Hackit: DTV converter boxes?

zenith

An anonymous Slashdot reader asked today what was the best digital television to analog converter box. He was looking for one with the best hacking potential. We actually purchased a Zenith DTT900 HD converter box this summer specifically wondering about the hacking potential. We did a teardown and you can find a full gallery on Flickr. Our conclusion was this: there’s not much there. You’re talking about a box that takes a digital RF signal and turns it into a crappier looking analog signal over composite. There isn’t much you can do outside of its designed use. Do you have any ideas what else can be done with it?

Slashdot commenter [timeOday] did mention a Tivax brand box that features a serial port. You can use it to issue remote commands to the box.

Not much has been said about the actual coupons. We’ve got a scan of them embedded below. The $40 coupons are essentially credit cards. We ran ours through a magstripe reader confirming this. Even though the card isn’t stamped with the recipient’s name, it is stored on the magstripe.

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Meggy serial cable

meggy

We thought the Meggy had some serious potential. The open serial port is ripe for the plucking, but has thus far been fairly unused. Here’s directions on how to make your own serial cable capable of connecting two Meggies. Basically, it is just modifying an audio cable, used to connect CDROMs to the motherboard. The cool thing about this is that the resulting crossover cable should work on any Arduino that is programmed via an FTDI cable.

External antenna on Panasonic CF-R1

ext_ant

[Steven] managed to get his hands on a Panasonic CF-R1 for pretty cheap. Though it is a decently powerful machine, it was built in 2002 and didn’t come with an internal wireless card.  It did, however have a mini-PCI slot.  [Steven] promptly installed a wireless card, but found the internal antenna lacking. The solution was to custom mount an external antenna. Mounting it was fairly easy, he removed the phone jack and epoxied the connector in its place. The reception was greatly improved. He says he went from seeing 6 access points to 31 as soon as he installed it. Similar things have been done to the Eee PC 900.