What is the best documented/hackable drive out there?




I’ve been doing a little research triying to find the best documented/hackable dvd burner drive that could fullfill my educational interests about dvd hardware (from a electronics engineer wannabe point of view).
For the drives that i’ve seen avalaible in my local stores, there are a few silicon manufacturers that make microcontrollers specially targeted to optical drives:


Doing a quick search on those manufacturers websites the most open/documented chips seem to be the panasonic ones, but I would love to hear the opinon of some forum experts…

¿What are the best documented (datasheets, reference designs, community interest…) chipsets?
¿What are the more hacker friendly drives that incorporate those chipsets?

I’m eager for your answers!
Thanks in advance.



Forget about Panasonic immediately!!


Hmm finding specific datasheets for a chipset is a pain in the arse! Anyway the only thing I suggest is to investigate on the net on what chipset(s) in the dvd-rom unit, search for them at the company’s homepage or at www.datasheet4u.com.

Hard to say whats the most hackable, Id generally look for a unit that has a eeprom the size of 512kb (bytes) of space to deal with. Other accounts taken for flashing the firmware, some eeprom i was not able to find thier data sheets however for the most part like ST, winbond, fujitsu have most datasheets of thier chips in thier sites. I mean if you cannot flash the eeprom then its unhackable period. Anyways… good luck.


Why? Only a few manufacturers offer their documentation on their websites, and panasonic seems to be one of them.

The other one that i’ve found that offer datasheets is renesas, but i couldn’t find (the supposedly) older chipsets documentation, for example the R8J32 series (used in the LG GSA-4167B).

Why do you think panasonic is a bad option?


That’s true. By the way, in my experience the best path to get the docs is ask for them in some forums, as some companies seem SO jelous of their info :doh:. Some times you cannot get the docs from them because they are already outdated (Technology is so fast these days…)

Id generally look for a unit that has a eeprom the size of 512kb (bytes) of space to deal with.

Good point. The least code to disassemble, the easier to understand, but all the recent drives that i’ve seen have big firmware images (~2MB, and thats a lot to deal with)


Try to find RPC-1 firmwares or patches for some Panasonic/Matshita/Masushita drives and you’ll see why I wrote that. :wink:


Hmm can you give me some pointers to forums that has these resources?

Well there is two things that is to be considered, 1) if its too small then typically theres little unused space. 2) if its too big that may be a headache with monkey’ing with the dissassembled code. As i figure, it won’t take so long to modify the firmware to your likeings once you have made appropriate dissassembler(s). You may end up making a few dissassemblers to dissassemble differnt blocks of the firmware image. You would have to program these weather its small or big images, which the longest time taken is making the ultilities, (assembler/dissassemblers, perhaps compression/decompression) compared to monkey’ing with dissassembled code. I was more pointing out to the larger the better, because most likely there is unused space to inject some routines in. Most likely there would be a few 64k blocks unused in a ~2MB image, I mean most of the firmware you’d want to keep static for basic functionality., so you’d want portions that are not used.


Hi chef!

According to this post the LG GSA-4166B is based on the panasonic chip MN103SA6GSJ, and you can find some datasheets about the family over here.
The RPC-1 firmware from “the dangerous brothers” is here and at first sight seems clear (no embbeded in an exe, simple update program, not ofuscated) but I’ve not dug enought to be sure.
The GSA-H20L is based on panasonic chips too, but is relatively new and there’s not firmware actualization from LG yet.

Chef, can you give some alternatives with datasheets links?
I think all those patchers have to base their work on some info…

Thanks for your responses.


[QUOTE=Ryu Nguyen]Hmm can you give me some pointers to forums that has these resources?

By forum I mean mailing list, irc, webforums, etc.
ie: get in touch with the rigth people.
I don’t know much about the “dvd firmware scene”, but for electronics in general http://www.edaboard.com is a good example. I’m sure there are a lot of “documented” people hangin out there.
As I said I think all those firmware patchers and tweakers (specially tweakers) base their work on some info.

See you.


I meant more the drives from Matshita/Panasonic/Matsushita, not their chipsets.

Also burners from Plextor and BenQ have some Panasonic chipsets. :wink: