Name that Ware June 2010

The ware for this month is shown below. Click on the images for a much larger version.

For this month, I’ll tell you what the ware is — it’s the mainboard of the Insignia Infocast. Insignia, for those who are not familiar with it, is a Best Buy exclusive brand.

The challenge, this time, is to guess the number of vias on the main board (including estimating those that are not visible and covered up by components on both sides — so just counting the visible ones will leave you a few short). To be clear, pad and mounting holes don’t count as vias for this competition, and I will judge by “Price is Right” rules (closest to but not exceeding the actual count), with the first correct submission winning (don’t worry, if your comment is held in moderation, the original comment post time is preserved and I use that to judge). If you make multiple submissions, the last submission is the only one that counts. The competition will run for at most a month, but may end sooner if contestants get very close to the correct answer.

The prize is an Insignia Infocast.

About the Infocast
The Infocast is an Internet Media Display — sort of a new device category. It’s what you get when you put chumby software technology into an otherwise unconnected device. The chumby One and the Sony dash are also kin to the Infocast. Unlike the iPad, whose roots lie in the mobile world, Internet Media devices are the supercharged descendants of common unconnected household appliances — clock radios, digital photo frames, and the likes. Hence the form factor of these devices are targeted at fixed installations in the bedroom, livingroom or kitchen, with a lower price point and subdued design reflecting their humbler origins. However, despite having a much lower price and a different lineage than smart phones, netbooks and tablets, its features and capabilities are often similar enough to high-end mobile products that many try to compare the two, when in fact they are meant to compliment each other.

Aside from being able to play chumby apps on an 8″ screen at 800×600 resolution (here’s a nod to everyone who has asked for a larger-screen chumby over the years), the Infocast also has a rich set of capabilities built around photo sharing, reflecting its roots in the digital photoframe space (as covered by Engadget in CES 2009 and hackaday). It has the ability to natively read photos and videos off of SD, SDHC, MMC, XD, Memory Stick, Compact Flash, and USB format media; there’s also an integrated photo management utility that allows you to upload these photos directly to the on-line photo sharing service Photobucket, or share them directly with other users that own chumby-powered devices whom you’ve friended inside the chumby network. This latter feature is very handy for sharing photos with techno-phobes: just give them a pre-configured chumby-powered device, and you can send them your latest photos with a drag-and-drop gesture from your Infocast; they’ll receive them without ever having to touch a browser, smartphone or PC.

DIY Friendly Hardware
Since I had a direct role in designing the internal electronics for the Infocast (unlike the Sony dash), I tried to put some DIY-friendly features in the PCB layout. First, there’s an internal, 3.3V 115200 8N1 serial port with its connections documented on the silkscreen of the PCB. Second, there’s also an internal “mini mod port” right next to the socketted microSD firmware drive. The mini mod port has only eight pins, but it breaks out 3.3V power, I2C, and a couple GPIOs for you to play with; it also has its pinout documented on the silkscreen for your convenience. Third, I left a few unpopulated features on the PCB for DIY’ers that want to take it up a notch and solder in a 3-axis accelerometer or a cellphone-style digital camera (granted, those things are very hard to source, so the camera in particular is pretty much a double-black-diamond mod). Strictly speaking, the Infocast is rather closely based on the “silvermoon” platform reference design that chumby provides (see schematics), so it’s not Open with a capital “O” but it’s open enough for easy modification — a bit of a compromise, I recognize, but still a positive step in the direction of enabling Makers and modders to gain deeper utility out of stuff found inside a Best Buy. Also along this vein, the plastic case design is entirely Best Buy’s, so unlike the chumby One, drawings and 3D files of the case are not available.

To open up the device, there are four screws on the bottom, hidden underneath the rubber feet. There is also a friction-lock tab you need to disengage by jamming a small flathead screwdriver into the small gap between the top and bottom plastic pieces above the USB2 connector. It also helps to remove the CR2032 battery before trying to remove the bottom of the case. Of course, opening the device voids your warranty, so you can’t return it to Best Buy after you do this!

Modding the Software
There is a facility in the firmware for enabling ssh on the Infocast (putty is a decent, free ssh client). From the main screen (the screen with a black background and a left nav panel, not the home screen with the green background and a few icons in the middle), touch the Insignia logo, and an About dialog box pops up. Touch the “pi” icon in the top right near the close button, and you’ll get the old “Do you believe in the Users?” dialog box that you may recognize from other chumby devices. There, you can start sshd, and perform a few other handy tasks, such as enabling fbcgi, which was used to take the screen shots you see below.

Of course, once you’ve ssh’d into the device, the question is what can you do with it? Fortunately, xobs (who also brought quake, 3G, and composite video to the chumby One) left, in my opinion, the best Easter Egg of all inside the firmware. If, on the command line, you type “gcc” or “make”, the firmware will prompt you if you want to download and install a native toolchain on the device.

chumby-18-0b-72:~ # gcc
GCC isn't on this device by default, but it's possible to download a
package and install it.  If you like, we can try fetching one from and installing it.
Install toolchain? [Y/n] 

That’s right–no more need to install a cross-compiler to code on this device. This will install a native ARM compiler, make, plus other handy stuff (like bison, flex, binutils…) so that many source packages “just work” (you’ll have to be a little bit careful about your install path because the rootfs is read-only by default, because the free space in / is not very large — but you can get around that by either doing a “mount -o remount,rw /” and installing it on / (if it fits), or setting up your install path to point to /mnt/storage, where about 1.5G of space exists). Here’s an example of what the install transcript looks like. And…the obligatory reminder…modifying your device like this voids your warranty as well.

There’s also a couple other really handy utilities that xobs left in the device. One is called “regutil”. This is like PEEK and POKE from the Bad Old Days. I love this utility, as it lets me get right in touch with the hardware — who needs stinkin’ virtual memory protection?? Of course, you can do Evil things with this utility, so use with care. In order to tickle the three GPIOs you’ve got available on the mini mod header, you can simply use regutil like this:

1) Start by making sure all three pins are GPIOs:
    regutil -c MFP_49=7 -c MFP_54=7 -c MFP_55=7

2) Set all three pins as outputs:
    regutil -w GPIO2_PDR=0x00c20000

3) Set them all high:
    regutil -w GPIO2_PSR=0x00c20000

4) Set them all low:
    regutil -w GPIO2_PCR=0x00c20000

If you solder on a ~100 to 200 ohm resistor in series with a red LED between a GPIO and ground, you should be able to make it wink on and off using these shell commands — no C necessary!

The other thing xobs gave to me to post here is an example program for tickling the I2C port. This will help accelerate folks who just want to knock out an I2C controlled peripheral using the Infocast.

So as far as DIY’ers and modders are concerned, the Infocast is just a $169, 800 MHz ARM Linux computer with 128 MB of DDR2, 2 GB of mass storage and an 8″, 800×600 touchscreen display, and there’s even a pre-built, easy to install native compiler available for it. There’s also two USB ports on the back — conveniently, one for keyboard, one for mouse if you care to use them. I reckon this may be one of the cheapest “full” (e.g. with LCD and case) Linux computers in its performance class that you can buy on the retail market…cheaper in practice than the OLPC XO-1 (although to be fair the Infocast lacks a battery and that awesome daylight readable transreflective display), yet nearly double the MHz of the XO-1, Sony dash, and the chumby One.

So, can it run Android? can it run a browser? can it run MAME? can it turn on your coffee maker? can it control a robot?

It’s up to you.

Happy hacking!

101 Responses to “Name that Ware June 2010”

  1. Devlin says:

    666 is my guess. I doubt there are any blind or buried vias. Is there a reason thermals are used on the vias? Thermals are usually used when a pad connects to a large copper pour and help to keep the pour from sinking away too much heat. A thermal looks like a gap in the copper pour around a pad with traces at right angles connecting the pad to the pour. I’ve done some reverse-engineering (PCB->Gerber) of PCBs, but I don’t think I’ve seen thermals used on vias. I thought, maybe one side was paste-reflow soldered and the other was wave soldered, but then I saw the flux residue around the thru-hole parts (hand soldering?) and other large solder joints and the lack of solder coating on any of the exposed metal that would occur with wave soldering. I was never formally taught the ins and outs of PCB design, I suppose it’s time to see about joining the IPC.

    • bunnie says:

      Normally I don’t use thermals in my layouts, but thermals were requested by the factory to assist with hand-soldering and rework of certain components. It’s hard to replace a component that’s connected to a massive, solid copper plane with vias down to internal copper planes.

      I don’t like the flux residue that the factory leaves on the board myself, but it’s technically “no clean” flux so it’s supposed to be okay.

    • jproach says:

      If you look closer you will see most of the smallest via’s are directly connected. One exception is under the marvell wifi IC.

      Often you will see thermals used on all holes on a PCB. This is simply because the designer forgot/didn’t bother to add a rule to ignore via’s.

  2. Karl says:

    Several years ago I wrote a couple of Linux drivers for two CMOS cameras connected to a PXA27x chip. One of them is still available from SparkFun (along with a breakout board: The other was an OV9650 that we had a hell of a time hunting down in small quantities.

    If the PXA168 is anything like the PXA27x, it should “just” be a matter of wiring up the corresponding pins and writing a fairly simple driver. Unfortunately, when Marvell bought Intel’s PXA line, they put all of their datasheets behind an NDA (BOOOOO!), but if anyone needs source code or pointers to how it was done on the 27x (which I did back when the datasheets were freely available from Intel), feel free to contact me (see my website for details).

  3. Jesse says:

    I’m throwing 555 out there.

    Looks quite nice! I wonder how well mplayer or XBMC would run on it…

  4. trainsp says:

    my guess is 510 :)

  5. Armandas says:

    I’ll go for 701.

    I’m surprised BestBuy allowed you to make this hacker-friendly. How did you convince them?

  6. Jimbo says:

    I’m going to guess (sorry, estimate using my own proprietary algorithm): 724.

    Neat device, though!

  7. Karl-Martin Skontorp says:

    Devlin: could those thermals be part of the RF design around the Wifi chip?

    By the way, my guess is 777.

  8. […] DDR2, 2 GB of mass storage and an 8-inch, 800 x 600 touchscreen display” by none other than Andrew “bunnie” Huang of Chumby itself.  He’s revealed some of the Infocast’s hidden secrets, having had a […]

  9. Jon Smirl says:

    Why is it so hard to get wifi chips? Chumby used USB wifi, we’re using USB wifi, etc. The wifi vendors won’t deal with us and they won’t put their chips into distribution.

    The vendors say it is because of FCC rules. But 802.15.4 radios are under the same rules and they are available everywhere. We have a 2.4Ghz antenna on the board for 802.15.4, but apparently we aren’t good enough to make one for wifi.

    802.11g wifi chips should be under $3 and available as commodity items everywhere.

  10. Mastro Gippo says:

    My guess is 1101..
    Will this device be sold outside US?

    • Mastro Gippo says:

      P.S. we love you too, bunnie! <3

      • And elsewhere on the board he claims to have “to many secrets”. Hmm.

        • Mastro Gippo says:

 the secret algorithm is included in the STM32F101??

        • bunnie says:

          SETAC ASTRONOMY is a feature of every board I’ve done for chumby. It labels the test point that you need to hit (often times in conjuction with some software command) to nuke the hardware shared secret within the device that chumby uses to authenticate your device.

          I’d love to say, “hey, just trust chumby”, but this is the ultimate defense if you don’t like chumby’s policies.

  11. Travis says:

    Great design. My guess: 807

  12. Kelvin says:

    Let me make a guess: 724

    A lovely piece of hardware.

  13. David says:

    I think about 1237

  14. Dan Lyke says:

    In the “go big or go home” department, I’m gonna guess way high. Let’s go for 3072.

    I was just looking through my box of prototypes I’ve been involved in firmware for, thinking “maybe I should use some of these as hacking platforms”, and then realized that Bunnie’s devices have better hackable documentation, and any hacks I create with them can be used by more people than me.

    Kinda sad that some of those devices are relegated to the “not worth playing with” bin because business decisions said “make it as closed as possible”.

  15. […] space.  Soon we’ll do a separate post on this amazing new device.  As bunnie Huang has revealed, this product has some very special capabilities under the hood (hackers only:  likely to void […]

  16. samson says:

    Guess of 870.

  17. Plum33 says:

    My guess is : 1331

  18. stuarty says:

    I’m surprised no-one’s guessed 1337 yet, so I’ll take it ;)

  19. mmauka says:

    I’ll try 499.

    Looks like a great device for home automation and security.

  20. Tatsuo Nagamatsu says:

    Guess of 720
    Great board for hackers. I’d like to say “Hi” from Japan.

  21. Randall says:

    931. Thanks for the informative article.

  22. Angus says:

    Is there any way to get this device outside the US, aside from guessing the via count? don’t ship internationally, so I’m guessing probably not. :(.

    PS 850

  23. Aris says:

    I’ll Guess 621

    I am in the UK and would also be very interested in this device. Best Buy have just opened some shops here, so I think I will give them a call!

  24. oPossum says:


    Great movie. A cult classic.

  25. DSliwa says:

    Really nice and hacker friendly device. My guess 654.

  26. 0x90u says:

    1,300 for the win!

  27. Trishan says:

    I’ll go with 1,336 bob

  28. Amit says:

    1124 VIAs, really!

  29. Slavo T. says:

    Think 1357.

  30. Martin says:

    What’s a “BOOT SPINOR”?

  31. Jason says:

    This looks really cool to mess with… Would probably make a cool SSH (or even VNC) client too.
    Anyway I say 914…

  32. legoxx says:

    My guess would be 1342

  33. LittleBit says:

    Well, lets guess 2000.

  34. LittleBit says:

    I cann’t find this device in the UK-shop of BestBuy.
    So, how to order this product from europe ?

  35. Steve Shockley says:

    I’m going with 888 again.

  36. Riccardo says:

    375 ?

  37. jlc says:

    My guess is 714.

  38. marcan says:

    It’s gotta be in the >1k range. I just sent off a silly PCB to fab and it had some 100 vias. This is definitely more than 10 times as complex :-)

    A lot of time wasted on GIMP, a C program to count marked pixels, and some educated guesses about hidden vias says about 1366. I made up a couple vias in hidden spots, but there are very few such spots to begin with. I’m pretty sure 1360 is at least a lower bound, and I’d say 1380 is a reasonable upper bound. This is of course assuming my criteria for what’s a “via” is correct.

    So I’m going to go with 1364 as my guess, just in case I made up a couple too many, given the “Price is Right” rules. I’d say it’s an entirely plausible number given what I’ve seen on the board.

    I also made a few layers painting out the “checked” areas on each side, to attempt to figure out what hidden areas of the board might contain vias. I’ve made the assumption that there are no vias-in-pads (for passives and the like), and in most of the hidden areas I think there are no vias underneath larger passives, with possibly a couple exceptions.

  39. ecurtz says:

    What’s the story about the USB OTG connector (labeled debug only) is that a different status than the various other non-installed parts? I’m curious about how difficult it would be to enable USB host mode.

    Since I’m here anyway: 1028 vias

    • ecurtz says:

      Or I could just pay attention to the text and the two existing ports – sorry, too much soccer, too little sleep.

  40. swamin says:

    I’m going to be with 1299

  41. Dave says:

    372, just to see if I can get one outside the US (no other way to get them here otherwise).

  42. ncruz says:

    I’m with 1347!

  43. pj says:

    Bunnie, I don’t get the logic behind your “closest to but not exceeding the actual count” rule ? If someone is off by a bit, they could just as easily be slightly over as under.

    Why do you feel the person who is off by -1 is better than the person who is off by +1 ?

  44. Nick Ames says:

    I count+estimate 1378 vias.

  45. lewurm says:


  46. Morten says:

    Hi Bunnie,

    Very nice layout. My guess is 1288 vias.
    Btw, what is the text height and width for the component designators on the silkscreen ?

  47. drewb0y says:

    I’m going to go for 1375! Looks like a fun device to play with for sure.

  48. mangel says:

    one, two, three, four,…. 1425 !

  49. kurth says:

    1401 vias

  50. Mike says:

    1527 vias

  51. Lifeng says:

    550 vias

  52. SinoPhobe says:

    I’m getting the “unable to to extract archive” error upon running silvermoon toolchain. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of then trying to re-do the whole thing again. In the process, the partially created silvermoon files were deleted. Trying to start again I get the same error. Any suggestions? I think the “tar” is messing up.

  53. SinoPhobe says:

    Clarification on my previous post: The “tar error” I’m getting is “tar: invalid tar magic” and the gcc-tmp directory only contain the four archived files for binutils and autoconf/automake. Yep, I haven’t gotten far at all.

    • bunnie says:

      First, I’d recommend posting your question in the chumby forum (, you’ll get better service there than here — I do the hardware, and this would be more of a software question.

      As for restarting the installation, if you haven’t copied a lot of photos locally to the frame yet, I’d recommend doing a “restore factory defaults”. This will regenerate the storage partition from scratch where the toolchain is being installed (and nuke any photos you’ve stored on there, although the network settings will be preserved). To restore factory defaults, turn off the device, and then touch and hold the screen. The device will automatically turn on when you touch the screen, and holding the screen will bring up a message about “special options mode”. Hold the screen until the message goes away. You should be prompted to calibrate the screen and then you can hit a button for restore factory defaults (I’m saying this all from memory, so if I’m off by a bit don’t be surprised). It’ll reboot itself twice upon restoration, once to format the partition, and once to remount it anew.

      Give that a try, and also I do strongly encourage you to post this in, because I know xobs hangs out there; he’s the one who wrote the install script so he’d be more able to answer your question.

  54. fahadsadah says:

    I’d guess at 500 vias?

  55. cfreitas says:

    977 vias

  56. […] x 600 touchscreen &#1109&#1211&#959w” b&#1091 none &#959t&#1211&#1077r t&#1211&#1072&#1495 Andrew “bunnie” Huang &#959f Chumby itself.  H&#1077’s revealed &#1109&#959m&#1077 &#959f t&#1211&#1077 […]

  57. azer says:

    I mirrored one of the sides and put it ontop of the other in photoshop and started counting.
    Ended up with 1368, I have included 4 of the larger-than-average vias that actually seemed to be vias(the two oval ones by the uC and the two by the battery), the others I consider as either unpopulated jumpers(like 1.1v and 3.3v) or mounting holes/supporting holes like the large and small ones in the corner.
    To account for the hidden vias I would add 4 more to a total of 1372.
    Comparing my dotted picture to marcan’s I see that he guessed on 5, missed 4, did not include the 4 large vias and has one which I think is wrong beside L701 (and I had missed a couple, thanks:)). This would amount to 1368+5-4+1-4=1366 != 1360 so I guess one of us counted wrong, but I’m not starting over.

  58. MarioT says:

    1. That is all.
    Just to get that in there. Playing by Price Is Right rules, right?

  59. […] device package itself isn’t all that entertaining, however, the fact that the device is hackable is pretty cool. For $169.00, this gives you a linux board and touch display you could mod to do a lot of neat […]

  60. schufti says:

    just guessing …. 1373 ?

    hope it will be available for reasonable price in europe too, not just grey market with abominable conversion rate

  61. billak says:

    Around 935 I guess.

  62. Nathaniel says:

    My count is 1376.

    Seems like it would be decently straightforward to put android or other linux type stuff on there. Good work!

    I’d better check out the forums, see what people have done so far.

  63. Alex G says:


  64. SpanishInquisition says:


  65. thegreenpig says:


  66. Nyqo says:

    My via count is 1325…

  67. ivancho says:

    I’ll go with 1390

  68. jex says:

    The summer is hot and wasting time :-) here is a *sort of* distribution of guesses until now and here a *sort of* 1-cumulative distribution … with some not formally correct elaboration and guessing for guessing I’ll go with 1384

  69. Ahya says:

    $32 is my guess. its super hard to count them all. lol

  70. Ahya says:

    i meant 432 lol i pressed shift

  71. Katiska says:

    I’ll say 1366.

  72. pdalab says:

    My guess is 1368.

  73. […] couple months back, Name that Ware featured the Insignia Infocast by Best Buy Exclusive Brands. While it’s marketed as a device […]

  74. […] Some detailed information here, including I2C source code, pictures of the main board, and schematics of the reference platform: […]

  75. […] two chumby-powered devices under the Insignia brand in Best Buy are on sale for Black Friday. The original 8″ Infocast device — an 800 MHz linux PC with an 8″ SVGA LCD and touchscreen — is rumored to […]

  76. Mike says:


    Having fun with the Infocast. I have a couple of Newbie questions.

    First, on the PCB, there are two RX’s labeled. I’ve connected TTL/RS-232 connectors a couple of times, and in those cases, it was pretty straightforward, as there were just TX, RX, 3V, and GND. I know this must be pretty basic. Hoping to learn something here… could you please let me know why there are two RX’s (and which one to use)?

    Second, I’ve been trying to get a webcam working with the device. I have a v4l1/2 compliant Logitech webcam, which I can make work with OpenCV and cheese on my Ubuntu dev machine. But I can’t seem to make it work on the Infocast device.

    I modprobe compat_ioctl32, v4l1_compat, and videodev. I then insmod uvcvideo. I see in dmesg that the webcam is recognized. I see a /dev/video0 device created. And I see a v4l sub-directory under /dev/. All looks pretty much the same as in my dev box.

    Here’s the dmesg output:

    [ 69.186061] Setting some CP touchscreen controller parameters
    [ 69.196875] Silvermoon Touchscreen loaded successfully.
    [ 71.590351] usb 1-1.2.2: link qh8-3008/ff3aaa00 start 6 [1/2 us]
    [ 89.080179] usb 1-1.2.2: unlink qh8-3008/ff3aaa00 start 6 [1/2 us]
    [ 89.340241] pxau2h-ehci pxau2h-ehci: reused qh ff3aaa00 schedule
    [ 89.340265] usb 1-1.2.2: link qh8-3008/ff3aaa00 start 6 [1/2 us]
    [ 1365.347566] Linux video capture interface: v2.00
    [ 1399.845117] uvcvideo 1-1.2.3:1.0: usb_probe_interface
    [ 1399.845140] uvcvideo 1-1.2.3:1.0: usb_probe_interface – got id
    [ 1399.845318] uvcvideo: Found UVC 1.00 device (046d:0994)
    [ 1399.870112] input: UVC Camera (046d:0994) as /devices/platform/pxau2h-ehci/usb1/1-1/1-1.2/1-1.2.3/1-1.2.3:1.0/input/input5
    [ 1399.895667] usb 1-1.2.3:1.0: uevent
    [ 1399.896192] usb 1-1.2.3: uevent
    [ 1399.906600] usb 1-1.2.3: link qh16-0001/ff3aaa80 start 15 [1/0 us]
    [ 1399.906727] usbcore: registered new interface driver uvcvideo
    [ 1399.912491] USB Video Class driver (v0.1.0)

    I’ve downloaded the linux-2.6.28-silvermoon-1.0.3 kernel source and cross compiled it. I’ve updated the kernel image and built the uvcvideo .ko module.

    Been fooling with it for a few days, so figured I’d ask.


  77. psyber7 says:

    Is there a how to (step-by-step) guide available to us newbies that would cover all aspects of the Chumby (actually I have the Insignia/Infocast)? For instance, backing (making a bin??) the thing up before I go playing around with it. I’m looking to do a lot of things with this nice piece of electronics. Just don’t know how to get started!? Any suggestions on some good reference material, chumby hacking forums, etc?
    Thanks in Advance,

  78. psyber7 says:

    LOL…guess I should of checked your homepage first before I asked the question above. Are there any other good sites in addition? Thanks Again!

  79. Roryhawke says:

    All right at least I know who to blame now. I’d kicked my gadget addiction for years until I ran into this infocast. Here we go again! On the up side this looks like it will be a lot more fun that the old Compaq IA-1 was!

  80. RO says:

    $67.99 at BB as of last night – looking like a closeout deal since not available online now. Get ’em while you can.

  81. MH says:

    I went to Best Buy a few days ago looking for an Infocast. I knew the little Infocast was a close relative of the Chumby One and assumed the 8″ was essentially the same device with a bigger screen.

    I figured out after playing around with it that it was a different beast and I was diappointed it was missing some of the music features the 3.5″ had. Since I stongly suspect Best Buy may be closing out the Infocasts due to the steep discount, I’m nott sure we’ll see the 2011 firmware upgrade.

    However, after reading this and the web browser article I am starting to think I could compile linux apps like Amarok to fill the void. Given that this is more than twice the computer for only $99, I may have stumbled into a pretty good deal.

  82. Ryan says:

    I’m going to go with 1140! This is an awesome device and if I don’t win I’m picking one up!

  83. John W says:

    Q. Is it possible to put a lan connection onto the board?
    (Yeah, I know there are USB->lan adapters.)

  84. Andy W. says:

    It has to be 42.