Normally we are used to linking updates with applications for computers or mobile phones but with the connected home, it is increasingly normal for many other devices to have dependence on the manufacturer to improve its operation with updates or just fix bugs or take advantage of the right to repair.
Then there are more patient users and others not so much… willing to wait for the manufacturer to launch or provide the current update and something like this is what happened to a user of a Beko brand washing machine, who, given the lack of arrival of the necessary firmware, you have taken the shortest path and has decided to hack it.
Pursuing the right to repair
I have to admit that at least in my case, when I’m waiting for a TV update via OTA, what I usually do is download the firmware from the official website and install it manually. I don’t have the patience to wait for an OTA, which in the case of Sony and its Smart TV’s can take months. But This user’s thing goes beyond a manual update.
We recently read some statements by a person in charge of LG in which he stated that, despite the push of connected household appliances, a good number of users did not get to take advantage of all that potential even a large number of devices failed to connect to the network.
It is true that the connected home is there to offer a lot of improvements and make devices easier to use, but it is also It comes presenting some problems that until now were unknown.
And this is what had happened to a user, who has decided to take what is known as the right to repair to the extreme. The subject of the story is called on Twitter @MrChuxManthe object is a Beko brand washing machine and the action is to hack it due to the lack of response from the manufacturer.
That a stupid company doesn’t give you the firmware of a fucking fucking washing machine despite the European resolution of the right to repair? Well, I hack a washing machine of the same model, and extract its soul via ICSP.
“This is not fixed as if it were a computer” they told me … https://t.co/tDmTCXlyNn
— ChuxMan Skynetwalker 🍆 (@MrChuxMan) February 3, 2023
@MrChuxMan runs an R&D company, so he’s no stranger to the industry. According to account, your Beko brand washing machine had a problem with the power supply which received only 20V due to a failure in the microcontroller, the ATMega128A MCU.
In this situation, the user decided to contact the manufacturer requesting the firmware of the device, taking “no” for an answer. This is what the user counts.
In view of this response, the affected party replied requesting that “They will escalate the request to whoever is necessary, since they are obliged”getting this other response:
“After having sent your information, we inform you that we do not supply the firmware of our equipment. It is not a computer equipment, it is a household appliance and it is treated / repaired as such. Sincerely, Customer Service”
According to @MrChuxMan, the only alternative offered by the manufacturer was “go through the box and buy a whole board, which is worth almost as much as the washing machine to discourage repair. And besides, that’s not repairing”. A situation that clashed with the right to repair, and which also meant having to pay an amount similar to what a new washing machine costs.
Therefore, the user decided to take another path: try to extract the firmware of the damaged MCU and after trying unsuccessfully with a toolkit “Arduino programmed as ICSP and extraction software called AVRDUDE”, he found the solution.
Thanks to a TL866 programmer, he was able to connect to the damaged chip (those 20V were enough to give him a last breath) and extract the software. From there, and as detailed by ChuxMan to our colleagues from Genbeta, still working to get the washing machine working again.
“I don’t have a guarantee yet that the software is not corrupted, but it has some data clear, so at least it guarantees me that the extraction is correct, so now I can take out my mother’s and check it. Now that’s it I can repair it entirely, and in the event that the MCU is broken, I can change it, despite Beko’s”
According to @MrChuxMan, all its actions are within the framework of legality, and further states that it will not distribute the firmware extracted from the washing machine. In addition, he has transferred the case to the Organization of Consumers and Users, and has let Beko know how he has fixed the problem.