Install U3 On a Flash Drive
Looking to install U3 on a regular flash drive? Or home-brew upgrade from generic flash drive to U3? Well, it’s not going to work and this is why.
U3 is not just software, it’s hardware too. In other words, if you don’t have the right hardware on the flash drive you’ll never get the U3 launch pad to load. U3 wrote their spec to call for certified IC controllers on the flash drive. Without a specific IC controller U3 will never work. So that’s it. If you want more info then read on.
An IC controller is a little bit of “logic” or “chip” which performs a control function and is located on the PCB board of the flash drive (Printed Circuit Board). The PCB holds this logic, the flash memory for storage and maybe a microprocessor to speed up performance along with LED light for performance feedback. In the IC controller there are several things to make U3 activate. There is an area in the IC controller called the Mask ROM area. This area holds encryption and authentication protocols and is hard-coated, meaning it’s programmed when the chip is manufactured and can never be changed. The Mask ROM area holds the code U3 developed to authenticate and confirm the IC controller is certified and thus allow U3 to be installed into flash memory.
So if you’ve done any amount of digging, you might have come across people who’ve taken a normal flash drive and converted it to a U3 drive. Well, it is just a coincidence. The coincidence being the generic flash drive used the same IC controller as U3 devices. There is only one case I’ve seen and it involved a generic Memorex flash drive purchased from Target. I’ll have you know Memorex also markets a full line of U3 drives so you can do the math.
So how do you know if it’s a U3 flash drive? Well, upon connection to your PC the U3 launch pad should activate. Or you can check to see if there is a new CD-ROM drive letter and Hard Drive letter on your PC. In the few situations that someone removed the U3 software then you can try uploading the Launch pad again – during the process if you get an error or message asking to “insert a U3 drive” well, then you don’t have one.
Come back as I’ll later describe how to create a custom U3 logo for your U3 Launch pad.