Laser Projector Needs Hardware Hack After Software Mod

An RGB laser projector opened up on a workbench

You probably recognize that dreadful feeling when you reboot a gadget after updating its firmware, only to be greeted by a blank screen and an unresponsive device. This apparently happened to the previous owner of a bricked RGB laser projector that [Buy It Fix It] got his hands on: it briefly flashed its laser on power-up but otherwise remained completely dead.

A thorough inspection of the major components didn’t reveal any physical damage, so the issue had to be in software. [Buy It Fix It] managed to connect his Segger J-link programmer to the STM32 main processor and downloaded the contents of its firmware, only to find the remains of a PDF file which seemed to have been accidentally flashed into the chip’s program space. Fixing the device should then just be a matter of restoring the proper firmware, but [Buy It Fix It] wasn’t able to find a copy of it anywhere.

A PCB with a few mod wires on itWhat he did find was Maximus64’s GitHub repository that contained a software mod for a different projector model, as well as its original firmware. Flashing that version didn’t fix [Buy It Fix It]’s projector either, although it did now start to actuate its galvos.

A bit of reverse engineering revealed that the two projectors were very similar from a hardware point of view, but had their laser drivers hooked up to different I/O pins: simply cutting the board traces and soldering some wires to re-route the signals was enough to bring the projector back into a working state.

Having to modify hardware in order to make it fit a piece of software is unfortunate, but sometimes you just have to make do with what you’ve got. If you’ve got no firmware to begin with, then you might even have to write your own from scratch.

13 thoughts on “Laser Projector Needs Hardware Hack After Software Mod

  1. When I saw firmware update I had to shudder. I have 2 Visio E65’s that are 6 years old, purchased at the same time and were working perfectly. The last update pushed out by Visio caused both of my TV’s to not connect to 80% of the Watch Free+ side. The app side still works. I get “Channel Unavailable” . This update happened oddly enough right at Thanksgiving prior to Black Friday. They blamed my ISP so I tethered both TVs to my Verizon Cellphone hotspot and had the exact same problem. Lots of phone calls, resets and diags later they claim that it was not their firmware update and it was a board failure… 2 identical TVs at the same time ? They said that they had tested the firmware in the lab and didn’t have any problems. They said they can’t roll my firmware back to an earlier version because the TVs will automatically update to the latest version. I suspect that the boards in my TVs are of some revision that is not compatible to the update. So I am screwed by an firmware update.

    1. I went out of my way to buy a “non ‘smart’ ” TV. Also not at 4k, I can barely benefit from the 1080p in my viewing setup.

      Then I add a Lenovo Tiny for the media, wired ethernet of course. Load times are much improved and the only spyware I am running is the webpage itself. I can also play some casual games and such. The Lenovo is held on the back of the TV with neodymium magnets.

      I was a bit peeved someone put the security camera TV on the WiFi, I think it has had worse performance since. Many of the smart TVs beg for internet, even if being used only as a computer/DVD player screen.

      Its awful. And now we are at 8k tvs, for what purpose? OK I get it if it had 16 way splitscreen for watching multiple feeds. But no game console or PC and precious few streaming services can.

    2. Yes and what better way to force you into buying a new projector. Awful business model! So sorry to hear Visio has taken this plan. I’ve always liked their products. I take care of companies who take care of me.
      Screw me over and I will never buy another one of your products!

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