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Modding the Acer Aspire One – eSATA

Welcome to part 4 of a multi-part post on moddng the Acer Aspire One!

In part 1, I showed how to take the Aspire One apart, how to upgrade the RAM, and how to add internal Bluetooth. In part 2, I showed how to replace the SSD with a 1.8″ PATA hard drive and how to reassemble the Aspire One. In part 3, I showed you how to add internal 3G (specifically HSDPA)…

In this final part, I demonstrate how to add eSATA to the Aspire One. Here’s another video and additional pictures that cover the process. As usual, I’m not responsible if you damage anything.

There are two basic versions of the original Aspire One – both use the same motherboard, and both support a PATA interface and a SATA interface. The SDD version features the same ZIF connector found on 1.8″ PATA hard drives, but no SATA connector. The HDD version features a standard 2.5″ SATA hard drive connector and a modified casing, but no ZIF connector…

Since I replaced the slower 8 GB SSD with a faster 60 GB hard drive on the PATA interface and the SATA interface was still unused, I decided to add an external eSATA connector to my Aspire One :)

This mod was pretty simple. Basically I salvaged an eSATA socket from a desktop bracket and some thin 2-conductor shielded microphone cable from inside a broken laptop – shielded cable is important because SATA uses LVDS. Then I connected the eSATA socket to the traces of the missing SATA connector – that’s it!

The tricky part was to find a good location to cut a hole in the case and mount the eSATA socket without interference. I picked this nice spot right above the left SD card slot (appropriately labeled “Storage Expansion”) and soldered the eSATA socket to the ground plane (structural).

The result is very clean and functional – of course, a reboot is required to register any connected eSATA device with the BIOS.

I hope you enjoyed this multi-part post on hacking the Acer Aspire One. Originally, I was thinking of doing a touch screen mod for part 5, but scrapped the idea because it impacted screen readability.

Hmmm, I wonder how much this really cool Aspire One is worth :) Any buyers?

78 thoughts on “Modding the Acer Aspire One – eSATA Leave a comment

  1. Pingback: jkOnTheRun » Blog Archive Netbook Hack: Add an eSATA Port to the Acer Aspire One «
  2. just wanted to say thanks for the videos. I picked up an aao a few weeks ago, and have been looking for some pointers on mods. These are great. already added 1gb memory (1.5total), and just ordered a samsung 80gb pata/zif 1.8″ drive for it. the videos really help to see what’s possible and what’s not. I’ve go at bluetooth dongle (from dealextreme), and i MIGHT attempt to internally install that, but keeping in it’s usb dongle means I can move it around when i need it.

    thanks again, tnkgrl.

  3. you may be able to get eSATA hotplug to work — from a brief google of the acer aspire one’s bios, it looks to be an Award bios – you may be able to hack the bios with one of the award tools – it also looks like an ICH7 chipset, which is not _supposed_ to support eSATA hotplug, but which often ?always? does. I did a similar mod a few months ago, where I soldered an eSATA header onto the backplane of my mini-ITX motherboard (frankensystem) – they had an option for eSATA, but nobody stocked them and the minimum order was 500 :) anyway – long story short, ICH7 chipset, soldered the connector in and with a change to the bios (social hack – I begged them to give me the other version… ), i was able to hotplug under ubuntu (8.10)

    I am long overdue for a writeup of my mod – maybe tomorrow.

    you do amazing hacks – i am very impressed.

      • I have an old fujitsu siemens lifebook “S” series circa 2003 and looking 2buy a new laptop soon.hacking a laptop appeals to me but im a raw novice.any clues /advice as to where I could start as a hack/learning curve project?

  4. tnkgrl, you’re great !! ;)

    I’d like to be just a little like you, but I’m not … actually i tried to upgrade/mod my AA1 (replace the SSD with a hard drive and upgrade the ram). The ram was ok, now i have a 1.5GB AA1, but I bougth a couple of PATA drives and none of those worked to me… the HDDs I bougth had different connector, it does not fit :(

    Any (tnkgrl?) one can help me to find an eBay HDD that will work with the ZIF connector found on the AA1?? I’m looking for something not much expensive, 20 or 30 GB will work for me.

    Thanks! and again, good work Tnkgrl !!

  5. Love your mod. This is an awesome machine and makes me wish I could even attempt something like this. Any chance you’ve gotten your hands on the 10″ version of the Aspire One? If so could you comment on the differences inside? Thanks much.

  6. hello you know very good your page and all your changes! Congratulations! my suggestion is good if you plan to change the screen that has the acer aspire one of 8.9 to 10 and plug that size would have no problem I already suggested that I have seen the hp model is 10 inches and that is the same size, so I do not see the problem, since the connector is the same.

    Think good .. is dismissed from Chile idjar

  7. I notice that you remove the ssd in favor of a hd. What about the newer models that have the sata hd onboard already. I notice that JKK prefers the ssd’s over hd’s for the speed and ruggedness. Would it be possible to install one of these newer faster ssd drives(such as the runcore) into the pcie slot occupied by the wifi card? The object being having the quick ssd for os and some programs and the hd for storeage ect. Or is the internal sata hd drive faster than these ssd’s? seems you could just wire a up an n wifi dongle inside that way youd still have the wifi and n speeds rather than g.
    maybe i’m way out on a limb here and out of my mind.

  8. hi!

    I got an aspire one 110 mod, I bought a lacie 60 gb disk and it has the same zif connector as the ssd disk, however connecting this only leads the disk light on, it seem it wont get a power, I did not use the original cable cause it felt abit to thick for the disk insertion.

    I also updated the bios n the laptop without any progress..

    disk is hs060hb, do I somehow need to draw some extra power elsewhere?

  9. Hey tnkgrl…

    thanks for the mod´s they helped me really alot…

    By the way, you indeed must be a very cool person !

    Keep it up ! Greetings from Germany

  10. I realize that this isn’t the most content-laden of comments, but I feel that I must say it:

    Holy crap, you’re awesome.

  11. @tnkgrl

    Were you going to use one of those DIY solderless kits to add touchscreen functionality, or were you going to use a different method/parts?

    I’ve been on the fence between an 10-inch aspire one and a eee 1000he for a while now and the factor I’m having the most trouble with is whether I’d have more fun with the touchscreen mod for the eee or your esata mod for the one. If I can do both on just one of them, that’ll make the decision a snap for me. I know the 8 inch kit for the eee 900 will work with the 8 inch one, but I haven’t seen anything about the 10 inch kit so far.

    Also, how big a readability issue are you talking about?

    I saw something on the eeeuser forums about removing the screen’s anti-glare layer because it eats up a lot of light and contrast, and some (if not all) touchscreen kits have one of their own. According to the poster, all you need to do is leave a wet paper towel on the screen for about 3 hours. That’ll soak up the glue holding the anti-glare film to the screen, which you can then peel off. I dunno if there’s a layer like that on the one or not, but I hope that helps.

  12. Btw, if that does help at all, the solderless kits supposedly add two extra USB plugs (pins, not ports), which should make the bluetooth mod a bit safer, and would still leave room to add another mod without having to solder directly to the mobo (maybe to add an internal wireless mouse antenna, which from what I can tell would be the same exact mod as bt, but with a mildly different chip).

  13. @tnkgrl

    I mean more fun with the finished product, not the installation of it. Besides, if you can get the same functionality from a solderless kit that you can from soldering straight to the mobo, then why not give it a shot?

    Seriously though, how bad a visibility issue did you have? Are we talking a slight decrease in brightness, or does the screen look all dirty and grainy?

  14. Girl;

    May I say that I love your Acer one videos and plan to add ram to my acer one but does that (opening the case) void the warranty? If you can find the time to reply I would appreciate it. Thanks, Steve

  15. Just typing from my upgraded a110l. Sporting a brand new Toshiba HDD and 1,5Gee of Ram. Running Vista as smoothly as anything. All needed is spit, grit and a whole lot of duct tape.

    Thank you for the ideas an directions tnkgrl.

  16. I’ve aspireone 110, 1,5 gb ram and sata 250gb.

    Can someone show me the eprom for upgrade bios on the mainboard to try upgrade directley, because my last recovery update by pendrive usb did’nt work.
    Black schreen always and power led blinking.
    Have you another way ?

    Thank’s in advance.

  17. hi wonder if someone could help .I tried this mod but broke the black clip off the hard disk samsung this drive now useless or can i somehow salvage it..would love to get this mod going

  18. What you’ve done is so cool. My Acer Aspire is the model D150-1165. It has 2GB RAM the factory. How did you know where each wire connected to? I’d try adding eSata if I had better instructions. The only other issue I have is using an external monitor in 1680X1050 works but has ghosting of the mouse, icons and window edges. I have an intel 945 Express chipset Have you any guidance on using external monitors.

  19. nice mod, but I’d like to see, if it is possible to use internal SATA power connector in SSD version. If so, it should be possible to use internal blazing-fast drive (probably SSD but worth some more ;))

  20. hah, make it hot-pluggable (no reboot needed) and then ill buy it :)
    this way is sort of misses the point (yeah yeah i know, there’s still the speed…)
    is that reboot only a matter of bios? can that be tweaked? :)

  21. Hi,
    it is possible to eliminate the SSD and to use only one internal SATA-HDD as boot-drive?
    Is there enough space for a 2,5″ HDD or only for a 1,8″?
    thx Res

  22. Thanks for the videos. I’ve used the first one to upgrade the RAM in my Aspire One. I’m interested in the eSATA mod but I can only find the video above which shows the completed mod not the process itself. Can you point me to it ? I have the model with the internal SATA drive – does that preclude me from installing this mod ?



  23. Saludos

    Mi pregunta es simple… Se puede deshabilitar el modulo de 512mb del motherboard y asi instalar un ddr2 de 2Gbs?

  24. Thanks for ideas. I’ve combined #2 and #3 and I replaced the original PATA SSD with a cheap 16 GB eSATA SSD(32 GB was unavailable)( – fixed with double-sided adhesive foam squares & without case & without wires, only with short pins in SATA connector. It’s work 3X better, 95 MB/s read & 30 write – due to system limitation!? It is possible to keep the old PATA SSD with minimum of mechanical rearrangements, but personal I’ve remove it. The only wire I’ve used is the +5V dc power ( additional photos & questions don’t hesitate to contact me!

  25. Thanks so much for the vid of modding the Acer Aspire One.
    It was invaluable in diagnosing my poor dead machine – most of my colleagues thought it was that the RAM had shifted following a drop so I wanted to check for shifting, blown circuitry or damage but was rather concerned as to how as netbooks are not built with this in mind…
    The vid was so clear and careful that I was able to disembowel (and rebuild) it without any problems.
    It turned out that the BIOS needed flashing rather than anything being wrong with the RAM, but it was so helpful to have a confident guide through the murky waters of keyboards and circuitry – thank you!

  26. I am having a hard job locating the hard disc Samsung 60gb HSO6 THB 1.8inch or equiv.Do you have any leads?

  27. Hi there, tnkgrl.
    Thank you so much for this mods.

    I was wondering 2 things, maybe you can give me a light on them:
    * Is there a way to disable the internal 512mb of ram and use a 2gb in the slot?
    * I want to use a internal sata hdd on the lappy, but I dont know from where get the power.
    From the pictures I can see that you need to connect the 7 pins from the sata cable on the mb, but from where could I borrow the power for the hdd?
    * Any news on the idea that it’s around about modding the bios and enable the boot from the sd card?

    Thank you again for this cool mods.

  28. Tnkgrl Great mods. and great teaching vids.
    Do you think it would be possible to add inductive charging to the AA1 or similar netbooks?
    Show us how!!
    Thanks again for all your help.

  29. Hi, wonderful hack! I’m reading your post because i googled “acer aspire bios hack”… why? because i’m looking for a trick to autostart my aspire one d250 from bios at morning. Even with last bios version i do not see nothing related in bios setting :( . Acer support do not respond to my request, and i need this feature in bios even with “AC Power Less”->”Power on” that mantain up my nettop when AC power is occasionally down. If you can help me I appreciate much! ps. Sorry for my english!:)

  30. Thanks so much – I used your instructions in late 2008 to guide me through upgrading my AAO to 1.5g, added a 250g hdd, replaced the wifi with one out of a dell, then hackintoshed it. Been running it that way ever since.
    But I was wondering if you think the eSATA mod would work with the hackintoshed OS X Leopard?

  31. Thanks for the videos on modding the AAO. The second SSD died in mine. I am swearing off SSD’s until they become more dependable and cost effective. I found a number of 1.8″ PATA HHDs at Amazon and am going to install a Samsung 120 GB, Model HS12YHA. Is there a video showing the wiring procedure for the eSata mod?

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