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Pointless Dingoo Mods

Posted 2010.04.22 9.44 in Computers/Internet/Technology

Last night I was a bit bored so I sat down and did some pointless hardware mods to my Dingoo.

First, I added a power LED. When the backlight is off, or if you boot it with the B button to go into flashing mode, it’s hard to know if the Dingoo is on or off. And in any event, I’m a sucker for LEDs. “Real electronics should glow in the dark.”

The easy part was attaching the LED, I used a surface mount blue LED that draws 10mA at 3.6v and stuck it near the start button, then wired it between Vcc and ground. I found a point on the rear of the board where the power is switched so I just ran a bit of 28 gauge wire around from the back to the front. The hard part was getting a hole in the black layer of the front case, without also going through the clear part of the front case. I used a cheap soldering iron to melt some of the plastic then some small precision chisels to cut out the plastic and get the hole to be just about right. Actually it was about 80% luck, I’m usually not this good at modifying the plastic parts.

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Dingoo vs. AAC

Posted 2010.04.19 7.38 in Computers/Internet/Technology

Yes, you can teach an old Dingoo new tricks.

Aside from being a neato mini portable retro gaming platform, the Dingoo is also a little media player. There’s a long list of digital audio formats that it can handle. For some reason I never noticed that AAC (file suffix m4a) was not one of them.

See way back when, AAC was going to be the new big thing. I’d read that it was better than mp3, technically superior, better sounding, and all that jazz. So when I digitized my music collection, I used AAC. Now, over 90% of my collection is in AAC format.

So I was initially confused when I put a bunch of AAC files on the Dingoo, only to have them not show up in the music player. Of course, mp3 files appeared ok, but it was like the AAC files didn’t exist.

In all my bricking & unbricking adventures, I had acquired tools for examining and mucking with the firmware. I could see a list of codecs and there was an AAC codec in there. So why weren’t my files working?

It turns out that the AAC codec is in there for supporting movies. For whatever reason they didn’t set it up to support AAC files on their own. Wierd. But fixable.

So I opened up the main binary file in a hex editor and got to work. Of all the music formats it was set up to work with, I picked a format I’ve never heard of and know nothing about – APE. I then went through the binary and changed all the references to .ape files, into references to .m4a files. These references were in areas of the binary that determine what files are displayed, and how.

Dingoo playing an AAC / .m4a music file.

And voila, my Dingoo recognizes and plays AAC files. I don’t actually think it’s any big deal, since it already had the codec. All I did was fix up the interface so that the AAC files were available to the user.

But then again, maybe it is a big deal? I don’t know. Maybe noone else has done it, and maybe my Dingoo is the only one in the world that can play AAC music files.

Debricked Dingoo

Posted 2010.04.14 21.14 in Computers/Internet/Technology

Well I got it unbricked today at work. Then I bricked it again when I got home. So I went back in to work and unbricked it again. Grumble grumble windows-only tools.

Anyhow, here’s the deal:

The magic tool for unbricking / flashing “HK” type Dingoos, along with instuctions, can be found in this post on Dingoonity. The tool is a ‘normal’ Chinachip flashing tool, that has been patched to bypass the authorization check. Along with the tool, you need the correct lcd driver module, and the a320.hxf firmware file. There are versions included with the tool download, or you can find them online with other flasher / unbricker tools.

Follow the instructions exactly and the process will take less than 10 minutes from start to finish. It requires Win XP, and doesn’t work on 64-bit Windows. I couldn’t get it to work at home because there’s some problem with running the process on a VM. I have WinXP via Parallels on my Macintosh, but the flashing process does something on a very low-level/hardware level and Parallels gets all confused and breaks the connection.

Anyhow, once the thing is unbricked, on to the next challenge: the dreaded “HK” function (or lack thereof). Fortunately, the Dingoo community has once-more come to the rescue. Through diligent work, they have figured out the differences in the “HK” systems, and have recompiled / patched all kinds of stuff (emulators and native apps). They’ve also put the patch into the SDK so that all current / future homebrews should work too.

The fix can be downloaded from this Dingoonity thread. Just unzip the file and follow the directions.

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Dingoo Pr0n

Posted 2010.04.14 10.36 in Computers/Internet/Technology

Until I get the chance to unbrick the Dingoo, here’s some hardcore electronics pr0n:

Ooh yeah, check out that sexy board!

/me starts thinking about LEDs…blinken flashins… glow…

I Gotta Dingoo

Posted 2010.04.14 7.34 in Computers/Internet/Technology

I got me a Dingoo. It’s suposedly an open-source generic handheld gaming computer. Designed and made in the People’s Republic.

I managed to brick it in about an hour.

I’ll try and unbrick it today. Then maybe I can have some fun with it.