With the sudden growth of the PS3 console scene, with the release of PSGroove and the many different payloads, and custom code being designed by various homebrew developers, there was a need in the market for small device that could be quickly flash on your PC and then used on your PS3 console.
Enter the AVRKEY, the device picture above, is simple USB dongle containing the very powerful ATMEL ATMEGA32U2 chipset with a huge amount of memory over 32K of memory, and already programmed encrypted bootloader, leaving you 28K of available flash memory to erase and use for your own code, along with two bright LED's to clearly show you what it is doing!
Unlike others in the marketplace of ATMEL USB Development boards, PS3KEY the designers behind the AVRKEY, designed to use the larger more powerful ATMEGA32 chipset, giving people right away almost 32K of codespace to use in their flashing needs, instead of just a tiny 16K of space that most other USB Development boards have available to your usage.
Also they fited the whole design into a neat very small little metal case, making it easy to carry around with no worry in damaging the high-end quailty electronics packed inside, as pictured below after I ripped open my own AVRKEY to study all it finest little details and workings:
To put this little metal bundle of joy into flashing mode on your PC, since their is no buttons their pre-programmed encrypted bootloader uses a insert/remove trick to tell itself to switch from RUN mode to FLASH mode.
What you do is insert the dongle in your PC, the RED led will appear, you then remove it, and then right away insert it again, then right away remove it again, and then right away insert it again, and then right away remove it again, (you still with me?), insert it again and bang if you got it right the BLUE led will suddenly light up, and your PC will ask the first time to install the USB device drivers for the ATMEGA32U2 chipset it detected.
Those drivers are lucky enough buried inside the folder of the standard ATMEL Flip software. -- The first few times I tried this trick it never worked for me, until I found out you need to be using the latest v3.4.2 of the ATMEL Flip software. -- Remember that's v3.4.2 on your PC, and your PS3 has to be still running firmware v3.4.1 -- Don't go putting v3.4.2 on your PS3 or else this who thing will be pointless to you!
The only problem I found is there is not much public information on how the LED's are connected to the dongle internally, so most of the current already complied versions of PSGroove like those with "Hermes v3" payload work fine on your PS3 after flashing with this nice shiny metal box, but sadly the LED's are dead, no lights to know if it worked or not on your PS3 console, you have to go look on the XMB to see if "Install Package Files" appears to know if your PS3 has been Jailbroken after using this device.
So for my review, I signed up to the members section of the PS3KEY website, and downloaded their latest PS3KEY_OPEN firmware file which was v2.1 that has the older "Hermes v2" payload in it, but not the latest auto-patch needed for some of the newer games to fix "controller sync issues", but of course with their own file the nice RED and BLUE led's work correctly on the PS3 console!
When the PS3 starts up, only the RED light will be on, and then once the PS3 has been Jailbroken, the LED will switch colors to BLUE, you can then safely remove the AVRKEY which is a great feature, since my 40gb PS3 only has two USB ports, unlike the original launch PS3 models that had 4 ports.
Once the XMB came up, I then installed the latest Open Manager and tried out a few PS3 games, and everything worked like it should.
Overall, the AVRKEY is nice solid dongle for this usage, but the only flaw I found in my testing, is that it is so darn small and metal is so smooth, I had tough time pulling it out of my PS3. -- It is just my big hands getting in the way again. -- Maybe, I needed tape a wooden stick to it like a big handle!
But to end this review on good note, the best feature of the AVRKEY is that it uses a standard USB connection, so even tho it is very small, it fits perfectly in both my PC and PS3 usb ports, unlike other dongles have reviewed in the past.
I end my personal review with a list of PRO's and CON's for this device:
* Standard USB connection, fits perfectly on your PS3!
* Two nice LED's to know what mode your dongle is in!
* Well layout PCB design with powerful chipset in super small design!
* No buttons needed, just insert/remove 3 times to trick it into FLASH mode!
* It was too small for my big hands to at times to pull out of my PS3!
* No extra holes or pins for possible hardware expansion, just ATMEL only!
* The pre-programmed bootloader, eats up 4K leaving you only 28K to use!
That's all folks, my many thanks to FoundMy for sending me samples of this device the moment it was available!
Foundmy Online Shop: FoundMy
Official Product Website: PS3KEY
ATMEL Flip Software: Atmel Products - AVR Solutions - FLIP
UPDATE: Even tho AVRKEY looks like the PS3KEY, it not the same, the AVRKEY is an fully open-developer-design, you can flash any of your complied ATMEGA32 HEX's into it, the only way you can tell the difference besides the missing logo on the metal casing, is the anti-static bag that it comes in has a GREEN sticker, instead of the genuine YELLOW serial number label that is found on the PS3KEY anti-static bags!