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XM Radio Hacked by Car Computer Hobbyists

michael posted more than 9 years ago | from the i-want-my-mtv dept.

Music 189

An anonymous reader writes "There is an article over at News.com that talks about a small Florida company called Hybrid Mobile Solutions, that hacked XM Radio. They created a cable and software that makes the new XM Commander and XM Direct units work just like an XMPCR. They are in negotiations with TimeTrax to allow recording of XM Radio to MP3's. XMPCR was canned due to this late last month."

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189 comments

XMPCR? (2, Interesting)

julesh (229690) | more than 9 years ago | (#10535699)

I've never come across the term before. Anyone got a handy explanation?

Re:XMPCR? (4, Informative)

TheJavaGuy (725547) | more than 9 years ago | (#10535718)

I've never come across the term before. Anyone got a handy explanation?

Check this [xmradio.com] out.

Re:XMPCR? (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 9 years ago | (#10535740)

Hmmm... that link's redirecting straight to the XM Radio home page.

Re:XMPCR? (2, Informative)

TheJavaGuy (725547) | more than 9 years ago | (#10535790)

Hmmm... that link's redirecting straight to the XM Radio home page.

I'm using an opera browser and it goes to the correct page. I just checked with IE and the results is like what you said.

Here [216.239.39.104] is a chached version for IE users.

Re:XMPCR? (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 9 years ago | (#10535884)

Ah. I think it's because we're slashdotting it. I was trying to investigate what was going on, so I looked at it through lynx, which gave the right page... then I tried to grab the source with lynx -source, and got the home page. Trying again got the right page; I think the server's dropping a cached copy of the home page on people whenever it's too busy to serve up individual requests for other pages.

Re:XMPCR? (5, Informative)

erick99 (743982) | more than 9 years ago | (#10535733)

It's the personal computer receiver for XM satellite radio. XM used to sell it but discontinued it when the TimeTrax software came out that allowed the XMPCR user to record music from the XMPCR hardware. The RIAA was apparently behind that action.

Re:XMPCR? (3, Informative)

eseiat (650560) | more than 9 years ago | (#10535751)

Here [xmradio.com] is the official definition of what it is, picture and all.

Basically, XM canned this because people were recording the stream and distributing it over the web. Since XM is a premium service, they didn't want their shows being disseminated over the web so they have cancelled this product and will most likely create something new that is less easy to record from, although I'm sure it won't be impossible for the 1337 hackers out there.

XMPCR is another way of saying (5, Informative)

Triumph The Insult C (586706) | more than 9 years ago | (#10535756)

a $250 profit [ebay.com]

the XMPCR is a little box that allows you to listen to XM radio on your pc/mac/sun (mac/sun supported by 3rd party apps). it's a little box that has an audio out which you simply plug in to your mic or line-in. it's controlled via usb (the unit internally has a usb->serial adapter which happens to be well supported by *bsd, linux, etc).

the protocol that goes over the usb cable (used to change channels, etc) was reverse engineered, and people started making all sorts of applications to play with them. timetrax is one that allows you to record the music, as well as automatically add the title, artist, etc info to the ripped song

Re:XMPCR is another way of saying (1)

Technician (215283) | more than 9 years ago | (#10536603)

and people started making all sorts of applications to play with them.

So just about the time they have a killer application that people would want, they kill it.

I'd be interested in creating playlists, building a library, using it it at parties, etc. Just about the time I have a reason to subscribe, it's called theft and is forbidden the TOS. Well I have a TOS for the use of my paycheck. They haven't agreed to it yet. I'm having my doubts they ever will. (Translation, I vote with my pocketbook. I doubt they are going to put my wish list up for a vote.)

I guess I'm going to have to stick with my MP3 collection for the juke box for now.

Re:XMPCR is another way of saying (1)

Triumph The Insult C (586706) | more than 9 years ago | (#10536908)

yup. that's why these things are selling for $300+ on ebay. it's crazy

i got lucky and bought mine about 2 months before xm stopped selling them. $49.95 is what i paid

Re:XMPCR? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10536045)

Ok...XMPCR is a means to steal, because you agreed not to make derivatives....

You pay for a service to listen to the broadcast in a digital format, and then want to record it just like ripping the cd's.

The fee you paid was not to use the media as you see fit, when you see fit, it was agreed that you listen to it AT THE TIME IT WAS BROADCAST or record on you PC. It says you cannot reproduce or create "derivatives" such as MP3's. --> "You may not otherwise reproduce, perform, distribute, display or create derivative works from the Content."

But the slashdot thieves will argue that they have some sorta 'right' to steal it and 'share' it....

Get over it already. I stopped buying cd's due to the cost, and the DRM crap the producers started to use that blocked a cd from playing on the only player I had, the PC. I did not turn to theft to express 'a point' with them. Stealing is stealing, you can equate it how ever you want, but 1+1=2...

If you want the right to record the media, then you have to use a FREE service, such as common radio. Paying for the privilage to use the XM radio broadcast contains an agreement not to pirate it read it here [xmradio.com]

Now stop the whiny whines, suck it up, and accept that if you steal, and get caught, you pay the fine according to the law, orrrrr, don't steal.

Re:XMPCR? (3, Informative)

julesh (229690) | more than 9 years ago | (#10536136)

But the slashdot thieves will argue that they have some sorta 'right' to steal it.

I suspect they will. It's called the MPAA v Betamax decision; it states you have a legal right to make recordings for the purpose of 'time shifting'.

Re:XMPCR? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10536573)

Pleez, this is such a troll. Don't even go there. It's just some bored, stoned college kid in a dorm trying to get a rise out of you. Just ignore it.

Re:XMPCR? (1)

roche (135922) | more than 9 years ago | (#10536577)

I suspect they will. It's called the MPAA v Betamax decision; it states you have a legal right to make recordings for the purpose of 'time shifting'. The problem isn't the fact you can record something from XM. The problem is that TimeTrax seperates the songs itself and applies the proper id tages on them. You can go to bed and wake up the next morning with several hundred mp3s on your machine all labeled correctly and ready for distribution.

Re:XMPCR? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10536762)

The "digital quality" label is just a marketing buzz. Neither satellite services offers anything close to CD quality. Its not as good even as the 128 bit stuff that iTMS uses.

Its slightly better (only slightly) better than FM radio.

Yes, I do have a receiver, thanks.

Re:XMPCR? (3, Informative)

strictfoo (805322) | more than 9 years ago | (#10536158)

I don't think you quite have a grasp on what "derivative" means. It's close to what you think, but not quite:

Definitions:
Obtained by derivation; derived; not radical, original, or fundamental; originating, deduced, or formed from something else; secondary; as, a derivative conveyance; a derivative word.

A derivative work, based for example on a XM radio broadcast, would be if you were to take the content of that broadcast and use it to make your own production or broadcast. Creating derivative works is similar to covering a previously recorded song, or sampling a song to use in your song (see Rap).

A MP3 != a derivative work.

Re:XMPCR? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10536889)

i thought a derivative was an equation which gives the rate of change at a given point (dy/dx).

Re:XMPCR? (2, Interesting)

EastCoastSurfer (310758) | more than 9 years ago | (#10536472)

Ripping CD's and shipping them across the inet for all to use I would agree with you is illegal (not piracy, but illegal).

Recording satellite radio to listen to later is akin to recording a football game off of satellite TV to watch later. Are you telling me that all the people who record shows either on the VCR, TIVO, or their computer to watch at a different time are stealing?

Re:Now stop the whiny whines, (1)

Technician (215283) | more than 9 years ago | (#10536733)

You may not otherwise reproduce, perform, distribute, display or create derivative works from the Content

I keep hoping they will offer a service someday that I would like to subscribe to. The above list is why I'm not a subscriber. I don't agree to their TOS. I am not stealing their service. I whine a little, because I would like to be a subscriber, but they don't provide the services I would like yet. I am hopeful that someday....
But I'm not holding my breath. I'm sticking to the MP3 jukebox.

Re:XMPCR? (5, Informative)

CptnSbaitso (800632) | more than 9 years ago | (#10536057)

XMPCR is the XM PC Receiver for XM Satellite Radio. It is a USB device which connects to a Windows PC (with the included software, but there are Linux, Macintosh and Perl versions). It streams XM radio into your sound card and makes it extremely easy to record. It provide artist and title with each track so that you can even record songs and label them with the appropriate artist and title automatically.

Of course, we are just speaking hypothetically. :-) These were being offered for $50 dollars until about one month ago, when XM discontinued them. Since then, many folks have been trying to find a way to produce XMPCRs.

For a little more info (and a photo), check out the XMFan Store [xmfanstore.com] . They are now very difficult (or expensive) to find. Personally, I don't know that I could be talked into selling mine!

More info and some questions (4, Interesting)

erick99 (743982) | more than 9 years ago | (#10535709)

Their website does not have a whole lot of information though the XM product is their along with the $45 price and a shopping cart that allows you to order. What the site does not tell you is how this works with an existing XM account. For example, I have a subscription and a Roady I reciever. Would I be able to use the PC product and still use my Roady or does entering the subscription/radio code into the PC product "turn off" the Roady? XM charges an addtional $6.99 per month per device for up to four addtional receivers. Still, I'd pay the extra money to have the PC product. In my case it's not for recording as much as to be able to stream the music easily throughout my house. They also do not provide any software themselves right now though their website indicates they are working on developing a relationship with TimeTrax that I assume will allow them to bundle the software with their hardware. I think this would be a very popular offering. I wonder how long it will take before XM Radio or the RIAA gets a cease an desist order from a judge.

Re:More info and some questions (1)

Dare nMc (468959) | more than 9 years ago | (#10536703)

ya, it doesn't interface with the Roady.
They will sell you a XMDIRECT box, that you will have to subscribe as a second reciever, and keep connected to your pc.
http://www.timetraxtech.com/tt_wizard_timetraxcomp lete.asp [timetraxtech.com]
or if you have broadband, you can just pay $3 a month instead of $9, and get a streamripper on your PC. not sure if how you will get the filenameing/etc though.

TimeTrax... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10535713)

Seems they don't need any help from these guys. They have made their own device [timetraxtech.com] to replace the pulled XMPCR...

Re:TimeTrax... (1)

erick99 (743982) | more than 9 years ago | (#10535760)

Their website indicates that you need an XM radio to which their USB cable and adapter connect.

Re:TimeTrax... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10535791)

Yes, you do need an XM Radio. But now you don't need to go buy one of the special XMPCR radios on eBay for an outrageous sum of cash anymore!

Seems a bit silly... (2, Funny)

Sheetrock (152993) | more than 9 years ago | (#10535722)

That anybody would pay a monthly fee to a company that won't let them record.

Of course all that really matters is Air America Radio, and that's on all day.

Re:Seems a bit silly... (2, Interesting)

erick99 (743982) | more than 9 years ago | (#10535861)

It really depends on what you use it for. I got the XM radio and subscription because the over-the-air and Internet choices for talk radio are so limited. I like to listen to ESPN radio pretty much around the clock and XM has two channels of ESPN plus four or five other sports channels. I also enjoy talk radio and there are quite a few choices for that as well. I am probably unusual in this regard but I rarely use the XM for music and the stuff I do use it for I don't need to record. I have had the subscription since May and it has been a great experience for a news/talk radio/sports junky.

Re:Seems a bit silly... (2, Insightful)

christowang (590054) | more than 9 years ago | (#10536109)

You can record though. That's like saying who would buy cable and a tv if you can't record.

All you need is any of the units and a tape deck instead of a vcr, or you could output it to your computer, or anything else that accepts audio input.

Re:Seems a bit silly... (1)

qray (805206) | more than 9 years ago | (#10536620)

TiVo for radio! RaVio? RaTiVo? RaDiVo?

Re:Seems a bit silly... (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 9 years ago | (#10536701)

TiVo for radio! RaVio? RaTiVo? RaDiVo?

TV with io mixed in, = TiVo
AM with io mixed in, = AiMo
FM with io mixed in, = FiMo
XM with io mixed in, = XiMo

LK

It's all been done before...(not a complete dupe?) (0, Redundant)

AcquaCow (56720) | more than 9 years ago | (#10535723)

Re:It's all been done before...(not a complete dup (3, Informative)

dr bacardi (48590) | more than 9 years ago | (#10535786)

Not a dupe.

The other stories you linked to are regarding the xmpcr which is no longer available.

This story is about an interface hack that allows you to use XM radio units originally intended for use in a car on your computer.

Re:It's all been done before...(not a complete dup (1)

RPI Geek (640282) | more than 9 years ago | (#10536235)

Hahaha, I thought this was a dupe too until i realized that I read it yesterday on mp3car.com [mp3car.com] , not on slashdot! Man, I should really get away from a computer more often... :-P

Re:It's all been done before...(not a complete dup (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10536616)

Yeah, thanks dude. This is what makes Slashdot so terrible. You collect all these links to othr forums and aggregator sites and pretty soon you're totally sucked in. I work one day a week and everybody there is like jesus man what are you busy doing all the time. . . .
Ahh, fresh site. Straight to the main vein.

that seals the deal! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10535742)

Its is now officially worth an XM radio subscription! (Especially when youre out in remote places, such as Wyoming for me, where the static radio provides us with bad country and a multitude of gospel channels!)

Re:that seals the deal! (2)

Triumph The Insult C (586706) | more than 9 years ago | (#10535955)

satellite radio is very nice. it is definitely worth the $10-$12/mo

i just drove from phoenix to denver about 3 weeks ago. the *only* time i lost the signal was driving through the canyons east of taos, nm. on the way back, i was on the interstate the whole way and never once lost signal. similarly, on a drive from phoenix to lake tahoe 2 years ago, the only time i lost signal was while driving through the canyons at hoover dam

xm has treated me well for the past 2+ years, but i'll soon be switching to sirius (for a few reasons ... howard stern, clear channel, sirius lets you listen over the net as part of your subscription, etc)

Re:that seals the deal! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10536704)

Sirius dot NOT let you listen to anything other than the music channels on the net. No sports/no news/no entertainment. Thats why Im cancelling my subscription. I was it ALL streamed on the net.

I dont care what anyone says...satellite radio just isnt "there" yet.

Re:that seals the deal! (1)

Tsiangkun (746511) | more than 9 years ago | (#10536799)

I'm confused . . .
Sirus does have talk shows, sports, entertainment etc I can listen to through the receiver device . . . but DOES NOT make this content available via the net ??

Is that correct, or am I misunderstanding what you said.

Hackers? (5, Insightful)

Underholdning (758194) | more than 9 years ago | (#10535743)

I wouldn't call it hacking. More like reverse engineering the old service and building a new.
Call me a nitpicker, but the term hacker is growing too wide for my taste.

Re:Hackers? (5, Insightful)

julesh (229690) | more than 9 years ago | (#10535764)

Actually, I think this is pretty close to the original meaning of 'hacking' -- cobbling together a piece of equipment to do what you want when there's no commercially available system to do it.

Re:Hackers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10535831)

Right no the money. The term "hacker" has grown to encompass a lot of negative actions that it didn't originally intend.

Re:Hackers? (3, Interesting)

RedShoeRider (658314) | more than 9 years ago | (#10535886)

Interesting side note to that: Motorcycles with side-cars are called "hacks" in the cycling community, for that very reason: They were hacked together, back in the day.

Re:Hackers? (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 9 years ago | (#10536595)

I wouldn't call it hacking. More like reverse engineering the old service and building a new.

That's pretty much what the original hackers did. Took existing things and changed them to suit their needs.

LK

almost slashdotted, hurry up and get to it (3, Interesting)

a3217055 (768293) | more than 9 years ago | (#10535753)

Well XM Radio hacking great, I bet it is gonna be a FCC violation like those people who hack Direct TV. Anyway good to see the counter culture at work. By the way this fancy smancy page is gonna die.

Re:almost slashdotted, hurry up and get to it (4, Insightful)

acoustix (123925) | more than 9 years ago | (#10535834)

Isn't it stange that the FCC says that they can't regulate satelite TV, but then they turn around and prosecute people who hack the signal?

Either you can regulate satelite transmissions or you can't. Make up your mind!

-Nick

Re:almost slashdotted, hurry up and get to it (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 9 years ago | (#10536148)

I wish the FCC'd look into XM Radio using "XM" as a call sign since that's assigned to Mexico. ("I'm on a Mexican radio...")

Re:almost slashdotted, hurry up and get to it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10536343)

There is a difference between regulating the satellite TV content and the actual transmission and reception of the signal.

I'm of the opinion that the FCC should only regulate to prevent interference between radios and other RF emmiters.

not The Real Hack (3, Interesting)

morcheeba (260908) | more than 9 years ago | (#10536153)

Although the article said that this was a "pristine digitial copy", XMPCR never did that and this doesn't look like it does either. Sure, it makes digital copies, but only after decompression through their lossy proprietary codec, conversion to analog, and then lossy recompression.

The Real Hack would involve recording the original digital bit stream (unencrypted, of course) and recreating XM's codec so you can play it back exactly the same way a normal XM receiver would. Like the DeCSS cass, the DMCA would probably be brought against anyone who tried this.

oy (2, Interesting)

rmull (26174) | more than 9 years ago | (#10535793)

Does an obscure interface as a copy-protection mecahnism? Because I'd say it was just circumvented.

Seppocjt, reverse engineering (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10535795)

I'm not a native English speaker. What meaning "reverse engineering" has outside the computer world?

Re:Seppocjt, reverse engineering (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10535944)

It something shady that government "agents" do to UFO's. That's how we got tinfoil and the electric razor.

Re:Seppocjt, reverse engineering (1)

Satan Dumpling (656239) | more than 9 years ago | (#10536156)

Means taking something apart/studying it to find out how it works. So you can then modify it, or build your own version.

did they ever patch this "hack"? (1, Offtopic)

evilmousse (798341) | more than 9 years ago | (#10535807)

someone told me once how to get xm radio free,
but i have no idea whether it's true or not.

since sattelite is strictly 1-way communication,
the receiver itself locks and unlocks service
based on it's receiving a message from the
sattelite like "s/n#1234, lock service".
the hack comes in by exploiting the undocumented
habits of these turn on/off packets. because
of the volume of messages to send since they're
non-unique and every receiver ignores messages
that are not for their serial#, the "turn off"
signals are broadcast once every while
for 6mo-1yr after you let your service lapse.
The hack then is to disconnect the power entirely
from your XM radio for a year after letting
your service expire, ereafterwards it's free.

so, is this urban legend? makes sense to me.
it would be easily thwarted by rebroadcasting
the totality of disallowed s/ns every once
in a while, which i would suspect they might do.

Re:did they ever patch this "hack"? (1)

Natchswing (588534) | more than 9 years ago | (#10535855)

This is probably true. However, it wouldn't surprise me if XM simply goes back once every 6 months and sends out cancel messages for all known cancelled accounts. I'd bet you could use it for a while but eventually they'll just run an additional "kill" message for all the deactivated devices.

Re:did they ever patch this "hack"? (1)

nukem1999 (142700) | more than 9 years ago | (#10535937)

I don't think it's true. On my recently purchased GM car, I got XM and it came with a free 3 month trial. Once, I parked in a spot that got an intermittant signal. I started up the car, the radio stalled for a few seconds, and came up "Locked" or something like that and switched to the XM "Hey, this is what you can get if you subscribe!" station. I pulled out of my spot, turned the radio off and then back on, and it worked fine.

Re:did they ever patch this "hack"? (1)

snark42 (816532) | more than 9 years ago | (#10536251)

I think the real trick is/was to lock the internal memory (some sort of TSOP packaged EEPROM I believe)so that it won't accept any programming cancelation messages after you subscribe, then cancel.

I also heard it's possible to "clone" the subbed chip to another radio. It would all require some serious solder re-work skills though. I'm sure there's a website somewhere.

Re:did they ever patch this "hack"? (1)

fred911 (83970) | more than 9 years ago | (#10536602)

Last I heard was the only method of "testing" signal without a sub was to clone a valid sub.

All that requires is cloning the TSOP. Sounds like a PITA for the time it takes to fix vs the cost of the service (not to mention the obvious).

Re:did they ever patch this "hack"? (1)

Phil Wherry (122138) | more than 9 years ago | (#10536591)

I don't think this would work, actually.

XM's data stream is encrypted. I have no inside knowledge of the matter other than the fact that I'm a paying subscriber to the service. That said, I imagine that what's sent down to your receiver every so often is the crypto keys required to decrypt the audio channels (I'd guess one key per channel or service tier, to allow for premium services, sports blackouts, etc.).

Since this audio decryption key is going to be the same for every radio, it's further encrypted against a unique key in the radio. Your radio receives a broadcast containing its serial number and an encrypted key. I wouldn't be surprised at all if there were actually multiple keys sent, along with validity periods (use this key until time X, then this key until time Y, etc.). Your radio then uses its unique key to decrypt the shared keys, and stores them away in its memory.

Providing multiple keys in advance makes things a lot easier when you can't guarantee that a particular receiver will be on to receive the key; if you provide enough keys in advance and cycle through them slowly enough (say, one per week), you can be sure that most radios in regular use will get an updated key set before that key goes into use.

The problem with leaving an XM radio off for a long period of time is that you'll miss these key updates. While the radio may not have been specifically deactivated, the lack of any valid decryption keys is basically the same thing in the end. If you miss the deactivation signal, you can listen so long as you have valid keys. But if I were architecting the security of XM's system, I'd have arranged things so that the "deactivate now" signals are sent periodically for at least as long as the end of the validity period for the longest-lived key available when the receiver was unsubscribed. So, if you listen while your keys are still valid, chances are good that you'll get deactivated by having your crypto keys overwritten. If you aren't listening, this can't happen, of course--but you also don't have access to the signal.

For legitimate subscribers: if you DO happen to lose service on an infrequently-used radio because it didn't receive an activation signal in a long time, XM has a web page [xmradio.com] that will let you cause the relevant data for your radio to be sent quickly, rather than waiting for it to roll around in periodic update cycle.

Phil

Re:did they ever patch this "hack"? (1)

Technician (215283) | more than 9 years ago | (#10536862)

For legitimate subscribers:

This seems to disprove the hack. They don't send a lock signal. They fail to send a re-validation and the subscription times out.

Sounds like someone trying to get someone else to try out his theory without him having to leave an unused $100 reciever offline for a year. Nice try but no takers.

seems like a reasonable effort (4, Insightful)

samberdoo (812366) | more than 9 years ago | (#10535828)

It's not like they are trying to get the service for free. This is for subscribers who want to use the service differently. You can make MP3's off of broadcast radio too.

Re:seems like a reasonable effort (1)

erick99 (743982) | more than 9 years ago | (#10535929)

That's a good point. The same audio-out cable that I have plugged into a reciever could be plugged into a recording device or split so that you could record and listen at the same time. You could also plug your XM radio into your PC. I don't know that the Roady I or II offers the same functionality of the PC specific devices.

Some Facts (5, Informative)

diagnosis (38691) | more than 9 years ago | (#10535830)

XMPCR: Time-shifting software for PC-based XM radio receiveers.

The new replacement: XmDirect Tuner Interface Cable. From the manufacturer:

With this cable and our software you will once again be able listen to XM satellite radio in your home or in your car using the included Hybrid eXeM interface along with the xmDirect...The SDK is available for developers that want to continue using xm radio within their applications.

The email address to request the SDK (by the way, serious points for offering AND publicizing the SDK) is sdk at hybrid-mobile dot com.

A cool picture: This picture [timetraxtech.com] shows the adapter plugged into what looks like the butt of a Dell laptop.

What is going to happen: Someone is going to get the crap sued out of them.

-----------------
Rate free iPod offers: RateTheOffers.com [ratetheoffers.com]
(Flat screens and Desktop PCs too)

Re:Some Facts (3, Informative)

dschuetz (10924) | more than 9 years ago | (#10536122)

Some other facts:
  • It's not been conclusively proven that the recording features of TimeTrax hastened the demise of the XM-PCR unit. In fact, IIRC, XM Radio hasn't even admitted that they've discontinued it. Many feel the PCR was on its way out regardless (which was part of why many sites were selling at steep discounts in the month or two prior to its disappearance).
  • This unit is basically just a pinout converter, maybe with level adjustment and such. The software must use the XM Direct protocol, which is different from the XM PCR protocl and has not yet been published (by anyone, even those who created this system).
  • Another system (at xmfan.com) includes a USB adaptor and a microcontroller-based protocol converter, that accepts the existing XM PCR commands and converts them to XM Direct. That system works with all existing software except the stock software distributed with XM PCR.
What is going to happen: Someone is going to get the crap sued out of them.

Why? They've done nothing wrong. In fact, they've done exactly what Terk/Blitzsafe is doing -- provided an interface between the XM Direct tuner module and a head unit. Only in this case the head unit is a PC, not a car radio.

Re:Some Facts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10536490)

How do you know it's a Dell??

XM Radio isn't hacked. (5, Insightful)

artifex2004 (766107) | more than 9 years ago | (#10535839)

Someone recording sub-CD-quality music from a device they're required to have a subscription to use is a hack, yes, and may even be a good one if there are no native outputs... but it's not hacking the company.

Saying "XM Radio got hacked" brings to mind ideas like

1) someone's broken the subscription requirement,
2) someone's broken into XM servers,
3) someone's taken over XM's broadcast satellite system,

etc.

Re:XM Radio isn't hacked. (3, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 9 years ago | (#10535925)

You and this guy [slashdot.org] totally missed the point. Hacking is just making a system do something it wasn't designed to do, or making it do something it WAS designed to do but the functionality was not enabled for one reason or another. Writing code is hacking because you're adding new functionality. Finding a better way to do something and replacing original functionality is also covered by this term. So, perhaps unfortunately, is unauthorizedly logging into computer systems through hook and/or crook, though many of us have campaigned for that meaning to be replaced by the word "cracking" so as not to tarnish the word "hacker".

Getting XM to do something it doesn't normally do is hacking.

Re:XM Radio isn't hacked. (1)

artifex2004 (766107) | more than 9 years ago | (#10536266)

You and this guy totally missed the point. Hacking is just making a system do something it wasn't designed to do, or making it do something it WAS designed to do but the functionality was not enabled for one reason or another.

Did you attempt to read my comment at all? The first line includes this:
is a hack, yes, and may even be a good one if there are no native outputs

I'm fully aware that reverse engineering is often a component of a great hack; my argument was over how the article was labelled. If the poster had said the playback restriction for XM had been hacked, or whatever, cool. Instead, it was much more vague.
Getting XM to do something it doesn't normally do is hacking.

I think you mean getting certain XM devices to do something they doesn't normally do.

Re:XM Radio isn't hacked. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10536778)

That'd be cracked, not hacked.

join the bands (4, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#10535857)

One terrific advantage of this hack will be combining XM and Sirius satellite radio receivers. Why choose between different channels in the same medium by buying one of two available boxes? It's like buying an AM or FM radio in the 1960s. Integrate two sets of HW into a device with one UI, as long as it's unified for user operations. Like with a single "bookmark" list of mixed channels; it will be simple enough to hide its inner complexity under the hood.

Re:join the bands (1)

spoonyfork (23307) | more than 9 years ago | (#10537078)

While your idea has merit, it seems rather expensive. Today you can buy a simple AM/FM radio for $5 and get the "milk" for free. With your single unit for XM/Sirius you would pay ~$100+ for the radio plus ~$25+/month for both signals. After two years you will have spent for $700 for something that used to cost $5. That's a rather expensive advantage.

absolutely off topic (-1, Offtopic)

a3217055 (768293) | more than 9 years ago | (#10535858)

At this website http://www.jwz.org/ their supposedly is some foolish meaning, anyone figure it out. Maybe this is like the google puzzle.

Re:absolutely off topic (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10536305)

JWZ = Whiny fag retard.

Ah... the good old days (4, Insightful)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 9 years ago | (#10535964)

I remember in the good old days, not only was it legal to hack the stuff you bought, you actually OWNED the stuff you bought. Heck, I'm old enough to remember back when all electronics came with schematics! I'd love to have schematics for the stuff I buy now.

Re:Ah... the good old days (2, Informative)

JazzHarper (745403) | more than 9 years ago | (#10536332)

Schematics simply don't exist any more.

The chips that go into digital radio contain logic that has been synthesized from behavioral models. No one, not even the architect of the chip, ever sees a gate-level schematic or logic diagram.
-

Re:Ah... the good old days (1)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 9 years ago | (#10537067)

I'm not talking about chips. For example, I found a cell phone with a pretty cool little screen on it. If I could find a schematic I could figure out how to run it without blowing it up. Without the schematic I'm going to have to guess which is power and which is video.

What is XM Radio? (1)

Graabein (96715) | more than 9 years ago | (#10536017)

Seriously. The only place I ever heard/read about XM Radio is here on /. and it's always assumed we all know what the fsck it is.

Re:What is XM Radio? (2, Informative)

mmkkbb (816035) | more than 9 years ago | (#10536067)

XM Radio and Sirius are two companies who have started offering satellite-based audio for a monthly fee. you can buy a receiver for one or the other (usually in your car, but their are portable ones too) and receive the same content anywhere (in the continental US, i believe)

they are mostly commercial free.

G00gl3 iS th3 gr347!!!11!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10536393)

quit bitching and
search.

Re:What is XM Radio? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10536721)

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=HOW+DOES+AN+I NTERNET+SEARCH+ENGINE+WORK%3F&btnG=Google+Sear ch

Oh, the ignorance, the ignorance.... (2, Insightful)

TrentTheThief (118302) | more than 9 years ago | (#10536037)

No one has "hacked" XM Radio.

Several companies have come up with a way to add and PC-controlable tuner interface between the XM Direct radio. No big deal.

This issue does not concern the FCC since the service itself is not being stolen as was the case with sat TV service.

I own three of the XMPCR boxes. Two are in use, one at work and one at home, and the third is my spare (gotta have my XM.)

Re:Oh, the ignorance, the ignorance.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10536328)

You, you're ignorant alright.

Look up 'hack', it doesn't mean script kiddies, theft of service, or anything like that.

I was just thinking yesterday... (2, Insightful)

tooloftheoligarchy (557158) | more than 9 years ago | (#10536051)

...that what I'd really like in my car is time-shifted:

  • News
  • Traffic
  • Weather

Of course, the radio station's business model depends on my sitting through mind-numbing ads to catch the 20-second blast of traffic info, but with a subscription service, it seems like a perfect fit. I hope this idea goes somewhere.

Re:I was just thinking yesterday... (1)

dschuetz (10924) | more than 9 years ago | (#10536215)

..that what I'd really like in my car is time-shifted:

* News
* Traffic
* Weather

Of course, the radio station's business model depends on my sitting through mind-numbing ads to catch the 20-second blast of traffic info


XM doesn't do time-shifting (though the forthcoming SkyFi-2 does have a 30 minute "history" buffer). But it does have 24x7 news channels (fox, cnn, headline, msnbc, etc.), weather (the weather channel), and about 20 or so 24x7 traffic/weather channels for specific major cities. Takes about 2 minutes to loop through traffic and weather for me here in Washington, DC.

They even have an "emergency" channel now (channel 247 - get it? 24x7?) where they were broadcasting detailed information about shelters, storm tracks, road closings, tornadoes, etc., when the hurricanes recently hit Florida. This channel is, if I recall correctly, broadcast for free. Even non-activated receivers can get it.

I've had XM for about 6 months, and it's been worth every dime.

Re:I was just thinking yesterday... (1)

goosman (145634) | more than 9 years ago | (#10536551)

And what I really want is a Tivo like device where my radio currently sits. Being able to listen to "Talk of the Nation: Science Friday" at 3pm is not possible for me, but having it record it so that I could listen on the way home would be great.

I'm getting to used to the PVR features I have at home and really want them for the audio in my car.

Of course I expect the RIAA goons to come down HARD on anyone who tries to make a commercial product like this.

Let's wager on this one... (1)

Phoenix-IT (801337) | more than 9 years ago | (#10536118)

Let's run some squares on this... How many days before they get a DMCA cease and dissist letter vs. how many days before they discontinue the product?

Hmmm... You know it will happen.

Wont new units eventually eliminate the interface? (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 9 years ago | (#10536304)

It seems like a cool thing, but probably XM will just make sure new units either change how they communicate over that interface, or remove it altogether - are there other XM products that make use of the same communication channel so you are assured it will not change?

Not the first... (4, Informative)

Fnkmaster (89084) | more than 9 years ago | (#10536336)

First of all, this isn't a hack of XM Radio per se, it's just a simple reverse engineering of the undocumented cable spec for the XMDirect unit. The XMDirect has an 8 pin mini-DIN pinout and an internal 32 bit Atmel which translates serial instructions between XM's undocumented "car headunit" serial format and the standard, internal "A5 5A" serial format used directly by the XMPCR units, for which there is already quite a bit of Open Source software [sarovar.org] (incidentally, PCRCommander does pretty much everything that TimeTrax does).

This "solution" is pretty much just a cable, and this groups software which does the translation. If you want something that works with all the existing software out there now, what you really want is the DirectPCR [xmfanstore.com] brought to you by Ryan and the XMFan people [xmfan.com] . The DirectPCR is more expensive, because it's actually got a microprocessor that reverse translates the standard "A5 5A" serial commands into XM Direct format (which is then dutifully translated back by the XM Direct).


The DirectPCR is the best solution if you really want something with the power and cool factor of the now-defunct XMPCR (no I don't have any business relationship, I'm just an XMFan regular and have been following developments). As for "hack factor" at least three separate people or groups have separately done the XMDirect protocol translation. If you have the right equipment, it's probably about an afternoon's work - just hook up two serial monitors side by side and dump away. So there isn't that much hack cred to speak of in this. Furthermore, if you're comfortable with a soldering iron, you can trivially build an XMPCR-compatible unit out of a SkyFi with a DB9 header, a MAX232, and an optical adapter board.

TimeTrax? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10536345)

Darien Lambert will shut them down cold. He tracked down many of the criminals Doctor Sahmbi sent back in time without too much trouble, so he'll be able to handle this no problem.

Why I'll avoid digital radio (for now) (1, Interesting)

Felinoid (16872) | more than 9 years ago | (#10536770)

Every now and then someone complains about some large TV or radio congomerate who can deside what you can or can't watch (Not talking TV or radio networks like CBS but station owners like Clear Channel)

I don't agree so much. I see the point but IMAO we aren't there. There are plenty of indupendent radio and TV stations where I live.

But with digital radio it's a total of TWO options.
To make matters worse you can't buy the radio from just anyone. You gotta buy it directly from the radio network. Crud.

Look at the varity of analog radios and TVs you can buy. Pocket TVs, radios powered by the radio signal, by solar power, by hand crank, by peddle power and no doupt someone has one powered by sex.
(Thow I doupt there'd be much of a market for that)

We have car radios becouse nobody controls the technology. Boom boxes wouldn't exist. Walkmans were also not acceptable by "polite" socity when created.

And... radio cards.
I could plug a controller card inside my computer and have radio. Make MP3s and not need permission from Clear Channel.

If we had to get permission first there'd be no TiVO, no VCR, no casset tape, no radio card, no boom box, no walkman and no transister radio.

It's a neat idea that XM has and a pritty smart way of getting proffit.

But I'll pass.
My solar and hand crank powered short wave radio picks up local stations perfictly fine...
(Admittedly too lazy to actually make use of the international radio fuctions)

and honnestly I'm better off getting my power from the hand crank than from the wall socket.
Wonder if I can set up a stationary bike and rig up a peddle power generator...

(Buy a peddle power bike light kit and use the generator)

Why do you need an extra set of hardware? (1)

NayDizz (821461) | more than 9 years ago | (#10536798)

If you get the Home Kit, the XM hardware comes with the cables and everything you need to send the audio signal directly to your home stereo. From there, there is nothing stopping you from turning on your tape recorder (or your computer, with audio recording software). The Vehicle Kit works in the same way. The jack for a cassette adapter is a standard headphone jack, if I'm not mistaken. I guess I dont understand why you need an intermediary module to plug it into your PC's audio input when it already has "audio out".

Re:Why do you need an extra set of hardware? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10537020)

By plugging it into your PC, your PC can control the radio and start/stop the recordings when the songs start/stop.

This means individual MP3s on your hard drive.

Re:Why do you need an extra set of hardware? (1)

sagekoala06 (786349) | more than 9 years ago | (#10537038)

because what the makers of this hardware wish to do is control the xm reciever with the pc. i assume you are talking about something like the skyfi ... it has buttons and a display on it to change the chanels and the such ... we don't want that. if you look at the xmdirect (the reciever used for this project) it has no display nor any buttons

digital audio out? (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 9 years ago | (#10536803)

which units (if any) that are hackable can be easily converted to opto or coax spdif out?

no way I want to pipe analog in to my 'soundcard' and then record via that. its spdif or nothing, really. its bad enough its compressed - but doing a D/A and then A/D for no good reason just reduces quality and makes this sound more like FM than a CD.
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