Home » Projects » Rio Audio Receiver Hacking


There have already been too many good introductions and descriptions of the Rio Receiver out there, so all I'll say is that it's an embedded linux box that's meant to play MP3s. If you want details, check out Jeff Mock's Site or the Rio Discussion Fourm. I just think this is the coolest toy out there. It's cheap (Currently $169 from Sonic Blue), and it's just dying to be hacked.


The thing I find interesting is that most people have been working on various server-side, or else kernel tweaks. But the RIO is dying to be hacked/modified/recoded client-side. I think the biggest inhibitor is that so far, you would need to take the Rio apart, breaking your warrantee. Not only that, but you'd also need to build a small curcuit to convert its serial line to RS232 levels. Well, with the foundation work that Jeff has done, it's actually quite simple to get a shell on the box via the network without having to resort to opening it. How, you ask? Well, click here and find out.

I've made good progress on replacing the software that runs on the RIO with my own code. Look Here for the current code.

I also am a zealot of good audio. If I'm going to use this instead of my CD Player, then I want to listen to CD quality audio, not some lossy-compressed format. MP3s were cool back in '97/'98 when disk was still expensive. Now, I can fit 300 CDs on one 80G drive that will only cost $100. Why am I still wasting my time with MP3s? So, the next order of business is to add support to a loss-less compression algorithm (and spend the next year re-coding my CDs). The guys working on FLAC seem to be doing a good job, so I'm going to work on getting their code running on the RIO next.

The next step would be to start adding "coolness-factors" to the project. The wishlist includes :
  • A web server to get status and to remote-control it.
  • A way to get information/events (i.e. new mail, phone caller id info, etc.) out of the rio, either by flashing info on the LCD, or by injecting voice into the music.
  • A clock on the display.
  • SMB Support.
  • (mail me if you have any other suggestions)

And the overall goal of this endeavor is to replace the 'player' application with an open-sourced drop in replacement for the general public.