno no longer has these (already long obsolete) drives available and yours fails? So as I have said before, I consider this cheap insurance. YMMV

Greg
Thanks for the work on this! Sounds like a nice project for this summer.

BTW, did you get the 2.13 before it disappeared? PM me if you want the link.
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Old 18-05-2017, 10:46   #8
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Re: Furuno MFD8/12 - Replace HDD with SSD

Thanks, I've already updated my MFD to 2.13.

Greg
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Old 25-06-2017, 15:40   #9
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Re: Furuno MFD8/12 - Replace HDD with SSD

Greg,

Thanks for pioneering this HDD replacement. I got both my MFD12 & MFD8 done this weekend. Pretty easy task, the longest part is waiting for the drives to clone (2 hours each using USB2 adapters).

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Old 25-06-2017, 17:20   #10
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Re: Furuno MFD8/12 - Replace HDD with SSD

I'm glad that worked for you. It really is a simple job, but entirely understandable to be reluctant - especially before knowing others have done it successfully.

Greg
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Old 01-10-2017, 10:00   #11
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Re: Furuno MFD8/12 - Replace HDD with SSD

I am having problems with my NN3DBB system (which includes 3 black boxes), and your advice is very helpful. Any other insights or advice as to my problem would be greatly appreciated.

The video cards on two of my three NN3DBBs failed, and I recently learned that Furuno no longer sells replacement cards. I removed one of the cards and replaced 5 suspect capacitors -- the good news is that video card works again! The bad news is that I am getting an HDD error. Although I was careful, I suspect that I caused the problem while removing and reinstalling the video card, although all connections feel tight. My next step is to see if I can access the card from another computer (adapter is on the way). I guess it won't be good news if I can, because that means I have a problem somewhere else in my NN3D unit. So, I am hoping that the drive is bad, but if it is, then I will need to find a way to get data onto a replacement drive. In that regard, I will try to clone one of the other two, but I don't know enough about computers / encryption to know whether one drive will work in another machine, or if somehow the encryption is machine (mac address?) specific. Let's hope not, but this is where I could really use some insight.
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Old 01-10-2017, 11:42   #12
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Re: Furuno MFD8/12 - Replace HDD with SSD

I'm sorry to hear of your problems, but impressed that you got one board working with capacitor replacements. For the HDD problem you should first ensure that the HDD ribbon cable is properly seated on both ends and is undamaged - remove it and reinstall. If you now think that box is working, other than the HDD problem, then you can try and clone as above (to an image file if you don't have an SSD or HDD to use) - if there are no read errors then your HDD may be OK. If the drive can't be cloned then you can try an encrypted drive from another box (or its clone) - I recommend to work with a clone and not the original just in case. I would guess that the other drives would be readable (same encryption key) but may not be usable if the Furuno firmware specifically checks the unit's serial number - no way of knowing. If all else fails then have Furuno put in a new HDD.

As I said in the OP, creating an SSD is something to do before the HDD dies; afterwards it is too late because only Furuno has the encryption key to format a readable disk. So once you are through this make SSDs if you are going to continue with the black box. Good luck.

Greg
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Old 01-10-2017, 11:51   #13
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Re: Furuno MFD8/12 - Replace HDD with SSD

Thanks Greg. I will report my results with the hope that it will help the next guy.
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Old 02-10-2017, 07:50   #14
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Re: Furuno MFD8/12 - Replace HDD with SSD

Furuno advises that they still sell the HDD -- list price $835. They also pointed out that the HDD requires a special attachment plate to prevent the HDD from "shorting out". Perhaps that plate insulates the HDD from the NN3D grounded chasis?
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Old 02-10-2017, 14:31   #15
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Re: Furuno MFD8/12 - Replace HDD with SSD

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Furuno advises that they still sell the HDD -- list price $835. They also pointed out that the HDD requires a special attachment plate to prevent the HDD from "shorting out". Perhaps that plate insulates the HDD from the NN3D grounded chasis?
Pretty steep price, but it is what it is. I'm not sure what the relevance of the attachment plate is: there must be one in your box already. Many bare hard drives have some circuitry exposed on one side, but the mounting systems usually cover that (in this case I guess the "attachment plate"). These plates/carriers/mountings would normally be part of the chassis ground. I don't see how there could be a problem unless you were disassembling it with the power on, let the HDD get an electrostatic discharge, or reassembled it improperly. I really doubt that is the case. Anyway I would just box it up and send it off to Furuno as long as the HDD is the only problem.

Did you get the other GPU working? Are these GPU boards made by Furuno or could you possibly source them elsewhere (perhaps used on flea-bay)?

Greg
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