Guide: How to Install Custom Firmware on your PSP Slim (2000 series)

posted by Don Dula @ 1:23 AM
September 19, 2008

Disclaimer: is not responsible for any damage caused to your devices due to any information found on this site.  Please use this knowledge at your own risk.

Before I begin, as always it is helpful if you have a basic understanding of computers and transferring files between systems.  It is also important to get familiar with your device and how the mod actually affects it.  Learn as much information as you can about the device you’re going to mod before you attempt anything, in case you need to trouble shoot later.  When it comes to modding knowledge is definitely power.  Also note that this guide is intended for the 2000 series psp slim, and wont work on the new 3000 series that is being released.  If you don’t know what version you have check the SKU number.

Some time ago after the novelty of my Nintendo Wii wore off, I decided to trade it in for a psp slim thinking I would get more use out of it.  At first, looking through the available software library I was again thoroughly disappointed.  Why would I want to buy watered down versions of ps2 titles that I already owned, and play them on a 4in screen?  Then after doing some reading I discovered the beautiful world of custom firmware and homebrew apps.  In a nut shell custom firmware allows you to run non Sony certified programs.  This could range from a number of things like, different themes, new OS’s, an unlocked device for you to develop upon, and the most popular being emulators (for a better understanding of emulators please visit this page. )

After loading all this new software my PSP became one of my favorite portable devices.  I mainly use it now for playing all the old school Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Game Boy games, and even a couple Nintendo 64 that I got to work.  So after all said and done, you won’t even feel the need to buy PSP titles because you can have multiple game library’s stored right on your memory stick.  Now of course the game roms are only legal to play if you own the original cartridges.  Any way for those of you that are novices to all this but would like to take the plunge, I’m going to try and offer the best resources that helped me through this process myself.  There is a ton of information available out there that goes over all this stuff in great detail, but it’s easy to get lost for hours trying to find the answers.  If you’re interested in reading further in to any of this there are plenty of other guides and discussions that can be found at the Maxconsole psp forums.  This is where I found a lot of the emulators and other useful software.           

Now, there are two ways to go about doing this.  One way is you need to have a first gen psp (the thick one) which has either already been loaded with the custom firmware or that has a low enough Sony official firmware that you can apply the Luminis exploit to it, which basically lets you load the firmware through a loop hole in the game.  I’m probably not going to go in to this method much being it’s a pain in the ass and took me over 5 hours to get everything to work.  I just happened to be lucky enough to have a friend with an old psp that never did a software update, so I ended up having to mod his firmware so I could run a custom program that would create the tool which would then let me load the new firmware to my slim.  If you want to read more about this method you can go here  That link is an excellent page just to get some background info on what’s going on here.

The other way which is definitely more simple but will cost you a few bucks, is to buy what’s called a Pandora battery.  Here is a link to a site that sells them for around $25 dollars, which is a good deal and a link to a list of other sites that sell them as well.  They call them Tool battery’s on these sites.  When I went through this process I had to buy an official Sony battery for around the same price and then spend 5 hours converting it in to a Pandora battery, so trust me buying one is much easier.  They used to be available on ebay but were recently banned.  A Pandora battery is a PSP battery pack that has been altered to put the PSP in to a sort of service mode once it’s inserted.  Once in service mode any firmware can be loaded on to the PSP, even custom non Sony certified. 

After you have your Pandora battery you need to create what’s called a “magic memory stick” which is basically a 1 to 2 GB official Sony memory stick which has been preloaded with the required firmware files.  You can download this rar file here  Download this file, it should be 135mb.  Unzip it and click the icon that says start.  You’re going to press enter at the first 2 on screen prompts, then it’s going to ask you for your memory stick drive letter.  Make sure you put your PSP in to USB mode and then open up My Computer and look for the removable storage drive letter.  Enter that drive letter in to the program.  Make sure you have the right drive letter because the next step is going to be formatting your memory stick.  It’s going to ask you to insert your disk, if your stick is already in then just press enter, then the stick will begin formatting.  When it’s done it’s going to ask you for a volume label just press enter for none.  After that it’s going to go through another format procedure, when it asks are you sure you want to format, press y for yes and then enter.  It’s then going to ask you to remove your memory stick and stop the usb connection, so go ahead and do that.  Once that’s done press enter on your computer, it will then ask you to put the card back in and restart the usb connection.  Once the usb connection is reestablished press enter again on your keyboard to continue.  Now it will come to a screen where it asks you what kind of stick you want to make, select option 4 (3.71 m33 universal unbricker).  If a strange message appears after selecting option 4 just click the ignore button and go on with the install.  The program should now be installing all the files to your memory stick, this should take a couple minutes.  when that part is done you’re going to select yes at the next prompt and then hit enter a couple more times.  That should be it, once you have both these items, you then simply take out the normal battery from your psp, insert your magic memory stick in to the memory slot, and while holding down the top right trigger button on your psp insert your Pandora battery, once the battery is in and the green power light turns on you can release the trigger (don’t actually slide the power switch to turn the unit on, the Pandora battery should power on the unit by itself, if it doesn’t it could mean the battery is dead so charge it up for an hour). 

Now here’s where it can get tricky.  You won’t actually be able to see anything on the screen, because the screen drivers for the install program weren’t updated to work for the slim.  So it will be a black screen.  The only way you’ll know that everything is working correctly is once you pop in that Pandora battery, the memory stick indicator light will start blinking.  If it doesn’t start blinking that means you didn’t set up your memory stick correctly.  The light will continue to blink for about 7-10 seconds.  Once it stops blinking for a good 10 seconds then all you have to do is press the X button on the psp.  It will now load the custom firmware on to your psp.  This process can take about 1 to 2 mins.  During the process your memory stick light as well as your wifi light will blink excessively.  You’ll know it’s done loading when all the lights have stopped blinking for more than 15 seconds.  Once the process is done take out the Pandora battery and put in your normal battery and boot up the unit.  If it turns on you’ve done it.  Check out your system settings and make sure your firmware version reads 3.71 m33 as pictured below. 


Also make sure you’re using an official Sony memory stick like the one that comes bundled with your unit.  People have reported problems of their magic memory sticks not working with 3rd party brands.  Another note, once custom firmware is installed you will not be able to use the official Sony software update method within your psp, or you will screw up the install.  If you must update your software you will have to do it manually from your memory stick from the pre modded update files, which can be found floating around here

Once the hard part is over you can start downloading some emulators and other fun programs which can also be found in the max console forums.  Make sure you format your memory stick after, using the psp format memory stick option on your device, that will set up all the folders you need on your memory stick.  I will list a few emulators here to get you started.  As far as getting the game roms go you’re on your own, but a simple google search can go a long way.   I hope this explanation was somewhat helpful, good luck to all who attempt.  Post your results or questions.

Small list of emulators: 

Nintendo Emulator

Super Nintendo Emulator

Sega Genesis Emulator

Unzip these files and put the folder that contains the program files in your Game371 folder on your memory stick.

Update 11/21/08

It seems that a hack for the psp 3000 series is well on its way.

Read about it at MAXCONSOLE 

2 Responses to “Guide: How to Install Custom Firmware on your PSP Slim (2000 series)”

  1. evolve911 Says:

    Followed your instructions perfectly and it work! So easy. Do you know how to place LED’s in the paddle buttons?

  2. nathan Says:

    Ya LED’s in the paddle buttons would be sweet!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.