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Modifying your Inspiron to work in a Latitude C/Port or C/Dock

The following instructions were created by Dell Coumminity Member Stonent.

Disclaimer: The information provided here is based on personal experience and data collected from the Dell's Community Forum. Any damage, loss of profits or any thing that makes you unhappy is not my fault. You are doing this on your own accord. I have taken every precaution to validate the accuracy of the data here, however, I take no responsibility for the accuracy of the data. Please read the Terms of Use for this site. By continuing, you are agreeing to the Terms of Use for this web site.

Supported systems:

Through voodoo, trickery and physical blocks, Dell has managed to keep Inspiron users away from the powerful features of their Latitude C/Ports and C/Docks. I guess they figured that we would never want things like using an Infrared port while docked, or having SCSI devices attached without the use of e PCMCIA card. Or even adding a PCI device. Well no longer will this hold us back..

The secret is converting your Inspiron into thinking it is a Latitude. Which is pretty easy and removing the metal hook from the port replicator.

Lets start with removing the metal hook that blocks your access. (Note: If you have an 8xx0 series system you can remove the plate on the back that blocks the slot from receiving the hook) Remove the screws (if applicable) from the bottom of the Latitude C/port or C/dock. You should then be able to remove the "lid". Now that you are inside notice where the metal hook attaches. There is a screw in the middle that holds it in place. Remove that screw and the metal hook will lift right out. If you have a C/Dock II like me, I had to remove the "motherboard" first to get at the hook. Take the metal spring too, because you don't want it rattling around inside loose. Put the screw and washer back in place and reassemble your port replicator.

Now it looks as you are all set, but if you try to dock your system in it at this point, you will recieve an error that says you have used an invalid port replicator and your computer will shut down. You now need to convert the BIOS from an Inspiron BIOS to a Latitude BIOS. First of all, you need to determine what Latitude BIOS will work on your Inspiron system. Well because I am such a nice guy, I will tell you.

3700 - Latitude CPxH BIOS
3800 - Latitude CPxJ BIOS
4000 - Latitude C600 BIOS
4100 - Latitude C610 BIOS
4150 - Latitude C640 BIOS
8000 - Latitude C800 BIOS
8100 - Latitude C810 BIOS
8200 - Latitude C840 BIOS

There, that was easy now wasn't it? Now head on over to the Dell support site and download the latest Inspiron BIOS and the latest Latitude BIOS for your system. Download the floppy disk version to help eliminate any issues.

First boot from the Inspiron BIOS disk and allow it to flash your system. This will make sure your video BIOS is up to date, which may not be included in the Latitude BIOS flash.

Now that you have flashed, insert the Latitude BIOS disk and boot from it. It will come up and give you an error that it is not the right BIOS for your system. That's ok. From the A: prompt type DIR

One of the files on the disk will be an .EXE file with the model of the Laptop in it such as C800_A20.EXE which we will use in this example.

Now type:

C800_A20 /jabil

This time the flash program will say something like:

About to flash Latitude C800 BIOS on Inspiron 8000. Are you sure? Say "yes".

If you did not get this message then you need to try another switch. On my Inspiron 4000, I had to type this:

C600_A20 /forceit /forcetype

After the flash is completed, reboot your system (don't go into windows yet!!). It should now say "Latitude" as it is booting. If you have a Celeron processor in your system the model might not be the same as listed above. Instead of CPx it will be CPT. Instead of a C6x0 it will be a C5x0 system.

Slide your system into the dock and power up. Hit F2 to enter the BIOS. Here you can confirm that it correctly detected the port replicator or docking station.

Power down and boot up undocked. As it goes into windows, it will begin a hardware detection. This is because the devices have moved around to make room for the future port replicator you are going to use. All of the drivers should still be on the system, so anything it asks for should be in C:\windows c:\winnt c:\windows\system and c:\winnt\system32 depending on your model. After a few reboots and whatnot your system should be back to normal with no (!) devices in the device manager.

If you are running Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT or Windows ME, check the Dell website for drivers for the port replicator and have them handy. You should run the installation program before docking.

Now boot up docked, your system will detect the new hardware in the dock and load the drivers.

Congratulations, you now have a fully working "Latitude"! From this point forward, you should use the Latitude BIOS for all future upgrades to your system.

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