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I can't find any help with Google on how to install custom firmware on a PSP 3001 with v4.21 firmware. I'd prefer to do it without the Pandora battery, but if that's the only way then can you please describe how to do it in a way that's safe for this version?

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The current de facto standard custom firmware is PRO-C2, which supports the PSP-3000. There is no need to use the pandora battery, recovery mode, or other exploits, and it can be (and indeed should be) installed over the latest official firmware version.

The official install instructions are on the PRO CFW wiki, but the short form is:

  • update the PSP to the latest Sony firmware, v6.60
  • copy the PROUPDATE and FastRecovery programs to the memory stick
  • run PROUPDATE to install the PRO-C2 files
  • each time you turn on the PSP, run FastRecovery to enable the CFW features.

Note that there's no support for permanently patching the bootloader (so that you don't need to run FastRecovery) on the PSP-3000, but everything else works fine. And this also means that if you want to use the plain Sony firmware, you just reboot the PSP and don't run FastRecovery and there you go.

(Disclaimer: I don't actually have hands on experience with the PSP-3000, but this is how it works on the -1000 and -2000, and the developers say it works on the -3000 as well.)

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Great info! But does the answer really affect something that was a year and a half old? Since the times have changed I will say that this would work now but it didn't necessarily work then. Also this falls in that whole Terms of Service debate they were having in the comments, please read their meta conversation. –  Cole Busby Sep 3 '13 at 0:13
    
I totally didn't notice how old the question was! Still, this is how it works now, so perhaps it will be of use to people searching the site. Also, I did read the meta conversation, and AIUI this is kosher - custom firmware has plenty of legal uses, and while it may void the warranty, that's the user's choice to make. –  ToxicFrog Sep 3 '13 at 17:42
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