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Old 08-27-2016, 10:33 AM
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Default Radio Shack PRO-668 loaded with Whistler DMR firmware

I just recently came across a thread here on RR in the GRE forum that I thought readers of the Radio Shack forum would be interested in. I am just passing this information along in case some PRO-668 owners here missed it in the GRE forum.

Kudos to RR member EricCottrell who was able to successfully load the Whistler DMR firmware into the Radio Shack PRO-668 and also the GRE PSR-800. He also posted a link to a great video showing both scanners side-by-side scanning DMR systems in the Boston, MA area. It's very interesting to see the GRE and Radio Shack scanners boot up as "Whistler" in his video!

Here's the link to the full GRE thread "PSR-800: DMR and NXDN systems": http://forums.radioreference.com/gre...n-systems.html

Here's the direct link to where RR member EricCottrell first posts regarding successfully loading the DMR firmware and sharing his video link: http://forums.radioreference.com/gre...ml#post2623575
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Old 08-27-2016, 4:20 PM
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Before everyone goes out and gets their shorts in a knot, I'd suggest you completely read the thread, and pay special attention to thread 17 of that message. In it, Eric describes what he did to modify the firmware (and noted what the bootloader does) and he also stresses that he modified copyrighted material.

Bottom line, he can't distribute it, otherwise he could get himself into a huge legal hassle, not to mention all the support headaches he would have from folks that (potentially) mess up the changes or installation. I know that the concept of copyrighting material and what that means is something that not everyone comprehends, but that's the short (and VERY abbrieviated) consequences.

So the old line remains true - you CAN'T load the DMR fixes present on the Whistler scanners to a GRE or a RS radio UNLESS you are prepared to do some code-level changes to the firmware. And I'm sure Eric hasn't had time to completely test the functionality of such a load as yet.

Sorry to throw cold water on this, but it's important to understand this before someone goes ahead and tries this (without making the modifications) and wondering why the scanner won't work anymore...Mike
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Old 08-28-2016, 10:24 AM
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Hello,

I am still looking at stuff and experimenting. It appears GRE/Whistler used similar hardware and software for their products. It is likely a case of "If it works, why change it?" and it is easier to add new features and improvements to an existing base.

It is easy to get a binary firmware file from the website and use an utility I wrote to modify the file. A remaining problem is doing the firmware update. The update is either in an application containing the firmware binary, or done by Ez Scan downloading the binary file from a website. Both directly communicate with the scanner to do the update.

I am not aware of any utility that can take a binary file from the PC and communicate with the scanner. When this subject came up previously, people had to setup a local website configured like the Whistler website, and redirect the Ez Scan software to download the file from the local website. I decided to see if the self-contained firmware application could be used instead.

It turns out the self-contained firmware application is not hard-coded for one scanner model. It reads initialized data to determine the scanner and adjusts the messages accordingly. So all I had to do is use a hex editor to replace the binary image and change the initialized data to the correct scanner and version number. The result is a modified program that looks just like a real updater for the Pro-668 as the pictures show.

I can not distribute the modified copyrighted program and it takes some work to modify the program with each firmware update. So I am working on my own program that can update the scanner. It is more "Proof of Concept" rather than finished product. Any result is still experimental.

73 Eric
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Old 08-28-2016, 1:15 PM
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Hello,

I am doing this for my own use. I do not feel comfortable taking money, even when the amount of effort and work is not trivial. I do not consider this project as a way to make money. I also feel that taking money may increase potential problems and it is taking advantage of Pro-668 owners that feel abandoned by Radio Shack.

I want to keep this as a valid reverse engineering project, based on my self-interest on how things work. This restricts what I can do, like distributing copyrighted software/firmware. I do not even feel comfortable distributing unmodified firmware, even thought it is commonly done with other products.

There have been similar discussions in the past. These threads provided some good information. It would have been great if this thread resulted in a firmware uploader.
http://forums.radioreference.com/gre...ware-dump.html

I was also afraid that I would be renamed Whistle-Shack-II.
http://forums.radioreference.com/rad...-firmware.html

I am not making any grandiose claims, and in the end it is possible that I can not legally provide a way to upgrade the Pro-668 to other users. If I can, then it would still be highly experimental and without much support. You would have to revert the firmware back to stock Pro-668 firmware before having Radio Shack repair the scanner.

73 Eric
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Old 08-28-2016, 1:25 PM
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Hello,

I forgot to mention that if you want NXDN, then you need to buy a TRX-1 or TRX-2. The same condition exists on the Pro-668 as it does on the WS-1080. There is not enough free flash space left to add a major feature, like NXDN. The TRX-1 and TRX-2 have an improved RF front end and more flash memory space.

73 Eric
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Old 08-28-2016, 3:39 PM
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Is the standalone updater available to download? I'd like to get a copy of that.
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Old 08-29-2016, 10:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NYG View Post
Is the standalone updater available to download? I'd like to get a copy of that.
Hello,

The solution is not likely a stand-alone updater. I am looking at a program that can get the firmware binary file, transcode it on the fly, and apply it to the scanner. I think this would be easier than a program that modifies a stand-alone updater.

I am also hesitant to modify and save an existing copyrighted program as it could be distributed. I would be the likely target of legal action rather than the person doing the distribution.

This project may end up just being a head start for Pro-668 owners as updates to the Pro-668 occurred after the WS-1080 changes settled down.

I like the WS-1080 feature that allows creation of new objects. When the PSR-800 firmware recently got updated, only bugs found in the WS-1080 were fixed. New features from the WS-1080 were not added. The big question is if the Pro-668 only gets bug fixes, like the PSR-800. DMR maybe considered a new feature.

I do not charge batteries in the scanner, so it does not matter that the battery charging circuit is different in the PSR-800. Just disabling it in Ez Scan solves the problem.

73 Eric
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Old 08-29-2016, 11:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EricCottrell View Post
Hello,

The solution is not likely a stand-alone updater. I am looking at a program that can get the firmware binary file, transcode it on the fly, and apply it to the scanner. I think this would be easier than a program that modifies a stand-alone updater.

I am also hesitant to modify and save an existing copyrighted program as it could be distributed. I would be the likely target of legal action rather than the person doing the distribution.

This project may end up just being a head start for Pro-668 owners as updates to the Pro-668 occurred after the WS-1080 changes settled down.

I like the WS-1080 feature that allows creation of new objects. When the PSR-800 firmware recently got updated, only bugs found in the WS-1080 were fixed. New features from the WS-1080 were not added. The big question is if the Pro-668 only gets bug fixes, like the PSR-800. DMR maybe considered a new feature.

I do not charge batteries in the scanner, so it does not matter that the battery charging circuit is different in the PSR-800. Just disabling it in Ez Scan solves the problem.

73 Eric
I was currently just looking for the Whistler/GRE stand alone updater. Nothing modified. I want to test a few things with it.
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Old 08-30-2016, 6:31 AM
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Isn't the updater wrapped in the PRO668.exe file? I don't see anything else installed.
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Old 08-30-2016, 6:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NYG View Post
I was currently just looking for the Whistler/GRE stand alone updater. Nothing modified. I want to test a few things with it.
You used to be able to get it here. Don't know if it is still available?
https://whistlergroup.com/products/w...rmware-updater

You have to register (if you haven't already) with Whistler, and then go to your cart and fill it all out and then you will get aa email (eventually) with a link to download the program.
Bob

Last edited by pro106import; 08-30-2016 at 6:49 AM..
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Old 08-30-2016, 7:12 AM
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Thank you, I was able to register for it.

This should be a wake up call for Whistler to release the 668 DMR Firmware now before they wind up with a bunch of counterfeit 1080's out in the wild.
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Old 08-30-2016, 9:21 AM
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Hello,

The Whistler website used to have the Remote Protocol specification, but I can not find it on the new website. I am glad I downloaded it. Most, if not all, of the information can be applied to the Pro-668 and PSR-800 as well. This is one reason users can use other EzScan programs for functions other than upgrade.

I am current using the specification to write a GREParser class that sends remote commands to the scanner and parse the responses. So far I got a skeleton app that can send the time set command to the scanner. After I get the basic commands working, I will add code to do firmware update and get that working.

The WS-1080 stand alone firmware updater I downloaded from the old website was for Version 2.8. EzScan is Whistler's recommended method to get a current update. The updater was helpful as I could compare it with the same version binary firmware image and figure out the header. EzScan is a bigger compressed exe file that does more tasks, so it is more difficult to use for figuring out things.

After I loaded the transcoded firmware I used WS-1080 EzScan to update the dsp. So I have not bothered to figure out how dsp updates are done. Of course, the cpu update in WS-1080 Ez Scan will not work.

73 Eric
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Old 08-30-2016, 10:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EricCottrell View Post
Hello,

The Whistler website used to have the Remote Protocol specification, but I can not find it on the new website. I am glad I downloaded it...
73 Eric
Eric just an FYI from the new Whistler website:

Remote Control Demo (for use on Whistler SD Scanners): https://whistlergroup.com/products/r...er-sd-scanners

WS1080/WS1088 CPU Firmware Updater: https://whistlergroup.com/products/w...rmware-updater

Also, if anyone needs it, attached is the Whistler Remote Control Protocol v1.3 (dated 05-24-2016) in pdf format.
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Last edited by trp2525; 08-30-2016 at 10:48 AM.. Reason: Added pdf file attachment
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Old 08-31-2016, 11:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pro106import View Post
You used to be able to get it here. Don't know if it is still available?
https://whistlergroup.com/products/w...rmware-updater

You have to register (if you haven't already) with Whistler, and then go to your cart and fill it all out and then you will get aa email (eventually) with a link to download the program.
Bob
Thank you. I downloaded and hopefully can check it out in few days.
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Old 09-04-2016, 10:40 AM
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Hello,

I made progress on my GRE firmware loader utility named GREFwTool. Besides loading firmware it will also clear scanner passwords and set the scanner to computer time. A good chuck of the work so far was developing a GRE parser that can be used in other programs. I am using Qt for the utility using an event driven model.

The scanner sends out 'C' characters in CPU update mode. My utility detects this and opens a file open dialog to select a firmware file. If a file is selected, it reads the entire file and sends the image to the scanner in the correct format.

I was able to load the stock Pro-668 image back into the Pro-668 scanner. I still need to add some error checking and timeouts, but I think it is a big milestone. I still need to add the transcoding and a few other features.

I noticed anything other than 0x02 prefixed commands sent to the scanner in CPU update mode erases the CPU Application in the scanner. No problem since the scanner will stay in CPU update mode.

73 Eric
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Old 09-05-2016, 10:30 AM
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Hello,

I think some users do not completely understand that Radio Shack calls the shots in regards to the Pro-668. My employer sells rebadged products that are products of other companies. These products have custom firmware with my employer's labeling and some changed functionality. The other company provided the custom firmware. My employer sells and supports the product the same as if it was made in-house. My employer deals with the other company for any firmware changes and other issues. My employer's customers do not go to the other company for anything regarding the product they provide my employer.

It is not a matter of end users paying for an upgrade. It comes down to whether Radio Shack wants to provide the upgrade.

There are also threads about enabling features of Rigol and Tektronix scopes. Some features are present in the firmware and enabled with a software or hardware key. Some are enabled by changing jumpers or diodes, like enabling 800 MHz Cellular reception on the old Pro-2004. Unlike the Pro-2004 mod, these involve paying money to unlock the features, so I would not get involved in publishing details.

I would also not publish details if I was able to figure out Uniden firmware obfuscation, mainly due to the use of keys to enable firmware options. I have heard that hardware for each Uniden scanner model is different, so I doubt firmware images can be moved across models.

There are some interesting firmware projects for Canon DSLRs and Wi-Fi routers.
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I am more comfortable providing software that will transcode on-the-fly rather than totally unobfuscate. There is not much a typical user can do with unobfuscated code anyway, as you need a M16c disassembler and the ability to understand assembly source code.

73 Eric
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Old 09-11-2016, 10:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robnj74 View Post
With respect to the Pro-18 I would direct you to this post for more info http://forums.radioreference.com/rad...ml#post2321853
Hello,

The part lists on the FCC site indicates the Pro-18 digital board maybe the PSR-800 digital board with DNIs (Do Not Install). The Keypad board is different.

The Pro-18 firmware is stuck at the same level as PSR-800 Version 1.3 (July 25, 2011). There are a number of later fixes for the PSR-800, even before Phase II was added, that would also apply to the Pro-18.

I do not have a Pro-18, so I cannot do any testing. It appears they go for more money than the PSR-800 or Pro-668 on eBay, even though there are firmware bugs that were later fixed in the other models.

The Pro-18 transcode would be even more experimental with more differences in the hardware.

73 Eric
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Old 09-24-2016, 7:59 PM
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Hello,

No letters yet, just the slow pace of software development. I have several things going on as usual.

I upgraded my laptop recently to Windows 10. I am still setting it up and trying out features like Bash on Ubuntu on Windows. I was able to compile and run some of my test code using the Bash on Ubuntu on Windows feature, so I do not have to reinstall MSYS.

I am in the process of learning Qt, so I am using Qt for software development. Qt has some interesting features and a multi-platform application is possible. I am still experimenting with the implementation to make it more user-friendly. I am having problems being able to open the serial port after a rescan of the serial ports on the system.

There is a couple of chunks of functionality I still have to implement. It appears some of the Qt Classes will make it easy. Communicating with the scanner is just the first bit.

73 Eric
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Old 10-12-2016, 1:17 PM
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Hello,

I was able to make some progress on my GRE Firmware utility.

Using Qt appears to be a good decision. It simplified the coding for the program. For example, I do not have to write code to access a website and download files. I used a couple of C++ classes in Qt to handle the interaction with the website. I just wrote code that specifies the url and processes the result.

Downloading the firmware file is a multi-step process. There is a version file that gives the version and filename of the various files available. I had to write code that parses the CPU filename to download.

I settled on having two scanner type configuration boxes on the settings page. One represents the scanner hardware and the other represents the scanner firmware. If the user changes the scanner hardware, the firmware box defaults to the same as the hardware. The firmware setting determines what firmware is downloaded and if transcoding is done during firmware updating.

I got the basic steps of downloading, transcoding, and updating the firmware working. I still need to expand and improve the status messages. The steps are not as automatic as with the GRE program. You need to download the firmware and update the scanner as two separate steps. This allows upgrading or downgrading multiple scanners. You have to press the menu key and plug the scanner USB in the computer to update the firmware.

The utility will indicate if the scanner is off, on, or in firmware update mode after connection to the scanner. Version numbers are displayed, but I have not written code to detect if there is a new version available on the website or to compare the current version with the one on the website.

I want to add downloading and display of the release notes, and a bunch of features to make it easier for the user.

It is easy to have settings be persistent and it works across operating system platforms. One future experiment is to compile a Linux version of the utility. Qt supports a number of different platforms, so Mac and Android is a possibility.

The utility will also set the scanner's date/time to the computer's date/time. I may add other useful features.

73 Eric
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Old 10-26-2016, 2:57 PM
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Let's try to keep this a "technical" discussion.

If you have an issue with another member either put them on your ignore list or just don't look at their posts.
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