Reverse Engineering A Topfield VFD Entrance Panel

Hackers love the nice and cozy glow of a vacuum fluorescent show (VFD), and there’s no scarcity of useless client electronics from which they are often pulled to maintain our collective elements bins properly stocked. Sadly, determining easy methods to truly drive these salvaged modules could be tough. However due to the efforts of [Lauri Pirttiaho], we now have a wealth of details about a VFD-equipped entrance panel utilized in a number of fashions of Topfield private video recorders.

The board in query is powered by a Hynix HMS99C52S microcontroller and consists of 5 buttons, a small 4 character 14-segment show, a bigger eight character subject, and an array of media-playback associated icons. There’s additionally a real-time clock module onboard, in addition to an IR receiver. [Lauri] tells us this identical board is utilized in no less than a half-dozen Topfield fashions, which ought to make it comparatively straightforward to trace one down.

After figuring out what goes the place within the 6-pin connector that hyperlinks the module with the recorder, a little bit of poking with a logic analyzer revealed that they convey over UART. With the instructions decoded, [Lauri] was in a position to write a easy Python device that allows you to drive the entrance panel with nothing extra unique than a USB-to-serial adapter. Although have in mind, you’ll want to offer 17 VDC on the suitable pin of the connector to fireside up the VFD.

What’s that? You don’t want the entire entrance panel, and simply need to pull the VFD itself off the board? Not an issue. Our man [Lauri] was form sufficient to doc how information is handed from the Hynix microcontroller to the show itself; important data do you have to need to liberate the display screen from its PVR trappings.

Should you handle to get your fingers on one in all these modules, it will be a perfect addition to a customized media streamer. Although we suppose merely turning it right into a network-controlled clock could be an appropriate various when you’re on the lookout for one thing a bit simpler.

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