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Updgrading the HC500 Controller


surfowl

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Hi-

I don't feel like dropping the money on the new HC1000 -- has anyone cracked the case and looked at upgrading the processing power of the 500? I'm not worried about warranty; they are trading on ebay for $300.

Thanks, Alex

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Hi-

I don't feel like dropping the money on the new HC1000 -- has anyone cracked the case and looked at upgrading the processing power of the 500? I'm not worried about warranty; they are trading on ebay for $300.

Thanks, Alex

"Huh" squared. :) Can you point us to one such controller that went for $300? You must be confusing it with an MC

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I probably am confusing the unit I saw on ebay; regardless with the second generation equipment emerging my equipment wont be worth much. It is a computer that runs linux why wouldn't it be possible to upgrade? If you guys would prefer I didn't post anymore I will stop until they add a push your luck section. It seems like a legitimate question/idea but you guys are the experts. Take it easy, Alex

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Its a valid question even if the eBay part is wrong. "Enthusiasts" crack open Tivos and iPods all the time to do mods (the threat of voiding the warranty doesn't seem to stop anyone). These HCs are basically Linux boxes so I am sure its highly do-able.

But surfowl, judging by the response you've gotten so far I think its pretty safe to say that nobody here is doing that sort of thing. I'd like to hear if someone is.

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Alex and Waynechi, I'm a Control4 dealer and I come here to share, to learn and to help others make better uses of their C4 systems. I am not here to sell nor to promote C4 but I'll be damn if I give support to anyone who wants to make mods on a piece of C4 equipement because they're to cheap to spend the money to upgrade it.

You want to share ideas on how to crack C4 systems and make mods in them so you wouln't have to pay to get a legit system? open another forum like those for satelite "testers" and leave this one for those who actually want to learn on what can be done with it, not how to crack it.

I know it's just a Linux box and anything is do-able, but a lot of time and money went into making this Linux box do the things it does and a lot more will be put in coming out with more powerfull ones also.

My $0.02

Peace

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You guys are great! Paul you have really motivated me to "push the envelope" now -- thanks. I have a very legit system that I paid full dealer prices for and I am happy with it. Now I plan to get more out of my investment!

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Before you guys waste your time and effort... the HC-1000 is a different kernel... it's built on a x86 platform... and because C4 knew it would be easy to "hack" - they build security into the chip. I'm not sure of the specifics, but I do know that if you put the OS on a regular x86 system it will not boot at all. My guess is some sort of dongle type security system built into the firmware of the board... so I wouldn't bother trying - as you'll get nothing.

Now as for HC-500 or HC-300 - sure if you want to hack... go for it. To my knowledge there is nothing there to stop you - but I will tell you that 1) You'll void the warranty, 2) Your projects will not only run faster, but it will break them (as your timers and other programming depend on how fast the CPU is - changing that without changing the OS will only corrupt various aspects of the system and 3) We won't support ya / help you out here in these or any forums.

I'm all for trying to makes things faster guys - but trust me ... this isn't the way to do it... sorry.

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As for "hacking" the system itself... it is Linux... so yes - you COULD install more software on the system... and I have, for example, added counters and SNMP programs to help keep track of units, disk space, cpu threads etc.. but realize this sort of stuff is also unsupported... I wouldn't even consider this hacking - since you can telnet into the box and do just about anything! :)

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I think those kind of software hacks are much more common than hardware mods, which tend to be completely irreversible and unforgiving. I do think of them as hacks, though... there's a slippery slope between what Shawn is doing vs. the more hardcore mods surfowl suggests (both are legal yet unsupported).

Just to be clear, I do not have the skills or desire to blaze my own trail on making mods. I do, however, see all the enthusiasm and unwavering loyalty in the Tivo user community and how the enthusiasts actually help increase the power of the brand and do not take away from it. And just having that community around seems to push the company to innovate faster -- look at iPhone and Tivo as two heavily hacked machines with incredible loyalty and fast innovation. And with C4 seemingly backed up on releasing the major updates and new offerings (resource constraints/cash?), it seems they could benefit from a little more community help.

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Good info Slemay - Thanks for the heads up. That is exactly what I was looking for. I actually have gone ahead and asked my dealer to get the 1000 and I'm going to find a broken system or some retired older equipment to do my tinkering with. I'm just curious about the processors, memory -- easy tangible things to beef up or even port the entire image to a higher end system. Thanks again. -Alex

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Control4 is not 'seemingly backed up on releasing major updates'. We typically do 2 releases a year, but they're not usually exactly 6 months apart. We're pretty much on schedule for our next major update, whose release is (and has been) expected this summer.

Sure, hardware mods are not *illegal*, you own the equipment. It voids the warranty, but so what? If you want to do a mod, feel free to do it. As others have said here, I wouldn't expect any support from Control4 dealers or the company to help you. Bottom line is that it's just not a good use of our time to support that kind of hacking. We'd rather be developing new solutions (hardware and software releases).

It's a huge misconception to state that because they run Linux that they're X86 platform and/or upgradeable. The HC-300 and HC-500 are not built from *any* standard off-the-shelf PC components, they're custom boards built on the ARM platform. Components are not socketed and can't be easily swapped.

For example:

* Memory for these devices are not standard DIMM sockets that you could easily upgrade. The memory chips are soldered directly onto the main board.

* Want to 'upgrade' the CPU? You're not going to source 'faster' chips for these systems easily, and even if you do, it's unlikely that you have the capabilities to remove and re-install the extremely fine-pitch SMD and (even worse) BGA chip devices on the board. Once you do that, you'll have to build appropriate Linux drivers compiled for the specific chips that you have replaced. If you change the platform enough, you'll have to build appropriate Linux drivers for *all* the peripherals, too. Fun!

* Want to 'overclock'? As Shawn mentioned, trying to overclock the system with a faster clock will likely lead to either intermittent issues with the chip (pushing it too hard) and / or software timing issues with other parts of the controller (peripherals, audio, etc.) not working properly.

Even if you had the skills to do the rework to 'mod' a Control4 controller (or other device), with the prices as low as they are on the equipment, you'd be much better off (likely *both* time *and* money) just buying an upgraded controller.

RyanE

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Do you think the update will be closer to beginning or end of summer?

I think it will be released when it's ready.

Also any feedback from those beta testing it would be greatly appreiciated!

Typically, those participating in beta testing are requested to not give their feedback except to Control4.

I'll give you my official 1.6 feedback: It *totally rocks*. Of course, I'm somewhat biased.

:)

RyanE

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Ummm.. UK and US share the same summer... now had you said in a little country "Down Under" - then I'd be scared that we might have to wait 9 months before their summer returns... :)

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Good info Slemay - Thanks for the heads up. That is exactly what I was looking for. I actually have gone ahead and asked my dealer to get the 1000 and I'm going to find a broken system or some retired older equipment to do my tinkering with. I'm just curious about the processors, memory -- easy tangible things to beef up or even port the entire image to a higher end system. Thanks again. -Alex

Alex,

Keep us posted - I have been trying to decide on adding a 1000 to my system to speed things up, but can't get a "great" feel for the speed difference. I would love to hear your feedback after the addition.

Thanks

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Oh there is a difference in speed when a project is on the HC-1000 vs the HC-500... but it's really only noticeable when you have a HUGE project. If that 2 second delay when you change rooms on a 10.5" TS bothers you - going to an HC-1000 it becomes less than 1/2 second. NOW - if you had a Media Controller and wanted to compare that to the HC-1000 - that's a night and day difference. But for most people - I think putting in an HC-500 is good enough (speed wise).

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