Hacking the Roku HW (adding a USB port to the N1000)

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Hacking the Roku HW (adding a USB port to the N1000)

Postby jroark » Wed Oct 27, 2010 1:42 pm

I've been playing around with my N1000 (Roku HD) and have found some interesting ways to play with the HW so I thought I'd share them with the community.

First, I'm fairly certain this voids your warrenty. Second, I'm not responsible for any damage or injury to you, your Roku, or anyone or anything else that may result from attempting anything described below.

I have always used the wired interface for network connectivity and have no need for the built in Wifi. I have also always wanted to upgrade to an XR or XD/S for the USB port to access local media. I did some poking around and googling and it turns out the Wifi card is on the Roku USB. I opened up my Roku and removed the wifi daughter board. It is connected via a 6 pin header on the mainboard. Using my multimeter I quickly discovered the apparent pinout.

Code: Select all
1. 5V+  2. NC
3. D-   4. GND
5. D+   6. GND


I made a quick trip to Frys and picked up a "2 USB Ports to 2x5 w/ Bracket".
The pinout for this is basically correct to hook it up to the Roku USB header.

Code: Select all
1. RED 5V+
2. WHITE D-
3. GREEN D+
4/5. BLACK GND


I removed the two black wires from the connector (use a little pin to pull up the tab and slide out the metal sleeve). Then I simply plugged in the connector, the red wire into pin 1, the white wire into pin 3, and the green wire into pin 5, the two black wires get plugged into 4 and 6.

I now have a wired network only XR for $5 more dollars and a little hacking.

While at Frys I also picked up a Populated RS232 Module to hook up to the TTL header on the board. More on that later
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Re: Hacking the Roku HW (adding a USB port to the N1000)

Postby kc8pql » Wed Oct 27, 2010 1:58 pm

Well, the question is have you tried with the USB channel and does it work? I think the new boxes use different hardware.
Last edited by kc8pql on Wed Oct 27, 2010 2:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Hacking the Roku HW (adding a USB port to the N1000)

Postby jroark » Wed Oct 27, 2010 2:14 pm

It works with Roksbox.

I plan on taking this further by hooking up a USB hub and reattaching the WiFi
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Re: Hacking the Roku HW (adding a USB port to the N1000)

Postby Arwen » Wed Oct 27, 2010 2:22 pm

Sounds interesting.

Next question, do you have any pictures of the system board?

I've got a XR model, which has the external USB connector, so I
wonder if my Wifi module is similar to the HD model. Maybe I
can get 2 USB ports, as I will likely never use the Wifi.

There are tantalizing hints of more functionality in the Roku,
like eSATA which is on the SoC, (System on a Chip).
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Re: Hacking the Roku HW (adding a USB port to the N1000)

Postby jroark » Wed Oct 27, 2010 2:30 pm

Arwen,

Have you tried a USB hub?

*** Edit ***

Nevermind, I just a tried my unpowered USB hub and was unable to use my thumb drive.

If we could customize the linux kernel and flash image we could add support for all kinds of new USB hardware (hubs, webcams, bluetooth, keyboards and mice).
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Re: Hacking the Roku HW (adding a USB port to the N1000)

Postby Arwen » Wed Oct 27, 2010 2:40 pm

jroark wrote:Arwen,

Have you tried a USB hub?


No. As it is, I have a USB flash drive in the port and have
found little reason to remove it execpt to update it.

Some devices like my 320GB 2.5" WD disk drive would likely
want more power than a hub with attached USB flash drive
would give. So my best bet would be to remove the USB
flash drive and only install the drive, (in a USB enclosure).
Haven't tried that drive yet, would have to re-format it,
(it's ext3 right now).

Some day I will give that 320GB 2.5" drive a test with the
Roku. Probably at the same time I test my first 1080p
encoded movie, first on the flash drive and second on the
hard drive to compare experiences.
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Re: Hacking the Roku HW (adding a USB port to the N1000)

Postby jroark » Wed Oct 27, 2010 2:46 pm

Image

Image
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Re: Hacking the Roku HW (adding a USB port to the N1000)

Postby Arwen » Wed Oct 27, 2010 3:02 pm

Thanks for the pictures. The Wifi card looks a lot like the XR pictures I've seen.

The HD board looks alot like the XR board. The XR has the the back panel connects
moved to make room for the USB port. The other 2 connectors, 10 pin and 14
pin headers are in the same spots, as is the Wifi.
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Re: Hacking the Roku HW (adding a USB port to the N1000)

Postby ashes00 » Wed Oct 27, 2010 3:23 pm

I knew it was only a matter of time before i saw this. Great Job in the MOD. I doubt that ROKU is going to make it easy to get to the Linux kernel though. I have seen in other posts that they have it rather locked down. Not that its impossible... I am impressed :o

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Re: Hacking the Roku HW (adding a USB port to the N1000)

Postby jroark » Wed Oct 27, 2010 3:32 pm

Close up of the usb header and connection:

Image
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Re: Hacking the Roku HW (adding a USB port to the N1000)

Postby JoshuaMarc1234 » Wed Oct 27, 2010 5:21 pm

Very cool. Now, if I only spoke hardware engineering....? : )
( No need to try and explain, I'll never get my mind around it. I love that hackers/moders know this stuff though! )
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Re: Hacking the Roku HW (adding a USB port to the N1000)

Postby vitoal18t » Wed Oct 27, 2010 9:25 pm

You can move R408 resistor to R425 and it will actually supply 5V to the 3x2 header like USB port should.

Currently it is supplying 3.3V on the 3x2 WIFI-USB header because WIFI cards were not 5V tolerant. Some USB Flash drives actually work off 3.3V.
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Re: Hacking the Roku HW (adding a USB port to the N1000)

Postby jroark » Fri Oct 29, 2010 10:22 am

vitoal18t,

I just noticed you're part of the Roku Engineering team. Thanks for the tip and thanks for a great product.

I noticed there appear to be two sets of jumper soldier points on the board. One labeled J18 near the TTL header and one labeled JP1 near what I believe is the NAND.

I'm sort of hoping that JP1 will clear the NAND and force a reflash to whatever is on the NOR?
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Re: Hacking the Roku HW (adding a USB port to the N1000)

Postby jroark » Fri Oct 29, 2010 4:39 pm

vitoal18t wrote:You can move R408 resistor to R425 and it will actually supply 5V to the 3x2 header like USB port should.

Currently it is supplying 3.3V on the 3x2 WIFI-USB header because WIFI cards were not 5V tolerant. Some USB Flash drives actually work off 3.3V.


Well my soldering skills are apparently not up to the task of moving that tiny little resistor. I was able to remove it completely and using my multimeter determine that even without the resistor the voltages were basically 3.3V at R408 and 5V at R425 so I just bridged the gap with a dab of solder. It now has enough power to drive my un-powered 4 port usb hub and 4 thumb drives or an external 2.5" hard drive.

Image

It's a little hard to see in this picture but that is the usb media browser app in a PIP on my computer monitor in the background with 4 disks showing in the main menu.
Image
Last edited by jroark on Wed Nov 03, 2010 3:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Hacking the Roku HW (adding a USB port to the N1000)

Postby RoadRanger » Sat Oct 30, 2010 11:10 am

Hmm... I'm wondering if removing the wireless card would reduce the 24/7 power consumption of the Roku for those of us that use them hardwired?
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