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[TTT] Updating and Tweaking a S905X Based Kodi/Android Box

UPDATE: I have confirmed that the firmware works on all variants of the T95X boxes. 

Recently I purchased one of the Chinese made Kodi Android boxes. The particular model I picked up was from Amazon and was branded as the “Richino I9X”. After much digging and tinkering I discovered this was a re-badged Sunvell T95X. I was actually able to get the updated firmware loaded from Sunvell and this fixed a lot of little glitches and issues that were present on the one I purchased. They are also sold under the “Puersit” label as well as Sunvell and Richino.

Tweaks

When you get these boxes they will have a number of applications pre-loaded. I would recommend uninstalling them all and disabling any apps that you will not use. This will free up the background processes. Also note that while their hardware supports [email protected] output Netflix will NOT stream at 4K due to the lack of copy protection on the device, it will only be 1080p.

I am using mine with a USB keyboard so I downloaded an application that overrides the onscreen keyboard and allows you to change the key mappings. For example I mapped the physical “Enter” key to the Android “Enter” command so that I can press enter to search and/or execute commands like on a normal computer.

App Download: External Keyboard Helper Pro

Firmware Update

These boxes are all identical and you can tell by the housing and port layout that they have. The only thing you have to check (based on posts on numerous Android TV box forums) is that you flash the correct firmware based on the RAM and eMMC memory you have. The particular firmware I have posted here is for the 1GB of RAM and 8GB of eMMC storage variant. Now this may work on other variants but you can try at your own risk, but based on my experience with Android devices the memory shouldn’t matter and the flash should work.

Until you do this update you will have issues with the Play Store crashing as well as other typos in the system. After installing this update it will be on the OEM version of the software from Sunvell and will get their automatic firmware updates from their servers. The one that comes on the re-badged versions does NOT auto update and has numerous bugs.

August 2016 Sunvell T95X Firmware: https://1drv.ms/u/s!Ap5qRe33fRYthKt-Df47P-ueWBbpqA

If you want to install this firmware you must have a Micro SD card that is 2GB or larger and something to press the hidden recovery switch.

  1. Format the SD card as FAT (NOT FAT32). If you have a large card use this utility to format it at FAT: https://1drv.ms/u/s!Ap5qRe33fRYthKt4EcpTc9dWaAjvDg
  2. Copy the contents of the firmware file posted above to the root of the MicroSD Card.
  3. Unplug the device and insert the MicroSD Card.
  4. Connect the device to HDMI.
  5. Carefully insert a long and small object into the av/headphone port, you will feel a button inside. A toothpick works very well for this.
  6. While holding the button down and the MicroSD card inserted plug the power into the device.
  7. Keep holding the button until you see the little Android Updating logo on the screen.
  8. The update will take between 5-10 minutes.

Here is a video of how to install the update once it is on the MicroSD card: https://1drv.ms/v/s!Ap5qRe33fRYthKt9olZUVWRPY2_7Xw

That’s it! You are all updated.

Should you buy one?

All in all these boxes are under $35 on Amazon and if you want a small Kodi box for your TV this is it. If you pair it with a HD HomeRun tuner on your network you can ditch your cable boxes as well! If this sounds appealing pick one up.

What should you look for? 

  • You absolutely should get a minimum of the S905X CPU. There are others out there (specifically the S905) that are older and do not have the new processing features.
  • The Android version should be 6.0 or higher.
  • There are versions with clocks on the front, remote designs, external wifi antennas, and other designs. As long as it has the right CPU it doesn’t matter what one you get.
  • You will see there are different RAM and storage configurations. They are as follows: 1GB RAM+8GB Storage, 2GB RAM+8GB Storage, and 2GB RAM+16GB Storage. The S912 (higher end CPU) versions have up to 3GB of RAM on them, these are more expensive though.
  • There are also some with and without Gigabit ethernet. From my testing these devices cannot even max out a 100mbit connection so this shouldn’t be something you should worry about.
  • There are also some with 802.11AC Dual Band, 802.11N Dual Band, or 802.11N Single Band. Get the one that suits you best. I use ethernet so this was not important to me.

I would also highly recommend getting a keyboard/trackpad device as this will make it much easier to use. I put a link to the one I recommend below, the Logitech K400 is also a larger option that works.

Amazon Links:

Richino I9X – S905X CPU, 8GB Storage, 1GB RAM, 802.11N Single Band Wifi

Puersit I9X – S905X CPU, 8GB Storage, 1GB RAM, 802.11N Single Band Wifi

TICTID T12 – S912 CPU, 16GB Storage, 2GB RAM, 802.11AC Dual Band Wifi

Rii I8 Backlit Keyboard/Trackpad – USB 2.4ghz rechargeable keypad/mouse.

Logitech K400 Keyboard/Trackpad – USB 2.4ghz keypad/mouse.

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Chinese IP Cameras – The next Trojan Horses? VimTag/BEW/Fujikam

I have been recently looking for a decent HD IP camera for keep an eye on things when I am away from home. I frequently buy items from SnagShout to review. They had this “BEW” brand camera for $52 so I figured I would give it a shot.

I bought the “BEW” 826-X 1080P IP camera and got it all setup. I started looking at the network traffic and it was sending all it’s video and audio to a server at 104.156.58.2 that is located in China. When you go to that address it takes you to the “VimTag” website and you can see this “BEW” is a re-branded CP1 from their products. I located their US support at www.VimTag.US and called them asking why it’s sending the traffic there and if it can be disabled. They told me that it cannot and when I told them it was concerning they just hung up. For reference their number is 1-800-371-2929.

I left it connected and there were multiple connections going to and from the camera. I also noticed that it was scanning the network with PING requests. I have attached a WireShark Packet capture from start to finish of the setup of the camera. The 172.16.74.0/24 network is my private LAN and the 192.168.137.0/24 is the AP that I was running off my laptop, .1 being the laptop/GW.

I will also add that if you try to run a port scan on the camera it renders it completely DOA and will not restart. I did this using Zenmap on my PC and the camera is now DOA. The paranoid part of me suspects this is to prevent seeing what it’s doing and has open. The other part of me just chalks this up to poor firmware/software on the device.

That being said I just wanted to put a quick post out there in case someone else was thinking about getting these cameras. They also do NOT work with any standard IP cam applications or DVR software, this means no RTSP or ONVIF support.

Wireshark Capture:

Pictures of the camera I had:

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ASUS PG279Q BIOS Defaulting Issue – Z97 + 4790K

Yesterday my little brother Doug  (aka TopHattWaffle) called me with a weird issue on the new system that I helped him tweak. We swapped out his older Core i7 3820K and its X79 motherboard with a new Z97 board (Gigabyte Gaming 7 Z97X) and a Core i7 4790K. The system was working perfectly and quick at my place with no issues. He brought it home and once he got all his monitors and other devices connected is when the issues started. Instead of going in depth of each step and different things we tried I am going to just put a bullet point list below.

Here is the issue: When the ASUS PG279Q is connected to the system through the main GTX 970 video card and the system is restarted (particularly on a cold boot) the BIOS hangs and reverts to defaults (peripheral settings, overclocking, preferences, etc).

Note:

  • This does NOT happen when the monitor is disconnected and others are connected.
  • This is reproducible on-demand 100% of the time.

System Specs:

  • NZXT H630 Case
  • Gigabyte Z97X Gaming 7 Motherboard
  • Intel Core i7 4790K
  • Dual Gigabyte Gaming G1 GTX 970
  • Corsair H115i Cooler
  • 32GB DDR3-2400 Corsair RAM (4x 8GB)
  • Samsung EVO 850 512GB SSD
  • 3x 1TB in RAID 5 (Intel RST)
  • SteelSeries Apex Keyboard
  • Logitech G700S Mouse

Monitors:

  • Asus PG279Q over DisplayPort
  • HP ZR2740W over Dual Link DVI
  • HP ZR2740W over DisplayPort

Troubleshooting Steps Attempted (None Worked/Changed the Outcome)

  • Removed all RAM but 1 stick
  • Tried another stick of known good RAM
  • Disconnected ALL drives from motherboard
  • Swapped Video card slots
  • Ran only 1 video card
  • Flashed Motherboard BIOS from F8 to F7 version
  • Flashed video card BIOS to stock GTX 970 version
  • Removed ALL USB devices including keyboard and mouse
  • Removed all USB devices excluding keyboard
  • Connected ASUS PG279Q to HDMI (no video at all)
  • Factory reset motherboard BIOS
  • Checked CMOS Battery voltage (it was OK)
  • Switched active motherboard BIOS to backup BIOS
  • Checked and re-seated all power cables
  • Deleted and re-created Intel RAID arrays
  • Reinstalled Windows from new installation ISO and media
  • Wiped ALL drives in the computer
  • Reinstalled Windows and tested issue with NO drivers installed

As you can see we have tried to cover all our bases but no matter what the BIOS will always crash and reset when the ASUS PG279Q monitor is attached to the system. We can restart over and over as many times as we want with the other monitors connected with no issues but as soon as the ASUS is connected it starts.

I have never seen an issue like this. I have a feeling it is something to do with the UEFI BIOS crashing for some reason due to the ASUS monitor and causing the reset. Given the lack of logging and the Gigabyte DIAG LED not being of much use we are grasping at straws. We did order a new GTX 1070 to see if the same thing happens, if it does we will be replacing the motherboard next.


Here is a video demonstrating the issue:

Here is the Gigabyte BIOS DIAG LED when it resets to default.

You can see it reset when the DIAG light shuts off and comes back up. The BIOS codes are ambiguous at best.

If you have any ideas, comments, or suggestions please contact me using the Contact Me page.

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The FDA’s War on Vaping – I am Disgusted – Non-IT Related

There are many reasons why I am disgusted by the current state of our government but one that is hitting me the hardest is all these new regulations on the vaping industry. Why? Because I am involved with the vaping industry and have seen many close friends quit tobacco through it successfully after other methods failed.

The new regulations that are in effect are so strict that a vape shop cannot even help customers with their devices in any way or else face steep fines. They cannot tell anyone that it is safer than smoking (despite there being actual medical studies showing it is safer than smoking). They cannot recommend flavors or proper nicotine levels to help people quit their smoking habit.

Want to see what this is doing? Just watch this video: https://www.facebook.com/MommaVape/videos/vb.1606220196312192/1743170175950526/?type=2&theater

Eliquid makers are being hit hard with PMTA filing fees for each product that will cost over $500,000 PER filing that *might* get approved. If they do not they will have to pull their products off the market and close their businesses.

Thousands of jobs are disappearing as shops, online stores, and ejuice makers are closing their doors because they have no other choice. Millions more people are going to die from Tobacco use that could have been prevented by switching to vaping.

America needs to get their head out of their asses and realize that all the “danger” that is being spread about vaping is just propaganda that the mass media and the FDA are spreading. Chicago has even managed to “find” millions of dollars to launch an all out billboard and ad campaign against vaping (see the image at the top of this post).

Why would they do this?

They take every angle to try and make this industry seem evil, including the classic “think of the children” bullshit that has been use to push through other unfair and unconstitutional legislation in the past. If you are that worried about your kids smoking or vaping then talk to them and be a better parent. It is not MY problem if you don’t know how to raise your children properly.

Big tobacco is NOT vaping. Vaping is thousands of small businesses that are trying to provide a living for themselves and provide a safer alternative to smoking. Vaping IS a safer alternative (source) to smoking. They just want to keep you hooked and dying.

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[TTT] PSA – All FossHub downloads are COMPROMISED – Includes Audacity and Classic Shell

I just wanted to send this out to all my followers because not only do I use Classic Shell but I am sure that many of you do.

DO NOT UPDATE from FossHub at all.

Earlier today their site was compromised by “CultOfRazer“.  Download the software DIRECTLY from the authors website. They replaced all the installers to just simply overwrite your MBR when you install the program. After you restart you will get the errors that are in the slideshow below.

Infected file from FossHub

 

If you need to fix your MBR after this please see the guide below. All the details can be found in this Reddit thread: https://www.reddit.com/r/pcmasterrace/comments/4vw21h/massive_psa_do_not_download_classic_shell_read/

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Repair Master Boot Record MBR (Source)

The process is almost same for Windows 10 / 8 / 7. First and foremost you need a Windows 8 or Windows 7 installation DVD. Without that, it will be hard to proceed.  Please don’t ask where you can download it since we are not at liberty to discuss the sources, where we can find the installation DVD.

Step 1:

Press F8 while booting the system to go into the Windows Recovery Menu. Unlike other version Windows 8’s recovery menu has the Metro UI style.

Step 2:

Click on Troubleshoot.

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Step 3:

Click on Advanced options to get into Automatic Repair menu.

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Step 4:

We need to use the Bootrec.exe tool. Click on command prompt and type in the following commands, one after the other:

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  • bootrec /RebuildBcd
  • bootrec /fixMbr
  • bootrec /fixboot
  • Exit

Now go ahead and reboot your system. In some cases you may need to run some additional commands.

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  • bootsect /nt60 SYS or bootsect /nt60 ALL

It’s wise to backup MBR or create a System Recovery Disk so that in case something like this happens you don’t have to run for the Windows Recovery Disk. To create a system recovery drive in Windows 8, follow these steps:

  • Press Win + R and type in RecoveryDrive.exe

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  • Click Next
  • Once you insert the USB drive it will start creating the Recovery for you’re USB drive.