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Guide to Flashing G5 OEM DVR-117 to DVR-108 Firmware
By Jon Austin
Posted: 4/7/2005
(Updated 7/29/2005 for link to DVRflash 2.1 w/GUI)

I recently bought a Powermac Dual G5 2.0 ghz. After seeing about a month ago some references to Apple shipping a Pioneer DVR-117D which was nothing more then a Pioneer DVR-108 dumbed down it really got my interest. The benefit is enormous. It takes your drive from burning DVDs at 8x, CDs at 24x, CD-RWs at 10x to burning DVDs at 16x, CDs at 32x, and CD-RWs to 24x. It takes read speeds from 32x to 40x on CDs. The big one though is you get to burn Dual Layer DVDs at 4x which was disabled by Apple!!! So I looked around on the net on how to flash my firmware and if I was not a tech person I would of never figured it out. There are a ton of confusing posts, different programs (a lot which don't work) etc etc. So here's an easy guide to doing it if you wanna post it on your site.

Some warnings though. Right now this procedure is not reversible as the firmware that Apple uses has not been released. You can't extract a firmware that's already in the drive (to restore it later). You can make your drive inoperable by doing this. (One reader that posted a past report in the drive db here sent a note he used the same instructions on his 117 drive and the updater hung during the flash. After a long wait he finally reset the computer and ended up with an unusable drive (reported as a 108 but not a complete flash). He used a PC and dos util to restore the drive, but sent note asking to emphasize there is some risk involved)-Mike)
It also voids Apple/Pioneer warranty. If you ever have had to call Apple about a problem with the Drive they may ask for the System Profiler info to make sure you haven't messed with it.

Adding the new firmware also makes your drive a tiny bit louder. Thats to be expected though since it will spin faster to achieve a higher rate of burn. I personally believe that is the number one reason why Apple did not enable it in the first place. It could not have been a price issue since the drive was designed to be a DVR-108. Apple users tend to be a little strange when it comes to sound. Sometimes its seems Mac Users have these sensitive ears where the slightest fan sound makes them drop in agony on the floor. For me I listen to headphones and music at max volume so I'm half deaf anyhow.

There are your warnings here's how to do it:

First go to System Profiler and check to make sure you have a Pioneer DVR-117D in your G5. It will be listed under hardware then ATA. If you do have one then you can continue. If you don't then you can't do it.

You need three programs things to make this work. First you need a program called Flash Kit 2.0. (Update There's now a DVRflash 2.1.1 w/GUI available at http://lasvegas.rpc1.org/DVRFlash_v2.1.zip-Mike) You can find this at this link: http://homepage.mac.com/asaxton/FlashIt_Kit_2.0.zip. (Linked in the FAQ's DVD section on DVR-108 firmware updates, which also links to another DVR-108 flasher w/GUI from Logitec, but the GUI flasher expects to see a 108 drive before allowing an update.-Mike)
This is the actual program that will flash the firmware in your optical drive. Inside the folder when you download it there will be three things. Keep them all, but the one your concerned with is DVRFlash. Make sure its there.

Next you need to obtain the firmware turn your DVR-117D into a DVR-108. This can be found here:
http://pioneerdvd.rpc1.org/DVR-108%20v1.18%20-%20RPC-1%20+%2012xRip%20+%20nx4all.zip.
(this is the v1.18 tweaked firmware with 12x DVD rip speed/region-free)

Once you download that inside the folder are two files and a readme. Take the two files (kernel and firmware files with .118 extensions, since you're updating the drive ID also; some firmware updates have a single file) and drop them into the Flash Kit folder. Do not place them within a folder inside the Flash Kit folder or it wont work. Just drag the individual files and put them in the Flash Kit folder.

Now you have all the necessary stuff to flash the drive. Open up your Terminal (don't be scared..:P) in your Applications>Utilities folder. (Update - if you use the DVRflash 2.1.1 version linked above, it has a GUI interface. Original info here used v2.0 that was terminal based-Mike.)

Once its open type the following "cd" (no quotes) and spacebar. Don't hit the return key. After that take the Flash Kit folder that contains the 2 Firmware Files you put in it and drag it to the Terminal window. Now hit the return key. The prompt should be different now. It should say ~/Desktop/FlashIt_Kiet_2.0 and your username.

At the prompt you need to enter this command in:

    ./DVRFlash -f PIONEER R8100108.118 R8100008.118

Just cut and paste it. Hit return. After you do that you will be given a warning message and prompted to say yes or no. Type Y and return. Then another screen with another warning comes up along with your drive information. It will ask you if your sure, Type Y and return.

The terminal will scroll some things by, a meter will appear, a brief pause and then it will tell you if it was successful. Also if you listen you will hear your drive briefly power up and make a click. After that is done close the terminal and reboot.

When your Powermac has rebooted you should have a Pioneer 16x DVD-R, 4x DVD Dual Layer Burner!!!! To verify that the firmware took open up System Profiler. In the ATA Part it should say Pioneer DVD-RW DVR-108. It will also report that Disc Burning is not supported. No fear you can fix that to.

There is a awesome little program called Patch Burn that was created to allow Apple users to use non Apple drives and have all there iApplications and Mac OS burn what the drive is capable of. Download it here: http://www.patchburn.de/download.html. Once its downloaded launch the program. Open up the Experts Mode carrot at the top. Press the install button then when its done press Install support for iDVD 4. (Note: Although iDVD 4 would run even without a DVD burner (unlike past versions, but all iDVD versions require a G4 or better CPU), the Patchburn iDVD4 option installs the 2 'easter egg' files noted in the FAQ's DVD section for external DVD burner support using the control key+Burn button. Those files also work with iDVD3 although the Patchburn FAQ page doesn't mention it, reader reports last spring confirmed it as did I with my Plextor PX-708 FW cased burner. Patchburn3 adds iDVD support for most unsupported (by Apple) DVD burners as noted in reports in the drive db here over the last year or two. However iDVD5 per reports on iLife 05 here will burn to an external DVD burner if there's no internal DVD burner installed and also has an option to burn to an image file without needing the "easter egg" files that added that option to previous iDVD versions.-Mike)

Once you reboot check System Profiler and you will see that Disc Burning went from Not Supported to Vendor Supported.

A quick way to see to check is to launch iTunes put a disc in and burn it. You should see a pretty substainal increase in burn speed. The biggest boost for me at least was importing music into iTunes. I went from ripping at 16x-21x to it starting at around 20x and peaking to about 28-29x.

Although Toast does not rely on Apple burn support, another way to check your drive update status is with Toast if you have it. In Toast the Recorder menu there is a setting for Recorder Settings. The write speed should read 32x for CDRs now, opposed to 24x (with the 117D firmware). The same thing with DVD's and Dual Layer DVDs. You should see DVD burn speed increased and Dual Layer DVD ability.

One note, 10.3 does not support Dual Layer DVD burning from finder. It will read but not burn. (The Nov. 5th news page noted DVD Studio Pro 3.0.2 update (along w/10.3.6 or later) added Dual Layer burn support (see DVD Studio Pro 3.0.2). Back then I asked for reader feedback on DL burning and the Nov. 9th news page had a DVR-108 owner report on burning a DL disk with Disk Utility, although I've not bought any DL discs to try.-Mike

    (from the Nov. 9th, 2004 news page post)
    " ...Regarding double layer burning, I realize it is only mentioned in the DSP (DVD Studio Pro 3.0.2) kb article but I believe double layer burning support was added to the DiscRecording framework in general (see its higher version: drutil version, than 10.3.5).
    To verify that I burned to a R8 with Disk Utility without problem (7.56GB image), iTunes and iPhoto also seem to recognize the blank media properly as well as the drutil command line tool ('drutil info' on a DVD+R DL capable drive)."

A 3rd Party program such as Roxio's Toast Titanium 6 does support dual layer burning. Also you will need to update Toast to the latest version for Dual Layer ability as it was not shipped at first with that support.

Your done! Enjoy your new drive.
-Jon
(Toast 6.0.7 was the first version to add DL burn support, last update to date is v6.0.9, available at Roxio.com-Mike)

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