Zune gets hacked, OpenZDK

Here is one that really got some of us at the HAD offices excited (yes, we own Zunes). The introduction of the Open Zune Development Kit. Sure, there was XNA, and we even toyed around with it. But anyone will quickly realize just how limited XNA is, especially with older hardware.

OpenZDK is in its infancy, with only one application thus far (don’t worry, you can still use XNA apps too). But we wanted to give it a shout out and let the hacker community make this potential into a reality.

[Thanks Galen]

32GB solid state Zune upgrade

Top_by_Top.preview (Custom)

[Andrew] wrote in to show us how he upgraded a broken Zune to solid state. He had one that was giving the Error code 5 when it booted. This means the hard drive is bad. He was able to find a compatible solid state 32Gb drive that, with a little bit of case modification, he made fit. Everything fit back into the Zune and looked completely stock. This was all done for less than $130. He seems pretty proud of getting a 32GB Zune for $150, and we don’t think that’s too big of a deal. We found a bunch of them on eBay for under $100. He even states that he doesn’t see any performance or battery life improvements. So why do we post this? Well, we like to see stuff split open and we actually like the idea of a no-moving-parts mp3 player. We’re hard on our electronics and the thought of that platter getting jarred over and over and over and over really bothers us. Great job [Andrew].

Zune HD teardown

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Our friends over at ifixit are at it again, how they get these devices so early before release and make a complete teardown in time still amazes us. Today they bring us the latest Microsoft media device, the Zune HD. Some features worth mentioning: The astoundingly thin, 1mm we’re talking, OLED screen. The Nvidia Tegra 2600 processor, hinting at 3D game capability. And finally who could forget the 660 mAh battery. But isn’t that 129 mAh less than the iPod touch? Microsoft’s reply, supposedly the Zune HD is using many more low power hardware solutions in this device. Either way, the competition is on, who will be the victor?

Hacking the radio controls in your steering wheel

[Gabe Graham] sent us this step by step process of building a dock for his Zune and hacking is steering wheel controls to work with it. Like many of us, he was not happy with the performance of those little radio transmitters that hook to your mp3 player. He remedied the situation by mounting a dock for his Zune onto the console and patching into his stereo. The sound quality was great, but controlling it was a pain.

He had one button left on his steering wheel that was not needed for anything.  He created a custom controller for the Zune that would issue different commands based on how long he held the button on the steering wheel. If the button was held for less than half a second, it would skip tracks, any longer and it would pause. Though he could possibly clean up the look of the LED sticking out of the console, the over all effect is quite well done.

Twilight for Zune


[Mortiz Waldermeyer], the man who brought us the interactive LED pong table, has recently completed a project commissioned by Microsoft: an interactive chandelier that can receive and react to music from a Zune mp3 player. The technology behind this project which [Waldemeyer] calls Twilight is not all that complex: at the core of the chandelier is a Zune, which acts as the receiver for other Zunes in the area. The central chandelier Zune then feeds graphic equalizer display data to another device, which in turn feeds a microcontroller running the LEDs embedded in the chandelier. The chandelier itself is constructed of 15 sheets of organza fabric. The result is a rich, dancing display of lights that people in the room with a Zune can take turns controlling. The installation has just opened in LA.

Zune gutted


bunnie has gotten his hands on a Zune and done the best thing you could possibly do with one: tear it apart. Here’s a HiRes picture of the board. bunnie does note that the Freescale iMX31L is full of potential.

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