RCA DSB772WE teardown shows that this cheap streaming box might have potential

RCA-DSB772WE

[David Anders] wrote in to share some details of a cheap little gadget he picked up at his local Wal-Mart. He scored the RCA DSB772WE media streaming box for $48, and so far it looks like it could be a promising addition to his living room.

He started a project page for the box, detailing some of his findings thus far. The device is MIPS based and runs the Linux kernel version 2.6.28.9 right out of the box. The networking components are based on the Broadcom BCM7615 chipset, though it looks to [David] that the Ethernet jack was removed at some point during production.

So far, he’s managed to get a serial console running on the device, along with an additional USB host connection. That’s about all the poking around he has done thus far, but seeing as the box can output a 1080p signal over HDMI, it could be a cheap substitute for an Apple TV or similar device.

If you happen to have one of these at home, or are planning on buying one, be sure to check out his project page and contribute any information you might be able to glean from it. We’re sure [David] would appreciate it, and we certainly look forward to seeing what else comes out of his hacking adventures.

Comments

  1. rasz says:

    looks like LG ST600 Smart TV Upgrader

    but since its broadcom you wont do anything beyond what binary blob lets you, and thats not a lot
    if you are interested look at LG TV hacking at ‘OpenLGTV Project’

  2. Gonzalo says:

    The problem with this little boxes (and most cheap routers) is that to access some specs/datasheets of the processor you need an NDA… That sucks…

  3. griffon says:

    after doing a little digging, even though broadcom is big on MIPS SoCs, there are more things pointing to this possibly being an ARM based SoC.

    I wish the author would have run ‘cat /proc/cpuinfo’.

    On the down side looking a the boot log, this device appears to use signed a boot loader and such, so this might be about as hackable as the TiVos.

  4. biozz says:

    interesting project cant wait to see what can be done with it

  5. Joe says:

    I bought one of these just to play around with and try to hack. My local wal-mart had a display with a hand written price of $39. I had to talk with the cashier about price but they honored it.
    I opened it up and was able to find datasheets on everything but the processor.

    RCA also makes a DSB778W unit. It appears to have the same processor but more files on their update website. http://us-rca-bdplayer.getfirmware.com/deviceupdate/DSB778W/

    Maybe this’ll help!

  6. cgimark says:

    You will not be able to do a whole lot due to the broadcom chipset. It sucks but broadcom is one of the most locked down companies in the industry when it comes to releasing information. I have several devices that make use of broadcom media chips and I can do console, access kernel, etc but I am still left with just pre-built libraries and functions which severely limit further development.

    Broadcom is very very careful on releasing information due to their chips being used in things like cable and satellite decoding that people love to hack. Even the upcoming raspberry pi being a teaching platform will only have binary drivers with no source for the broadcom chip functions.

    • assimilat says:

      Yeah Broadcom is pretty tight when it comes to releasing any sort of datasheets or dev tools. But just poking around in the firmware that was linked off of the OP’s link I noticed a pretty good deal of libraries already compiled for it in ‘/usr/local/lib’ the main ones that stood out to me as being useful were libdlna,so and libbupnp.so…as far as ive looked I cant find any mention of the device being upnp/dlna capable. I wonder if those libs are usable. Does anyone here know if it is already upnp/dlna capable out of the box?

  7. daniel says:

    It’s a minor point, but I’m guessing you said the Ethernet port was removed during manufacture because there are solder plugs in the pin holes of the PCB. This is probably from being wave soldered. Notice that many of the other unstuffed through-holes are plugged too.

    You’d have to figure out whether this was a clip-down or clip-up jack, but these have fairly common pin-spacings. It should be a pretty easy addition with some solder wick work.

    It also looks like J12 might be a 3.3V serial port…

  8. jbevren says:

    Nice finde prpplague! I’ll have to see if I can acquire one.

  9. David Anders says:

    some clarifications:

    1) the broadcom BCM7615 is a MIPS 24k based device
    2) i have the device booting a custom kernel
    3) the uart is a 3.3V ttl device and be connected using something like a FT232 breakout board from Sparkfun.com
    4) i have populated the ethernet jack and have that working as well.

    i’ll update the wiki pages in the next few days with more info on the current status of hacking.

  10. Stan says:

    Please excuse me for my ignorance. But what are thees kind of devices good for? (as is tv’s with wifi and internet) You can watch youtube? – big deal – got a PC for that. Netflix — Never.. Facebook, twitter. blah blah..
    What I REALLY WANT to do is to stream video files from my file server to this device. (or a tv) Is this possible? Or are they walled gardens that play what THEY want you to play or connect to where they want you to connect to?

    • Lucario says:

      @Stan Dont expect things out of the hacking comunity unless you put ALOT into it first.

      • Stan says:

        I don’t understand. Is that supposed to be an answer to my question?

      • Brian Neeley says:

        Stan, please excuse Lucario’s roughness. I think what he was saying was you should easily be able to find out that information yourself. This is a basic idea:

        Check the listed link (http://www.elinux.org/RCA_DSB772WE

        Not enough?

        google RCA DSB772WE
        check the top one or two useful-looking links

        The second link I got was a Wal-Mart Q&A, and the first question is: Does this also play video files from a hard drive and if so what file formats does it play or is it only for streaming?

        The answer given is NO.

        So, a stock box will not do what you want to do. It has an ethernet connection that was removed. If streaming files was an easy thing to do on this box, the connector would probably still be there.

        To answer the question that you didn’t ask: Don’t simply ask a question that you should be able to find for yourself in short order. Scan the FAQ, look through the listed link (and maybe some links from there), look at the manufacturer’s website or the top-listed google site.

        The hacking community is (generally) more than happy to help those who help themselves. They are less inclined to give assistance to people who don’t (or won’t) try to find out the simplest things for themselves.

  11. AbsoluteZero says:

    It potentially has potential you say?

  12. chaz1 says:

    Let’s see if they honor the licensing for linux, as in, “Where’s the source and the tool chain?”

  13. F4radayDefcon414 says:

    Looks like many of the reviews are “The remote stops working, and the device is useless without it”

    I’ll troll a little and say many of these reviews are from people who claim to be female.

    Just a sign we need to break the stereotypes. Nothing sexier to me than a nice-looking woman who can do electrical math in her head, knows the difference between groundED and groundING conductors, and never needs help with her computer.

    Off-topic, sorry. If I didnt already have two streaming devices and two tablets with wifi, I might get one ($39 on walmart.com as of now)

  14. TryingHard says:

    As requested…


    # cat /proc/cpuinfo
    system type : BCM97xxx Settop Platform
    processor : 0
    cpu model : MIPS 24Kc V7.12
    cpu MHz : 508.41
    BogoMIPS : 508.41 ( udelay_val : 254208 HZ = 1000 )
    wait instruction : yes
    microsecond timers : yes
    tlb_entries : 64
    extra interrupt vector : yes
    hardware watchpoint : yes, count: 4, address/irw mask: [0x0000, 0x0ff8, 0x0003, 0x0000]
    ASEs implemented : mips16
    shadow register sets : 1
    core : 0
    VCED exceptions : not available
    VCEI exceptions : not availabled

  15. JeffRowe says:

    Anybody have a link to somebody’s worklog for already hacking this box? Aside from walmarts link, the rest of googles links are either unrelated or tomisc site reposts of the exact same article/link as hackaday.

    it would be nice to see any of the progress made onit, working part# for the missing network jack, etc…

  16. MrBishop says:

    @ David Anders great find, great work. Personally I am happy with my Apple TV for the time being (Due to XBMC). But I love to see these kinds of projects. I do believe I will try to follow your work simply because it is so interesting.

  17. KitPaws says:

    Looking over some of the plain text in the bin file this little box might have some umpf to it.

    http://pastebin.com/mXkdBDNH

  18. Tommy J. says:

    @ David Anders, great work on this box. Can you hit me up on email, I have some ideas. ultanium1 at Y.

  19. Tommy J. says:

    Yes, Broadcom has always been horrible with Linux, but they have joined the linux foundation, and even open-sourced thier wireless drivers. Broadcom is testing the liinux waters, lets support them for that and hopefully they will open-source more drivers for the new kernel. The wireless card in the RCA box is made by zioncom.net, it is thier model WL0217 in a 4 pin header format, with the BCM43235 chipset. This RCA box is a stripped down version of the ST600, which has a better UI and supposedly has PLEX support.

  20. ultanium1 says:

    anyone else notice that there is no fcc id on the rca device, only one for the zioncom wireless card. any of you got an lg st600, does it have an fcc id on it?

  21. Tommy J. says:

    Anyone else notice that this device does *not* have an FCC ID? The only one listed is for the attached zioncom wireless card. Does the LG ST600 device have an FCC ID, anyone have one?

  22. zeroTolerance says:

    @Tommy J.–
    You’re correct, I looked it up on the FCC DB and was disappointed that they allowed them to only give the wireless card’s ID, it is a computing device working in the RF range with a plastic case and would be as likely to emit RF signals as anything else. How’d the FCC miss that?

    I personally am curious whether this could be flashed with the firmware from the ST600 or the higher end RCA product with the ethernet connection.

  23. Tommy J. says:

    @zerotolerance, I also wonder how they got that past the comission. Wanted to try the ST600 firmware too, ordered 3 of these things for wallyworld.
    @David Anders, you are way ahead of me then. I want to use these as a cheap Barix type device, streaming audio for a huge holiday display that covers my whole town. If I can wirelessly mesh the devices, and stream the audio from my server, I could potentially use a bunch of these devices to do the display and more. I’m thinking shoutcast AAC streaming server + Mikrotik wireless AP + RCA/LG multinode mesh + C. Crane FM transmitters = an unlicensed multi-site Part-15 legal FM radio station that will cover a small town. The zioncom wireless board is really weak, designed for low power use, but with the USB functional, I see no reason a 100mw Atheros USB dongle couldn’t be used along with a 9db omni. I just ordered the parts you listed from Sparkfun, hope you can get ALCO to do comply with the GPL. My email is hidden above, will also watch the wiki. Good work man!

  24. Tommy J. says:

    Hmmm, my second post disappeared. I’m also planning to use the RCA/LG box as a cheap Artnet to DMX node, if we can get this done. See this for a similar project.

  25. Tommy J. says:

    I found the source code, it is open!!!!!!!

  26. Tommy J. says:

    Sorry, had to start downloading before everyone slams their server. lol

    HERE IS THE SOURCEType in AV & Security Device in the Type, and ST600 in the model. Furthermore there is a great thread at plexapp.com where a contact at LG is listening to everyone and offering beta firmware.

    • David Anders says:

      @TommyJ.

      thanks for the find. this should help a lot! i have updated the elinux.org wiki with the information.

      i am continuing my efforts with ALCO to make sure they are GPL compliant.

      @everyone

      the elinux.org wiki is open to edits from anyone doing embedded linux development. feel free to register and contribute to the wiki.

  27. Tommy J. says:

    HaD mods, please approve my previous post!!

  28. Tommy J. says:

    Thanks Mike!

  29. Tommy J. says:

    LG also has an SDK for their TV’s and the ST600 available HERE. I know what brand of TV I’ll be buying next, these folks are serious about open source. Cool!

  30. David Anders says:

    i have create a git repo on github for the BCM9763x series kernel support:

    https://github.com/prpplague/RCA-DSB772WE/tree/dsb772we-2.6.28.9

    Dave

  31. Tommy J. says:

    Another chapter in linux history started today, right here on HaD! I haven’t written any code since I left the Gentoo team many years ago, looks like I need to dust off my cap & get to work.

  32. Tommy J. says:

    More ideas for this little box? Pocket MAME (my fav), micro web server, electronic thermostat, home automation, Christmas light controller, TV test box (add color bars, test patterns, etc), pocket router / firewall, carputer, GPS logger, OBD diagnostics & logging, weatherstation, ham radio TNC… ???

    @David, I shot off a letter to LG asking if they would provide the latest source, they said yes and have forwarded the request to their devs.

    • Tommy J. says:

      Just got a reply from LG, no newer source available at this time. :-(

      • David Anders says:

        @TommyJ

        yea the source listed from LG is reasonably recent, and i was able to get it boot on the DSB772WE, but there are enough differences in the design from the ST600 that we still need to get ALCO to comply with the GPL.

        Dave

      • Tommy J. says:

        Ok, well I hope ALCO will comply. I’m still waiting on my ft232 & the sparkfun order. I did a lot of searching online today, wasn’t able to find much, but I updated the project page. The original manufacturer may be Desay, or maybe it was a knockoff, either way I couldn’t find any source. I heard all the ST600’s were pulled from the shelves, wonder why?

  33. Steve says:

    I’m not trying to hack this thing I just want it to work. Looks like I’m around intelligent people here so here i my issue.

    It asks me to test the network before letting me connect to Netflix (which I haven’t been able to do yet).

    The network connection is good. I added the box’s mac address to the router’s security list to make sure it would connect.

    Connection to router passed but it had a problem with the DNS. The unit’s DNS numbers match the router’s DNS info. What is it looking for and how do I get this thing to work?

    I asked the company for help and I haven’t gotten a reply back in a week.

  34. zeroTolerance says:

    Gotta say Thanks. I’ve been trying to get an account confirmed on the LG site to get the source, but still haven’t got the email, so your link directly to the zip is great. Looks like the git hub repo is coming along nicely. I still want the LG account since they have an SDK that would probably help a lot.

  35. Joe says:

    The ST.600 is still available at online vendors like buydotcom,fry’s,amazon,ebay,etc,etc.

    I read that an newer model of the LG tv upgrader(ST600)is gonna be released in February 2012.
    Hope to catch a demo at the next CES,and hopefully this web browser will have Flash 10.

    Does anybody know where I could purchase a RCA DSB778W?
    Thanks.

  36. Daren says:

    I purchased two of these , both failed in the same week. Seems the disign has a overheating issue. Plugged one in and worked great for two days then buffer and connection issues. I unplugged it and placed my other unit and it too worked for two days and buffer and coonection issues appeared again. I then borrowed a friend of mines box that hadn’t used his yet, it worked. So I gave his back before it quit. His has been working for four days now but he has a small powerfull fan blowing on it all the time the dsb772we is powered up. To me, this model has a design flaw and us JUNK.

  37. mark-in-seattle says:

    My father bought an RCA DSB-772WE and told me the unit gets so hot he can’t hold it for long without risk of serious burns. For fire safety I told him to either stop using it or place it inside a metal pan raised above any flammable surface with a ceramic trivet.

    Just wanted to confirm that some of these units get seriously hot…. a shame.

  38. ELduderino says:

    I bought one of these up in PA over christmas and lost the remote in my vacation home. I’ve tried 2 different universal remotes for this RCA device with no success. I also researched for a long time on google for some info on the remote and couldn’t find a thing. So I’m stuck ATM and if anyone could help it would be greatly appreciated.

  39. Joe says:
  40. Joseph Rowe says:

    The reviews on line have not been good on the RCA
    box. The remote seems to be a big complaint.
    Any ideas. Joe

  41. Joseph Rowe says:

    Note corrected email

  42. tony says:

    My wife got this for christmas. We really love it. It does get hot, not melting hot but about as hot as a video card, there is no worry about a fire or anything. We’ve used this for hours and there were no problems playing movies in 1080p, it did buffer about once or twice but that was very rare when it did. The remote is fine, its just small. I think its the interface on the device itself that makes the menu sluggish.
    It’s a great little device. I hope there is a successful alternative firmware and mods so I can play MKV files on it

  43. I bought one of these and am having difficulty hooking it up to the wireless network. I need to enter a PIN for Streaming Player to connect to wireless, but there is no keyboard on the remote and pressing enter for a pop-up keyboard doesn’t work.
    Any ideas? I’m facing a blank PIN field.

  44. SD says:

    This would be great if Jadoo would work on it has anyone been able to load that?

  45. Rick says:

    A lot of folks had trouble with the remote, and I was no exception: mine died after just 4 months. The DSB772WE has a decent 1-year warranty, so the manufacturer replaced it with a beefier remote that looks exactly like the remote that comes with RCA’s other (more expensive) streamer, the DSB778W.

    You can buy one outright, for 10 bucks.

    http://www.rcaav.com/Products.aspx?type=pad&view=764&p=2049&cid=12

  46. Bryant says:

    When I plug in the RCA DSB772WE to watch TV It starts to over heat and then it will fail and then I have to wait for it to cool down before it will work again. My Blu-ray disc player is also hooked to the same TV and will start to overheat even tho it is off. I had to wait until the Blu-ray cooled down to get it to work. Both are hooked to the TV vs HDMI. The RCA DSB772WE is overheating from the HDMI and AC plug port. While it is over heating the HDMI port on the back of my Blu-ray even tho it is turned off. This never happend until I plugged in the RCA DSB772WE. After it cooled downed I was able to turn it back on and get back to Netflix but a few minutes later it got so hot I could smell the whole thing burning from the inside followed by Netflix locking up so I turned it off and picked it up. It was so hot that I burned my right hand. I took it back to Walmart where I bought it from. I did not pay $15 for it but $47. I got my money back and went online and bought the Netgear NeoTV NTV200 for $54. After buying the Netgear NeoTV NTV200 I find there to be no problems with it what so ever. It does not get hot does or lock up at all. It is able to deinterlace and upconvert old interlaced 480i TV shows from Netflix and Hulu Plus and make them look like they were filmed just yesterday in 1080p. Netgear NeoTV NTV200 was well worth the $54 from Walmart I paid for. The Netgear NeoTV NTV200 even has an added Ethernet port were as the RCA did not have an Ethernet port at all.

  47. Bryant says:

    The RCA DSB772WE should have a warning label on the box:

    1) “*Warning*: this unit overheats, sizzles, makes a burning smell, freezes up, dies for good. outer casing get hot enough to burn your hand if picked up”

    2) *Warning* All this happends with in just a few minutes.

  48. Criag says:

    My sister gave me one of these RCA DSB772WE without any driver software, opperating instructions or any real idea of what it is. I think I’m over my head with you guys; I’m not a big thinker, I just want to use it. Can you help me out with drivers Links? Thanks Craig

  49. david lerman says:

    Logitech harmony remote handles this device.

  50. barfcark says:

    I picked one of these up and it works great so far. The remote needed a new battery right out of the box though. I’m curious about adding a usb port. Has anyone done this and watched video files off a flash drive? Anyone know what kind of files that this could play?

    • kevin says:

      I just got one today and plugged it in got to the set up screen and it would not let me set u anything. Unplugged it after that to restart it and the remote just will not work. Took it back to wal-mart to get a new one, got my new one, did everything again, and once again same thing remote wont work. Anyone got this prob to help if anyone can

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