Stepping Through Code On A Pace 4000 Set Top Box

[Lee] wrote in to tell us about a Set Top Box he hacked. Before the cable industry lawyers get out their flaming swords… he’s not stealing cable, or really doing much of anything. This is a hack just for the adventure and thrill of making someone else’s hardware design do your bidding without any kind of instructions.

He posted about the adventure in two parts. The first is finding the JTAG header and identifying the pins. Arduino to the rescue! No really, and this is the type of Arduino use we love. Using a package called JTAGenum the board becomes a quick tool for probing and identifying JTAG connections.

The image above shows a different piece of hardware. From looking at it we’re pretty sure this is a Bus Blaster which is specifically designed for JTAG debugging with ARM processors. This is the beginning of the second part of his documentation which involves code dumping and stepping through lines code (or instructions) using OpenOCD and GDB. It’s a chore to follow all that [Lee] discovered just to write his name to the display of the box. But we certainly found it interesting. The display has a convoluted addressing scheme. We assume that there are cascading shift registers driving the segments and that’s why it behaves the way it does. Take a look for yourself and let us know what you think in the comments.

14 thoughts on “Stepping Through Code On A Pace 4000 Set Top Box

  1. Can we stop using the term Set Top Box! This is the age of hang on the wall flat screens.
    Console! Just like games. Cable TV Console.
    Good hack, but if the on-screen graphics can’t be changed and the “look” be dammed it’s not enough.

  2. “Before the cable industry lawyers get out their flaming swords… he’s not stealing cable”

    probably an older technology box that does not work on their cable service so he cant steal cable since the box is outdated.

    maybe someone in foreign 3rd world country could use this to steal cable since they probably get all the technology that is useless to us.

    for example red, green and blue boxable payphones and phone switches are probably in some 3rd world countries but not in the united states

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