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Data Recovery

Building Your Own Version of PC-3000 For Under $30 – DIY

PC-3000 is one of the standard entry level packages for professionals specializing in data recovery. It allows for low level interaction with the controller firmware to facilitate firmware repairs have give more detailed status information while diagnosing failures. Typically the software sells for around ~$4500 though its hard to say how much you might have to pay as its usually call for quote. A friend of mine recently offered to sell me one of his old kits for $1300. I only recover data as a hobby so it was more than I wanted to spend, though it did spark my interest in what exactly makes these packages so valuable.

PC-3000 Hardware Kit
On the site that I borrowed the image found on the left from(http://www.pc3000portable.com/adapters.php) they had a list of the hardware components included in the kit. It seems that they might have went out of their way a little bit to obscure what they are actually talking about so no one would write an article just like this one. While I don’t mean to be overly critical of what is really good software for its niche, I don’t agree with overcharging by making the product obscure. The hardware included in the kit is as follows.

  • PC-3000 USB Adapter-tester with PATA (UDMA33) and SATA ports;
  • PC-USB-TERMINAL – HDD technological port connection adapter for terminal mode;
  • PC-2” – Adapter for 2.5″ HDD;
  • Adapter PC micro SATA;
  • PC-SEAGATE – Serial port connector for HDD SEAGATE PATA;
  • PC-SEAG.SATA – Serial port connector for HDD SEAGATE SATA;
  • PC-SAMSUNG – Serial port connector for modern HDD SAMSUNG;
  • PC-FUJ.SATA – Serial port connector for HDD FUJITSU SATA;
  • PC-TOSH.SATA – Serial port connector for HDD TOSHIBA SATA;
  • Interface cable UDMA33 (18,5 cm);
  • SATA cable;
  • HDD PATA power cable (25 cm);
  • HDD SATA power cable (25 cm);
  • USB cable for connecting PC-3000 Portable and PC-USB-TERMINAL adapters to PC;
  • HDD-10 pin cable for connecting PC-USB-TERMINAL to technological connectors: PC-SEAGATE, PC-SEAG.SATA, PC-SAMSUNG, PC-TOSH.SATA, PC-FUJ.SATA and PC-2″;
  • Power adapter;
  • PC-3000 Portable software – CD disk;
  • User manual.

Lets break this down in to a more reasonable list that makes more sense.

  • USB HDD interface
  • USB TTL interface
  • Various HDD adapters
  • 6 Pinout adapters
  • Various standard cables
  • Software and manual

PC-3000’s software isn’t all that interesting, it just shells over a bunch of OS disk operations and handles the TTL interface for you. A little bit of knowing your disk commands and working with TTL and you can replicate it. I have also noticed the software portion is available via TPB.

I went ahead and ordered most of the items needed, though I already have a different TTL adapter. I included the pic below so my vendors could have some credit. Cost of the items depicted below? ~$25USD after shipping.

Right now I am waiting on the evil shipping companies to catch up with me. I will post pictures of the assembled kit once I piece everything together. In the meantime I will try getting up a video of a TTL interface in action.
USB HDD AdapterSATA to IDE adapter2.5 IDE to 3.5 IDE adapterUSB TTL adapter


Update: After repeated requests I have put together a starter kit.

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About Pythorian

Exploration and Production oriented security consultant for securing IT infrastructures relating to natural resources.

Discussion

22 thoughts on “Building Your Own Version of PC-3000 For Under $30 – DIY

  1. I have a TIAO (TUMPA) hardware which is all I need to connect Via RS232/TTL. Trying to wipe or clean the area that I set and forgot my password on my toshiba drive. The CTRL +z command in terminal does not give me the prompt as it gives you with the seagate drives. Would you happend to know what the commands are or a link for that information. Here is the link to the seagate I have mentioned. https://sites.google.com/site/seagatefix/. I am under the same username pcfr33k on the TIAO, HDDGURU, BUS PIRATE etc community forums. I am getting a little closer to an answer!!

    Posted by pcfr33k | September 12, 2012, 5:07 am
    • I have better luck with holding down “Ctrl + z” while the drive powers up. Do you have the heads disconnected while trying this? If both of those points don’t help, I would test your process on a known good before working on an unstable drive.

      Posted by pythorian | September 12, 2012, 4:09 pm
    • Also, I just realized you are working on a Toshiba. (sorry, sick) It should be pointed out that when you are having terminal issues, cycling your baud rate until you see comm is important. I suggest dropping to 9600 and trying again.

      Posted by pythorian | September 12, 2012, 4:24 pm
  2. I would be very interested to see your DIY PC-3000. I have a Maxtor Diamondmax Plus 9 HDD that has a corrupted firmware that I would like to recover. Any progress on your project?

    Posted by Atariwarrior | November 10, 2012, 5:26 pm
  3. how to buy your own pc3000 by $25? please contact me

    Posted by demazu | February 18, 2013, 3:23 am
  4. I am interested in buying a DIY pc-3000? anyone there to sell. I am from INDIA.

    Posted by s k datta | February 28, 2013, 3:47 pm
  5. How are you going to interact the PC3000 Hardware which needs to work with the PC3000 software? You are preparing the ACCESSORIES ONLY those are easily available in local stores. But what is the progress about the CARD?

    Posted by PC3K | March 27, 2013, 8:58 pm
  6. You can buy the IDE to SATA conversion PCB easily on the net but what about the main PC-3000 card, isn’t that needed/required?

    Posted by CorruptDisk | April 7, 2013, 10:09 pm
    • Not really, it doesn’t do much special except give a software controlled grounding and drive power. Nothing that couldn’t be replaced with a $2 microcontroller and some solder if you were so inclined

      Posted by Pythorian | April 11, 2013, 8:20 pm
      • Wonderful, looking forward for more info to be posted. Thank you very much

        Posted by Gringen | May 14, 2013, 2:18 am
  7. Have you completed the software portion?

    Posted by Valentin | June 30, 2013, 12:47 pm
  8. I have a western digital hard drive HD5000AVCS, I have tried all other conventional methods of removing the SATA password to allow me to reformat the HDD to use in my desktop. It originally came out of a DVR unit that I no longer used.

    I am very interested in attempting to use this to allow me to reformat the HDD, could you point me in the right direction to investigate this further. (I quite fancy the challenge)

    Many thanks in advance,

    Posted by Lee Hamer | July 23, 2013, 11:02 pm
  9. Excelent!!

    But I don’t have paypal account, my country sucks!! I just have an Amazon account(gift cards), I can pay from Amazon, but in Amazon there is no “PC USB Terminal” card

    I alreadey have the USB HDD ADAPTER, I just want to get the PC USB Terminal card or there are another options?

    I would like to recover a old 20gb IDE HDD SEAGATE

    Thanks!!

    Posted by tttony | July 28, 2013, 7:11 pm
  10. I have all this kit and can communicate with the hdd via terminal using putty.. but am having trouble finding a comprehensive list of the disk operations for communicating over ttl.
    Can you help point me in the right direction here? Or recommend software that will do the job of reading/writing the firmware?

    Many Thanks,

    Posted by Lee Lavery | September 3, 2013, 9:16 pm
  11. Nice article showing the truth about the PC-3000, and it shows how you can easily build your PC-3000 device for for PATA/SATA disks. The software part of PC-3000 can be substituted by SeDiv (if Seagate disk), or Putty or HyperTerminal, plus downloading your hard disk’s command reference document. hdparm is useful to get/set SATA/IDE device parameters. You can also upgrade the firmware using SeaFlash for Seagate SATA/PATA disks.

    If you are interested by doing the same on SCSI & SAS disks, know that the original PC-3000 PCI board for SCSI/SAS is no more than a power supplier for your disk! Just have a look on the official web site to see the scam. Also note that you will not need any special cable or device, just your SCSI controller and cable. While the software part can be substituted by sg3-utils & scsirastools both containing the whole panoply, including tools for mode page and FW upgrade. There is also SeaTools , simpler but just for Seagate SCSI/SAS disks.

    For Seagate FC disk, a program called fwdl is used to upgrade the firmware.

    But before you practice all of this, if you don’t want to crash your hard disk you must learn enough from tools documentation, man pages and tutorials.

    Good luck

    Posted by Krimo | September 17, 2013, 12:54 am
  12. I work in a business computer rentals. I received one back with HP DriveLock on. I am more than extremely interested in your project. Thanks for working on it!

    Posted by worldrunsonpeoplelikeyou | November 11, 2013, 10:15 pm
  13. Any updates about the software? I have found the pc3000 software, but I think it needs the pc3000 hardware to run.
    Any updates?

    Posted by Donalddavid | November 19, 2013, 11:00 pm

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