Hacking the iSee360i.

Big note: Please only use this for movies that you have legal right to. Use these instructions at your own peril.

This is the device in question: an ipod paired with iSee360i video recorder. I have tested it with an ipod photo 30gb and a ipod video 30gb(first gen). I got it at a TJ Maxx for $15 USD.

After installing the software on my ipod, I looked into the files therein. It installs a folder called “iSee” which is hidden. The contents are as follows (ROCKBOX is my ipod, BTW):

One file which I think may be promising is “Firmware.elf”. Methinks this is the firmware for the device. I viewed one of the sample videos in VLC. The videos are encoded like this:

Stream 1
Type: Audio
Codec: mpga
Channels: Stereo
Sample rate: 44100 Hz
Bitrate: 128 kb/s
Stream 0
Type: Video
Codec: XVID
Resolution: 640x480
Display resolution: 640x480
Frame rate: 29.970000

It this point most of you are thinking we could simply copy a properly encoded video into the video folder. I was wrong too. You must have a thumbnail jpeg that is 320×449 pixels. Every picture that I have edited or saved from the GIMP comes up flat black. You can copy one of the samples, and rename it. The thumbnail must be titled the same as the movie, except “.jpg”. All avi movies must have the “.AVI” extension (CASE SENSITIVE!).

Movie and JPEG thumbnail.

Once again I thought this would be enough to make the infernal machine work. Alas, I discovered that one must add a text entry in “YER_IPOD/iSee/video.txt”.

TITLE=Monky smells finger(or whatever)

Once the text entry is made, a black empty space shows up instead of a preview, but the movie is now selectable and can be played.

A few notes, in no particular order:

  • AVI movie extensions are capitalized. JPEG (.jpg) extensions are not capitalized.
  • If you encode the movie improperly, the device assumes it was not completely loaded properly, and promptly deletes the movie and thumbnail for you. Nice machine…
  • I used fairly high bitrates (e.g. 2200 kb/s) and got ok results. Lower bitrates tend to look awful.
  • I encoded a few at 25fps, and they seem to play ok. The codec and size seem to be the important things to be precise about.
  • I plan to work on a script or program to ease the encoding, coping to the appropriate folder, and text file entries.
  • The .txt files begin and end with an extra line. They are probably there for a reason.

I am quite satisfied with myself for finding a way to use free software to make this strange little screen work.


iSee360i Ipod video player.

I got a new toy today. it is a iSee360i video player for the ipod. It’s key feature is that it attaches to an Ipod and has a larger screen. It does not directly play Itune$ content, but it simply uses the Ipod for storage. I have seen prices on the Google for this thing from $24-$250USD. I got it at a TJ Maxx for $15. YES $15! It also RECORDS video from a composite video connector.

I was able to encode video using vlc and load it on the Ipod without using the included software (in linux).

The company that makes it doesn’t appear to be in business. It comes with “Vidiscape” by a company called VIVIDA. It works to transfer video to and from the device. The real turkey in the box is “Media Converter” from Arcsoft. The install from the provided disk doesn’t appear to work on Windows 7, and I believe it will not work anywhere else either. The shortcut installed by default is broken, and therefore, it will not do the transcoding that is needed to watch media on the device. That is why i decided to find a way to encode and copy videos to view on the device without the included software.

Now if only someone would port Rockbox to this thing…

My next post will detail how to add video to the ipod/iSee.