Hacking a DVD Recorder

Hacked DVD Recorder

[w00fer] wanted to see if any modifications to a DVD Recorder were possible. Initially, the goal was to upgrade the internal hard drive for additional storage. However, after cracking open a DVDR3570H and finding a service port, he decided to look a bit deeper.

Connecting an RS232 to USB converter to the service port resulted in garbled data. It turned out that the port was using TTL signal levels instead of RS232 levels. This was solved by building a converter using the MAX232 converter IC.

With the converter in place, the service menu appeared. It performs some tests and spits out the results when the device is booted. After that, it sits at a prompt and waits for commands. Fortunately, [w00fer] found the service manual which lists the available commands. So far, he’s been able to generate test patterns, test lights, change the display text, spin up the hard drive, and read device information. However, the next steps include disabling Macrovision copy protection, dumping the EEPROM and NVRAM, and copying data off of the hard drive. If you think you can help [w00fer] out, let him know.

18 thoughts on “Hacking a DVD Recorder

  1. I have donme this with almost any device I own. Also, speaking about DVD, I interfaced to the service port of a Philips DVD player and disabled macrovision, changed the model, disabled region checking etc. Just saying…

    1. Would you be so kind to link towards resources on the Philips DVD player. hacking. I think I have a different model and would love to be able to open it up a bit. And even be able to do something about the static signal coming in since old cable became digital cable.

  2. Disabling Macrovision was simple on my Toshiba. A search of chip numbers found the one that generates Macrovision, and a pinout. That chip is fully configured during boot via SPI. The SPI interface isn’t used again unless you alter certain video output options in the setup menu, or insert a DVD which tells the player to activate Macrovision. And the CPU either doesn’t check or doesn’t care whether these further operations succeed. A little 555 circuit that clamps the chip select line a couple of seconds after power up did the trick. Video settings can still be altered via setup followed by a power cycle. Was quite useful when I was using a VCR as a video source selector, as it was affected by Macrovision even for that purpose.

  3. #Correction the article says he used “a standard Prologic PL2303 USB to TTL converter”

    And then “needed a MAX232 to invert the signals as well, in order for proper USB connection.”

    The service port WAS rs232, the adaptor was ttl.

      1. There are numerous websites which make service manuals publicly available. Whether or not those sites are violating the DMCA isnt relevant, the information is easy to find. And yes this stuff normally is possible if it is documented in the service manual. And the entire concept of “life hacking” is downright laughable, looking at life hacker’s website the top article is “Five Best Mobile Hotspots”. So buying a cellular wifi hotspot is now a hack too?

        As I said previously this is on the same level of connecting to the serial port on a Cisco router/switch/etc, and backing up the configuration file. The only difference is that people here are far more likely to encounter Cisco enterprise class networking equipment than they are this DVDR.

        1. It’s probably important to remember that just because my knowledge or yours increases regarding a given topic, doesn’t mean that the world at large has moved along in step. I happen to be a person with much greater knowledge about computers and current technology than anyone else in my personal life, but here my level of “expertise” would be considered laughable. As a self-appointed ambassador from the “real” world, where people don’t open their DVDR machines and speak robot via one of the 20 different adapters they’ve been keeping in that one box since 1990, allow me to point out that for most people “hacking” starts with turning the screws that hold the cover on the machine.

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