Sunday, January 22, 2012

FTA Receiver Dongle Internalization Mod

This was a guide that was written back in Novemeber of 2009 with a friend of mine who is heavy into Free To Air testing. At the time of it's release the Sonicview iHub was a Ethernet dongle that was supposed to deliver the ability to stream MP3's over an attached network to be played back on the STB. There was also a downloads section that was supposed to be add for games , etc. However the STB dongle never delivered fully on it's promises and became just another tool for piracy. Piracy aside I always love devices that allow streaming of music , or movies over network but hate the component feeling to add-on devices. My partner in this was always moving his STB between locations and had problems with the dongle being a loose end so to speak. I had mentioned to him allowing me to internalize the dongle so it's all in one. The end result as you can see came out wonderful minus a few things I wish could have done differently but that's just the perfectionist in me. Many years later my buddy has informed me that this unit is still around , running , and still works perfect in 2012. 

This Following guide is not meant for person’s unfamiliar with soldering or electronics. This is a simple mod that anyone can do but you MUST pay attention and above all have patience.

Warning this mod if not done correctly will and can cause serious damage to your STB. This mod was done on a Sonicview 360 Elite using a Sonicview iHub. This mod is not supported, sponsored or recommend by Sonicview. This mod was done just to internalize the dongle within the unit by myself and a member of and carry’s no warranty if YOU decide to do this mod. You will NOT gain a performance increase or any other type of function ability from this mod and as stated and was just done for appearance so both the dongle and the STB would be one unit.


Tools Needed
1) Soldering Pencil
2) Dermal or rotary tool with selection of attachments
3) Solder
4) De-Soldering braid
5) Drill w/ bits
6) Tape measure / Caliper
7) Electrical Tape
8) Machine bolts w/ nuts
9) Flexible thin metal

10) Thin Wire 24 – 30 AWG
11)General hand tools , screwdrivers flat head and Phillips
12)Voltage Tester with continuity
13)Heat Gun
14)Wire Strippers

        First things first take of the cover of your STB by removing the screws on both sides of the unit and ones in the back. After the lid is removed you’re going to want to carefully disconnect the wires coming from the faceplate, USB port, and power supply from the main board. When looking at the box locate the serial RS-232 port as pictured below this is were we will be installing our dongle at.

Now on the main board there will be screws internally holding the main board in and screws on the back of the box holding the main board in place as well as four nuts around the LNB hook ups. These screws need to removed so we can take the main board out of the unit.

Once you have your main board out of the box set the box to the side. You’re going to want to now turn your main board upside down and grab your dongle. Take a flathead screw driver and pop the plastic case off of your dongle. Next step is to connect the dongle the main board. As pictured below. As you can see the connections that we will be making I have color coded for easier reference on where the wires will be going

Now this is the part where you will have to make a big choice. Since we need the RS-232
port for possible updating with or recovery, the dongle needs to have the ability to be disconnected from the RS-232 port.

For adding in your own connector remember that it must be plastic or other non conductive to prevent shorts and possible electrocution. I had used a DVD power terminal from a Xbox 1 drive that was broken, many older printers , scanners, etc have good amounts of these connectors that can be used. First things first you need to remove the serial port from the dongle as pictured below.

My soldering station was not hot enough to remove the actual terminal place holders so I ended up using a heat gun to preheat the existing solder when de-soldering the terminals. After removing the terminal you can proceed to attach the wire to the ihub that you will be using. As you can see from the examples below you will want to do your best after attaching your connector to properly cover any exposed wire or metal from the terminal.

Next step is to attach the second set of wires to the main board , hook up both connectors to make sure that your connections are reading out continuity on your tester and that you have no bridged connections that can cause a issue.

Placement of the actual Ethernet port is up to you. I had placed mine right above the RS-232 port which seemed like a good place for it but you can use any spot where you will have room to work REMEMBER you still have to attach the dongle to the case. Take the dongle unit and place it flush against to where you want to port to be and trace around the Ethernet port so you have a square. In each corner you will want to drill a small hole as not to do to much extra cutting with the dremial.

After cutting out your new Ethernet port remove any debris and sand any rough spots. Double check that the Ethernet port fits in the hole properly you may have to do some trimming as the metal will stick out enough so that to port is almost even with the backside of the unit but you don’t want to have to force it in the hole. Now that you hole is cut you need to make a clasp to hole the dongle in place.

The only flexible thin metal I had that was the size I needed for a almost perfect fit was a hacksaw blade. After some measuring I made a wrap for the dongle and be careful to wrap some electrical tape around the metal as not to cause any shorts. As you can see I bent out ears and drilled holes for attaching to the case.

After making a clasp you want put the dongle with the clasp in position, mark and drill out your holes that you will be using to attach the dongle to the case. Be sure not to use to long of a nut and bolt, if you have to use your wire strippers to cut the size down.

Now you will want to blow out, vacuum, etc your case as to make sure no small metal flakes make there way onto any circuits. Now you can start reassembly of your box by placing you main board in first, carefully fold the wire up and around the main board. You can also place a small piece of tape over where you have soldered to the bottom of the main board just to prevent shorts if worried about your solder job.

After your wire coming from the bottom of the board is up tighten up all screws. After screwing you main board back inplace go ahead and attach the dongle w/ clasp to the case with your machine head screrws and nuts.

You should have something that looks like the picture above and can go ahead and hook
up the connector and place the lid back on the case.

Congratulations you have just
internalized your STB's Dongle

1 comment:

  1. Hi I like FTA receivers they can choosing the channels and connect to satellite easily this receiver designed to receive unencrypted broadcasts.
    FTA Satellite Receivers