Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Android on HTC Kaiser (Tilt 8925)

Late last week I came into possession of an old AT&T Tilt 8925. At one point in time this was an impressive piece of mobile technology, however I am sure we all know this is no longer the case. The reason I was given the phone was because it was running Windows Mobile. The device ran slowly with this operating system and suffered from enough issues to cause both my mother and my older brother to get rid of it for other smart phones (Symbian device and an iPhone). The phone itself does not have bad hardware by any means. It sports a 400mhz ARM processor, 128megs of RAM, and 256megs of NAND storage plus a MicroSD expansion slot. If the hardware is not the issue then what causes the device to run slowly?

Simple: The software.

Just as when I receive any computer with a Windows based operating system on, my first inclination is to format said device to some variation of Linux on it. So I hopped on the Linux Answer Machine and quickly found my way to the XDA-Developers homepage. The XDA-Developers community is a fair size group of people that are dedicated to hacking and cracking all things Windows Mobile and Android.

I quickly found my way to the Android on HTC Kaiser sub-forum there. There are a multitude of different HOWTOs and guides for installing various forms on Android Linux on your Kaiser device. At first it can be a bit overwhelming, there are piles of different .NHB files to pick from, different kernels, and even different Android versions! Several days and many hours of downloading, flashing, and a few posts later the following are the steps I took to get a fully functional Android system running on my HTC Kaiser:

The first step on this journey is to HardSPL your device. What this does is allow you to flash any ROM to the hand-held.

Next, now that we have the device unlocked, we want to update the system's "radio". To do so head over to here and download the latest radio. If you need a hand on how to flash this updated radio - check this out. Don't worry, I had to read through it my first time as well.

After you upgrade your radio we need to get that pesky Windows Mobile off of the phone and get it actually booting Linux. To accomplish this you need to go download the proper .nbh file for your Kaiser and flash it.

If you have ever used Linux before you know your system needs a kernel of some sort to boot from - head over to here and download the zImage file provided. Place the download file on your MicroSD card in a folder called /andboot (if this folder does not exist, create it). Also note that if the file is not called simply "zImage" rename it as such (most of the files you download have a date or some other extension after this name)

Now you have some choice. There are two different variations of Android I personally found worked best on my HTC Kaiser (and I tried more than a few). The first is Eclair. Eclair is based on OpenEclair and gives you a variation of Android 2.1 on your Kaiser device. Under Eclair I had working call/text/multimedia messaging/data/android applications - however no matter what form of patches, I found around the Internet, I applied I was not successful in getting my device's wifi, bluetooth, or camera to work. I also found that this newer version of Android tended to run poky by comparison (still faster than Windows Mobile however) on the Kaiser's older hardware.

My current Android build of choice for my Kaiser, and the second one I would like to recommend here, is Myn's Warm Donut. Under this build I have a fully functional Android system on my Kaiser. Warm Donut is a variation of Andriod 1.6 for your device, this version is quite snappy/responsive. Which of the two builds you would like to use is up to you - personally I recommend trying them both and seeing which one you enjoy more/suits your needs.

Anywho - the next step you take after downloading your preferred flavor of Android is to extract the androidinstall.tgz file again to the /andboot folder on your MicroSD card. Next, pop the SD card into the bottom of your phone and hold down the volume up or dpad center as the device boots. The select "install" from the menu and it will extract the install package and create the necessary files to boot Android on your phone.

The last thing I would like to mention, is that if you are using Warm Donut and would like Wifi/Bluetooth support on your device you will need to apply the patch found here. To install the patch it is the same as installing the base system, extract the androidupdate.tar to the /andboot folder on your MicroSD card, boot the device while holding the proper key, and this time select "update" instead of "install". The only extra step here, is that after you apply the update also need to select "fix permissions" from the menu so the system will work properly. Also, if you are running Donut, I found that during the initial system start the setup wizard would crash on me the first time I tried to log into my Google account - don't panic if this happens to you. Simply reload the setup wizard and the second time I entered my information it worked just fine for me.

Poof, all done! Enjoy your new and improved Linux-Power HTC Kaiser :D

Trouble Shooting:
Wifi/Bluetooth not Working - If you are using Donut check two paragraphs up for instructions on this. If you are using Eclair check the main Eclair thread for suggestions, lots of people doing debugging there. As I said I have yet to be successful at getting my wifi working under Eclair.

Microphone Non-Functional - Try a different kernel (zImage). The first kernel I used had everything working aside from my microphone.

Colored Lines/Discoloration on Screen - Make sure you downloaded the proper .nbh file for your device. If you have the wrong one it may cause this issue. Don't worry, reflashing the new .nbh file will not affect any of your Android data.

Function Keys Miss Mapped - See Colored Lines/Discoloration on Screen. Same solution.

~Jeff Hoogland

Note: I do not take credit for the method or files presented here, the hardworking people over at XDA-Developers deserve all the thanks. I simply assembled this guide for others who may be overwhelmed at all the choices when first trying to put Android on their Kaiser and for myself as a reference point in case I need to setup another device in the future.


  1. Thanks much. Your blog made my job easier. I am running Android on my ATT Tilt.

    And thanks to all folks in XDA who made this happen.

  2. I would very much appreciate a more step-by-step procedure on this. I've been attempting to replicate your results for a few hours now with several complications and issues.

    I've had this phone for some time and have wanted to run Android on it since the beginning.

    Thank you!

  3. At which steps do you need some clarification? Let me know and I'd be happy to insert some more details into my posting.

  4. Can you explain the different install methods (SQSH and NoMoreRootFs for SDCard and NAND)? Does everything work with Donut? Any update on getting everything working with Eclair?

  5. Also, it's not at all clear what the proper NBH file is. I have a cracked Tilt, and I have installed MANY custom Windows ROMs. What is the proper NBH to install if I want Release 4 of Warm Donut? There's NO explanation for what each "Panel" is etc.

  6. The method I describe above is for flashing Android to the NAND of your device (replacing WinMO). I use this method because of all the options I found it gave me the most consistent results of a functional device. Everything on my Tilt currently works under Donut except for GPS on occasion (sometimes it causes Google Maps to lock up when I toggle it on)

    As for Eclair - I stopped playing with it due to the fact that it run poky on the older Kaiser hardware. I wanted Android so the phone was fast :)

    As for the proper NHB file, I am relatively sure "panel" refers to the screen in your device. For instance on my 8925 AT&T model I am currently using "KAISIMG-PANEL1-320-TILT-ECLAIR.NBH", some of the other panels I found yielded screen issues and if I selected one that did not have "tilt" in it's name my keyboard would be miss mapped.

    I am not currently aware of a sure fire way to select the proper pre-compiled NBH for your device, trial my error yielded the best results for myself. Make an educated guess, flash the panel, and if it gives you issues - flash a different one :)

    Also, sorry for not responding to your first comment sooner. I must have over looked the email notification from it.


  7. I was googling for Myn's warm donut and came across your page, and then found one that seem to be the same text that has been put through some wierd text filter.

    have a look


  8. Excellent post. It helped me a lot to find pointers as I attempted to install Android on my AT&T Tilt. I'm now having fun with Myn's Warm Donut It seems reasonably functional and stable. I don't think GPS is working and some apps have caused crashes (even to the point where I have had to reinstall android), but it really is snappy! Thanks for the post. It definitely cut down the time I had to spend combing through the XDA boards.

  9. Jeff did you get a working camera under Warm Donut?

  10. The camera part of the camera was working yes - however taking video did not work for me.


  11. how do I restore back to windows mobile?

  12. Thanks for the tutorial!!!!

    I got everything up and running... but when I used the same zImage file as you, I had the same microphone problem. What exact zImage did you use to get your phone fully operational?

  13. You know, I've gone back to using my N900 again - so I don't recall which image I used. Sorry! Plus this was written up some three months ago now - odds are there is a better image now than what I had used then. Set aside some time and try a whole bunch of them, find the one that works best.

  14. Thanks for the tutorial!

    I just recently received this model with Windows Mobile 6 and it was horrific. I upgraded it to 6.5 which made the interface more friendly but slowed it to a halt. This guide is exactly what I wanted!


  15. I just starting using this eclair 2.1 build:

    Its amazing and once again, thanks for this tutorial!

  16. what exactly is the systems's radio?

  17. Think of it as firmware for the phone. Low level stuff that doesn't affect the operating system.

  18. now i understand.thank you!

  19. I have got the Froyo installed on my Kaiser but it wouldnt allow me to configure the APN. I am unable to connect using my 3G data plan. Can you help me out??

  20. i want try it. thanks Jeff Hoogland , you are my angel for my kaiser.

  21. hi Jeff could you please help me with the mic issue on my 8925 could you please tell me how can i get that working i tried installing myn's warm donout (currently running polymod 2.1) but i still have this issue just to be sure it is not a hardware i swapped a mic from another working 8925 mic and i still have the same issue it is not hardware related

    thank you