Fixing up the dreaded "ERROR 003" in a Wii

  • santhosh on 3 Nov

So I had this bricked Nintendo Wii lying around for quite sometime. For about year or so, it lay there gathering dust. It was not until the end of HillHacks 2015 I managed to build up enough motivation to actually take a look at again, but this time with proper determination to get it fixed.

Sometime back in 2014 this was a fully functional Nintendo Wii. I used to occasionally put in a disc of "Wii Sports" and do some Bowling or play tennis. And I always wanted to play "Resident Evil 0" but never found time to play it. Then one day a friend of mine wanted to try one of the "Tony Hawk" Games with the Skateboard bundle[1].  As usual we inserted the Game Disc, it prompted the Wii needed a firmware update and we gave it the "Yes", update happened, prompted for a system restart, and then we were greeted by the following message[2].

"Error 003 Unauthorized device has been detected"

Of course at the time we both were quite surprised, we thought we did something wrong with the update, may be it did not go right, after all the error number is quite small "003" so we thought it may not be serious. But after some searching we found out that the error is probably one of the hardest errors to fix. So what follows is a work log that took place in a span of couple of years that eventually led to fixing of this error.

This is *NOT* intended as a tutorial to fix the Error 003, but if helps someone to fix this so be it. The actual work that leads to the fix was not done by me, as a matter of fact all of these things have been well documented and put up online in various places, I have put down the names of the various people who helped me out as well as the online references to the materials at the bottom of this post.

Sometime during 2014

Due to severe lack of motivation, all I could do was look up the error online and was even more de-motivated after reading up that I need multiple items which I did not posses at that time, I decided to give up. So I promptly put back the Wii in it in a bag and kept it at my friend's place.

Sometime mid 2015

Understanding the "Brick".

This specific brick stuation occurs when a "Korean Region" Wii is updated with a "non-Korean Region" (US, EU, JP) firmware version which is 4.2 or greater. This was a move made by Nintendo to disable all Korean region Wii(s) that were running in the Non-Korean region firmware and have been modded to other firmwares to run games region free and so on.  At the time (2014) when this happened, I was not aware of the fact that we had a Korean Wii which had been modified to run out of Korea, you could say I did not pay attention to detail regarding the Wii. Add to this I lacked the knowledge of setting up HomeBrew stuff on Wii, or having failsafe measures installed to prevent such an incident from occurring.

After attended Hillhacks 2015, I was motivated to open up this piece of effective paper weight and wanted to know what exactly needs to be done. After going through a video[3] in youtube, I understood I will need the following tools at the minimum to even start to attempt recovery.

  • A standard GameCube Controller

The GameCube Controller can be used to access the recovery mode[3] which acts as the starting point from which the unBricking[4] process starts. It also helps identify which Firmware Version and Region has caused the brick.

  • Do we need a ModChip? Does a ModChip exist in the current Wii?

A ModChip can help boot the modified game discs which is needed as a part of the recovery process. Also we needed to identify the optical drive firmware chip version which is critical in deciding which ModChip[5] will work and which will not.

After some searching around I found out that DriveKey[8] was the one that was the latest in the series of Mod Chips and the most compatible one. In addition to this newer versions of DriveKey had the autoboot enabled by default without needing to explicity enable that option in the DriveKey menu.

After identifying the base requirements I sent mail out to my friend to help get the components. After couple of months of waiting, I got the GameCube Controller but he forgot to get me the ModChip. Which made me put things back on ice, since to do anything, I still needed the ModChip.

So the Wii was put in a bag and was again kept at my friend's house.

Mid 2016

It was not until August 2016, I came across an advertisement in a forum called erodov[6] that someone is willing to sell an used Nintendo Wii for 3000 INR (roughly 45 USD) a fresh console goes for around ~149 USD (9,931 INR) as of 2009 and this model which I am trying to fix is no longer in production. So I decided to get one for myself which I could use as a reference for fixing my current Wii and I made sure the Wii I was getting was not some retroffitted Korean region Wii, this one was a European Wii with European Firmware and no mod-chip installed. So all I needed to do was update the firmware to the latest 4.3E and then put in the homebrew stuff.

Thanks to the excellent guide by MicrowaveSam[7] in his youtube channel, I was able to install homebrew stuff into this unmodded Wii, once I understood the basics of how things are done I was motivated again to look into the bricked Korean Wii. So began my search to get a compatible Mod Chip which I can fit between my Wii and it's Optical Drive to make various Backup DVDs boot.

Of course, I had to get my old Wii back which was tucked in some place at my friend's house for about an year now, and even he was not sure where it was. After spending about 20 minutes in his house along with the help of his parents, I managed to find the very same bag tucked away in a cupboard. I thanked his parents who helped me to find this bag.

Obtaining DriveKey on the other hand was a whole different story. DriveKey's production stopped by around 2009, so most of the Mod Chip vendors I contacted did not have one in stock to be shipped. After much difficulty and a lot of snooping around in search engines I finally came across this French Mod Chip vendor called[9] unfortunately all of their website was in French, with a bit of intuition I was able to figure out where the section where they were selling Mod Chip for Wii. And they showed that they had DriveKey in stock, but I was a bit reluctant at first to place the order since I had this bad experience of placing order on another mod-chip website[10] which also claimed "in stock", after placing the order it blocked my friend's credit card and they did not respond to queries via their contact page, luckily the credit card was not charged and no money was lost. So this time instead of directly placing the order, I first contacted them via their contact form to get confirmation on the availability of the Mod Chip. To my surprise they were quick to respond and they replied back in english, they confirmed that the chip was in stock and they would be alright with shipping. So I asked another friend to help me order the Mod Chip, unfortunately we had to ship the Mod Chip to another friend of mine who was in UK because of payment issues if it was shipped outside Europe. Then the Mod Chip was mailed to another person in UK who was flying out to Kerala in India and then another friend of mine (Cherry) had to go pick it up and then bring it to KeK.

After all that I had the final piece of puzzle that was needed to fix the Bricked Wii.

In order to unbrick the "Error 003", I spent quite a lot of time on the interwebz searching for the "proper" method. Finally I came across some excellent resources at[11] and Hacksden[12] Blog by mauifrog[13] and this excellent video[14] series by Raed Abbasi[15] I was able to unbrick the Wii. But it was not without out it's own little hurdles along the way.

I decided to use the "MarioKart-PWNS" method to unbrick the Wii since it is basically US firmware console and I cannot boot Super Smash Bros Brawl PAL to boot directly in the US firmware. The idea is to use "MarioKart-PWNS" which is created from the Mario Kart Wii NTSC disc, using the utilities provided by mauifrog in his Hacksden Blog entry. So using the ISO of Mario Kart Wii (NTSC) and Super Smash Bros Brawl (PAL), we create the "MarioKart-PWNS" which can be used to load the Super Smash Bros Brawl- VC demo menu, from here we can reset the game and boot the Super Smash Bros Brawl, then use this game to execute the "Smash Stack" exploit and load the HackMii installer to install the HomeBrew Channel and BootMii. All of the details can be found in the Hacksden Blog and the videos by Raed Abbasi.

So here goes the actual process of fixing.

Day 1

Opened up the Wii and separated the Optical Drive from the rest of the System.


That is one half of the modchip attached in the path way of the Optical Drive.


The setup

After a bit of tinkering around with the GameCube controller, which involved removing it and then holding the D-pad silicone manually with 4 fingers, to be able to make it boot into the recovery mode.

Recovery Mode

Rest of the day, I was trying to boot the MarioKart-PWNS disc, but without much success. I was a bit afraid that the Mod Chip may not be working. Luckily since I had the second Wii, I could test the MarioKart-PWNS disc and I found that it was not booting as expected, probably because I wrote it at 2.4x Speed.

Day 2

So guessing it was a bad disc, I re-wrote the MarioKart-PWNS ISO onto a fresh DVD-R (DVD5) this time at 4x speed and put it into the Bricked Wii and this time it booted!!!

Next the issue was to get the Super Smash Bros Brawl to boot, but I did not have much luck here, it kept gaving me errors about reading the disc.

So just like the initial attempt with MarioKart-PWNS disc, I thought it might be a bad DVD.

Day 3

Same as before, I re-wrote the SSBB (PAL) into DVD+R DL (DVD9) this time at 4x speed. But I still had no luck getting it to Boot. But I had made sure that the disc was bootable in the Dolphin[16] emulator and it worked fine.

Using the second Wii, I did the same techniques for loading SSBB (PAL), and it worked. So my guess was that the D3 Chip in the bricked Wii's optical drive was not reading the SSBB disc. Time to swap, I swapped the Optical Drives of the bricked and the working Wii.

As expected it was a different Chip D2C which is known to be more compatible with DVD9 backup discs than D3.

This time SSBB Booted.

From here I executed the Stack Smash exploit, to get into the HackMii installer.

Installing HomeBrew Channel

Removing the pre-installed Korean Key[17] from the Wii (No more bricks!!)

Once it booted, it was time to set up the WiFi

Using Multi Mod Manager, I updated Wii's Firmware to 4.3U

Ahem, Ahem!!

The sweet sweet System Menu instead of Error 003!!

Total Costs

  • GameCube Controller - 1800 INR (~26.9 USD)
  • Second hand Nintendo Wii (from erodov) - 3000 INR (~45 USD)
  • Sony DVD+R DL x 2 - 160 INR (~2.5 USD)
  • Sony DVD-R x 4 - 120 INR (~1.8 USD)
  • DriveKey v3 Mod Chip (including Shipping) - 2239 INR (~33.5 USD)

Total = 7319 INR (~109.6 USD)


  • Aravind V - For mailing the Mod Chip from UK and the GameCube Controller.
  • Cherry - For listening to my rants and bringing the mod chip to KeK.
  • Govind Dutt - For placing the order of Mod Chip on
  • JoostinOnline - For KoreanKii.
  • mauifrog - Excellent blog post on how to recover from the Error 003.
  • MicrowaveSam - Excellent video tutorial on how to install homebrew on Wii.
  • Raed Abbasi - Excellent video tutorial on how to recover from the Error 003.