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[HOWTO] Firmware flashing for CAT B15Q

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By harddisk_wp, Senior Member on 31st December 2014, 05:56 PM
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So, here is the firmware flash guide for B15Q. It assumes either a Win7 x86 machine or a x64 with driver signature verification disabled (but Win8/8.1 in any variant or W7x64 is NOT RECOMMENDED).

I assume no warranty for bricked devices, especially not if you manage to kill your PRELOADER or DSP_BL. Double and triple check before downloading.

0) Driver and toolkit setup
  • Get the driver set, scatter file and spFlashTool from this thread: http://forum.xda-developers.com/gene...pment-t2988774
  • Remove back shell from phone, remove battery (!)
  • Attach phone via USB. Windows should now, approx. once every 2-3s, make a sound similar as if you put in a USB stick and then pull it out again.
  • Start=>Run=>devmgmt.msc, in the View menu choose "Devices by connection"
  • Click yourself through the tree until you find an unknown device (MT65xx Preloader or similar)
  • Rightclick on the device and press "Install drivers"; you shall find the drivers in "MTKUsbAll_0.9.2\New inst. win 7&8x64" folder.
  • Launch "SP Flash Tool v5.1352.01\flash_tool.exe"
  • In the tab "Download", click on the "Scatter loading" button and select the downloaded file "MT6582_Android_scatter.txt". spFlashTool usually remembers this across restarts.
  • Unplug the phone at the computer side if you want to work with it later (the MicroUSB ports don't like too many inserts, they wear out physically).

A) ReadBack for backup of existing firmware/userdata
This will involve a ****load of typing for the first readback.
  • Open the scatterfile using Notepad++ or any editor capable of handling UNIX line endings, NOT notepad
  • You will see a lot of blocks like
    Code:
    - partition_index: SYS0
      partition_name: PRELOADER
      file_name: preloader.bin
      is_download: true
      type: SV5_BL_BIN
      linear_start_addr: 0x0
      physical_start_addr: 0x0
      partition_size: 0xC00000
      region: EMMC_BOOT_1
      storage: HW_STORAGE_EMMC
      boundary_check: true
      is_reserved: false
      operation_type: BOOTLOADERS
      reserve: 0x00
  • In spFlashTool, select the "Readback" tab.
  • For all the blocks you see in the scatterfile (IDs 0-23), repeat the following:
  • Click "Add"
  • Double-click on the newly appeared row
  • Choose a filename (e.g. preloader.bin for the first block; some blocks will have name = NONE, use the partition_name here for the filename) and click SAVE
  • A window "Readback block start address" will appear
  • Choose Type = "hex". Copy (Ctrl+C,Ctrl+V, and take care to exactly select the hex value! Do NOT type the hex values by hand!) the value from linear_start_address (with the 0x) into the "Start address" box and the partition_size value in the "Length" box, press OK.
  • Unless you are at the SYS23 partition BMTPOOL, proceed to the next block, repeat from above.
  • The SYS23 partition can not be backed up, because it has invalid lengths. Do not enter it into spFlashTool.
  • CHECK THE VALUES FOR START ADDRESS AND LENGTH IN THE TABLE. CHECK THEM ANOTHER TIME.
  • Press "Read back" button at the top.
  • Plug in the phone with the battery removed(!) and wait. This process will take time and consume approx. 3-4GB of disk space.
  • Archive the files you created somewhere safe. Do NOT distribute anything to other people except the BOOTIMG, RECOVERY and ANDROID partitions, because the other partitions contain data that is hardcoded to your board (e.g. IMEI/MAC addresses, sensor calibrations,...) or your private data and app data (SYS22/USRDATA).
  • If you want a full backup to disassemble by hand lateron (aka you trust in nothing going wrong and don't want to do the hard work except when you need it), just create one readback section with start=0x0 and length=0xE5720000 - this backups everything in one file.

B) Download for flashing new firmware
  • In spFlashTool, select the "Download" tab
  • In the dropdown box below the scatter file, keep it at "Download only" or set it if this is not the case
  • Uncheck all the boxes in the table
  • Double click on the "Location" column of the BOOTIMG, RECOVERY, ANDROID or USRDATA rows which you want to flash, select the appropriate image file.
  • Check that you selected the correct images for the correct partitions!
  • CHECK THAT ONLY THE ROWS WHICH YOU WANT TO FLASH ARE CHECKED. ESPECIALLY, NEVER EVER CHECK THE PRELOADER, MBR AND EBR PARTITIONS. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
  • Press Download
  • Plug in the phone with the battery removed and wait. spFlashTool will tell you when it's done.
  • Unplug phone from computer (!) and put in the battery.

If you get an error "PMT changed for the ROM; it must be downloaded", reboot your machine.

When you have a running ROM on it, you may also try to keep the battery in the phone during flashing; just press Download on the PC, then select Shutdown in the Android menu that appears after holding Power pressed. Once the phone has shut down, it will vibrate shortly and then be detected by spFlashTool. I also recommend using a high-quality USB cable and not a worn out one because USB cables with worn out plugs may lead to issues during transmission.
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1st January 2015, 08:03 PM |#2  
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NAND reflush?
Excellent stuff you wrote here - thank you.

Any hints on how to resurrect dead B15Q that has damaged/erased NAND or a Preloader?
In this link http: // forum . xda-developers . com/ showthread.php?t=1943442 a forum member
claims that mt65xx have META mode even if they appear dead - like mine B15Q is right now - and could be
revived with SPFT and proper W7 drivers.
Does under those circumstances PRELOADER might be reflashed?
I read just afterwards that one should not do fully ticked Memory Test as it silently reformats NAND.
I guess this is what happened in my case.

Also, a reason to do this test was that reflashing the phone with 1.010 BOOTIMG, ANDROID and RECOVERY, having it back for a brief moment and then upgrading it via OTA to 1.019 that had bricked it in a reboot loop.

Any clue would be welcome.
6th February 2015, 12:24 PM |#3  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uhuru-meditation

Excellent stuff you wrote here - thank you.

Any hints on how to resurrect dead B15Q that has damaged/erased NAND or a Preloader?
In this link http: // forum . xda-developers . com/ showthread.php?t=1943442 a forum member
claims that mt65xx have META mode even if they appear dead - like mine B15Q is right now - and could be
revived with SPFT and proper W7 drivers.
Does under those circumstances PRELOADER might be reflashed?
I read just afterwards that one should not do fully ticked Memory Test as it silently reformats NAND.
I guess this is what happened in my case.

Also, a reason to do this test was that reflashing the phone with 1.010 BOOTIMG, ANDROID and RECOVERY, having it back for a brief moment and then upgrading it via OTA to 1.019 that had bricked it in a reboot loop.

Any clue would be welcome.

Bigal1337's image should also contain a preloader, but I guess in your total-dead state it'd be better to send in the device for warranty... after all no one can prove what exactly zeroed out your NAND.
6th February 2015, 01:26 PM |#4  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harddisk_wp

.....but I guess in your total-dead state it'd be better to send in the device for warranty... after all no one can prove what exactly zeroed out your NAND.

It is all OK now and B15Q is alive and works well, as it did before the "big brick" Christmas blackout.
The main thing is that thanks to MTK low-level USB communication on chipset as is in B15Q makes it "unbrickable", really.

The other thing is my bad clicking around and "checking memory" while not really knowing what I am doing.
As well as Windows x64 drivers, admin rights and all the other voodoo lurking in there.

What troubles me more is how come that CAT ppl. allowed "bricking" device upon system update, while root or no root shouldn't really matter there?
They sell it unlocked, so they should sell it, as well, with an easy option to root it. As Nexus One from Google had this "build-in" option.
I still hope that future updates will not have the same behaviour and also that there will be an alternate option for some other flavour of Android.
6th February 2015, 01:40 PM |#5  
OP Senior Member
Flag munich
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uhuru-meditation

It is all OK now and B15Q is alive and works well, as it did before the "big brick" Christmas blackout.
The main thing is that thanks to MTK low-level USB communication on chipset as is in B15Q makes it "unbrickable", really.

The other thing is my bad clicking around and "checking memory" while not really knowing what I am doing.
As well as Windows x64 drivers, admin rights and all the other voodoo lurking in there.

What troubles me more is how come that CAT ppl. allowed "bricking" device upon system update, while root or no root shouldn't really matter there?
They sell it unlocked, so they should sell it, as well, with an easy option to root it. As Nexus One from Google had this "build-in" option.
I still hope that future updates will not have the same behaviour and also that there will be an alternate option for some other flavour of Android.

I think I have found something... this chinese rooter apparently messed with internal symlinks, and the firmware update broke as it assumed "stock" contents...

Another reason not to trust rooters where one can't even read the description because its chinese...
27th February 2015, 11:53 AM |#6  
Junior Member
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harddisk_wp

Another reason not to trust rooters where one can't even read the description because its chinese...

I agree there. I gave up on rooting B15Q.

On the side note: lately I had 2 spontaneous reboots after this reflash and resurrect.
It happened after I used "official" messaging app more precisely after I send a message and close the app..
.
Did anyone noticed this? - it is 1022 I have up and running.
Other than that it works fine.
13th April 2015, 08:26 PM |#7  
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Hello,

I tried your workaround but haven't succeeded yet. And yes my phone also is bricked, unfortunately.
My phone halts where you have to choose a language after a factory reset. At that moment I get some messages that some services had stopped. Like Google keyboard, Youtube and some more. I can click OK but this doesn't get me passed these messages and they reappear. I only can switch off the phone.
I tried your workaround on a x64 machine (and got the PMT message) because that's what I have. I am preparing a x86 machine which has XP on it but on launching SP Flash Tools I get the message the configuration of the computer is not correct. Will W7 32-bits do the trick?

Also two more questions.
The downloaded images are : boot.img, recovery.img, system.img and uboot.img.
In your explanation you're mentioning : BOOTIMG, RECOVERY, ANDROID or USRDATA.
I presume that in SP Flash Tool I have to use the system.img in the row ANDROID?
Or should it be in the row USRDATA?
You don't use uboot.img. What's the reason for that? For what purpose is this image?

Update 19 april 2015.
I managed bringing back my phone to life. I did another attempt by rebooting my 64-bits computer (as you wrote in the beginning) because at that moment I didn't had a 32-bits machine. It worked wonderwell. So, I'm using my phone again. Like uhuru-meditation I give up rooting for the moment. Nevertheless Android 4.4.2 I still like this phone. Hope it won't let me down after this major reset. Keep fingers crossed.

harddisk_wp many thanks for your hard working in making this workaround. It sure has cost you more then an hour's work.
I hope you read my questions and can or will answer them.
29th July 2015, 03:45 AM |#8  
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Unhappy CAT B15 help
Hi guys, i'm sorry i have to ask this in this forum but i've been asking for a couple of months now, and got no answer. I have a CAT B15 (not the B15Q). It is single sim version (IMEI write on the back) and i managed to do plenty of things in it. I swapped memory and worked fine, and even i installed a Dual Sim android rom and i managed to use the secondary Sim bay in it (that was tapped with a plastic fake sim) and used the phone with 2 sims for like 2 weeks. Then i started to play with deodex and build.prop and softbricked the phone, but it was piece of cake since it is easy to unbrick. The problem was that i wrongly flashed the phone with scatter file, and flashed all partitions in it, EBR1, MBR, UBOOT, etc, etc. The result was a non-working dual SIM phone. Everything works, but the SIMS, it does not detect any SIMs in it, in any of the SIM bays, and the IMEIs are wrong numbered. I did no buckup of the phone so i'm pretty screwed. I've been asking for someone to upload the EMEA_SS or US_SS ROM for the CAT B15, but nobody responded. I thaught maybe the CAT B15Q has a similar software/bands flashing partitions, but that i leave to you for answer. Anyway, if any of you has the possibility of taking the images of a single sim CAT B15 it would save me this awesome phone for me. I'm also willing to give a 20GB account of ownCloud server for 1-year free of charge if storage space is needed, no problem. This are the links i've been searching and asking.

All About CAT B15: http://forum.xda-developers.com/show....php?t=2430904
Root for Catterpillar B15: http://forum.xda-developers.com/show....php?t=2263455

Best regards,
3rd August 2015, 09:39 AM |#9  
Junior Member
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2 Questions
Good day

I have the same questions as a previous user, but I cannot find any answer to it:

"Also two more questions.
The downloaded images are : boot.img, recovery.img, system.img and uboot.img.
In your explanation you're mentioning : BOOTIMG, RECOVERY, ANDROID or USRDATA.
I presume that in SP Flash Tool I have to use the system.img in the row ANDROID?
Or should it be in the row USRDATA?
You don't use uboot.img. What's the reason for that? For what purpose is this image?"

Could you please help with these? Should I use uboot.img as well? And does system.img go to the Android row?

I added this 3d question later: is it safe to flash SS phone with the DS file?

Kind regards
26th August 2015, 11:07 AM |#10  
Junior Member
Prague
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"PMT changed for the ROM" and SP Flash Tool version
Hello,

I'd like to say big thanks and report that my B15Q was saved thanks to this thread, after a failed upgrade to the 1.016.00 firmware (due to the Chinese root app).

Moreover, I would like to point out that the procedure worked only with the v5.1352.01 version of SP Flash Tool. All other versions I've tried bailed out with the "PMT changed for the ROM; it must be downloaded" message. Unfortunately, the thread which is listed in the instructions refers to a version of SP Flash Tool more recent than v5.1352.01. A link to the said version can be found in this post: http://forum.xda-developers.com/show...86&postcount=4

Regards,
Aurél

Quote:
Originally Posted by harddisk_wp

0) Driver and toolkit setup

  • Get the driver set, scatter file and spFlashTool from this thread: http://forum.xda-developers.com/gene...pment-t2988774
  • Remove back shell from phone, remove battery (!)
  • Attach phone via USB. Windows should now, approx. once every 2-3s, make a sound similar as if you put in a USB stick and then pull it out again.
  • Start=>Run=>devmgmt.msc, in the View menu choose "Devices by connection"
  • Click yourself through the tree until you find an unknown device (MT65xx Preloader or similar)
  • Rightclick on the device and press "Install drivers"; you shall find the drivers in "MTKUsbAll_0.9.2\New inst. win 7&8x64" folder.
  • Launch "SP Flash Tool v5.1352.01\flash_tool.exe"
  • ...
...

If you get an error "PMT changed for the ROM; it must be downloaded", reboot your machine.

26th January 2016, 08:30 PM |#11  
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my b15 loopboot
Hello such greetings from Venezuela have a cat b15q dual sim to load the firmware with sp flashtool v3 makes the whole process but remains frozen on the logo even doing a wipe and there no moves have the rom that is posted here I can I am doing wrong excuse my English but I use a translator
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