Risen from the dead: A Vibrant Story.

Posted by Orville Bennett on April 23, 2011
Read time: about 4 minutes

I just, painstakingly, posted about 10 Facebook comments, with the following info, chronicling the steps I took to try and fix my T-Mobile Vibrant, which was hard bricked; then I realized I have a blog where I could have posted this info and be able to get at it much easier for the next time I brick my Vibrant.

So without further ado, here’s how I fixed it. A quick shout out to God for making me persistent enough to not give up. ‘Preciate it aaaaaaaaaand LOVE YAH (lots) :-)

So I’ve recovered the Vibrant from what I thought was “The final brick”. Through some patience, and possibly divine intervention I was able to find info to bring it back to life. Sooo, I thought it would be useful to record this, should anyone else ever face a problem like this.

Some background

I have a Samsung Vibrant. The Vibrant is, in my opinion, a neutered1 Galaxy S phone. And currently T-mobile has the Galaxy S 4G (essentially the Vibrant w/ a FFC and 4G radio). This “new” phone is still inferior2 to the original (european) Galaxy S phone, released before both, but I digress.

The point of bringing up the Galaxy S is to point out that Samsung put a proprietary file system on it. The file system is called RFS 3 I believe, whereas the typical android file system is ext3. ext3 is the native linux filesystem (suceeded by ext4) whereas RFS is a bastardized vfat, i.e. FAT32, that ancient but venerably cross platform FS from our friends MS.

RFS, the Galaxy S file system, had problems however. Its use over time resulted in noticeable lag. To remedy this sad state of affairs modders/hackers retrofitted ext3, then ext4 (successor to ext3) as the base file system for the Galaxy S phones. The most successful of these was called the Voodoo mod.

The Here and Now

Fast forward to today. I have a Vibrant, I’m noticing lag, I know the cause, I decide to fix it.
So now, my Vibrant has voodoo (ext4) w/ Samsung’s Touchwiz running atop it.
Then comes CyanogenMod 7 [CM7]. CM7’s claim to fame is that it’s a) vanilla android (graphically) and b) based on the gingerbread version. This is where the story gets interesting. :-)

So in the course of trying to get gingerbread on my Vibrant — why? partly, because I can, partly because bits of Touchwiz annoy 4 me — I brick the phone.

Because I didn’t follow these instructions properly.

Basically in the process of trying to put the rom onto the Vibrant via ODIN5, I forgot the rom, added only the kernel, and got an infinite reboot. I hightailed it back into recovery and attempted to restore the backup of my old (Touchwiz/Voodoo) rom.

The ODIN process put back the original RFS system whereas my backup had the lagfixed ext4. This in itself would have probably led to what’s called a “soft brick”6. This requires Another ODIN back to oringal firmware to fix. Unfortunately it seemed the combination also resulted in restoring a version of rom manager which led to a “hard brick”7.

So, the phone is plugged in but doesn’t seem to be recieving a charge and the capacitive buttons at the bottom of the screen never light up. So this, on Sunday night is where I left the phone, for all intents and purposes dead. On Wednesday I was reading a few articles and eventually got it back up again.

I’ll spare you anymore commentary from me and just link back to the info that got me up and running again.

There were also files (info on where to find them available in the “Vibrant Bible” on XDA forums) necessary for the recovery.

File 1: JFD stock firmware

File 2: Eugene’s Froyo that does not brick.

The following links were also useful info-wise:
http://forum.xda-developers.com/showpost.php?p=8922602&postcount=10 from http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=822727

Recover from phone which doesn’t charge (info says: wait a few hours, then try again)
http://forum.xda-developers.com/showpost.php?p=10485853&postcount=10 from http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=907248

Useful to have: ODIN and pit files

After doing the above I was able to ODIN and get the bottom buttons glowing (progress) and this helped out w/ that http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=745547
http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=803693&page=3

So then I had problems w/ ODIN after this as it wouldn’t complete. The problem was that I needed to reboot and get back into download mode (w/ no screen info as it was still black )
http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=777872
http://androidforums.com/samsung-galaxy-s/320953-phone-not-working-after-update.html

With ODIN seemingly not working along with the screen, the yellow COM3 (or COM#) is your only indication that you have successfully achieved it.

FINALLY, another major resaon for installing CM7 is that I was having screen distortion issues w/ the Touchwiz roms. I assumed it had something to do with the Kernels/Clock speed settings that was causing the CPU to overheat and make the graphics chip overheat.

Turns out, the issue was probably due to a faulty connection from the LCD/Digitizer to the rest of the phone logic board.

I thought that if Touchwiz roms were having a problem w/ these settings then installing a rom not based on touchwiz would alleviate the problem.

In a sort of roundabout way. I was right :-)
Unscrewed and took apart the phone and when putting it together after finally installing CM7 had the same issues.
So i took it apart again and made sure the connection from the LCD/Digitizer to the board was solid and that seemed to fix things.

So there we are, that’s how I brought my Vibrant back from the dead.

With a little patience, a lot of reading and some feeling of responsibility (as I could have gone back to the T-Mobile store and tried to pass it off on them as a warranty claim). I don’t like when people who break their phones do things like that though.

However, in the case of this phone, this would be acceptable BECAUSE THIS PHONE SUCKS SO HARD THAT SAMSUNG, THE MANUFACTURER, STILL HASN’T FIXED THE GPS TO BE RELIABLE (ALMOST A YEAR AFTER RELEASE).

Addendum

I can tell much, never again Samsung. Awesome screen or no, it’s not worth the hassle. I have no intention of purchasing any Samsung devices in the future: phone or otherwise. The End? Probably not. The CM7 version for the Galaxy S series of phones is a kanged8 version.

  1. It lacks the front-facing camera [FFC] and FM Radio 

  2. It still lacks the FM radio, which is not made up for by the fact that it has battery draining 4G, which T-Mobile doesn’t have widely deployed. 

  3. Retarded File System? 

  4. e.g. not being able to change the system’s voicemail service to google voice 

  5. ODIN is apparently a leaked samsung program for putting software on the phone. It only runs on windows. There is also a cross platform program named Heimdall which can reportedly perform the same function. 

  6. software brick - software induced blank screen where you see a boot logo but can’t otherwise get into the OS. 

  7. hardware is totally dead and doesn’t power on. 

  8. to kang, verb: to reproduce without express consent; unofficial reproduction