November 14, 2015

Feedster - Aministrative Post - Ignore

No Need to Click Here - I'm just claiming my feed at Feedster

Posted by Lionel Felix at 05:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 09, 2015

Phatnoise rear video

PhatNoise, well known for their in-car MP3 players, has a full system in cars such as Chevy's Uplander that allows for front and rear seat entertainment including games, commercial Viacom/Nickelodeon content, and user generated DivX movies!

I've excerpted a piece of an advertisement about the product here:

The content you see above from Nickelodeon is apparently preloaded onto the 40GB hard drive, as opposed to being actively downloaded from the Internet. You simply pay money to unlock the content. I've heard this described as the "roach motel" model of content delivery - the content gets in, but it doesn't get out.

Because it plays DIvX/XVID/MPEG4 movies, you can convert your own content to upload to the device. Like many Mpeg-4 "standard" playback devices, you have to give it the right MP4 content. A good forum post on how to do this can be found at

Posted by dstolarz at 04:15 PM | Comments (0)

September 21, 2015

Cheap Hack Alert - Run To Best Buy

As you are reading this you also need to be getting your wallet, keys, phone and heading out the door to BestBuy. Now BestBuy may not be the best practices leader in customer service and support and their Geek Squad makes people REAL IT experience wince at the mere thought, they do sometimes do something cool. Right now there seems to be a clearance on some X-Box 5" LCD screens. The screens are going for $49. Yep. Thats it. I dont know how hard it would be to get VGA or Composite video to it but it cant be all that hard. In fact I bet its pretty simple. Oakland Best Buy had a freakin pile of them.

If you get one tell us how it worked out.

Posted by Lionel Felix at 12:23 PM | Comments (0)

July 27, 2015

Phathack DIY ISO for YOU

First the hack now the packaged hack, once again courtesy of Judb.


It's all pretty much automated now. Good luck and don't forget that we warned you about tearing off those mattress tags.

Posted by Lionel Felix at 01:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 25, 2015

Phatnoise Phatbox Hacked - Let's Party!

Phathack (registration may be required)
The Wikki On Phathack

Here at Carhacks, we're into, you know, hacks. Car hacks, to be more specific. If you're familiar with the Phatnoise product, you're also familiar with the fact that they don™t want you to upgrade the hard drive. I won't make any assumptions here but I'll venture a guess that if it were easy to upgrade the drive, they might not sell as many newer units given thant any Elroy could just slap in a 450 gigger from BestBuy and bypass the up sell.

JudB just sent over the recipe on how to get around the issue and jack your Phatbox up so it's all triple phat and stuff. The details are rather sordid and it's possible that even reading the how-to will void your warrantee, don't come crying to me if you ham-fist it and render your Phatbox a sparking husk of diodes.

(I have not tested this, nor have I tested the links yet. Keep your panties on until I get this hashed out)

The Hack:

This is a quick howto on using scripts to patch the disk signature checking function of the phatbox...

Download [] and extract it to the PHATSYS drive when the DMS is connected to your pc.


'''VERY IMPORTANT.. This could damage your phatbox / keg or disable it and have to send it to someone or to phatnoise for repair. Also make sure you have any and all plugins you want to use loaded on the existing working DMS and working in the Phatbox / keg. Also before starting this process make sure you have the most recent firmware on the box.'''


* From the PHTSYS root move flacplay and flacplay.sig into the PHTSYS\backup folder.

* From the PHTSYS\backup folder copy flacplay-hacked and flacplay-hacked.sig into the PHTSYS root directory.

* Renamed PHTSYS\flacplay-hacked and the .sig file you just copied to remove the -hacked from the filenames.

* Explore the PHTDTA\profiles\default directory. You should see a lot of files in there starting with P and ending in .idx / .sig / .pbx ... find p0.m3u / .sig / .idx / .pbx and rename them backup0.m3u / .sig / .idx / .pbx

* From PHTSYS\backup copy p0.* to PHTDTA\profiles\default ... This will make the first playlist that the phatbox plays execute the patch.

You can instead of using p0 as steps 4 and 5 say, change the name of the p0 files in PHTSYS\Backup to PXXX where XXX equals any number of a playlist as long as its in consecutive order with the existing playlists and then navigate to it when you are ready to patch the box.

* Eject the DMS from your PC

* Insert the DMS into your Phatbox / Keg and navigate to your playlist and it will patch your flash. You should almost instantly see the playlist change after it starts.. thats normal, theres no audio to play. Pause playback (save cpu time) and wait for about 30 seconds to be sure everything is done and then shut it off, wait for the lights to turn off and THEN remove the DMS. This makes sure all the logs are saved to disk.

* Take the DMS back to your PC and plug it in... look for a file called bootload.log... open it in notepad or your favorite text editor.

If the drive has a valid signature, after you boot, your logfile will look like this:

BOOT0: Successful
BOOT9: Successful
BOOTB: Successful
BOOTF: Successful
BOOT*: Successful

Now, if you boot with a bad signature, or non phatnoise signed drive it will look like this:

BOOT0-2: Successful
BOOT9: Successful
BOOTB: Successful
BOOTF: Successful
BOOT*: Successful

You can also review the logs in PHTSYS\log for more information.

* You must write the first 1 meg of the original DMS onto the new DMS. Use dd to write the file drive-sig-1mb.bin '''(created in PHTSYS\backup, but copy it to a local drive before using this as you have to swap DMS drives)''' to the new DMS once it is inserted. [ DD for windows users get version 0.3 binary at the bottom of the page]

* Also make a backup copy of your plugin directory for copying to the new DMS drive.

* You can now make any drive a DMS drive. Partition it into two partitions, a PHTSYS of 64 megs and a PHTDTA of any size. PHTDTA must be an extended logical partition (partition number 5). I suggest waiting on this till you get a few more steps below and using the phatnoise DMS recovery CD / boot disk. This wiki entry does not cover the hardware portion of swaping the contents of the DMS. See for more info on DMS hardware.


Windows Users:
launch c:\windows\system32\diskmgmt.msc for windows 2K or XP
to see what physical drive number windows has assigned your DMS. Replace X below with that number.
dd if=c:\drive-sig-1mb.bin of=\\.\physicaldriveX bs=512 count=2048

Unix Users:
I shouldnt have to explain this but use dd to copy the file
dd if=/home/joeblow/drive-sig-1mb.bin of=/dev/sda bs=512 count=2048

* Download the DMS Rescue Disk from [ here]

* Make either the floppy or CD version of the Rescue disk, and boot off it. (you may have issues with newer motherboard USB drivers not working with this older linux kernel.. if thats the case contact someone on the board for help.)

* Once the disk is booted plug in your DMS. '''DO NOT HIT ENTER ON THE MAIN PAGE''' hit ALT+F2 to go to the advanced menu.

* Select the Reparition Reformat option without the bad block check. Bad block check will take a LONG TIME. Play tetris on ALT+F5 if you do that option or reboot and try again.

* When that is complete reboot into windows and load up the PMM. It should see your new virgin DMS Of Unusual Size. (sorry Princess Bride joke) Go into the options in PMM and have it load up the current firmware onto the DMS. In explorer go to the PHTSYS drive and '''delete the two files forceupdate and forcesettings'''.

* Copy your plugin folder back onto the PHTSYS drive.

* Use PMM to copy over a few songs in one playlist. Save and Eject the DMS. Try it in your system to see if you are in luck!

* Don't steal music.. stealing is bad. mmmkay?


At this time I have not tested the phatbox with a larger than 127 gig drive so it MAY not currently support drives of that size. We'll have to see.. but since laptop drives havent exceeded 120 gigs we should be fine for now.


'''Also, Pro Tip: Make sure you dont have your new drive set to slave or cable select. (No jumpers == goodness usually)'''


This is a picture howto for opening your DMS to swap the drives out.
There are some required steps prior to this noted in, so check there first.


This is a photo of a DMS cart:


Flip the DMS over and you should see four screws in the back side.
A regular phillips head screwdriver will work to remove the screws.
Take them out and keep them in a near by pile.


Once the screws are out, the back of the DMS should pull right off with ease.
You'll see the drive with the rubber surrounds and the interface adaptor to mate with the cradle and the phatbox.
There is a wide U shaped peice of metal and a larger plastic peice under that which is the eject mechanism for the DMS.


Take the U shaped metal peice and the large plastic peice under it and set them in the back part of the DMS we unscrewed. You should see in this photo that the U shaped metal peice fits in two dents on the back of the DMS.


Once the parts are in the back side of the DMS properly this is what it should look like.


Here is the drive set aside.


This portion of the drive is the adaptor for the cradle and the phatbox. Remove this peice carefully. You do not want to damage the pins of this drive. Notice how the PCB (green board portion) is oriented toward the PCB side of the drive. Also remove the rubber surrounds. Test fit the rubber to the new drive. In many cases this will not fit squarely and may require cutting. There are little guides built into the DMS plastic case that the drive with the rubber must fit securly into. try placing the drive into these slots and make sure the rubber does not bind or bunch up. If it does you may need to get a knife and cut them somewhat. Pay attention to the orientation of the drive to the rubber to make sure you dont have it on upside down before cutting it though. removing these rubber surrounds will cause the drive to not fit firmly in the DMS and rattle around potentially damaging the drive during operation in the car.

Get your new large drive and place this adaptor on the new drive in a similar way. Also make sure there are no jumpers on the 4 pins that are not connected to this adaptor as they will cause the new drive to fail to work with the phatbox.


Is a photo of everything taken apart.

Put the drive back in the front of the DMS (the standoffs at the base should just barely touch the two screw holes in the Adaptor peice. make sure its not in upside down before trying to close the DMS and make sure the rubber fits in correctly or it will pinch and not seal up right or crush the drive. Put the screws back in and give it a whirl.

See for more info on using your new larger drive!

Posted by Lionel Felix at 06:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 25, 2015

Problem Solved - Powered USB in your car

USB Convert

I have been banging my head against my Yukon trying to figure out how to get all the USB dinguses in my car. Some need power, some do not. Some are hard to decide on. Overall I knew that I had to figure it out. Ok, well, "I" didn't have to figure it out, I needed to use Google to find someone with mad IEEE skills that already did the work for me. See, that's the years of management experience making my job easier.

The low down is (and I didn't test this yet so I could be making a false claim) use a car charger that charges a USB cell phone. The premise is you can wire the 12v end into your power supply by removing the shroud and hard-wiring it to 12V switched (good luck finding that). The USB end goes into a powered USB hub (that takes power through the USB port. What's the alternative? Well Radio Shack has a 12V lighter plug adapter that lets you change the power connector and voltage. I've always felt these to be a little hackey but if you buy a USB hub that matches the power that the RS one puts out, it should be good to go. I suggest having a 24 hour burn-in on a work bench before putting that in your car.

Posted by Lionel Felix at 10:15 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 11, 2015

Day 2 - Carbot PC Install - False Start

So Day 2 is a bust. Finding a good Key 12V+ wire is nto as trivial as it was on my old GTI. I went on-line and asked the almighty google and it failed me. Rather than poking around like a blind lepper in search of hot ignition goodness, I decided to actually find a witing diagram or at least someone who knows exactly the best place in the dash to splice into. Tomorrow we head off to Houston for some humid golf nirvana so Day 2 will actually be day 5. Ok too much math. Back to Google.

Posted by Lionel Felix at 05:54 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 09, 2015

Get Your OnStar On

I have OnStar in my 2004 Yukon and I RARELY ever use the service except to report accidents on lonesome highways or, well, um, thats pretty much it. On my way back from Florida last month I called them for roadside assistance when my trailer tire went flat. They told me thats not covered. Fortunately my tire exploded right next to a boat dealer so they were nice enough to sell me 2 wheels, retail. The black box that is the OnStar system in my car always held some sort of far off primise. Today it came true, A hacked OnStar box is now out for the world to see. I'm e-hugging that dude right now. Is that weird?

Posted by Lionel Felix at 11:24 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 13, 2015

Getting MP3 In Your Car

With automakers asleep at the wheel, the aftermarket is taking an inside line. Car manufacturers are not yet caught up to "Internet Time", leaving digital music technology out of design plans. XM radio and DVD bundles are good baby steps but cars are a platform that has always demanded aftermarket exploitation. Aftermarket manufacturers are racing to sell some great and some not-so-great products to fill the void left by automakers, who are still having great difficulty getting out of their own way, unable to respond to the demands of customers.

BMW and Audi are the only manufacturers responding to the clamor from the washed masses. The unwashed, myself included, are still dying to get all of that (legally, wink wink) downloaded music and movies into our g-rides. Still, its not quite enough. We have a taste for WiFi, Bluetooth, navigation, DivX, GPRS systems that won't stink up the parking lot with stale technology in 2 years. Cars will need to be upgradeable and standards established in order to provide customers with new technologies for their cars' 100-200K mile lifecycle. As much as automakers long for days when AM/FM/Cassette was enough, times are changing, the market is changing and consumers are demanding more. As cool as it is to walk around the Villages with an iPod, looking hip and making sure not to get mugged, a large number of people drive to work, drive as a job and otherwise spend a crapload of time in cars. Cars without the benefit of the entire Ween discography in the trunk.

Until car manufacturers offer up an OS (Please let it not be Windows [Don't get your hopes up - ed.]) and a Firewire integrated automotive system, the aftermarket will continue to hack the wiring harness. The good news is, it's been blown pretty wide open, so get that Captain and Tennille record dubbed to MP3 and Private Benjamin compressed to DivX, because your car is ready.

A few automakers are offering Phatnoise, a hard drive-based music jukebox that mounts in your trunk, connecting to your stereo via wiring harness or FM antenna interconnect. Audi is first to market with that, although others are soon to follow. If you aren't bumping an Audi, though, it's time to get out the tools and tear into that dash.

Phatnoise and Kenwood offer up kits for most makes and models. Some can pipe ID3 tags and file names to the head units in some but not most cars. They offer tethered accessory displays which, through the magic of Velcro, secure to the dash.

The Phatnoise Music Keg, obviously named to appeal to those who prefer to purchase everything by the barrel, come in three configurations. A 10GB (tall boy), 20GB (pony keg), and a 60GB (frat size) seem to be offered (although different sites have contrary details). The unit is about the size of a CD changer and has a nifty USB 2.0 connector port that is used to connect the keg to a computer. Using the Phatnoise software (PC only), music is downloaded to the box and can be used to play at your desk in a spiffy dock.

The Phatnoise Music Keg, obviously named to appeal to those who prefer to purchase everything by the barrel, come in three configurations. A 10GB (tall boy), 20GB (pony keg), and a 60GB (frat size) seem to be offered (although different sites have contrary details). The unit is about the size of a CD changer and has a nifty USB 2.0 connector port that is used to connect the keg to a computer. Using the Phatnoise software (PC only), music is downloaded to the box and can be used to play at your desk in a spiffy dock.

For the weekend dashboard thrasher, PIE and PAC Audio make adapters that add auxillary inputs to a large number of factory head units. The AUX inputs provides 2 RCA Line-in channels of audio from sources like an iPod, portable DVD player or console mounted record player. In addition, PAC Audio makes an adapter called an AUX POD which hooks an iPod directly to most stock wiring harnesses. The in-dash fondling is worth the effort as it only connects to the harness clip, switched 12V+ and ground. Difficulty lies in making sure you get the right adapter as there are many different head units for each make. Get the right one - for some crazy "electricity" reason, it matters.

Other harnesses include the much-hyped BMW, bless their little hearts, offer up a multi-million dollar ad campaign to sell an iPod connector that lets you put your iPod in the glove box and shows your music as Track 1, Track 2, etc. Thank you very little.

Which is silly, because as it stands, the iPod, in all of its white and pastel mini glory is still the king of portable music. Belkin has gone hog wild making lots of white gadgets that let you take it everywhere and hook it to just about everything. The Belkin Auto Kit, a nice little jobbie, plugs right into the cigarette lighter, where from the 12v socket connects directly to the iPod dock connector and gives you a handy 1/8-inch output. They also offer FM and Cassette adapters but after dropping multiple Bens on the iPod, you might as well take it uptown and install a PIE or PAC-AUDIO AUX input. Cassette adapters are the orthodontic headgear of car audio (don't get me started on automakers still putting cassette players in cars).

For direct connection to the harness, ICELINK from Dension and AUX POD [pictured] from Pac Audio offer iPod dock connector direct to wiring harness connectors. I've not tried these guys out but if your car matches their listed applications, they offer a quick and easy way to get the job done. Alpine shows much love for the 'pod with their KCA-420i. The hookup goes from iPod to AI-NET and can be controlled just like a CD-changer but - get this - it shows the ID3 tags, unlike a certain Bavarian aftermarket solution. Crazy, right? I know! This is a very elegant solution for people who have Alpine head units or are considering an aftermarket stereo.

Bypassing the iPod directly, the folks at Alpine also offer up the relatively anemic HAD-5460 16GB 1DIN in-dash MP3 player with removable drive. The concept is good but execution misses the mark. 16GB is just too small for the $850 price tag. Alpine makes outstanding car audio electronics, though, so we're expecting a massive 200+GB big brother lurking around the corner, although assuming the same price-to-GB ratio, it should cost about $10,625.

Sure, the shiny shiny of a new Alpine or Phatnoise unit is nice but there are a small number of head units and trunk mounted drives that are kicking big-name butt. Some of these relative unknowns are more geared for the slashdot crowd who like dragging the oscilloscope out to the Corolla but for the non IEEE of us, there is a palatable solution. Dension offers up no less than 4 products with oodles of spinning disk space. They slice and dice the options enough to make even the most fickle of us happy. The trunk mounted remote-drive option even lets you stuff a 300+GB hard drive in it. With line levels out, built in 12V power supply, remote LCD display and upgradability, this could be the best way to get a massive collection into your car. It has optional FireWire and USB connections as well. At $899 US the bang/buck ratio works out to be rather favorable.

Depending on the depth of your wallet and needs, getting MP3s into your car en-masse can go from a few hundred dollars to thousands. If you don't know what you want, start with a foundation you can build on by installing a basic AUX interface or a decent head unit that takes multiple inputs. From there adding an iPod or a computer is a matter of adding rather than replacing equipment.

Posted by Lionel Felix at 04:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack