Hack The Steam Controller?

[willrandship] sent in a conversation from Reddit discussing the programming ports inside the Steam controller and their potential for hacking. From the posts and the pictures it seems the radio/SoC and the MCU can be programmed on the board, or at least they both have JTAG headers. The JTAG headers are in the form of “Tag-Connect” pads on the board so it will require the dedicated cable or soldering some hardware to the board temporarily.

From the pictures we can see a NXP LPC11U37F ARM Cortex-M0 and a Nordic nRF51822 ARM Cortex-M0 SoC with integrated Bluetooth low energy. There are only a limited number of Steam Controllers in the wild at this time so we don’t expect much in the way of hacking them thus far. There is a Steam Controller hackaday.io project just started for anyone who would like to contribute to the Steam Controller hacking.

The controller is available for pre-order on the Steam website for $49.99 but alas, it is just a pre-order, and we can’t play with it today. The semi-good news is that its still possible to have one before Christmas if you’re willing to pay for a hamburger today.

In case you missed it, we covered Steam’s statement about the controller being open and hackable back in 2013. We also discussed the JTAT “tag-connector” a while back.


22 thoughts on “Hack The Steam Controller?

  1. Actually, I think the topic of JTAG would be an excellent subject for an expert HaD post. The last time I delved into the subject (at least at Dangerous Prototypes), the sort of response I got back was that it was the ‘universal non-standard’— Or the best I gathered from that was having JTAG is a bit like ‘natural language’, in that there are ‘standard ports’ for nouns, verbs, etc…. But just because you know what the ports are ‘for’ doesn’t mean you can use it or speak it.

    So.. what good is such a ‘standard’ ?

    — Or, I may have been misinformed.

    1. Indeed this is an SWD port not JTAG.

      1. VCC
      2. SWDIO
      3. nRESET
      4. SWCLK
      5. GND
      6. SWO

      Technically SWO is not needed in the programming and is used for trace debugging. It would be interesting to know if Valve has locked the flash security on the NXP or Nordic part. The Nordic part is also using an ARM M0 indeed a common ploy these days in an effort to share development tools between parts.

        1. Little thought… in The Simpsons, the characters have their flaws, but they’re all basically likeable, relatable people. In Family Guy everybody’s an asshole all the time for no reason.

          Also seems like Seth Whatsisname thinks being assholish is inherently funny. It’s not. There still has to be a joke.

          1. Seth Macfarlane is actually spot on with his comedy style, or at least his success would suggest such. It just so happens that different people find different things funny. Imagine that. The more you know.

    1. You made another single-line attempt at a clever comment about Arduinos on another post I’ve just finished reading! Did an Arduino rape your mother or something? What’s with this needless “I don’t like Arduinos”? Why not? Why’s it relevant? Why do you think anyone would care? Srsly. It’s just old now.

      1. I totally get where you are coming from, It’s like if someone discovered time travel but used an arduino it wouldn’t count until everything was done with 555 timers. I bet years ago people were saying the same about 555’s “In my day we built our own transistors out of sticks and mud”

          1. LOL I was joking however after thinking about it you could build a resistor-transistor from wood well burnt wood the carbon could act as a resistor not so sure about mud perhaps perhaps some sort of insulation?

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