Reviving a Kobo Aura HD that would not turn on

Hot on the heels of upgrading my own Kobo Clara HD’s battery and micro SD card, I turned to another eReader project: reviving a Kobo Aura HD, that would not turn on.

This was another eBay purchase.

The Kobo Aura HD is quite an old machine now, but as an eReader, it should still be just fine.

Based on the listing, the device seemed to be in good physical shape, without obvious damage to the screen. So worth a punt.

When I received it, it was in the condition that I had expected.

And it came with a note from the seller, saying:

Good luck making this work. I tried and failed.

I like that kind of personal touch, even though it made me a little concerned. Perhaps someone knowledgeable in what they were doing had already done everything that I could reasonably do, and it was never going to work…

Initial steps

I did the usual stuff I do with broken hardware that I buy: check that it is charged, and reset it. It surprises me how often something basic like this turns out to be the problem.

These steps did not fix it here.

I could get the status LED to turn on, and the screen flashed when I powered on the device, but it showed nothing.

Still, this was positive, as it seemed that the screen was not broken.


I took it apart, to check if everything was connected.

As with the Kobo Clara HD, it just needed a plastic spudger to pop it apart.

The battery was connected (no idea what capacity remains), as was the screen and touchscreen cables.

There were no obvious signs of water damage.

There was a 4GB micro SD card in the right place inside it.

Reflashing the OS

At this point, my best guess was that the OS image on the micro SD card was corrupt, and that it needed reflashing.

I mounted the micro SD card taken from machine, and it appeared to have all the right file structures on it.

Oh dear.

Nevertheless, I felt that reflashing it was worth a try.

There is a marvellous thread on MobileRead, on which people can request SD card images for their devices. It is a shame that there cannot be links to direct downloads, rather than needing to DM someone, but oh well. I understand, I guess.

So I requested the image I needed, and a kind forum user gave me a link to download it a few hours later.

I did, verified that it was what it said it was.

I created a backup image of SD card, just in case, and the wrote the image from MobileRead, in the same way that I did with the Kobo Clara HD.

I popped the newly-flashed SD card into the device, powered it on, and… it booted!


But then the touchscreen did not work.

Fixing the touchscreen

Without the touchscreen, the device is (for my needs) unusable.

But why did it not work? There was no obvious signs of damage, and the cable was connected correctly.

On a hunch, I put the device back together into its case, just in case it would only work with some pressure on the sides of the device, or something like that.

And it worked. The touchscreen was usable again.

Happy days. At this point, in the space of about 15 minutes, I’d gone from a device which would not power on, to one which did power on, and and had a working touchscreen.

Bypassing registration

When it booted, it said that it needed a Wi-Fi network.


I did what I did before: edit the .sqlite database on the device to bypass registration.

I mounted the device to my computer, and went to /media/neil/KOBOeReader/.kobo.

In that directory is KoboReader.sqlite.

I backed it up (cp KoboReader.sqlite KoboReader.sqlite.bak), and then ran:

sqlite3 KoboReader.sqlite "INSERT INTO user(UserID,UserKey) VALUES('1','');"

I unmounted the device from my computer, and there we go, registration bypassed.