Monday, 14 January 2008

The Beginning Stages of....


I have acquired a BT vision box. These freeview / hard drive recorder things are available to customers who have a BT home broadband connection for around £28 - pretty bargainous really! But, and here's the snag, it will only work at the BT registered address so that on-demand services can be paid for by the account holder.

There seem to be lots of these boxes for sale on ebay for >£20, but as far as I've googled, there isn't any info online about hacking them, so whoever has bought one either has the same intention as me, wants the parts, or is a sucker.

My personal circumstances have changed dramatically lately, and my BT vision service was working fine until quite recently when my circumstances changed and it was cancelled. I've got my ~£28 back, and they don't seem to want the box etc back, so I thought I'd open it up and try to hack it.

So, what's my background and motivation? I hear you cry. Well, background wise, I'm a knobby bloke who likes taking stuff apart. I also like dicking around with 'puters and am into Linux and open source software. My motivation is to try and get the info out to others, and maybe have one over on BT who have consistently provided me with poor service. I think they are rubbish.

Some pics follow of me taking the box apart. I guess that the next step is try and connect it to another computer so I can see what's on the hard drive and ultimately try to get it working somehow as a freeview recorder independent of the lame BT vision service.

Pic 1. The back of the box.

The 'screws' holding the casing on are those stupid star shaped ones but it hasn't stopped me - I've used my pliers to unscrew them. I expect that this is some lame attempt to perturb the curious.

Pic 2. The insides.

Sorry about the rubbish picture, I'll work on this for the next few. PSU on the right - I'll leave that alone, hard drive and mainboard with sockets for scart, RF, LAN, USB etc. Next post - I'll be looking on the hard drive.



audirob said...

Good so far, i have book marked and await the next episode.

Ash McConnell said...

Any luck?

Reece said...

Well seems you've give up?

love2cutyourhair said...

I've setup a forum for the BT Vision box

Information on Hard disk drive upgrade....

strak said...

Tum-ti-tum... wondering if you've gotten anywhere. seems to be a good place to keep an eye on also.

Joey said...

Someone like darkfader would love to have a go. you should send him a line.

stíobhart said...

well, that was an anti-climax!

an entire 'hack the BT vision box' blog, amounting to one solitary post about taking the lid off and looking inside.

BT must be quaking in their boots!

François said...

ha ha ! same comment as previous ! press "Delete Blog" would be time ;-)

LeGit said...

Call me wierd but I'd have completed the hack before posting how to "hack the bt vision box" but maybe thats bacause I don't like coming across as a complete muppet.

David said...

The hard drives on these boxes are humungous 160gb +/ I took one of these, formatted it and installed WinXp. You'll need to increase the ram of course, but works a treat...very fast too!

electrocheese said...


I left BT and when my BT VIsion box rebooted (after about 30 days) it wouldn't get beyond a error screen trying to locate an internet connection.

However I have found a simple work around which involved taking my BT Vision box round to a mates house who had a working BT Vision service. I simply plugged it in at my mate's house and let it do it's updates then when I brought it home again, I was able to skip another upgrade screen (i selected the 'remind me in 3 hours' option). I also had to skip the initial scan for TV channels screen by selecting the 'BT Vision' button and immediately got the full menus back again.

So far (about 2 weeks later) the BT vision box has been working with no problem using a different broadband provider. Stuff like I-player works, I can also record and watch previous recordings again. I just must remember not to turn the power off. Standby seemed to work ok.

So, if you know someone with BT VIsion then see if you can give your old Vision box a jump start again.

Hope this helps someone.

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Jamie Dingo said...

great stuff , I think I've looked inside the box long enough now? is there a follow up to this explaining how to put the lid back on again, struggling here.

PS What does this hack actually do?

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