HDD Unlocking On The Mitsubishi Multi-Communication System

It’s a few years old, but [Brian360’s] method of unlocking the hard drive on his Mitsubishi Multi-Communication System is quite interesting. Mitsubishi describes their MMCS as a human-vehicle communication tool. It’s basically an in-dash screen and controls to display navigation maps and play music. [Brian] found that the hard drive for the MMCS in his 2008 Lancer was locked, and could not be cloned and swapped out for a larger drive. Sound familiar to anyone? Hard drive locking has been used in many systems, including the original Xbox, which we’ll get back to in a minute.

The setup seen above was used to grab the hard drive password from the system itself. A custom adapter card was built and plugged in between the hard drive and the MMCS hardware, with test points for each of the data line. [Brian] attached a digital storage oscilloscope, and after a bit of poking around, found a way to trigger the scope when the password was requested. He explains the process of converting the captured data into an ASCII string password.

With that in hand how would you unlock the drive? The favorite tool for this is hdparm, a tool which was used with early Xbox unlocking but which is still in use with other hardware today. Now brian has a disk image backup and the ability to swap out for larger hardware.

[Thanks Traitorous8]

15 thoughts on “HDD Unlocking On The Mitsubishi Multi-Communication System

  1. @Chris & Keith:
    For a couple of those monthly payments you can construct a pretty badass carputer that you don’t even need to reverse engineer and will work in any car.

  2. @M4CGYV3R

    The problem with carputers is that you can’t install them reliably in new cars. Many, if not most, new cars that have integrated entertainment systems cannot operate if the system is removed, thus making upgrading the system important if you want more space for things. Those “40 GB” navigation and entertainment systems typically only have about 10GB available to the end user due to the size of the maps.

    The reason you can’t take them out is that the integrated controls will often do things like control the fans, internal temperature and other things that you want to operate. Sadly in the name of “features” we have given up things like the ability to chose what radio you want to install in your car…

  3. Mmm… my 21 year old niece got a basic new car with no radio and manual everything (one of those little Hyundais-2011). That’s the type of platform to get if you want to put all your custom stuff. They come with only the speakers and the antenna. You have to supply your own sound system (they fill the hole with a clock) Carputers are prefect for cars like this one.

    More expensive vehicles suffer from integration “featuritis” and you can’t remove the factory crap because you lose power windows, AC, heat, etc. Doing it in cars like these becomes a major hack. Kudos to this dude for hacking the Mitsubishi HDD.

  4. @boarder2k7 – Brian360 and I have been working on canbus for a couple of years now. The original intent was for pinball but in the process we created analyzer.
    I’ve used it to RE most of the sensors in new cars (window positions, brake light status, transmission status, door status, light control, remote control).
    You are correct that it’s typically hard/impossible to remove the existing integrated systems but there’s still room to add functionality on top of what is built in. It’s just much harder.

  5. @boarder2k7 – taking brand new cars and ripping them apart to figure out how they work and how to install aftermarket radios is actually my fall time job :D With a lot of radios now you can just buy an interface that emulates the functionality of the original radio so you can just install whatever you like.

    It’s an awesome job being thrown the keys to a new car and being told “Make this radio work in that car, keeping all features”.

  6. They need to pass some sort of law making it illegal for a car manufacture to integrate AC heater functions with the entertainment system.

    It’s one reason I largely have avoided getting a very new car.

  7. I have a Hyundai Santa Fe, and it was about half the price of the other SUV’s I was looking at, but had all the features… and I can actually kind of work on the thing! My other car is over 65 years old, and the closest thing it has to a computer is the valve-state radio. With pushbutton control.


    Anyhow, the hyundai uses standard connectors and interfaces, and if you take out the stereo, you’re JUST taking out the stereo. I wish more manufacturers would put out more of an “isolated systems on a net” than the unholy cross-dependent mess we see when popping the dash off something like a Cadillac.

    Excellent debugging, O.P., excellent indeed.

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