Bypassing manufacturer-imposed battery lockouts


When [Barret] went to use his camera the other day it kept shutting down on him, and upon inspecting the battery, he found that it was a bit swollen. Knowing that he needed a replacement, he turned to an aftermarket battery he had sitting around, but grew pretty annoyed when his Sony Cybershot camera would not accept it.

Apparently a recent firmware update causes his camera to reject non-Sony batteries, a situation he describes as “battery DRM”. There was no way he was going to pony up another $50 to Sony instead of using the perfectly good $10 battery he already had, so he decided to rectify the issue himself.

He stripped both batteries of their plastic coatings, revealing the lithium cells and their charging circuits. He desoldered the PCB from his Sony battery, transplanting it to his aftermarket battery after a little bit of trimming. He wrapped everything up with some tape and gave his franken-battery a spin. It worked a treat, and he was so satisfied with it that he did a similar swap in his aging Logitech mouse.

As more and more companies lock competitors out of the user-replaceable consumables market, these sorts of hacks are certain to become more and more prevalent.

A look at Sony’s ongoing war against hackers


[Phillip Torrone] recently wrote an article over at Make regarding Sony and their “War on Makers, Hackers, and Innovators“. In the article, he traces Sony’s history as a well-liked hardware company that once produced innovative products, to its current state as an enemy to all who would dare wield a screwdriver and soldering iron. He took quite a bit of time scouring the Internet to dig up very specific examples of Sony’s perceived assault on the hacking community. That’s not to say he simply lambasts the company and leaves it at that. Rather, he reflects on their past as a staple in nearly every American home, how they have changed since venturing into the content business, as well as what we might be able to do as hackers to change the way Sony treats its customers.

One specific example he mentions is the lawsuits that plagued the Sony Aibo modding scene, a case very near and dear to his heart. This scenario is one where the voice of the people was eventually heard, though too late to make a difference. He laments the loss of interest in the platform by the modding community as a clear cut example of the disastrous nature of Sony’s litigious nature.

You should definitely take a moment to read the article if you have the time. [Phillip] brings up some very good points, giving you plenty to consider the next time you make an electronics purchase, large or small.

We’d love to hear your take on the matter as well.

PS3 hacking start-to-finish – CCC

Well it looks like the Play Station 3 is finally and definitively cracked. FailOverflow’s Chaos Communications Congress talk on console security revealed that, thanks to a flaw on Sony’s part, they were able to acquire the private keys for the PS3. These keys can be used to sign your own code, making it every bit as valid (to the machine anyway) as a disk licensed by the media giant. We’ve embedded the three-part video of the talk, which we watched in its entirety with delight. We especially enjoy their reasoning that Sony brought this upon themselves by pulling OtherOS support.

We remember seeing a talk years back about how the original Xbox security was hacked. We looked and looked but couldn’t dig up the link. If you know what we’re talking about, leave the goods with your comment.

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IR receiver as USB keyboard

[Arthur] built an IR receiver to use with XBMC. Because it’s software specific he identifies the device on USB as a keyboard, and passes the IR commands as keystrokes used by the popular media platform.

Normally, homebrew IR receivers would use LIRC, the Linux Infrared Remote Control software. But this method doesn’t require you to have that running. In fact, it doesn’t need any setup on the PC end of things. Any remote that uses the Sony SIRC protocol will work off the bat.

[Arthur] chose a PIC 18f2550 for the project. It is a popular microcontroller because it has built-in USB handling. We’re a bit skeptical of the hardware design though. We didn’t see specifically which IR receiver he’s using, but many require some type of filtering so check the suggested layout in the datasheet for your module.

PlayStation 3 exploit using a TI84 calculator

[Brandon Wilson] came up with a way to exploit the Play Station using a TI84 calculator. This uses the same PSGroove open source code that we looked at last week. That package was running on the Teensy, which is currently sold out (we’d guess because people want to run the exploit). There’s a video demonstration of this new trick after the break. The calculator connects via a USB A to USB mini-B cable which comes with the calculator and is also used to charge the PS3 controllers. Once the connection is made, launch the software on the calculator, power cycle the PS3, and turn it on with the familiar power-eject button presses. The only problem with the system is that the calculator needs to be connected every time you boot.

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PSP homebrew using the Half-Byte Loader

[Rich] tipped us off about the Half-Byte Loader which lets you run homebrew on late-model Sony PlayStation Portables. Above you can see a PSP Go running Doom (a screenshot from the video after the break), which is a prerequisite for any cracked device. HBL uses an exploit in the game demo of Patapon 2, which is free for download. A crafted game save loaded onto a Memory Stick gets you to the loader when selected from the continue menu of the game. Right now this method works on all know firmware version 5.0 and higher. Who knows when Sony will take action to kill an exploit like this one.

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PS3 patch allows Linux installation

[Geohot] came up with a patch that allows OtherOS on 3.21 PS3 firmware. You’ll remember that Sony released version 3.21 specifically to prohibit OtherOS which allows the installation of Linux for which they were subsequently sued. Well, now their “fix” doesn’t work on people willing to flash patched firmware which means they’re only punishing those who play by the rules. Ugh.

Wondering why this is a big deal? Check out this article on the effect Sony’s move has on PS3 clusters used for supercomputing; something we hadn’t even thought of initially.

It turns out that this patch was released more than a month ago. Sorry for the late coverage but it’s new to us. You can see the obligatory proof video of the patched OtherOS after the break.

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