Goodmans GDB2 and the Bush DFTA1 xi set top boxes
UpdateFor some reason my Bush box now crashes like hell. I dont think it copes very well with the weaker signal. But at the current prices I just got a new Goodmans one which seems much more stable for around 30 pounds.
IntroI went a bought a digibox as I started seeing them for under £70. I got a bush freeview adaptor from index (now cloased). The picture on the index site and in the catalogue looks nothing like the one I got. Infact the boxes are recycled internet tv boxes. The third LED is never used. Its just there because the internet box used it.
By coinsidence one of the first things I saw when installed it was QVC selling Goodmans GDB2 boxes which looked exactly thesame. Well that's was because they are the same thing. The only difference seems to be the label. After smerking at the fact they were selling them for £85 plus p&p I decided to investigate further.
FirmwareThe firmware that comes on the box is 2.1.15 which does not display the parlament channel and the games were quite broken. Luckely there are updates for the box available from Freddy's Utilities. The box has a handy serial port around the back to update the firmware.
Serial portThis is a male port and you need to connect to it using a 9pin serial line extention (female to male) reather than a null modem cable. You might allready have one to connect to your external modem. If you don't then there is one thing you can do (apart from buying a cable). If you have PC with serial ports on leads going to the case reather than on the ATX back plate then you can unscrew the socket from the case and plug it directly to the box. Make sure you dont unplug the cable from the board. Now you can follow the instructions on freddy's site.
LinuxThe instructions are for windows users but as a linux person I simply used minicom in place of hyperterminal. In minicom you will have to change the size of xmodem packet size to 1k. In the "File transfer protocols" change the xmodem line program collumn to be "/usr/bin/sx -vv -k -X". Just to be safe I also went and deleted all the modem control lines.
Whats insideThe unit is based on the STi5518 chip. Its quite impressive and includes:
80Mhz 32-bit ST20 VL-RISC host processor, 4kB Internal SRAM, 2kB I-cache and 2kB D-cache This is a transputer CPU but noone seems to call it that anymore.
Integrated MPEG-2 MP@ML video decoder. Fully programmable zoom-in and zoom-out. This would be nice to play with
Integrated audio decoder. Dolby Digital/MPEG-2 multichannel outputs. DTS digital out & MP3 decoding. Hadware MP3 decoding would be great if you want to just play MP3s from a serial port while swerling the screen to the music
Integrated PAL/NTSC/SECAM digital video encoder. This is what enables the unit to be used as a DVR
Set-top box interfaces: 2 Smartcards, 2 UARTs, 1 SPI/I2C, 3 PWM outputs, 3 capture timers, SDAV/IEEE1394 A/V link layer interface, ATAPI Interface, Modem Analogue front-end interface, IR transmitter/receiver. The ATAPI interface is the big one here. It woud be very nice to be able to turn it into a DVR.
----------------------- A | 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 | B | 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 | ---------- ---------- A 0-9 all GND PIN STi5518 pin Pin name Description B0 NC B1 OMEGA-203 TRIGGER_OUT Trigger output for DCU B2 OMEGA-202 TRIGGER_IN Trigger input for DCU B3 NC B4 OMEGA-110 TMS Test mode select B5 OMEGA-113 TCK Test clock B6 OMEGA-112 TDI Test data in B7 OMEGA-111 TDO Test data out B8 NC B9 OMEGA-109 TRST Test reset 208........157 1 o 156 . . . . . . . . 52 105 53.........104